Bee queen on honeycomb with surrounded honeybees layong eggs

Queen Bee Availability

WSU Old World Honey Bee Germplasm Importations
& Queen Availability

Maintaining genetic diversity in a honey bee breeding population is critical to colony fitness. The US. honey bee population was established from limited shipments of honey bees (primarily from  Europe) before the Honey Bee Act of 1922 restricted further importation.  Cumulatively, the effects of a small founder populations and genetic drift, and historical and ongoing queen breeding practices relying on a small number of breeder queens represent genetic bottleneck events with the potential to reduce genetic diversity. The goal of the WSU Germplasm Importation Project is to enhance the U.S. Honey Bee gene pool with the importation of bees from their European native range.

In 2008, the WSU honey bee program began overseas collection and importation of semen from three European honey bee subspecies, Apis mellifera carnica, A.m. caucasica and A.m. ligustica, under permit from USDA-APHIS. This germplasm was used annually to instrumentally inseminate virgin queens initially derived from US commercial strains of Carniolan or Italian honey bees.   The imported semen undergoes viral screening, and inseminated queens are quarantined in isolation until released by USDA-APHIS. Since 2011, aliquots of all released semen has also been maintained in cryogenic storage.  The cryopreserved semen continues to be used for backcrossing and further enhancement of the proportion of Old World parentage.

Caucasian Breeder Queen Availability

Through importation of A.m. caucasica semen and backcrosses of these various lines, we have re-established Caucasian bees in the U.S. These are now available to beekeepers. Old World Caucasian germplasm is sometimes available through limited numbers of instrumentally inseminated (I.I.) breeder queens that are shipped from July to September of each year from the WSU honey bee breeding program, or by other arrangement. These queens are recommended for use by queen producers and organizations to propagate production queens. Experience in introducing I.I. queens is strongly recommended.

Instrumentally inseminated Caucasian breeder queens

The Caucasian breeder queens will have greater than 80% genetic origin from Old World A.m. caucasica sources with the remaining genetic background sourced from US commercial Carniolan strains.

Breeder Queens 2024

To inquire about availability of breeder queen bees for receipt during the summer of 2024, please reach out to WSU Entomology: or 509-335-5425

Purchase I.I. Queen Bees

New World Carniolan (NWC) Breeder Queen Availability

Sue Cobey, Buzz Landon, and Valerie Severson.
Sue Cobey, Buzz Landon, and Valerie Severson.

The New World Carniolan (NWC) breeding program, founded in 1982, is heading into its 40th generation. Modeled on the Page-Laidlaw Closed Population Breeding concept, the program was modified to establish and maintain a Carniolan population to provide quality queens to the industry. The NWC was initiated at Vaca Valley Apiaries in California by Susan Cobey and Tim Lawrence and moved with Cobey to several Universities. Since moving to WSU, the NWC has been enhanced with the incorporation of Apis mellifera carnica germplasm from Europe into the breeding population.

To ensure the long term future of the NWC breeding program, a Certified NWC Producer Partnership has been established with Strachan Apiaries and Buzz’s Bees to maintain program and provide NWC breeder queens to the industry. Strachan Apiaries and Buzz’s Bees have taken on the role of Certified NWC Producer Partners and are officially producing instrumentally inseminated NWC breeder queens with the continuing support of Susan Cobey and Steve Sheppard at WSU.

Instrumentally inseminated NWC breeder queens available from these certified Producer Partners.

Buzz’s Bees

Strachan Apiaries

Please contact the above Producer Partners for pricing and availability.  They can provide a list of NWC queen producers who use certified NWC breeder stock to supply open-mated producer queens to beekeepers nationwide.

Naturally Mated WSU Program Queens

The WSU honey bee breeding program was established in the late 1990’s when a diverse collection of US honey bee stocks was purchased and screened for apicultural characteristics under Pacific Northwest conditions. Continuous selection criteria for these stocks includes hygienic behavior, gentleness, overwintering ability, honey production and disease resistance in the absence of antibiotics. Occasional introductions of new genetic material are made through the drone mother lines continues each year, including the inclusion of selected Carniolan and Caucasian stocks derived from recent importations of germplasm (semen) from populations within the endemic range of the subspecies A. m. carnica and A. m. caucasica, respectively. WSU program queens are “open-mated” at our isolated mating station in the George Hudson Biological Preserve on WSU’s 800-acre Smoot Hill Farm.

Due to our climate, queen production takes place in June and July. WSU Program Queens will be available for shipment starting in July through August. Very limited quantities are available – priority will be given to beekeeping associations in the PNW involved in local breeding efforts. Cost per queen- $150.00 prepaid online; prior to June 30.

These queens are not currently available to purchase.