This post does not deal with local (South of Orlando) sources but typically will be limited to very North Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Hawaii, California, etc. where beekeepers can purchase queens from older, established (with a history), proven queen breeders who have developed their own line of bees (some for over a hundred years and/or 4 generations in the business) and have taken great pains to develop lines of queens with sought after desirable traits (i.e., rapid build up, prolific, gentle, surplus honey building, tight brood patterns, easily stimulated when fed, less swarming, disease resistance, pest resistant, hygienic, known genetic origins and controls/testing for quality assurance, etc.).
This is not meant to say you will not be happy with your mutts (water meter, birdhouse/owl box, and homegrown queens), but just offering information here for those that have personally asked about where to purchase something else... an alternative to local SW Florida queens for whatever reasons.
If you know any specifics of Queen suppliers listed here or those not listed here (which fit the thoroughbred/jaguar/elite/superhero criteria), please share your experiences with those those queens and their suppliers.
Personally my best queen ever came from Dan Purvis of Purvis Bros. years ago. I understand their Georgia operation shut down (7 or so years ago) or maybe moved farther away... and I haven't tried their queens since. I have used both Koehnenm, Kona, and Rossman, so I'll start with those 3 in this post. I haven't been nearly as impressed as I was back in the day with Purvis Bros queens. If you are impressed with some queens, let me know why (the details and specifics, where to buy). Please share in a comment to this post for the benefit of others.
The Koehnen family (California) has been beekeeping since 1907. Over the years they've grown to be one of the largest honey bee and queen producers in the world.
Typically they will produce queens from April into early summer (June or July), depending upon the season. They begin accepting orders for queens (and package bees) in early January. Queens (& Packages) are available beginning in April.
Their Cordovan Italian (I call them my Golden Girls, because they are light colored) is the primary queen of interest (in my opinion) that they produce. They also produce Carniolan queens (more of a Northern States bee for colder climates and known for their "overwintering" abilities.)
Their Cordovan (which I have used in the past) are said to be "very prolific, they are known for their rapid spring buildup and they are extremely gentle. They are proven to be very hygienic."
Kona supplies Italian or Ligustica queens (the most popular in the world). Kona Queen Breeder Queens and Drone Mothers are chosen from top commercial honey producing colonies. A quality line of bees developed over many years under commercial conditions from a company that is constantly striving to offer the best quality.
Because of their Hawaiian weather patterns and location of their mating yards, they produce queens on a more reliable schedule than anyone in the business.
These production-proven queens must not only be the top producers, but must pass other stringent tests regarding resistance to diseases, temperament and honey-producing qualities. Their Italians produce large frames of brood, in a tight patterns, are excellent honey producers and not likely to swarm.
A little bit about their history which goes back to 1936 when Mr. J. G. Rossman, known as “Mr. Joe”, progressed from helping a nearby beekeeper, gaining knowledge and experience about bees and forming a partnership, Rossman & Long, with a gentleman from Ohio who each year wintered his bees in South Georgia and supplied customers in the northern states with packaged bees and queens for use in the production of honey.
In 1952 the partnership was severed and the business became known as Rossman Apiaries. In the late sixties the company was incorporated by Fred and Phillip Rossman. Mr. Joe has since passed away, and Phillip has retired. Fred and his wife Ann now own and operate the business.
At the time of this post (May 25, 2020), I have ordered 4 of their queens which will arrive in a couple of days and I'll see how things go.