Mike Palmer

michael palmer.jpg


Brood Factories

Seasonal Management of Double Nuclei


Michael Palmer’s beekeeping career started in 1974 when he took a beekeeping course and started off with just a couple hives from Bedford, Quebec, Canada. In 1979/1980, he bought a hundred hives from Better Bee and bought nucleus colonies (nucs) from a friend because back then, prices were pretty low. By 1982, he bought another hundred hives and was up to 200. During this period, he was working the fall, winter, and spring in the sugar woods and when he was done with that, he went to work in an orchard in New York state where they had 500 hives, which then put him at over 700 hives. Michael worked for them for four years and then bought their bees.


By 1992/1993 a few years after tracheal and Varroa mites became a huge problem, Michael lost a lot of his bees. In 1998, he went to visit Kirk Webster in Vermont and “that’s where the real change [was] for me,” says Michael, “to be able to raise my own [queens].” Michael says when you’re trying to run a commercial operation, you can’t spend all your money on something you can make, so his visit to Kirk Webster’s operation got him started on raising his own queens. From then on, he saw the quality increase.

Michael’s current setup includes a mating yard in the middle of about five to six of his apiaries where he gets his drones and where he tries to put good stock. Michael does not buy queens. “If I buy a queen or trade with someone, it’s for breeding purposes, not for production queens,” says Michael.


Since becoming a beekeeper, Michael has shared his nuc and queen rearing project information with everyone, largely through YouTube videos. He’s really pleased at how many people are now wintering nucleus colonies. He also feels fortunate in how much he gets to travel. “We go all over the world doing talks on bees and wintering nucs and raising queens,” says Michael. “Two weeks in New Zealand, three weeks in England…it’s pretty amazing [to] meet all the beekeepers and see what they do and their differences.”