View Full Version : Accelerated Queen Rearing
01-10-2005, 04:17 PM
I have used accelerated queen rearing to produce mated queens on a weekly basis rather than every two weeks which is the normal lenght of time. Basically, it works like this. A mating nuc is used to rear a caged virgin while at the same time, a free roaming virgin mates. When the mated queen is caged, the caged virgin is released and a caged ripe queen cell is inserted.
The same process is repeated with the caged cell hatching and the virgin is rearing in the same nuc , at the same time, as a free roaming virgin mates.
Grafting one bar/week into a single divided into a breeder side and a free flying starter-finisher side will yield about 13 excellent cells/week. Every two weeks the sides are switched.
This method can provide about 10 mated queens/week throughout the summer. It's a very easy and simple way to have a small, constant supply of mated queens.
Has anyone tried accelerated queen rearing? From my experience, it's not to practical for large scale commercial rearing but would fit the needs of a sideline operation or some who has a very short mating season, like the Alaskan guys.
01-10-2005, 07:29 PM
How do you produce the queen cells on a weekly basis?
01-11-2005, 09:23 AM
This sounds like a very elegant program. Can you give us more details?
Here is what I see in terms of equipment:
One deep (or medium) divided into halves with the queen on one side laying, which are then grafted into cups, and then the cups are transferred over to the queenless side where they are finished off by the queenless bees. Every week you graft larva from the free flying queen side into queen cell cups which are then put into the finishing side (Queenless) where they are capped.
Every two weeks you transfer the queen to the other side, which then becomes the laying side and the old laying side becomes the finishing side.
Then there are 10 mating nucs, each with a caged and virgin queen. You take the best 10 finished queen cells and suspend them in the mating nuc. When the queen emerges the first time, you let her out until she is mated, then remove her. While she is out mating and flying about, you add another finished cell and wait for the queen to emerge. Then repeat.
Do I have it right?
01-11-2005, 01:05 PM
The key is to harvest the sealed cells at day 11(from the time the egg was layed) just after the pre-pupa stage. The timing looks like this once its setup and running:
day 0 - egg layed
day 3 - egg hatches
day 4 - larva grafted
day 14 - grafted cells harvested and caged in nuc, hatched virgin released, mated queen caged
day 16 - caged cell hatch
day 23 - virgins mate
day 27 - mated queens begin laying eggs
It's seven days between grafting and harvesting the sealed queen cells. It's seven days between hatching and mating. And it's only five days between inserted the caged cells and their hatching. The seven day difference allows the two schedules to be slipped. And the two day difference between the seven and five days allows the hatched virgins to coexist. The 3-4 day interval it takes an egg to hatch is about the same time it takes for a virgin to be recognized also allows this timing to work so the grafting schedule versus the nuc schedule can be shifted 4 days apart. That is all grafts for the unit could be done on Thursday. And all nuc work for that unit is done on Sunday.
It sounds pretty complicated and it's somewhat hard to describe but very easy to do. If you're interested, I have an old schedule that I could make available.
01-11-2005, 01:47 PM
>Then there are 10 mating nucs, each with a caged >and virgin queen. You take the best 10 finished >queen cells and suspend them in the mating nuc. >When the queen emerges the first time, you let >her out until she is mated, then remove her. >While she is out mating and flying about, you add >another finished cell and wait for the queen to >emerge. Then repeat.
>Do I have it right?
The queen cells must be caged so that when the virgin queen hatches from those cells she is confined in the cage.
At the same time a caged cell is put in the mating nuc. The mated queen is caged or harvested. And a caged virgin, which has previously hatched and matured in the same nuc, is released to mate. One week later, you do it all over again.
Sealed cells are harvested on day 14(from egg) if left in the rearer or day 11 if an cell incubator is used. The incubator permits the beekeeper to graft and harvest on the same day. but it's usually more hassle than its worth for a small amount of cells. I just go back into the rearer again, with as little disturbance as possible and
remove one cell bar.
The four day difference between 7 and 11 coincides with the difference between egg at day zero and grafting at day 4. So the grafting is done on a weekly basis 4 days before the nuc work. Or the duplex could be grafted every Thursday and the nucs worked on a weekly basis every Sunday. There's lots of other bee stuff going on that makes this possible. It sounds difficult but is actually very easy to do.
