Looking to improve the breeding in your stock of bees, or bring in new breeding lines?
We have the solution.
We now offer a UK wide instrumental insemination and bee breeding service.
UK wide Instrumental Insemination
Starting out with instrumental insemination is expensive, and often prohibitively so. The time for training and the capital investment in equipment and practice required.
Luke has been undertaking instrumental insemination of queen bees for over 10 years, gaining a wealth of knowledge and experience. We are now offering our honey bee breeding services to the wider beekeeping community throughout the UK.
We are able to work with all beekeepers and bee farmers no matter what your breeding goal, be it Carnica, Buckfast, Black Bee, VSH etc. Our instrumental insemination service will quickly speed up your breeding programme.
The added benefit being you do not need to invest in training, equipment or time and can make use of our expertise in this area to significantly improve your queen breeding efforts. Bee breeding is all about working together. Our aims are to bring the UK upto bee breeding standards seen in the rest of the world and ensure sustainability in bee breeding in the UK.
Who we are looking for
We are looking for beekeepers and bee farmers who are looking to improve their existing stock, produce breeder queens, bring in new or share genetics.
With the increasing difficulty in importing breeder queens this service should appeal equally to those who are already importing queens and those who already have closed UK stock.
This service aims to provide more sustainable and cost effective solutions for the longer term.
We are able to assist any beekeeper or bee farmer in the UK who has good stock to work from.
What we can do
- Bring drone semen from our stock, either black bees or VSH buckfast bees, to inseminate your own queens.
- Work at your site, inseminating your own queens, bringing our insemination kit, gathering your own selected drone semen and inseminating your own selected queens.
Other bee breeding services include
- Work with you on selection, developing a selection programme, highlighting stock to breed from.
- We can either undertake testing of breeder queens and daughter queens from our base in Northumberland, or travel UK wide. Likewise for delivering instrumental insemination.
- Assist with testing for VSH traits
- Provide queens to reliably select breeder queens from and undertake daughter testing.
- Utilise hyperpolyandry – taking 30-60 drones and mixing the semen to inseminate. This method has been shown to significantly increase vitality, vigour and disease resistance of colonies. For more information on hyperpolyandry and vitality visit this paper by K. Delaplane, S. Pietravelle, M. Brown, G. Budge.
- Likewise we can undertake Single Drone Insemination (SDI) for research or testing purposes. This may be useful to try out new combinations.
- Most bee breeding activities are undertaken from April through to September – the active queen rearing season.
What we need
If travelling to your site and inseminating queens from your own stock using drones from your stock there are certain things we will need:
- Drone availability – drones that are flying and at least 14 days old. The more drones you have available the more queens can be inseminated in a day.
- Accessibility to drone rearing colonies, the best time for harvesting drones is usually between 11am and 3pm (depending on the time of year).
- Queen availability – the more virgin queens you have the better and the more queens that can be inseminated in a day. Queens need to be between 4 and 10 days old. Older queens are less viable.
- Queens may be either banked or kept in an incubator but need to be viable and vigorous, we will also weigh virgin queens to ensure they are the most viable they can be.
- Dates need to be worked to well in advance. Ideally at least 6 weeks prior to insemination to ensure plentiful drone and queen supply.
- Location: We can either work from the back of our van, or for more ideal conditions, a table with a power supply is all that is needed indoors.
- Assistance: we can work completely alone and independently, however if you can provide someone to assist with gathering drones then the process is significantly sped up.
- Number of Sessions: If only attending your site for 1 day/ session, we will make provision for you to be able to give your newly inseminated queens a second dose of Co2 the day after insemination. II queens require 2 doses of Co2. If we attend for 2 days/ sessions then we will gather drone semen on day 1, deliver the first dose of Co2 to the queens, and on day 2 deliver the insemination, they will then be ready straight after insemination for introduction to nucs.
- Weather the beauty of II is that it can be undertaken almost regardless of weather. A little planning goes a long way to help in the setting up of drone raisers to mitigate against poor weather and gathering drones. Equally if we provide our drone semen, then weather is not an issue at all.
What does it cost
Our costs for providing bee breeding services depends largely on which option you go with.
If using your own virgin queens and drones we charge for our time and mileage (30p per mile).
Our rate for instrumental insemination services is £600 per session. If you are willing to share suitable genetics with us for our wider breeding programme then there is scope to off-set some of this cost with drone semen or virgin queen exchanges.
When weighing up cost benefit, keep in mind that with ideal conditions, a ready supply of mature drones and good virgin queens, 10-20 queens may be inseminated in a couple of hours (including gathering drone semen). This could provide 10-20 breeder queens. For those that already purchase breeder queens then you will be able to quickly be able to quantify the benefit of having a mobile instrumental insemination service which could produce breeder queens at only £30 per queen or less.
If wanting to use our drone semen and/ or virgin queens costs will be quoted on an individual basis.