I wrote up an article on “The Miller Method” for making queens. I did not publish it here because I wanted to verify all the steps by doing it myself. I sent it to my brother Ward because I did not have enough time this Spring to work the hives.
Ward ran with it and is busy making queens. The last I heard, he got a good frame of brood and cut it into points to encourage queen production. He put it in a queen-less box and that’s the last I heard. He should have cells by now.
I sent him some queen cell protectors for moving the cells to nucs. This weekend he should have some queens if all goes right. As soon as they are mated he will send me one.
These are queens from his “wild” hives. He harvested 100 pounds from them and they are extremely vigorous. I will split my good hives and introduce his queen. I should have smoky black bees in a month that produce lots of honey.
Ward has the theory that these dark wild bees are the original European dark bee (Apis mellifera mellifera) brought by the colonists in the early 1600s. They went wild and have been living in the woods for years, occasionally mating with Italian bees, but keeping their dark color. (There were no native American honey bees as far as I can find).
The original bee was considered gentle, but the hybrid variety is supposed to be a little cranky and more prone to defend the hive and sting. Nothing could be more gentle than the last batch of bees that I got from Georgia, but even my Golden Italians get a little bitchy sometimes.
These dark bees are hardy, although I wonder if they can resist the pests and diseases introduced lately into the bee population. They might have no resistance to Varroa and hive beetle.