The Queen Code

When you purchase a queen from us, your queen comes with a certified bill of health and comes with a ‘queen code.’ 

This is a label on the back of the queen cage; the label has a code that tells you the genetic trait tests and how that queen (or queen’s mother/queen’s father) ranked. 

The queen code gives you the information to understand ‘why this queen was selected and bred for commercial sale. The days are over for ‘queen factories’ – where you purchase a queen and are hoping it’s a good one. 

We provide you with all the genetic traits for the queen, the traits of her mother, and the traits of her father’s mother. This provides you with powerful data for your apiary, and more importantly – holds us accountable to provide you with the best genetics possible.

The ranking is determined on a curve at each apiary. So a Ranking of 5 for honey at one apiary site may not produce the same yields as a Ranking of 5 at another site. This is because every apiary will have a different harvesting area to cover. Instead, it’s ranked on a curve. At that apiary site, a ranking of 5 shows that out of the 30 hives on that apiary – this one produced the most honey. Since it was ‘competing’ with its peers at that apiary site. 

This helps determine strengths and weaknesses relative to that area. 

queen cage with our code that shows the genetics of that queen

An example of a code you will receive is something like this: FA – I – HY5 – HN4 // UA-I-HY4-HN4 // UB-I-HN4 – HY3 // I

Our rankings cover 6 different genetic traits that were tested for within a year. We provide two of the top genetic traits that the queen ranked in. The first is the ‘main’ and the second is the ‘secondary’ trait. 

It is important to know that in order for a queen to be sold, she (or her mother or father’s mother) cannot score under a ranking of 3. If she scores lower in any of the categories, she will not be sold. So this helps to know that each queen was tested in 6 different categories and ranked a 3 or better in all categories. The main and secondary traits are by far the straights shown out of those 6 areas. 

This helps provide you data on the quality and productivity of your queen. 

Rankings are from 1 – 5, where 1 represents a ranking in the 20 percentile (or lower), and 5 was in the 95 percentile or higher. This helps greatly determine the prowess of the queen. 

As was mentioned, EACH hive in an apiary is ranked EACH year in all 6 testing categories. This helps separate ‘opinion’ of breeding traits from accurate data of breeding traits. 

The Break Down

The queen code comes in 4 parts, each part separated by a ‘//.’ Let’s look at each part. 

The first part explains the current queen (the one you bought). If that queen has not been tested yet (as in the case with virgin queens or even natural breed queens that are bought a month after mating). You will see ‘UN’ which means, unknown. 

Whenever data has not been gathered, you will see ‘UN’ in that section. 

In most cases, the queen’s data is gathered for breeder queens or for overwintered natural mated queens. In every other instance, you will see ‘UN’ for the first section.

In the second part, which in our example is represented as Ua-I-Hy3-HN4 – that second part explains the queen’s mother tested qualities. In every case of buying a queen, the second part will always be shown. 

The third part explains the queen’s father’s mother. As with the case with insemination, the father’s mother will be identified. When there is a high probability that the tested father mother was gathered, you will see a ‘*’ at the end – signifying that area was saturated with those genes. In the case that multiple father queens are used, those will be listed. 

The final part, which in the example is “I.” This represents the breeding technique used. 

Now you know what each part represents, let’s go into what the parts of these codes mean. 

So you can follow along – the example code for part 1 and part 4 will be used and expanded on. Keep in mind; part 1 – 3 has the same testing parameters the only difference it who was tested (queen, queen mother, and queen fathers mother – respectively). 

Each subpart is separated by a ” -. “

In each testing case, the letters (or numbers) prior to the first ‘-‘ is the unique identifier of the queen – it has no testing interest, other then identification. 

So in most cases, this first subpart can be ignored. 

The second subpart is the identification of the subspecies of honey bee. We use lab diagnosis of the wing pattern to accurately identify subspecies. 

 

The third subpart is where the testing parameter’s come in. As was mentioned, this is the main tested trait, and the fourth subpart is the secondary tested trait.

There are 6 traits we test for, as of 2021.

The list is as follows:

HY = Hygiene

HN = Honey 

SS = Strong Stock

MR = Mite Resistance

QF = Queen Fertility 

C = Calmness

As was mentioned, each test is ranked on a curve from 1 – 5. A 5 represent the top 95 percentile or higher. 

For testing, we never sell a 2 or lower in any category. So, a ranking of 3 = 75% ranking or higher, 4 = 90%+, 5 = 95%+.

The main and secondary traits will normally always be a 5 or 4. With at least the other 4 testing parameters being a 3 or greater. 

 

The fourth subpart is the secondary tested trait. 

There are 6 traits we test for, as of 2021.

The list is as follows:

HY = Hygiene

HN = Honey 

SS = Strong Stock

MR = Mite Resistance

QF = Queen Fertility 

C = Calmness

As was mentioned, each test is ranked on a curve from 1 – 5. A 5 represent the top 95 percentile or higher. 

For testing, we never sell a 2 or lower in any category. So, a ranking of 3 = 75% ranking or higher, 4 = 90%+, 5 = 95%+.

The main and secondary traits will normally always be a 5 or 4. With at least the other 4 testing parameters being a 3 or greater. 

This symbol is used as a separator for the various parts of the code. 

The final part of the code, which in the example is “I”, represnts the breeding technique used.

The techniques we use are as follows.

IG = Instrumental Insemination + Grafting 

IA = Instrumental Insemination+ Alley Method

IR = Instrumental Insemination + Raised 

NG = Natural Breed + Grafting 

NA = Natural Breed + Alley Method

NR = Natural Breed + Raised

watercolor honeybee

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