Year of the Beekeeper: Revival Queen Bees
Owners: Glyn and Shevelle Stephens
Location: Spruce Grove, AB
How did you get involved in this sweet industry – what’s your story?
Glyn grew up breeding queen bees at his family’s apiary in New Zealand. His parents were commercial queen breeders and he and his 4 siblings started helping with beekeeping tasks at young ages. He went on to study biology and chemistry at the University of Canterbury, where he met Shevelle, a Canadian biologist studying abroad. After moving to Alberta, Glyn worked as an Inspector for Alberta Agriculture and quickly noticed a lack of local queen bees. With a strong background in queen production, Glyn and Shevelle founded Revival Queen Bees, an apiary dedicated to supplying locally produced queens to Alberta beekeepers. They also sell queen cells, virgins, and a small amount of honey and other merchandise.
What’s a typical day like for you?
We usually get started working the bees as soon as it is warm enough in the morning. Most of our time is spent in the mating nucs picking queens and placing cells. We also graft and move cells from starters to finishing hives most days. We run a small number of hives for honey production, so harvest time is particularly busy for us.
What is the most satisfying part of being a beekeeper?
Watching how industrious the bees can be. We also enjoy being able to work outdoors
How have things like new research, sustainability, innovation, and technology influenced your beekeeping?
Keeping up to date with developments is a good way to improve management techniques. We try to incorporate recent findings and innovation/technology into our operation. Probiotics, nutritional supplements, and oxalic acid applicators are all examples of recent changes to our operation as a result of emerging research or innovation.
Breeding queens in Alberta has it’s challenges due to our relatively short beekeeping season, how have you adapted your practices to suit the Alberta environment?
We use larger mating nucs so they can better withstand temperature swings in the spring. We also amalgamate our mating nucs fairly early to make sure they are able to winter successfully.
Why is it important to breed queens in Alberta?
Queens that are bred for conditions in Alberta will result in stronger, healthier hives. Producing queens in Alberta will also reduce our reliance on imported bees and will make us less susceptible to border and policy changes. As an added bonus, queens produced close by have less risk of being exposed to temperature extremes during shipping. This means that the queens are in better condition when they go into a hive.
What is one of the biggest challenges you feel the Alberta beekeeping industry is facing and what would you like to see changed?
Amitraz resistance. There is a lot of great research being done but more mite treatment options, particularly those that work while the hive is full of brood, would be beneficial.
What is the strangest beekeeping question you have ever been asked?
We were once asked to set our bees free so they weren’t trapped inside the hive 24/7
Do you sell any other bee related products?
Primarily queen cells and virgin queens, but we sell a small amount of honey and printed merchandise.
Where can people buy your queens?
A small number of queens are available for purchase on our website (www.revivalqueenbees.com), but most are available on a waitlist basis so it’s best to call Glyn at 587 938 7474
What are you happiest doing when you are not working?
Brewing cider and mead.