Mating nuc's for queen cells. Many queen producers have thousands of these mini nuc's spread around the countryside near their drone rearing colonies.
The Almond trees are blooming in northern California.
What does that mean for midwest beekeepers?
The large quantity of fresh pollen coming into a hive starts bee colonies into high gear producing drones in large numbers. A high drone population is needed for proper queen breeding. When queens are mated they will mate with 8 - 10 drones. If they mate with fewer than this number they may run out of semen and become a drone layer sooner than normal. weather and a high drone population is the key for good queens.
Warm weather is crucial now for queen mating.
Queens usually fly out in the afternoon to be mated. Temperatures in the low 60's is the minimum temperature for successful mating. Cold weather can impact queen delivery to beekeepers and is always the risk bee farmers live with every year.
Queen breeders in California will start grafting larvae for queen production any day now. The demand for queens for a spring delivery is huge in the northern states. California queen breeders make tens of thousands of queens to help satisfy the demand. Most queen producers are sold out of queens before mid December.