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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
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    London Canada
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    9

    Post

    Is it possible to bank queens in a manner that would get them through winter? Does any one do this? The queens that we can get here early in the spring are generally from Austraila or New Zealand. The local Buckfast queens that I prefer aren't avaliable until the end of June. Anyone have any ideas?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    1,525

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    I think three or four months is an extreme time to call it banking. If you really mean banking as in in a cage being fed by attendants but not being allowed to lay; I don't think it'll work. Either use a nuc or raise your own in spring.

    I'm going to put in a frame of drone brood to tell me when they're raising drones. I figure if drones are flying, queens can mate.

    Good luck,

    Hawk
    KC0YXI

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,593

    Post

    >Is it possible to bank queens in a manner that would get them through winter?

    I don't know.

    > Does any one do this?

    I am attempting it right now.

    > The queens that we can get here early in the spring are generally from Austraila or New Zealand. The local Buckfast queens that I prefer aren't avaliable until the end of June. Anyone have any ideas?

    I have a five frame nuc with about twenty queens in the bank. The queens are in JZBZ cages in a frame that has two racks mounted from about a third of the way back to most of the way back on a frame. I cut these in half:

    http://www.mannlakeltd.com/catalog/page29.htm

    I have an 8 watt terrarium heater under it and a 15 watt light bulb on top of it and a quart jar feeder and three frames of honey in addition to the frame of queens. This is in a setup to overwinter nucs where there is 2" of foam above and below and a double row of eight frame and five frame nucs. The nucs have a box that is 7 1/2" high on top of them and the foam on top of that. There is a space heater with a thermostat inside this space set to 70 F.

    I was concerned that the bees in the bank would die out as winter progressed, but so far the queen bank has accumulated more bees as time has gone on. When I didn't have the terrarium heater yet I found some of the queens being abandoned as the cluster moved more to one corner. Now that the heater is there it has not been a problem.

    I don't know how this will work when it's -20 or -30 F, but it's looking promising right now.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Romney Marsh Kent England UK
    Posts
    292

    Post

    hello, A Devries


    what do you find better about your local Buckfast queens as to the New Zealand queens,

    Tony

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    London Canada
    Posts
    9

    Post

    Tony there are a lot of things I like about Buckfasts. There are several local breeders which are all great to deal with. The guy I deal with is a part of the Ontario Bee Breeders program which means the bees are tested to see how hygenic they are. At the end of the season several Queens are tested for sperm count and tracheal mite resistance. He breeds from his best bees.I've found them to be very calm and excellent honey producers. They overwinter very well and generally have a lot of honey left when spring finaly arrives.
    This past winter was very good for overwintering. The bees where all very strong when spring arrived and swarming was a problem.In one yard Eight out of ten hives had to be split. The two hives that didn't swarm where Buckfast. My other yard is an hour away. they where all Buckfast. One hive swarmed there out of the six hives. They tend to build up slower in the spring. I have my bees on screened bottom boards and the Buckfasts have the lowest mite counts.
    Queens from Austraila and New Zealand fill a supply gap that allows you to do early season splits but it seems it takes them awhile to really get going because of the opposite seasons. Varroa Mites are new to New Zealand (only one of the islands has them I can't remeber which) they have not had enough time to breed for mite resistance yet.
    One down side to Buckfast Bees is the Queen can be hard to find. She does not stand out like a big golden Italian.
    Michael
    You have given me much to think about. I was told that the bees tend to chew the Queens feet when they are in cages I was thinking about using queen excluders so the attendants could move around freely. The heater is a great idea. I'm going to try to bank some Queens through next winter. Good Luck! I'm sure you will tell us if it all works out.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,593

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    >You have given me much to think about. I was told that the bees tend to chew the Queens feet

    If they are being agressive towards them. You do have to plan around BEEhavior when you stock it. You need some bees from several hives so there is no loyalty to any one queen and put them together first queenless. After 12 to 24 hours (preferably overnight) then you can add the queens. By then they are happy to see a queen.

