Carolina Survivor Queens & Nucs




Go Green with a VSH F-1 Hybrid Survivor Queen (sm) or a Carolina Survivor Queen (sm)


 USED BEEKEEPING EQUIPMENT SALE COMING IN APRIL 2018 ON Irvin Street: Email Chuck for Dates and Times.
We also have Our:

VSH Hybrid and our ownQuality Hygienic Queens for Breeders, Hobbyists, Honey Production, and Practical - Sustainable - Pesticide Free - Organic - Beekeeping

Now taking orders for our 2018 Spring & Summer Queens;

And for our (to be) Proven Over-wintered 2018 Fall Nucs for pick-up April 2019 


Dear Fellow Beekeeper,

     There is a trait that allows the Russian Honey bee to quickly cease brood rearing in periods of drought, periods of little or no incoming pollen or nectar flow. This is quite common here during our summer and fall months. This trait along with others helps to make the Russian Honeybee resistant to Varroa mites; but, it makes it very difficult to raise queens here in the summer months without supplemental feeding of pollen, pollen substitutes, and syrup. I don't do that! The main reason is that it is not a natural thing for mankind to supplement or substitute the natural diet of the honeybee! The secondary reason is that queen rearing requires high energy-high protein diets for the worker nursebees in order for them to provide the queen larvae during the entire larval stage the high test- high nutrient royal jelly for and the. I want my bees to make it through the summer, fall, and winter by their own means and methods despite all the outside adversities that currently interfere with the life and the health of the honeybee that in 1622 in Jamestown, VA on the Old City Point Warf the first European honeybees, Apis Melliferia melliferia, the German Dark was brought into North America. It was not babied and pampered; it survived, in fact it was called "the White Man's Fly" by Native Americans as settlers moved north and west and over the Appalachians into the Ohio, Tennessee, and Mississippi River valleys.  In 1857 another European honeybee the Italian honeybee was imported by Samuel Wagner and Richard Colvin from the Dzierzon Apiary of Italy. The Italian honeybee, Apis melliferia Lingusta more gentle than the Black German was a good honey producer and was later found to be more resistant to foulbrood. Other sub species of Apis melliferia were imported including the Carniolans in 1884 and the first two Caucasians were  brought in as queens in 1897 by Herman Rauchfuss a year after the Isle of Wright Disease was discovered just off the coast of England on the Isle of Wright. 

   This event brought closure to the general importation of honeybees into the United States on August 31,1922 by an Act of Congress in an effort to prevent the importation of Acarine Disease. The only legal way now for a honeybee to enter the US was either to literally fly across the border or a queen could  be legally imported through the USDA system of quarantine and acceptance.  

   In 1951 a mite, Acarapis woodi  was carried to the South America then Asia, Africa, then the United States by imported colonies of honeybees. Later the Acarine Disease caused by a tracheal mite that dwelt inside the stoma of the honeybee invaded the United States in July 1984 on the Mexican border. I still vividly remember my first notice of the consequences of Acarine Disease by watching my girls taking off from the bottom boards of their hives on a sunny late winter morning in 1988:  As they left the safety of their hive and quickly walked past the entrance they would then wait a moment or two before what looked looked like streams and bands of Corsair aircraft taking off from WWII era American aircraft carriers with bad fuel; or perhaps, not enough steam in the catapults as they desperately tried to fly out and away to graze the upon nectar and pollen from the blooming Red Maple... Trying to fly as hard as they could they only flew from about 7 to 25 feet before they slowly lost altitude and hit the remnants of snow still on the southern downsides of the gentle hill that their homes were set upon never to fly again. I was stumped and heartfelt! I could not help; I could not keep my bees, they were German Blacks, they did great and they were wonderful bees. I still think back about it on a snowy day with the Red Maple blooming and the worst thing was I didn't know the cause. I just didn't know!!! It would be three full years before I would find out; it was three years without bees, three years without being a beekeeper, three years being lost.