For caging cells, I grafted into JZ BZ plastic cups and then put them in the JZ BZ cell protectors when they were harvested. I enlarged the holes in a California mini queen cage so that the end of the queen cell protector would fit inside it. A JZ BZ cup filled with honey was inserted into the other hole in the mini cage.
This is how I worked the mating nuc. Use little or no smoke. First, I quickly inspected the cell cage in the nuc. The virgin should have hatched. The bees on the cage should be behaving themselves without any biting or balling behavior. If that behavior is observed something has gone wrong. Chances are another, slightly older virgin is loose in the hive. Don't release the caged virgin in that nuc or she will be killed.
If all is well, quickly locate the mated queen and cage her. Look for any eggs and newly hatched larva as indication of mating. There's not enough time for sealed brood.
If all is Ok so far, removed the caged virgin and press the caged cell onto the same frame with the screen exposed to the bees. Release the caged virgin into the broodnest. She will be photophobic but will often want to fly, so be ready to herd her into the nuc when necessary.
I've got an old field procedures sheet that I could make available if anyone is interested.
01-11-2005, 06:56 PM
Now I've been thinking about this all day. So you end up with a cell or a virgin in a hair roller cage, a mating queen running around loose and a mated queen in a cage all in the same nuc and this doesn't cause any problems?
01-11-2005, 07:36 PM
"I've got an old field procedures sheet that I could make available if anyone is interested."
I must admit I'm interested. I too am a little surprised that having a caged mated queen, a caged virgin, and a mating virgin/newly mated queendoesn't cause any problems. But then I have very little experience with small mating nucs.
01-12-2005, 07:47 AM
I knew this was going to be hard to describe. And I didn't do a very good job of it.
>Now I've been thinking about this all day. So >you end up with a cell or a virgin in a hair >roller cage, a mating queen running around loose >and a mated queen in a cage all in the same nuc >and this doesn't cause any problems?
Once the process is going, when working the nuc, you end up with a mated free roaming queen and a caged-hatched virgin queen. The mated queen is caged and removed from the nuc. The caged-hatched virgin is released. And a new caged queen cell is put in the nuc.
This process is repeated every seven days. I have used it with Russian bees and it worked great.
01-12-2005, 08:01 AM
>I must admit I'm interested. I too am a little >surprised that having a caged mated queen, a >caged virgin, and a mating virgin/newly mated >queendoesn't cause any problems. But then I have >very little experience with small mating nucs.
Sorry, my description was lacking. It may be clearer when divorced from the grafting aspects. It's an ideal system when used on a small scale. Steve Taber used it on a commercial scale when he was in the queen rearing business. He reported that it worked great for him beewise, but wasn't as flexible as the standard mating methods.
Timing is as critical as it is in grafting with only a 4 day window. It takes about that long for the colony to orient itself on the newly mated queen and about the same time for the hatched virgin to be recognized as a potential queen. After that, trouble with the virgin will occur. A good rule of thumb is to get the mated queen out of the nuc before her eggs hatch. It's more critical with some kinds of bees than others.
01-12-2005, 01:29 PM
This schedule will make it easier to see. This software translates the reply text, which shows the post properly spaced, into some kind of proportional font which does not. To view it properly, copy this post into notepad:
Days are along the top line.
Grafting cycles are read horizonatally with one per line.
Each character in the line represents one day.
e equals egg
G is Grafting
s queen cells sealed
N nuc caged cell
h is cell hatches
R is release caged/hatched virgin
mmm is virgin mating
ll is mated queen laying
C is Cage mated Queen
If a vertical line is drawn through the schedule, it's easy to see how the various cycles relate to each other.
I know why I confused everyone so much. When I raised cells commercially, I incubated them on day 11. And I erroneously typed day 11 as the day the nuc would be worked in a previous post. It should have been day 14 instead of day 11. Sorry :>(
01-13-2005, 05:27 PM
This really is intriguing, Dennis. I think I understand now what is happening.
01-14-2005, 11:53 AM
Dennis: Thanks for this great info. I havn't raised queens before but will try it using your approach this spring.
All: use the "courier" font in notepad to get the proportional alignment.
Got ya Dennis, you got me thinking
01-14-2005, 05:34 PM
Say Dennis, are you going to do an article on it for one of the beekeeping magazines? Heck, it's probably cold and windy in Casper this time of year with plenty of time to spend indoors.....
01-16-2005, 07:35 AM
Hi Dick and Everyone,
No, but I might generate a webpage. I didn't have a digital camera when I was raising queens commercially. So I don't have any pictures of the process or equipment. After the years, it just became so routine, I didn't think about writing or sharing much about it.
