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Thread: Queen Bank

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    I find references to queen banks, but I can't find much information on how to set one up or how to manage one. Any advice from someone with experience in this? I'm about to raise some queens and need to know how to keep them until I can use them.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
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    803

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    Hi Michael,

    I have tried to bank queens but it is very time consuming and costly, both in damaged or rejected queens and in the amount of young bees needed to keep the queen bank viable. That's not a problem for a large queen rearer-package producer as they often have the extra bees and queens but for the small guy(me) it was prohibitive.

    The best way to bank a small number of queens is in a small nuc. A special bottom board can be constructed and a deep super divided into a number of compartments. Two frame divisions work fine but for a shorter time span than a three or five frame division. The queens can also continue to develope normally. They are not finished developing when they mate.

    Queens can be banked for a limited time above an excluder in a queenrite hive. I like a three story hive for this, the farther from the old bees in the bottom and the broodnest the better. No attendants in the cages and the bees must freely cover the cages. I like to place them face down.

    A queenless hive filled with young bees and very little brood will also work. Frames can be constructed that will hold the standard wooden queen cages back to back. Quite a large number of queens can kept this way but the as the young bees age they must be replaced with bees or sealed brood. Enough bees must be present to keep the climate right for all the queens and feed them. No attendants are used in the queen cages. This hive must be feed.

    With the banked hives expect a 50%loss over time if you are successful. Expect a 100% loss if your not! And I am convinced that banking young queens harms them.

    Some races of bees will take care of banked queens better than others. I've had some that would kill all but a couple of the banked queens overnight.

    My preference is with the nucs. When a queen is needed the whole nuc can be used and another established with a cell.

    Queen cells are very easy to raise and a small supply can easily be produced every week. A deep super of beescan be divided with a thin follower board into two five frame nucs. One side initially maintains the breeder queen. The other side is queenless and will easily raise a dozen excellent cells/week.

    After the cells are harvested, a frame containing the queen and young larva are switched with the grafting frame on the other side. The queenless side is now queenrite and the other side is ready for rearing cells. This process can be repeated as needed.

    Regards
    Dennis


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Drums, PA, USA
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    331

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    I never tried to bank queens. I figure if I have enough bees for mating nucs, I'll let them in there until I need them. I am no large queen guy, but I take pride in my queens and a bank looks like it is a place to "put" queens. I understand exactly what Dennis is saying about post-mating development. My queens seem to gain more weight and size with some time after they start laying. I guess I like to be a little more personal with my queens!

    ------------------
    Dale Richards
    Dal-Col Apiaries
    Drums, PA

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Thanks for the replies. It does seem more natural to just leave them in a nuc, but it is also more convienient to have them where you can grab a cage and go. Both make a certain amount of sense. How well would a queen do if you left her in a mating nuc? I know it would quickly get filled, but it would be easy to find her.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
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    Greetings Michael,

    By mating nuc do you mean baby nuc? I don't like the baby nucs because they can't maintain themselves. For a large producer in a moderate climate, they are very bee efficient over a short time period when lots of queens are produced. For an extended period they are a pain.

    I like nucs with deep frames. My current choice are deeps divided into 2 or 3 nucs. The bees can maintain themselves and their hive environment quite easily in a nuc that size.

    The only thing that can cause trouble is a major honey flow and it causes trouble in all phases of queen rearing. Can you believe a beekeeper could say such a thing :> )

    A frame with foundation can be left in the 5 frame nuc and a major flow won't cause any problems. The 3 frame nuc will get all plugged out and little if any space will be left for brood. Some bees will handle that situation fine but others don't.

    Regards
    Dennis

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Jameson, MO USA
    Posts
    76

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    Hi Dennis;

    You mentioned that some races of bees are better at caring for banked bees than others. I have seen similar comments in other posts on other subjects, and have always been left wondering "Which race is better or worse?" in respect to the given subject. Could you share your experience as to which is which in regard to queen banking?
    Thanx, Joel

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
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    Greetings Joel,

    Now I'm going to make a very big generalization with a very, very, large caveat. The yellow bees seem to be an easier bee regarding all aspects of queen rearing, banking, introduction, etc.

    The blacker bees seem to be a harder bee to work with in these areas.

    Now the caveat. Always test your stock on a small scale before making big or critical decisions. In the US, variation within races is often equal to or greater than the published variation between races. These tests are vital. I have had success rates for various stocks that varied from 15% average to about 85%.

    Regards
    Dennis

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Drums, PA, USA
    Posts
    331

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    I use 5 frame deep nucs. I tried the deep super divided into 3, but without success. I like the 5 frame deep, because it is very easy to find queens, having bees of all ages is important, and it is easy to care for. I raise queens by my back porch. They are always handy to manipulate, and never get neglected that way. I think convieniece is vital.
    I also agree with not making any vital decisions of the unknown. Sometimes it is better to see what a new queen is doing, plus it gives her a chance to relly mature. But then again, I was in a pinch once, needed a queen, and it was truly the unknown, (meaning untested), and she turned out great. That was something that needed to be done right now though. Otherwise I like to look for things once the nuc gets going. Some traits the I feel are desirable. And with my breeding thoughts, it will take time to accomplish. But it is worth the wait.
    I have been in the same acceptance percentage bracket as mentioned. I have good runs and bad ones. I think that reflects alot on what is going on in the field though. I have tried to do things exactly the same, and always have different results. But each time, the puzzle seems to come together a little more. Practice, practice, practice.


    ------------------
    Dale Richards
    Dal-Col Apiaries
    Drums, PA

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, United States
    Posts
    397

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    Dennis wrote:
    Now I'm going to make a very big generalization with a very, very, large caveat. The yellow bees seem to be an easier bee regarding all aspects of queen rearing, banking, introduction, etc.

    The blacker bees seem to be a harder bee to work with in these areas.

    Reply:
    I think this would depend more upon ones area and local here. I myself see the yellower bees as harder to work with in these areas, and the darker easier to keep in banks and holding nucs.

    Guess it depends upon the users and bees and how the locality reacts to them for some reason.

    Dennis further wrote:
    Now the caveat. Always test your stock on a small scale before making big or critical decisions. In the US, variation within races is often equal to or greater than the published variation between races. These tests are vital. I have had success rates for various stocks that varied from 15% average to about 85%.

    Reply:
    Now this I completely agree with above. Don't trust races as races or strains as strains just cause someone says so. Try them first small scale before cranking up so you don't get hurt later with queen failure, etc.

    Sincerely

    Dee A. Lusby


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Lynnville, Ia, USA
    Posts
    173

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    In regard to banking queens. I have a frame modified to hold two trays. Each tray will hold two rows of mini cages. That's 50 queens in each tray. the bottem of the tray covers up the candy so the bees can't get to it. I usually put in one frame of brood and another frame of bees. If you are storing for an extended period, you will have to replace the brood frame as the brood emerges.

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