   Here below is a short summary of the major catalysts that have become the Big Change to Beekeeping with a war of chemical weapons and supplemental diets with both USDA-ARS and university research scientists grasping for answers to the myriad of problems that have plagued and continue to plague the honeybee industry today:

  •     Varroa mite, Varroa jacobsoni was first described on A. mellifera in 1963 in the Philippines and was later discovered to have been transported from Asia to Europe before 1970 and thence (or directly) to Africa, and to South, Central, and North America
  •    July 1984  Tracheal mites, Acarapis woodi were discovered for the first time in the U.S. on the U.S. Mexican border.
  •    Varroa jacobsoni were found for the first time in the U.S. in September 1987 in Wisconsin. Today we also have Varroa Destructor.
  •    October 15, 1990  (M. Rowell, L. Bradley, & C. Cole, 1993) First discovery of Africanized Honeybees in the Continental US.
  •    The Small Hive Beetle, Aethina tumida, was first discovered in the U.S. in 1996.  Beetle larvae may tunnel through combs of honey, feeding and defecating, causing fermentation of honey and when heavily infested the colony of honeybees may abscond.
  •    …and there is more, a lot more!

  There is no one answer to all this and every year beekeeping seems to get even more complicated especially trying to go with the routes of Chemical Treatments and supplements and the expanding costs involved. And the feral honeybee here in North America is not being allowed the necessary time to catch up to the ever expanding resistance to all the pathogenic parasites that currently plague the European honeybee and even worse the poor hives of bees all over that are under the thumb of "controlled management" of the large chemical companies fed by the macro supply chain never receive the same opportunity to become resistant like the feral honey bee is slowly trying to do. It has been over 120 years since the Varroa mite crossed over to the European honeybee, Apis melliferia from a different honeybee, Apis cerana the Asian honeybee. The Russian honeybee is ththan Apinand pathogens  and, many years ago after being poisoned by touching Check Mite I decided to go chemical free. Yet even before that, over 20 years ago, I was purchasing better queens and and by 1997 I had by chance a mating yard on an isolated 650+ acre farm and by chance I had already started purchasing the best genetics that I could. Now I have the benefit of all those hives not in one place but three and I believe that you too will benefit from my work but more importantly the work of many others.

All this is why we are doing what we do: We are breeding quality queens that have defined genetic diversity with largely defined characteristics and parameters of resistance to disease and parasites from both parents, i.e. by formerly selected drone mother breeder queens and selected "queen mother" breeder queens; the control and placement of strategic multiple mating queen yards, and the utilization of quality minded procedures and inspections throughout the entire queen rearing process.

For further information on our breeding operations please read further.


Chuck Norton

The Queens for Sale at Norton's Honey Farm


A Summary of our Operation


Quality Assurance:

Having started my civilian career in the Southern California Aerospace Industry right after serving in the US Navy as an Electronic Warfare Petty Officer in the early 70's  the term quality became an all important operative word and it continues to be paramount and an integral part of my thinking and of my business. I want to produce well mated Varroa resistant queens that are also tracheal mite resistant while also being cognizant of controlling Small Hive Beetle populations; and, with resistance to Deformed Wing Virus (DWV), Nosema (2 types), American and European Foulbrood, Chalk brood, and Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV). I want to produce queens that are readily accepted when they are introduced to their new home and thus are less frequently superseded because of the health of the queen and her workers together working to maintain longevity of the hive.

And, even more important  the dwindling of genetic diversity of the honeybee gene pool in North America alone has been recognized yet grown greater from year after year-after year-after year. Much has been said about it but the packages of Italians from Florida and Georgia west across the Gulf States into Texas with countless big Twenty-First Century Mega Queen Factories putting out every year the same millions of the same old queens that carry within their own dwindling genes along with the the same soup bowl of semen that is carried within their spermatheca tends to be limited of extremely limited genetic diversity with limited disease resistance and limited resistance to the Varroa. between genotypes since they as individual colonies must also have enough genetic diversification to carry the many traits specific to resistance to both tracheal and Varroa mites, exhibit multiple hygienic behaviors and disease resistance as well as having traits such as being good layers with rather solid brood patterns once established, gentle on the comb, able to overwinter in various climates, and SURVIVE!  I also believe that the queen must continue to mature in her own colony after she begins laying and that her brood be inspected as they cycle through metamorphosis and to continue inspection after emergence thus by inspection of brood Varroa, disease and efficiency of the queen are assessed and compared to acceptable standards.