Combining accelerated queen rearing and using a duplex, free flying, breeder, starter/finisher (hows that for a long string of queen rearing words :>), is a great combination for a steady supply of a few cells.
I liked it because I could setup the duplex on my patio, in town, and work it at my leasure. The work would take less than ten minutes and wasn't very disruptive or conspicous to the neighbors.
A Cloake board is easy to use but the hive must be larger and must be broken apart to get larva for grafting if it's used as the breeder.
I've got another queen rearing method, based on the same principles, that works equally well for small scale rearing or commercial rearing. I think I will start a new topic as someone might be benefited by it.
04-04-2006, 10:28 AM
I've made a web page concerning accelerated queen rearing. It's at:
www.bwrangler.com/ (http://bwrangler.farvista.net/qmar.htm)bee/qace.htm (http://bwrangler.farvista.net/qace.htm)
[ December 31, 2006, 12:23 AM: Message edited by: D. Murrell ]
WG Bee Farm
04-06-2006, 04:59 AM
For those of you that have Steve Tabers "Breeding Super Bees" he has an accelerated system in the book that is "simular to the above system.
04-06-2006, 06:00 AM
Beautiful website, Dennis! Thanks for posting it. -Danno
NW IN Beekeeper
04-07-2006, 01:01 AM
Dennis - Great website, always informative!
I think this system is very complete.
I also think the time schedule is very tight.
But I don't think it has provisions for "bad weather".
It concerns me that I have queens in the pipeline depending on the assumption that the other queens are mated and moved on in a timely mannor.
I'm not knocking the system (I've thought about calendars like this too and it looks good on paper) just seems that practical variables like weather, flow, and dearth could mess up the schedule and the yeilds.
A calendar gives great confidence that a program can be applied easily, one must consider how to "recover" in unfavorable conditions.
Do you shift your calendar back to day zero?
Do you scratch a week off the calendar? (likely)
A beekeeper can become flustered without a contingancy plan, or at least the realization that progress may not be "paper perfect".
04-08-2006, 05:45 AM
The accelerated schedule is very tight. But it's not as tight as any grafting schedule. I figure there's about a 4 day window with accelerated queen rearing and a 1 day window with the grafting schedule. So, when rearing queens by grafting, it's work them rain or shine :>)
How a beekeeper handles the unexpected depends upon the scale and purposes for rearing queens. There are always breeder queens that take a break.
Starters that won't start. Grafts that don't take. Cells that hatch early or late. Queens that don't get mated(misses). Queens that aren't accepted. Honey flows while queen rearing, etc.
Some methods are more flexible than others. They spread the risk out over more time and require more hives. Grafting pushes the bees and it's great for rearing hundreds to thousands of queens. But it's not a very good method for raising just a few queens. It requires a good schedule, perfect timing, extra work and specialized equipment. Accelerated rearing just pushes that envelop a bit farther for maximum queen production.
I no longer graft, in the traditional sense, as I only run a dozen hives and no longer rear queens on a commercial scale. It's just too much of a hassle for so few a number of queens.
Here's what I do. It's the most flexible, hassle free way to do it. Just place a queenless split above a swarm board on a parent colony. Give them a rear facing entrance. Come back a month later and check it for a mated queen.
[ April 08, 2006, 07:51 AM: Message edited by: B Wrangler ]
04-08-2006, 07:59 AM
What's a swarm board? I'm interested in the other commercial,small scale rearing method that you have yet to describe. I was aware of the accelerated method before but I like the way you cage the hatching virgin. Looks kinda slick and it's all things that I have on hand. Hair rollers looked awfully bulky as that was the only other thing that could do the job.
04-25-2006, 07:31 PM
"Grafting one bar/week into a single divided into a breeder side and a free flying starter-finisher side will yield about 13 excellent cells/week. Every two weeks the sides are switched"
Dennis, please describe how you build and use this set up. I'm not sure I follow this part.
04-30-2006, 07:36 PM
Sorry for the long response time. I'll generate a webpage with some pictures using the duplex. But it will take awhile as I don't have a single picture and the weather, here, is not warm enough to rear a few queens.
