This week I spent some time with Leonard Pankratz and his crew catching queens. It was a bit chilly and cloudy in the morning, but about noon the clouds parted and it got to be about 75 and sunny. I worked in a sleeve-less shirt and veil-less along side Linda Pankratz. After the unseasonably cold and rainy beginning to this years queen breeding season that set everyone back about two weeks, it was fantastic to work in the sun catching some lovely queens and absorbing the sun.
The other day I did hygienic testing on Buzz Landon’s colonies while they were in the almonds. He brought his two little boys on the day we checked the test. They wore little mittens to protect their hands, but couldn't resist taking them off to poke at the bees. We rode around from pallet-to-pallet on a golf cart that the kids adored and would always yell for their dad to go faster. Buzz would occasionally let them puff smoke on the bees. He laughed and asked me “How many dads do you think let their kids smoke?”
Crop Protection Agents are working with California bee breeders to select this year's queens from colonies with higher levels of Varroa resistance and performance.