Transfer of a "laying" queen from a mating nuc to a 10-frame hive often populated with a skewed population of older workers with limited brood or just a very large population can be traumatic on a very young untried queen such as those 28 day wonders that arrive from large queen production factories. In my opinion there are two ideal times to pull queens. The first time is when she is laying well and has given you a frame of at least 60% capped brood; and the second time is about a week after her daughters have begun hatching out of pupation and are readily available for inspection.q

Quality Assurance procedures are inherent to our queen rearing operations. The selection criteria of all queens are performed in a systematic manner with established quality parameters resulting in inspection and rejection at all stages of development. From the purchase, receipt, and installation of VSH breeder queens or the selection of the "BEST" Survivor Queens for our own breeder operation to our own grafting and queen rearing operations; and the selection, pulling and shipping of mature queens all the way to a satisfied customer we believe a conscientious endeavor to maintain quality throughout our production and operations is paramount to successful queen rearing.  

Once Breeder Queens and Drone Mothers are selected and set up in dedicated mating yards many steps are taken along the way from grafting to imago to a mature laying queen in order to assure quality: We inspect and cull inferior queens throughout our production process and each queen has a history from the day she is grafted until the day she is shipped or she dies because each queen raised has her own mating nuc box with an identifying tag and number that we now ship with our queens and nucs. We mark queens trice: by Year, Type and Tier. We also have shipping, packaging, and mailing standards in order to obtain and maintain our quality queens.  We ship only under conditions that are conducive to the health and viability of our queens, your queen.

About Breeder Queens and Drone Mothers

   I have been mentioning "breeder queens" and "drone mothers" without realizing that a lot of new beekeepers really don't know what I am talking about unless they have taken an advanced beekeeping class or have been curious enough to take the time to learn about honey bee genetics, queen rearing and queen breeding. It is really not very complicated; the young sexually mature virgin queen goes on a mating flight; the big eyed drone finds and mates in the air with the queen, the drone dies in in almost instant ecstasy and falls off behind the queen and then the queen goes on to mate with several additional drones before tiring and returning to her mating nuc. The next day the queen may go out on another mating flight and the same thing happens; and, then the day that finally she may have one last mating flight successfully mating with up to a total of as many as 40 drones over a very short period, often in less than a week. Note: Usually it is around plus or minus 20 drones - no pun intended. Sometimes it will rain or snow, sunlight, temperatures and wind may be unfavorable and the queen will stay in her mating nuc; and then day after day it may be too cold or windy for her to go out and mate for she requires at least 70 degree temperatures and only light winds to mate. Sometimes the virgin queen will never go out and successfully mate and after to to three weeks without mating she may become a drone layer or even worse go about each day inspecting and walking over readied and prepared empty cells never to lay even a single egg; supersedure or an alert and experienced beekeeper will end her much shortened life. Some times a queen will go out on a mating flight never to return having been carried back to a nest by a swallow; it should be well recognized that this is a part of the talk about the birds and the bees that you never learned from your parents. The best result of all this is that a once virgin queen will probably mate with as little as 7 to perhaps as many as up to 40 drones on one or more mating flights and then return to her hive now carrying a genetically diversified two to four year supply of semen soon to migrate from her oviducts to her spermatheca where it is stored (without liquid nitrogen), nourished and kept viable over the entire laying years of her life. That by itself is a miracle!