05-01-2006, 06:19 PM
Thanks Dennis, look forward to seeing pix and all on your site. In the meantime, could you briefly describe how you set up the breeder side and free-flying side of your hive?
i tried to look at the one website of yours that you posted earlier but is all i get is one small image - no info even after clicking one of the links (and only some of those are highlighted to click on)
any ideas why??
05-15-2006, 05:55 PM
Well, I'm trying to figure this out . . .
Took a 10 frame deep, made 2 dividers - one solid, one queen excluder.
Made entrance doors front and back on both sides.
Set up last Thursday afternoon by putting most of a strong hive in the box, arranging the "starter" side with pollen/honey, capped & open brood, pollen/honey. Kept the queen, and some brood and fresh drawn comb on the other side of the excluder. Started feeding.
Friday afternoon, I took out the excluder and put in the solid divider, making sure the queen was not on the "starter" side.
Shook most of the bees to the starter side, opened the front entrance on the "starter" side, opened the rear entrance on the "queen" side.
Saturday, I grafted 16 cups on 2 bars from a strong queen I raised last year and put in the "starter" side.
Checked them today and have 15 good, strong starts. Made sure the queen was still in her place, removed the solid divider and replaced with the excluder - making it a "queen-right" finisher.
Closed the rear entrance to the "queen" side.
We shall see how they do . . .
05-16-2006, 06:35 PM
Sorry, I didn't get back earlier. But it appears that it's all for the good. I just used a solid divider and left it in. The use of a queen excluder is a neat twist with several possible benefits.
I've always consistently got 13 to 15 of the best queen cells possible using this method. For some reason the quality of the cells is always excellent.
Let me know how the excluder works.
05-16-2006, 06:36 PM
duplicate post--moderator please delete!
[ May 16, 2006, 08:38 PM: Message edited by: B Wrangler ]
05-24-2006, 06:01 PM
Well . . . here are some results, so far. Of 16 grafts made on the 13th, 15 were started, all but 1 were capped and looked great at day 5. Let them simmer until Monday. They had destroyed several cells and built a lot of bur comb on several others. I cut the burr comb off and put cages on, total of 12. Checked this evening, 6 hatched and looking good, 5 now in cages in mating nucs, I'll release them tomorrow, and make up a few more nucs for any others that hatch.
05-25-2006, 06:13 PM
Update: Had 8 of 16 hatch, all in maiting nucs. I'll try to graft a 2nd batch this weekend and see how they go. I think the weird Carolina weather had a bit to do with some of the ones that didn't hatch. We had a cold snap a few days ago and they likely pulled off some of the cells. I think I'll finish the next batch on top of a strong queen-right 5 frame nuc. Now, if I can just keep the mating nucs from getting robbed out. They're about 100 yards from my main yard. It's been very dry and the flow is about done. I'll be lucky to get any honey this year!
05-31-2006, 07:20 AM
Thanks for the tip on those cages for virgins made up with the JzBz equipment. I ran out of time for making up mating nucs after we 've had poor weather. It was great yesterday. Lotsa virgins with the mating sign. Anyways I had a few extra cells and the we placed them in with the virgins. They'll be laying very soon and we'll release the virgins. It's a good idea because I can take use the cell protectors and the queen cages to cage virgins. It's stuff that I have around anyways. Again thank you.
06-11-2006, 12:40 AM
Looks like we had some success. Queens mated and vigins were slow released after. Some mating nucs killed the virgins. Others were trying and still others didn't seem to mind an virgin. Go figure.
08-01-2006, 03:22 PM
we had another situation where we had more cells than nucs and we tried the "accelerated " method again. We had success again. The queens were laying and virgins were in the cell protector queen cage units. It's kinda nice to be able to use the cells up instead of chucking them out. A liitle luck with Ma Nature and we've got mated queens. It's so cool. This part is so much better than running around the country sideoving bees Just got back from a bee moving marathon.
07-21-2007, 04:30 PM
I've been trying this off and on for some time and, to help those who are trying it, here are my observations:
When I do this in a medium depth two frame mating nuc, it fails by far the majority of the time. The virgin in the cage ends up dead unless the first queen fails to return from mating in which case she is still alive.
When I do this in an medium depth eight frame nuc (the equivalent volume of a five frame deep) it works most of the time.
08-22-2007, 03:07 PM
I was wondering if hive space would be significant. It seemed to me that there had to be a mechanism by which the caged virgin was not precieved to be a threat to the mating one, if only that she's so far removed that she isn't recognized.
Would one release the first queen in one corner while inserting the virgin in another corner?