September 25, 2018

Richard Cowles: The Queen of Your Dreams

Richard Cowles

Richard Cowles

Packages of bees with queens obtained from the South can be expected to be more prone to carry varroa mites and higher virus loads than locally raised queens because there may be no break in brood production in warmer climates.  This may contribute to a vicious cycle, in which beekeepers purchase packages each spring, only to have their colonies die that winter.   My queen rearing program, funded by the CT Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant program, investigated three main sources of genetics for beekeepers in CT to rear their own hygienic bees (1) commercially available hygienic queens from various breeding programs around the country, (2) feral bees obtained by setting swarm traps in CT forests, and (3) feral bees taken from buildings in New England.  This presentation will discuss the outcome of these approaches, the current status of the queen production efforts, and the needs for continuing these efforts.

About the Speaker
Dr. Cowles has been working at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station for almost 24 years, where he is known for his efforts to resolve many insect and mite pest problems. Rich obtained his graduate degrees in entomology from Cornell and Michigan State Universities.  Although he helped his dad keep bees while growing up in Massachusetts and took Roger Morse’s class in Introduction to Beekeeping at Cornell, he didn’t revive those interests until after having read Tom Seeley’s book “Following the Wild Bees.”  That book served as an inspiration to try and help Connecticut beekeepers by starting a local queen bee rearing program.