The Drones

   Now think about those poor dead drones. They are haploids, they have a single set of chromosomes, they have a mother but no father. As a result they reflect the genetics only of their mother hence, she is the drone mother. If their mother is a pure Russian her drones will be pure Russian; if they are pure Italian they will be pure Italian or if they are half and half they will carry half, 50%, of the traits of each. Drones will only carry the genetic traits or of their mother; if their mother has a specific hygienic trait they will carry that same hygienic trait. Now think about that queen that just mated with 39 drones over a period of 6 or 7 days. Inside that queen there is a "bladder like" sac called a spermatheca which will harbor for the rest of her life as a laying queen in a homogenous manner the sperm from most or all of the 39 lucky drones that were successful in making the trip up from her vagina and into the spermatheca. When the successfully mated queen starts laying the queen will open the duct to her spermatheca to allow just a very minute amount of sperm to fertilize a passing unfertilized egg from her oviduct. That egg once fertilized with one sperm from that single drone will create a female from two complete sets of chromosomes and a diploid will develop from a fertilized egg into a female worker honeybee or if during the first 36 hours of the larvae's life a queen cell is constructed and the larvae is fed a diet of royal jelly it will morph into becoming a queen honeybee. A queen's spermatheca will contain up to several million sperm cells! Each of the drones that successfully mated with that queen had ejaculated over a million sperm carrying the genetics of that individual drone and that individual drone's mother, the Drone Mother. Now if all of those successfully mated drones had the same mother then all the workers would be sisters and all those workers would carry the same genetics. This does not happen for several reasons just explained; however; it was not learned until the late fifties and early sixties that queens do undergo multiple matings as well as have several mating flights within a relative very small amount of time. It is also normal for drones to conjugate in what are called Drone Conjugation Areas and in doing so it allows drones that have migrated from hives up to several miles away to mate with a receptive queen. It is this multiple mating that helps assure genetic diversity by the natural mating and mixing of sperm from many genetically different drones from many different surrounding hives into and within the queen's spermatheca all at one period: The queen's rather short but extremely active sexual life.  

   Thus during any random single 24 hour period while actively laying the queen will lay - from perhaps as little as 800 to over 1300 eggs a day -  and each egg is fertilized with semen from only one of the drones with which she mated. The ratios of a particular queen's laying day's work will likely slightly differ in fraternal parentage from day to day and week to week but that is good. Diversification is the key to today's successful war on mites and disease. There is no super drone that can naturally carry all the genetic traits required by the Twenty-first Century Beekeeper; however, by providing Drone Mother hives within the desired area having many different genetic races, lines, and traits and enough drones carrying these specifically desirable traits the results will likely be hives of honeybees that will survive well.  Isn't that what we want? Isn't that what we need and are looking for?

   Now take a look at the Breeder Queen whose daughter will carry 50% of the genetics that are specifically known and are highly desired such as VSH. If the daughter of that Breeder Queen is mated with a diversity of drones each carrying both the same and different desirable traits one may just create a high statistical probability of successful mating of a single queen that can survive over a period of two years, that will be productive, and will carry the successful traits you want as a bee breeder and a honey producer.  Well, BINGO!  You got a queen with most of the genetics that you desire and instead of buying replacement packages every other year you can replace just the queen every two years!

   This can be done with instrumental insemination as well; however current marketing goals are toward specific genotypes of queens and races of queens such as the VSH, Minnesota Hygienic, Russian, Carniolan, etc. each carrying a piece of a pie but never being able to stuff all the pieces together into one Super Pie unless a specific ratio, a formula if you will,  of specific homo-diversity is allowed by either design or through natural selection of a drone population that carries enough drones having enough desired genetic diversity during "a sum of a queen's mating" with any one random group of drones that would produce all the desired results for to have such a population of drones within one or two drone congregation areas would be very unlikely unless it was specifically created because the sources of these high-tech queens are quite diverse and limited by a drone's ability to fly from his place of origin to the desired Drone Congregation Area. I believe that by chance that the Drone Congregation areas that my queens fly to happen to be unique with the "RIGHT STUFF" needed to bring about a Survivor Queen that will continue to provide desirable mated queens that are mite and disease resistant, good honey producers, will survive severe and long winters if left with a normal winter's supply of "real honey" for that locale, and are gentle, good layers and result in hives that are easy to work.

