Northumberland Dark Queen Bee | British Black Queen | Mated Queens For Sale
Bred on the Northumberland / Cumbrian border by Northumberland Honey Co. These bees are known as Dark queen bees, British Black Queens or Northumberland Dark Queen Bees. We are fortunate to be working in a remote area with few other beekeepers and a known population of dark bees.
Black Queen Bee Breeding
Over the years we have been selecting from the best of these bees, to produce a native dark bee that works well in the UK climate and selecting bees based on not only their colouration (which may be varied due to open mating) but also selecting amongst these bees for good temperament, low swarming tendancy, good honey production and disease resistance.
We are currently assessing varroa sensitivity in these bees and hope in the 2022 season to be able to release VSH (varroa sensitive and hygienic) trait dark queens for sale too. It is only after many seasons of work on these traits can we start to see the results in the daughters of VSH queen mothers and therefore reliably offer VSH characteristics for sale in the dark bees. We are very nearly there. But please appreciate that it takes many seasons of work, a lot of Instrumental Insemination of queens to produce sister queens that can be assessed and our breeding work with these dark bees is a work in progress.
Please note, although we do select for colour amongst these dark bees and select for dark queens and bees, it is not our only selection criteria. There may be some slight colour variation amongst them so if you are wanting a queen purely for it’s colouration notwithstanding the miriad of other features that can be selected for, this queen may not be for you. Our stock is raised from our local dark bee population amongst other genetics we have brought in over the years from other dark bee breeders with first and foremost good disease resistance, honey production and temperament.
Feedback from trials other these queens shipped to customers and in our own production colonies during 2020 have been extremely positive and we now aim to make available for purchase more widely our Northumberland dark bee.
How we raise queens
We graft in Queen Right cell starters and finishers, which stimulates the supercedure impulse for raising cells, which is known to produce a better well fed queen larvae than in a rushed stimulated queenless starter set up. Once the cells are sealed we transfer to an incubtor for the cells to hatch. This ensures that the temperature and humidty during development is exceptionally well controlled and the development of the queen is as near to perfect conditions as can be.
On the day of hatching, the virgin queen is introduced to a mating nuc (we use Apideas in preference). These apideas are situated in one of two queen rearing valleys we have depending on the breeding of the queen we are looking for. These valleys are populated with at least 20 drone rearing colonies to ensure the areas are flooded with our drones.
After 2-4 weeks the apideas are checked for successful mating. Once there is sealed brood the queens are then marked for being available to ship or used in our own colonies. Queens are only caged on the day of sending and not banked unlike many other commercial breeders who bank queens.
These queens will be available from end of May through to September. Earlier weeks become booked very quickly so we advise if interested in these queens that you plan ahead and pre-order in good time.
Generally queens are caged on the same day as posting. A lot of producers will bank queens (ie cage for long periods of time in order to manage stock) we prefer to let queens lay fully up to the point of postage in this way you get a queen which is ready to get laying straight away.
Postage or Collection
- Postage – Queens are only sent by Royal Mail Special Delivery as this is a guaranteed and insured service. It is too risky to send queens in the normal post by first class.
- Collection -if wanting to collect, please select this option, but liase with us via e-mail or phone for a suitable collection time. We can usually supply queens for collection at quite short notice. But nonetheless arrangements need to be made to ensure your queens are available for collection at a given time as we are a working bee farm we need to ensure plans can be made for collection that fit into our beekeeping schedules.
Marking and Clipping Queens
- Marking – Queens will be marked white in keeping with the year colour code. Occassionally if we are trialling new breeding lines these queens may be marked with a numbered disc or multiple colour which simply helps us with tracing their breeding lines and helps us to keep track of information about queens.
- Clipping -Queens can also be selected to be clipped or not. The advantage of clipping is that you are less likely to loose a swarm as the old queen cannot fly from the hive, nonetheless it doesn’t take the risk of swarming away completely but signficantly reduces it.
How to Introduce a New Queen Bee
For Queen Introduction Guidelines see our Queen Introduction Guidelines Page
Terms and Conditions
- Queens found dead on arrival – a photo should be taken and sent via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org on the day of arrival. The queen must then be returned to us in the original cage and packaging with the contents intact for examination.
- Laying patterns and quality – all queens are checked before being sent, however rarely queens may become drone layers if mating with insufficient numbers of drones due to poor weather etc. Any queens that are reported to be drone layers should be reported to us within 21 days. If a queen is reported to be a drone layer we ask that the queen is returned to us alive for examination in a queen cage with attendents and fondant. Sent by royal mail special delivery. We will then assess the queen, checking the spermatheca and if found to be infertile within 21 days we will send a replacement. In the case of replacements of mated queens, the return postage cost will be borne by the customer, but the replacement queen will be provided free of charge . Queens will only be replaced once.
For full terms and conditions for bee purchases please see here