These gals are stronger and healthier than their cousins from California or Georgia. So if your queen makes it through the winter, be sure to give her a crown.
The Illinois Queen Initiative (IQI) has grown out of this trend of trying to keep queens locally produced, even within temperature zones in Illinois.
But the IQI has more in mind than just raising queens that are more cold-hardy.
By 2015: Exceed 50% of the demand for queens in Illinois.
Exceed 20% of the demand for nucs or packaged bees (bees provided in bulk by a beekeeper, typically NOT from IL).
Continue training the various methods of
queen rearing to all interested beekeepers
Continue to bring in new genetics as needed in order to enhance current stocks with beneficial traits and avoid the problem of inbreeding.
Continue to test stock for Varroa Mite resistance, hygienic behavior and other positive traits.
My personal goal is to raise at least one nuc to sell to a new beekeeper in 2013. This should get them off to a good start.
Beekeepers are learners, experimenters. It'll be fun to try starting a nuc with a new queen and providing it to a new beekeeper.
I hope you join me in this IQI adventure.
Until then, see you around the hive!