   Statistically these particular mating areas, Drone Congregation Areas would be difficult to naturally duplicate unless one would set up several bee yards with many of these hives carrying all the variant desirable genetics to give the mated queen's daughters the ability to live and cope with small mite populations, both Varroa and tracheal mites, with disease resistance toward Nosema, the foulbroods, and viruses etc.. All this would allow the genetic diversity within any particular Breeder Queen to produce queens that will mate with much of these available drones having desirable genetic diversity resulting in purchased mated queens that will produce drones in and around their new homes bringing the same genetic diversity to the purchasing beekeeper as well as bringing to the beekeepers surrounding area area  transfer to adjacent hives, and where one hive may be stronger in one area than another the colony of hives thus artificially creating a super-apiary that is almost like a living organism because honeybees naturally drift from one hive to another. I believe that that is what one would gain if all their queens were either my VSHF-1Carolina Survivors, Carolina Survivors or a mixture of each.

Minnesota Hygienic Queens*

We used to sell the grafted daughters of Minnesota Hygienic Queens*

These were the first queens that we grafted and sold their open-mated daughters. It was the first step in purchasing queens from Glenn Apiaries and it was a great help with the Tracheal mite, European foulbrood, and honey production. It still is a great queen!

SMR Queens*

We used to sell SMR Queens*

We still had problems with Varroa mites although with the Minnesota Hygienic we were gaining ground. So when we learned of the availability we also purchased SMR Breeder Queens from Glenn Apiaries as part of our breeding and our sales program. We did did both and we did well; and, so did our queens. However we did not realize the consequences then but somehow we were lucky because our mating yards were producing swarms from the SMR and Minnesota Hygienic Drone Mothers. Yes they had sent the bees to the trees as well as produced drones for us along with queens from the feral hives in the "neighborhood". Those drone mother hives had swarmed because we did not have the time to keep them from swarming and I thought so what: They swarm and go to a new home that has a statistical mean distance from the queen yard of only about 350 meters (see: The Biology of the Honey Bee, Winston, Mark L., 1987). Normally this is not a good thing but it is hard to raise queens in an isolated queen yard as well as manage honey production in sourwood yards and contracted outyards of hives set on pollination duty while working bees and not catching all the Drone Mother Hives with queen cells or all the queen cells before they got so crowded that they swarmed. The bees that survived have likely stayed in the trees and they have been supplemented year after year with all these purchased genetic variances of honey bees! Now as of 2018 we no longer have drone mother hives in our queen yards.

 Italian Hybrid Queens*

We used to sell Italian Hybrid Queens*

Our Italian Hybrid Queens were daughters of our selected Italian Breeder Queens that were daughters of Minnesota Hygienic queens that were mated in our mating yards with drones from drone mother breeder hives which give raise to the other 50% of the raised grafted queen's daughter's genetics. It is the genetics of all the daughters of the queens that we raised and sold, the workers with the desirable traits that we were looking for. The "sires" of these daughters, the drones, were from selected lines of SMR, Minnesota Hygienic, Russian, Italian, and our own Survivor Stock queens.


Russian Hybrid Queens*

We used to sell Russian Hybrid Queens* then only Pure Russian Queens.

   The Russian Hybrid Queens we sold were originally from Russian Breeder Queens that we purchased from Glenn Apiaries and later Charlie Harper. Then after several years of purchasing Russian Breeder queens from Charlie Harper who was the CRADA holder for the Russians and Tom Glenn I was granted 18 lines of USDA-ARS Russian Queens since I became one of the first Charter Members of the Russian Honeybee Breeders Association. It turned out that the Pure Russian honeybee was not a very good candidate for the Piedmont of North Carolina with our dearth of nectar in the summer - it's hard to raise queens without incoming supplies of pollen and nectar. Also we were required to carry in all 18 Lines of Russian  hives Drone Foundation so to over saturate the feral hives within the area where I was the lone and isolated beekeeper on some 1400 total acres of land.  I quickly had to give up the Russians or starve. So all the donated daughters of the 18 Lines of selected Russian Breeder Queens that were in our mating yards and the drones from drone mother breeder hives gave raise to an additional pool of genes available to supply resistance to Varroa as well as disease.

