About our Spring Package Bees & Starter Nuclei

This year marks the 18th anniversary of Zia Queenbees Farm here in New Mexico and also the 10th anniversary of our collaborative early spring bee breeding projects in the Santa Cruz coastal mountains of Northern California. We receive inquiries about our bees, the timeline, and the process and so here’s some info for the curious….

2022 ZQB Package Bee & Starter Nuclei Online Order & Payment Portal

Due to our high elevation and the late frosts, rearing bees in the early part of the year in northern New Mexico isn’t possible. Despite the warming temps in March which begin to thaw the mountain snows, all that cold air comes racing down the canyons into the valleys and April tends to chill again. We have learned the hard and expensive way that trying to breed bees too early in this part of the world is detrimental to the bees….and so, in 2011 we began journeying to Northern California to visit with other queen producers, share and learn from each other,  and to share bee breeding stock.
That year we met an aspiring bee breeder and the following year, he invited us to bring some of our breeders to his mating yards. For 5 years we bred some early season queens there and helped him to develop his Northern California survivor stock. We kept all of those initial queens for evaluation and began testing them here in northern New Mexico to see if they demonstrated adaptive behaviors that were conducive to our environment. To our delight, they were and continue to be. Then in 2017, we began sharing these early season bred queens (which are Northern NM queens mated with Northern California drones in the Bay Peninsula Preserve).
This year marks the 5th anniversary of these shared queens and we continue to breed and share them with beekeepers here in New Mexico for those wanting bees earlier than our local climate will allow for successful breeding. We go out to the preserve starting in late January with some of our breeders so they can fatten up on the eucalyptus and rosemary and wildflower nectar flows to begin rearing queens in March. It is an arduous and expensive process vs. flipping bees from larger producers whose breeding programs may not be conducive to handling the diversity and adversity of our New Mexican landscapes.
  • All Packages come with a:
    Fresh, well-mated ZQB Queenbee x Wings of Nature-NorCal drone stock  from our collaborative breeding efforts with producers who have integrated our ZQB breeding stock into their production systems. We travel out to Northern California to prepare these and so we are a part of the whole process. Cost for  3# packages (loose bees with a  freshly mated caged queen in a screened transport crate)  is $220. They can be picked up at the farm or with an added delivery fee to  Santa Fe (+$10) and Albuquerque (+$15). To reserve a 2021 ZQB Package of bees please visit our online order and payment portal.

  • All Starter Nuclei come with a:         

Fresh, well-mated ZQB Queenbee x NorCal drone stock from our collaborative breeding efforts in the Santa Cruz Coastal Mountain range on the Bay Peninsula Preserve of Northern California. We travel out to Northern California to split, breed, and nurture these starter hive families. Cost for 4-frame starter nuc (bees on established comb with food stores and a freshly mated queen bee in a reusable transport nuc box) is $300. These can be picked up at the farm or with an added deliver fee to Santa Fe (+$10) and Albuquerque (+15).  To place a reservation for 2021 Starter Nuclei, please visit our online order and payment portal.

ZQB Queenbee Cells & Virgins

Survivor Queenbee Cells are limited availability during the spring and summer months. Virgin queens are also available for purchase and can be shipped. We will need to know at minimum two weeks in advance in order to prep and rear large quantity of cells for desired emergence date. On occasion we have some extras from our grafting rounds and can accommodate local pick-ups for small quantities. This is an interesting way to introduce new genetics that are out-crossed with your surrounding drone population. Contact us for pricing and shipping options.

CELL PRICING – for shipments via UPS Overnight (minimum 15 cells)
1-25            $13/each
26-100        $10/each
100+           $9/each

Virgin queens are shipped 1-2 days after emergence; once their exoskeletons have hardened and they are accompanied by attendants. Splits or Nucs should be prepared ahead of time (de-queened) and ready to receive virgins  upon arrival. Once installed, they should be left alone for at least 3 weeks (preferred) to ensure successful mating and establishing of laying posture.

 VIRGIN QUEEN PRICING – for shipments via UPS Overnight (minimum 15 cells)
1-25 $18/each
26-100 $15/each
100+ $12/each

We use JzBz cell cups and cages. Timing of cell pick-up must not be too early  as damage of wings could occur (no good having virgins that can’t fly to mate). Incubation should remain at 93-95F (33-35C) degrees. Excessive chilling will delay emergence and can adversely affect virgin development. Too high heat and cells will mature faster with earlier emergence time or will cook and die. Beware of cells hatching early as first virgins out will attack the other cells.

Virgin shipping methods involve overnight and insist upon immediate installation of cells into prepared splits or mating nucs regardless of weather.