    >when they are in cages I was thinking about using queen excluders so the attendants could move around freely.

    If the queens are in cages, what's the excluder excluding?

    >The heater is a great idea. I'm going to try to bank some Queens through next winter.

    The terrarium heater seems to be a great idea. The light bulb, unfortunately seems to draw some bees into the interior of my "nuc bank" and they won't leave because of the light. I think I need another terrarium heater. I wanted one top and bottom so they workers would not leave the center where the queens are.

    >I'm sure you will tell us if it all works out.

    Of course.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Athens, Ill
    Posts
    141

    Post

    M.B., Going on the premis that your brilliant and cuning plan is going to work, have you already thought of any improvements to minimise heating costs for next year? Or if it dosent, whats your next plan?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Erin, NY /Florence SC
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    3,361

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    Why couldn't you bank them in a battery box full of worker bees and maintain them at a temperature that would be close to cluster and feed them throughout the winter?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Athens, Ill
    Posts
    141

    Post

    Joel, do you mean one Queen per battery box? or a bunch of queens in queen cages? MB is trying something exactly like that, sounds like it should work. In his case, he is using a nuc box, packed full of bees, and kept warm. He posted pics of it ..um.. somewhere.

    My goal in asking is I am wanting to sell locally grown nucs, with well mated local queens, and have them ready by april 15th. The only way I can think to do this is make the queens in late summer and overwinter them.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    White County, Arkansas
    Posts
    874

    Post

    Hi Michael!

    We have a terrarium heater that sits under the terrarium for hermit crabs and other critters. It seems to work well. I had the terrarium outside to clean and when I came back later that evening to park my chair I had bees in the terrarium eating syrup from a bowl. The temp earlier that day was 51 degrees and when I came home and parked my wheelchair it was 22 degrees and the bees were fine down on the sand (though they had split into five different groups and attacked any from the other groups that came too close). My son was giving me some good nuggets for thought.

    Anyway Michael my point is this heater pad needed no light. We just stick it to the bottom of the glass. Do you think this may help you at all? We got ours at Pet Smart for $11.00 a few years back on sale.

    David

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Erin, NY /Florence SC
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    3,361

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    Wolf, I would try several the 1st. year. but no more than I would be willing to loose. It would be good to have a means to replentish the nurse bees although that could be pretty difficult in the north in the off season. My attempts would be to overpopulate the battery box and have some method to remove the dead bees although I havn't thought that far ahead.

    I'm moving in the direction of making up the nucs in late summer and wintering them which is less food efficient. It will be difficult having nucs ready by April 15 at our lattitudes in the best case. Our nucs started in the South are usually not ready until the 2nd week of May. Some of this is due to us delaying the splits for the spring honey crop though. Bjorn does northen nucs I believe, he may have a better view of what is possible.

    In addition to making spring nucs in the north as AHB spread and eventually saturate the south, if they are able, we will need a differnt source of spring queens.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,593

    Post

    >M.B., Going on the premis that your brilliant and cuning plan is going to work

    The last two "brilliant and cunning plans" flopped [img]smile.gif[/img]

    > have you already thought of any improvements to minimise heating costs for next year? Or if it dosent, whats your next plan?

    I think I should have had two terrarium heaters, but I didn't. I was worried that the number of workers would dwindle, but that hasn't been the case. The number of workers has increased as time has gone one. I'm sure they have drifted from other nucs in the bank of nucs.

    I might add more insulation, but they are hard to work as it is. I will probably focus more on how to make them easier to access. I don't expect the heat to cost that much. They have 2" of foam on the top and 2" of foam on the bottom.

    >Why couldn't you bank them in a battery box full of worker bees and maintain them at a temperature that would be close to cluster and feed them throughout the winter?

    Maybe I'm wrong, but I think they have to fly now and then. I've banked them in a battery box inside before, but after about two weeks they smell like old tennis shoes and I'm sure they're doing the bathroom dance and the workers start dying at an increased rate. Usually I'm doing this in the summer and I shake out the attendants and shake in some new ones.

