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From the shores of Lake Superior to the banks of the Rio Grande, Quality through the Seasons.

Enchanted Empress
Breeder Companion Queens

Overwintered Tested Rocky Mountain Reina
Survivor Stock Queen Honeybees*

Healthy Survivor Stock Queens

Enchanted Empress Breeder Companions have been mated in our home yard at 8300' elevation in the southern Rockies- Truchas, New Mexico. Our home yard contains all of our Mother Breeder Colonies. This assures that the drones your Breeder Companions have naturally mated with transfer the best, longest term survivor genetics we have.

Our location is quite unique - in what we call the "kiss", where Santa Fe, Carson and Pecos National Forests meet in the high mountains. According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, our home yard actually has a shorter growing season by one day compared to our northern Michigan apiaries. Our seasonal cycle rotates colonies from the lower riparian and high altitude desert valleys 3900'-5300' up to the alpine meadows and mini-valleys of the Sangre de Cristo mountain chain rising from 6300' up to 9000' feet in elevation.

Though initially perceived as "site-specific" - some survivor lines can cross regions and perform well in a variety of conditions given they have been selected from healthy stock reared with quality nutrition and under respectful circumstances. Stressed nucs yield poor quality queens. Flourishing nucs with a balance of castes rear quality queens and can add to overall immunocompetence.

Rocky Mountain Reina Italian VSH X
Rocky Mountain Reina Italian VSH X

This immunocompetence - or normal immune response to an antigen - is affected by poor environmental conditions, poor forage and poor genetics. Healthy bees rear healthy bees. The Land of Enchantment is a jewel of mystery with landscape traversing all climate zones but one (tropical). The geography of New Mexico transposes diversity with adversity and due to natural conditions alone - nurtures a hearty and persevering bee.

Introducing Breeder Companions to your apiary can help diversify your genetics from proven survivor lines. These Empresses are called Breeder Companions because they are best used in a program along with other queens from select and diverse genetics to establish a local queen production program with the aim of developing a regionally adapted but diverse queen line.

Beekeeping in High PasturesHigh Mountain Mating Nuclei
Beekeeping in High Pastures       High Mountain Mating Nuclei

Our bees have been kept for over 10 years without chemicals and in a variety of conditions and diverse climates. Breeder Companions for 2012 are mated during the post-monsoon, summer nectar flow assuring excellent forage resources and mating conditions. Large mating nucs provide excellent care for her throughout her development.

After four weeks undisturbed to allow her complete development, she is checked and marked and then remains un-disturbed to develop naturally into the fall and overwinter. Hundreds of these select colonies go into the winter. Come spring, they are evaluated and only the incredible are selected as breeder companions.

LONGEVITY is the UMBRELLA Trait and should be utilized for sustainable selection of naturally hearty and regionally fortified bees. Long-lived queens have established their overall lifetime merit and serve as carriers of positive genetic traits (those which have imparted long life, i.e.: pest/pathogen resistance, hygiene, gentleness and productivity season to season). Longevity through diverse and adverse conditions parents a myriad of positive survivor traits that truly determine overall health and performance from season to season.

2005 Blue dot NWC X, 2009 photo
2005 Blue dot NWC X, Photo taken in 2009

Like Seeds, colonies store an encoded genetic memory- one that we, as their stewards can observe throughout the hive through their behavior. We believe what we can see- and selecting, rearing and cross-stocking these "Seeds" provides a sustainable and reliable resource for hearty honeybee stock.

Drone comb from senior Mother breeder colonies are placed in mating yards
Drone comb from senior Mother breeder colonies are placed in mating yards

We highly recommend that all beekeepers - small and large - recreational and professional make efforts to mark and track queens then breed off the oldest untreated colonies. Our favorite breeder Queens are three years old. Three year old queens have proven their overall lifetime merit by surviving the diversity and adversity of our landscape in the southern Rockies while maintaining gentleness, productivity and hereditary longevity.

2006 White Dot Queen Ital X NWC +
2006 White Dot Queen Ital X NWC +

Breeder Companions are shipped USPS Express mail insured (two-day guaranteed). We ask that those who incorporate these queens into their apiaries, to please share their performance with us. We require feedback in order to evaluate our existing and developing breeding protocols and to incorporate constructive input. We appreciate honest evaluations from all regions/climates.

Sharing Tested Survivor Stock with California Beekeepers
Sharing Tested Survivor Stock with California Beekeepers

We do not claim to be developing The Super Bee, but rather are dedicated to finding what works for us and positive intent to share quality genetics. Positive intent includes respect for nature's calendar and a commitment to quality production. The best genetics in the world can be compromised if the rearing process is rushed and relies upon a barrage of synthetic inputs.

Evaluating a Hive

We first started rearing queens for ourselves and our fundamental protocols have still stayed the same- We select from our oldest and best and we give their daughters a large nuc and ample time to demonstrate their laying posture. Of course the bees do the important part. Our stock continues to impress us and we hope it will impress you as well!

Sincerely - Melanie Kirby & Mark Spitzig