It’s February, the month Cupid lets loose his love arrow for romantics and lovers. Well, in the bee yard its time for some lovin’ too. When it comes to the honey bee and queens it’s more unencumbered sex than romance. That’s right, this wouldn’t be a bona fide farm/agriculture blog if there weren’t some sex talk. Okay, call it mating if you want, but it's all comes down to sex in the end.
As queen-rearing beekeepers this is the month we start capitalizing on all the early season bee work we did back at the winter solstice. All those nights in the garage, under the cover of darkness, diluting spare honey or hefting twenty-five pound sugar bags for late night sugar syrup making sessions. Now, it’s all going to pay off. All the planning, hive arranging and manipulating in the bee yard; it’s all going to pay off. But, how?
Well, those glorious fat boy drones are popping up. This is the month when the brood comb starts to bulge with capped drone brood along the outside edges of the worker brood. The capped drone brood starts as a patch here and there at first. The capped drone brood looks like bullets when compared to the flatter and more expansive capped worker cells. As the month goes by those lovely little love bullets are now grouped into tight pattern. Valentine's Day week is the green light for queen-rearing. Brush the dust off that grafting kit--it's go time!
In 2014 a couple of 40-somethings decided to make a change. The purchase of 10 raw, pine scrub acres along Florida's Nature Coast started it all. This is that story.