    >Joel, do you mean one Queen per battery box? or a bunch of queens in queen cages? MB is trying something exactly like that, sounds like it should work.

    Well, what I'm doing is similar to that, but the main difference is mine are free flying and a typical battery box is not.

    >In his case, he is using a nuc box, packed full of bees, and kept warm. He posted pics of it ..um.. somewhere.

    Try www.bushfarms.com

    >My goal in asking is I am wanting to sell locally grown nucs, with well mated local queens, and have them ready by april 15th.

    That's what I've been hoping for too.

    > The only way I can think to do this is make the queens in late summer and overwinter them.

    Ditto. I'm trying to overwinter them in nucs also, but I was hoping to sell nucs AND queens.

    >We have a terrarium heater that sits under the terrarium for hermit crabs and other critters. It seems to work well. I had the terrarium outside to clean and when I came back later that evening to park my chair I had bees in the terrarium eating syrup from a bowl. The temp earlier that day was 51 degrees and when I came home and parked my wheelchair it was 22 degrees and the bees were fine down on the sand (though they had split into five different groups and attacked any from the other groups that came too close).

    Interesting about the groups. I've seen them fight on open feeders but usually the frenzy was too chaotic to see them organized in groups.

    >Anyway Michael my point is this heater pad needed no light.

    Correct.

    > We just stick it to the bottom of the glass. Do you think this may help you at all? We got ours at Pet Smart for $11.00 a few years back on sale.

    That's exactly what I have under the queen bank. I just need another for the top, but haven't had the time to go back to the pet store. I was hoping the 15 watt light bulb would work better than it did, since it's much cheaper. But it did not.

    >Wolf, I would try several the 1st. year. but no more than I would be willing to loose.

    Exactly. I've been trying to overwinter nucs for a while. The first year I had about six or seven of them and lost all but two or three. Last year I had 11 of them and lost all but one. This year I started with 34 of them and lost two before winter even set in and, at last count there were only 26 of them left. Many were just gone, no dead bees in the hive at all, and many had more bees in them than they did last I checked, so I'm sure some ended up queenless and drifted next door. Only one was just dead (a cluster of dead bees on the combs) and it was a very small cluster. When I set them up I tried to find the queens in mating nucs that I was combining. Some of them I found a queen and know they had one, but some I was pretty sure the nuc had a queen, but since brood rearing had already stopped it was hard to say, so some of them probably ended up queenless. Between robbing and queenlessness, I think all my losses so far are not directly from the cold or starvation.

    The point is, however well thought out the experiment seems, you may lose them all.

    >It would be good to have a means to replentish the nurse bees although that could be pretty difficult in the north in the off season.

    Surpisingly, that has seemed to take care of itself from the nucs around it. But I had anticipated that could be a problem.

    >My attempts would be to overpopulate the battery box and have some method to remove the dead bees although I havn't thought that far ahead.

    That was my plan, but it's amazing how tightly they can cluster if they want to. And if the cluster gets too tight they leave the queens outside the cluster. So warmth seems more important than numbers, although numbers are a help.

    >I'm moving in the direction of making up the nucs in late summer and wintering them which is less food efficient. It will be difficult having nucs ready by April 15 at our lattitudes in the best case.

    Maybe. Last year, with the small clusters of the ferals and their frugality, none of my hives were much more than a five frame nuc until May. Hopefully pollen patties and feeding can push it back some.

    >Our nucs started in the South are usually not ready until the 2nd week of May.

    That's about when my hives started really booming.

    >In addition to making spring nucs in the north as AHB spread and eventually saturate the south, if they are able, we will need a differnt source of spring queens.

    Another good reason along with acclimatized bees.

    I went out and put pollen on the nucs last Sunday. My model is the observation hive, which started rearing brood at the first of December. It had open brood that looked to be seven days old (from the day it was laid) by the 3rd so I'm sure they started those by the 26th or 27th of November. Since the nucs have heat and food, I figure with some pollen, maybe they'll raise some brood. If they will, maybe I can get them built up by mid April.