VSH Hybrid Queens*

   This above is now a viable part of the genetics and the lions share of the daughters of the queens that we raise and sell, the workers, that determine the desirable traits that we are looking for derived from the genetics of years of beekeeping within isolated confines. The "sires" of these daughters, the drones, were from selected lines of Russian, Italian, Minnesota Hygienic, SMR, German Black and our own Survivor Stock queens. We have infused our genetics with additional Russian Drone Mothers over the last 10 years as the Russian genetics also play a viable part in the scheme of things in addition to Dr. Harbo's own VSH Breeder queens and although no longer recognized as a major contributor the first honeybee that came to America, the German Black is still hiding somewhere in the woods for at one time not too long long ago I brought a German Black queen from a donor hive of mine in Brown's Summit to provide drones for the queens that I was raising. I hope to think that that extremely prolific queen's genetics still contribute to our Carolina and VSH Survivor Queens for the genetics are most likely carried back to the first few years of having the honeybee here in America.

   Our VSH Hybrid Queens that we have for sale are the daughters of Instrumentally Inseminated VSH daughters from Dr. John Harbo's pure VSH Breeder Queens. We purchase our Breeder Queens every year in order to assure the availability of product and Drone Breeders. They are reared from queen cells installed into our queen-less worker populated 3-frame or 5-frame mating nucs in our isolated mating yards with feral drones. These yards have the History of  from both queen and drone mother breeder hives which now give raise to the other 50% of the raised grafted queen's daughter's genetics. We enjoy Harbobeeco's VSH queens and they carry the genetics that we are looking for including very good brood patterns, gentleness, and honey production and longevity of queens as well as mite and disease resistance. It is not uncommon for our own VSH hives as well as the hives with Dr. Harbo's VSH Breeder Queens to live for three seasons of laying productive hives disease and Varroa resistant workers.  It is; this is the genetics of the daughters of the queens that we raise and sell, the workers, that carry the desirable traits that we are looking for. The "sires" of these daughters, the drones, were from selected lines of Russian, Italian, Minnesota Hygienic, SMR/VSH, and our own Survivor Stock queens that have the genetics that have been carried forth from almost two decades of breeding honeybees by a better Hand than mine.

From Dr. John Harbo Website @

   "A valuable feature of VSH is that bees will express a high level of mite resistance when a colony contains as little as 50% of the alleles for VSH. A simple way to produce such a colony is to raise daughter queens from a VSH breeder and allow the daughters to naturally mate. This is good news for queen producers. They can rear VSH queens, mate them to any drones, and those queens will produce colonies that require no chemical control for varroa. Another benefit is that beekeepers can have mite resistant colonies without destroying their existing bee populations --populations which may be well adapted to certain locales or have desirable beekeeping qualities". From:

From Notes on VSH by Tom Glenn founder of Glenn Apiaries of Fallbrook, California (Retired):


It's not often in life that an idea comes along that is so good that it can change the world. The development of VSH bees which can reduce Varroa mite populations without chemical treatments is just such an idea. The result of over a decade of research by some of today's brightest honeybee scientists, VSH is making a difference in the apiaries and lives of beekeepers all across America.
VSH breeder queen darj

The development of the VSH line of bees by the team of scientists at the USDA Bee Breeding Lab in Baton Rouge, is a true scientific success story. Through careful observation and experimentation, they painstakingly came to understand the natural defenses that the bees had hidden away in their genome. Selection for these beneficial genetic traits over many bee generations has resulted in not only resistance to Varroa mites, but also to American Foulbrood and Chalkbrood. The hygienic behavior of VSH bees, even extends to defense against wax moths and small hive beetles. -Tom Glenn.