    I will keep you'll posted.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Greenville, TX, USA
    Posts
    4,410

    Post

    I wondered about banking too, as we would prefer queens in mid March, but generally can't get them until the end of April. I've been thinking about a row of 2 or 3 frame nucs, setup in my shop and connected to the outside with a tube like an observation hive. The shop is unheated but never drops below about 40 and is generally much warmer. Like Michael, I've been watching my OB hive raise brood for a few weeks now. I think wooden nucs in a protected environment should be ok with just 2 or 3 frames and feed.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,593

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    So far some of my five frame nucs are thriving and some have already dissapeared, but I'm assuming the ones that dissapeared moved into the ones that are thriving. The nucs are my one plan to get some queens in the spring, but the other is an actual queen bank with about 20 caged queens in a five frame nuc.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    chilliwack, bc
    Posts
    646

    Post

    it would be nice to be able to bank queens through winter and i know someone who attempted it as an experement but never heard much back about it. I think i'll try it at some point, try a designed frame holder that that carries cages or something along that line.
    Will Gruenwald Chilliwack BC

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,593

    Post

    >it would be nice to be able to bank queens through winter and i know someone who attempted it as an experement but never heard much back about it. I think i'll try it at some point, try a designed frame holder that that carries cages or something along that line.

    Mine is a frame with two uprights with notches in them to hold two of these:

    http://www.mannlakeltd.com/productde...?ProdID=HD-772

    It will hold about 48 queens. There's a space in the front and back of the frame and the queens are in the middle. I intended to get come in the space at the front and back, but didn't start early enough.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    chilliwack, bc
    Posts
    646

    Post

    I think where we could have problems with trying to over winter queens in banks here is that we have 5 months to go from the time we bank them to the time we could take them out (for packages or nucs) and in that time we get some awfully cold weather where the bees will cluster tightly. So to make up the bank hive, i think around beginning of august i could use the strongest hive, feed and feed, add young bees, keep them at home, put on winter wraps, and either add brood at times or have a queen seperated by a queen excluder down stairs to keep brooding for the lat fall and early spring. it would be worthwile if we could bank 100 to 150 queens or more per hive.
    Will Gruenwald Chilliwack BC

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,593

    Post

    I started my bank in the fall and the first chilly day I checked on them the cluster was over in the corner and most of the queens were lethargic. I bought a terrarium heater that day and put under the bank, which is also in my setup for heating the nucs. The next time I checked on them on a chilly day the bees were comfortably spread out and there were actually more bees in it than the last time I checked. I don't think you can bank them in a cold climate without keeping them warm enough that they don't make a tight cluster.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    London Canada
    Posts
    9

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    I think I had a good idea the other day. I want to make up some mini mating nucs to be used during the summer. The size of the frames would be half of a regular one. I would modify a regular box so 20 frames would fill up one regular deep. Three or four frames would make up one mating nuc.
    My thinking is late fall I could cage the Queens combine my five or six nucs into one regular box and over winter that way. It seems I should add alot more Queens and heat to make it more worth while. I like the idea of being able to combine the resources of the nucs with regular hives and then spliting them up again when I want.
    Another idea was to make bottom boards that where also feeders. I can't claim this to be all my idea. A local beekeeper raises some early nucs and he feeds them by flooding the bottom of the boxes. It works very well for him.
    Last year I managed to overwinter three of four five frame nucs the forth one starved. I should of given them full frames of honey rather then try to feed them late into the fall. I had them in regular deep boxes with a 1/8 thick divider between the two clusters. The hives where insulated and then buried in snow for most of the winter.
    This year I have two nucs in the same setup we got snow real early this year so they are buried already.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Seattle, Washington State
    Posts
    4,398

    Post

    Sorry for this stupid question, but what is a terrarium heater???

    Michael: Do you have a picture of the set up for that nuc you are heating? Is it inside??
    Chef Isaac..Culinary Arts and Honey are a sweet mix! http://www.sweetascanbeehoneyfarm.com & http://www.adoptahive.info

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