"For additional information I believe that you can still visit Tom's Website to glean and gain some great beekeeping knowledge" I am thankful for his and Suki's work as well. - C. Norton, 2017




 VSH Links:




Our Own Survivor Stock

   For many many years prior to having been solicited for Charter membership in the Russian Honeybee Breeders Association I had purchased Russian breeder queens from either Charlie Harper or Glenn Apiaries or both at a time. I had also purchased through Glenn Apiaries both Minnesota Hygienic and SMR (Suppressed Mite Reproduction) breeder queens developed by Harbo and Harris at the USDA-ARS Lab in Baton Rouge. SMR was an established mite-resistance trait that "suppresses mite reproduction" later in 2005 after further study the USDA folks in Baton Rouge appropriately renamed the SMR trait as Varroa Sensitive Hygiene or  VSH.  The Minnesota Hygienic queens developed by Marla Spivak and Gary S. Reuter were my first queens specifically purchased from Glenn Apiaries as Breeder Queens as early as the spring of 1999 with the intention that they would be used as breeder queens because Italian queens with hygienic traits were also determined to have a higher Varroa resistance than non-hygienic Italians and they also showed resistance to Chalkbrood, both American and European foulbrood and they exhibited the hygienic behavior to remove dead larvae and pupae. I also wanted to have the natural inherent traits carried by the Italians such as gentleness and having a natural resistance to American Foulbrood, European Foulbrood, and Chalkbrood as well as larger overwintering clusters able to cover brood while obtaining stored honey under the coldest of temperatures; and, of course honey production.

  That was the basis for my first breeding program and it was quite successful having a very efficient summer queen rearing, excellent winter survivability, a strong spring buildup, Varroa and tracheal mite resistance, disease resistance, honey production, and gentleness. Folks in the Dakotas, Northern Michigan, New York and Vermont were happy with these queens and they ordered year after year. They were also quite adaptable and quite suited to our often long hot, humid and dry summers; but, I still treated and I still had higher Varroa related winter losses than normal. Then I went back to Tom Glenn and ordered SMR Breeder queens and later almost right after they were released I ordered Russian Breeder queens first from Glenn and later Charlie Harper, the CRADA Holder for the USDA-ARS Russian Honey bee program run by Tom Rinderer so when asked by Charlie Harper in 2006 to join the Russian Honeybee Breeders Association I went 100% Russian as a Charter Member.

   In 2008 my breeding strategy was changed to have both Russian and Minnesota Hygienic, Italian,  breeder queens. I developed a Survivor Stock from isolated yards having diversified climates from 735 feet above sea level in the Central Piedmont of North Carolina to over 3100 feet above sea level in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and brought them to my isolated queen yards near Reidsville, that are used for drone mother breeder queens, honey production, research, and pollination. My drone mothers are at this writing currently SMR/VSH,  and my own Carolina Survivor Stock drone mothers; the entire area around all my production queen yards is saturated with Russian and Italian genetics along with my own "Survivor Stock" that I have been developing over the past 17 years. These "survivor hives" gave over 89% survival rates for the last two consecutive years at two different Research Stations here in North Carolina, one at 730 feet and the other at 858 feet above sea level. Our hives overwinter well at 3100 feet above sea level having a Northern US-Southern Canadian type climate classified as Dfa on the Köppen climate classification scale. 

   I really believe that the hybrid queens that I sell will do you well no matter where you live. Read on and see for yourself how quality queens are still possible in today's time and age and why you should invest a few extra dollars today in order to save a lot more tomorrow while getting away from chemical treatments and using proven and tested  hybrid queens that have higher rates of acceptance and lower rates of supersedure.

Tier-1 and Tier-2  Queens

   I had always believed that the length of time that a queen is allowed to establish her brood nest in her mating Nuc is inversely related to a statistical rate of supersedure after she has been introduced to her new home and it is directly related to a statistical rate of acceptance by her new "adopted" colony after she been introduced into a strange and often highly populated hive full of both young and older workers . A published scientific study has confirmed this theorem, please see: Rhodes, Somerville, Hardin. 2004 Queen Honeybee Introduction and Early Survival - Effects of Queen Age at Introduction. Apidologie, 35:383-388. This is one of the best reasons for raising and marketing our Tier-1 and Tier-2 queens but it is not the only reason why that for over the last 18 years we have been raising queens for ourselves and our customers that we do it.

A Tier-1 Hybrid Queen*  

   Once we have a mated and laying queen we want to know if she will be suitable for our customers and our own standards. About two weeks after she has begun her laying we will inspect her larvae and her capped brood for viability and pattern. An assessment of the first complete frame of brood (~70% capped brood) is inspected for brood pattern, health, and viability. If all looks assuring then this queen may be sold as a Tier-1 Queen. This defined Tier-1 queen is at least 42 days old from egg " to ship", that's 14 days older than a 28-day-old standard commercial queen.

A Tier-2 Hybrid Queen*3

   During the next two weeks and longer a Tier-1 queen if not pulled as a Tier-1 queen continues to lay and build up her colony. It is now possible for her to be at her peak of laying and pheromone production. Several days after her third week of laying, after her brood begins to hatch, her daughters are inspected as well. We inspect for Deformed Wing Virus, brood pattern, general health of the hive, and relative productivity. If things are not right she is culled! Only then after a long series of quality inspections will we sell that queen; that queen is now classified as a Tier-2 Queen. This queen is at least 56 days old from egg to "pull"; that's twice as old, 28 days older than a 28 day old commercial queen. This defined Tier-2 queen is now in her prime.

The Truth About Some Commercial Mail Order Queens and Why I believe That I Am Different Than Most by selling Tier Level Queens

Most commercial queen producers raise queens by placement of a ripe queen cell in a mating NUC then removing the queen for shipment exactly 14 days later. This is done strictly on a 28 day schedule as it is the most efficient manner to raise and ship commercial queens. Technically the queen is 28 days old from the day that she was laid as an egg by her breeder queen; old enough to have mated and to have begun laying; but, there are many pitfalls. The first consideration is the age of the larvae when it was grafted. The queen removed to be shipped may or may not have been mated and often very little is known about her matriarchal abilities. Because of the 28 day cycle which begins with grafting to  scheduleThe Italian race of honeybees in the USA is not the same now as it was when the US closed its borders to the importation of honeybees after the outbreak of the Isle of Wright Disease at the turn of the last Century; the Italian gene pool is becoming shallower with less genetic diversity. We need genetic diversity with defined and desirable traits. Sometimes a queen will mate but never lay; she will spend her whole life parading around her colony without ever laying an egg. Sometimes when laying is interrupted she will not retain her laying ability. Even if a queen is not a drone layer she may be superseded; or, she may become nothing more than a mediocre layer and her daughters marginal honey producers. And yes, sometimes she will knock your socks off with her laying ability; and, often a thought back to a year or two ago to that one marvelous queen will entice you to return to that commercial queen producer even though most of her sisters were average producing queens. Then there are shipped 28 day old queens that did not have the opportunity to mate until after their arrival to your bee yard or perhaps she may not mate at all and become a drone layer. That is why I sell Tier Level queens. We wait until our queens have established their brood patterns and their daughters emerge because we want to assure that our customers will receive a quality queen that will be an asset in their apiary. We put in a lot of extra time and effort but I believe that the result is a better quality queen and a very enthusiastic and satisfied customer. You will make more money on these queens and you will also spend less money on replacements and chemicals in the long run. These are proven queens with a history and they carry the genetics that are desired by breeders, producers, and hobbyists.  All this takes extra manpower and additional production facilities which results in a much longer throughput than most queen rearing operations. I hope that I have opened your eyes to better beekeepi