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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
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    North Alabama, SW Kentucky
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    Question

    I'm dedicated to reading all the posts regarding queen rearing and am familiar with some tenants shared here. Last year I learned about the Cloake board (or CB) (AKA Floor-without-a-floor or FWAF) method of using a queen-right hive from start to finish. I've also read the posts and comments about using super-packed queenless hives for queen rearing from start to finish. As I understand it, Cloake and those who use his method as he prescribes get good results. Most here seem to report mostly using queenless hives.

    I'm hoping some of you will fill me in on the pro's and con's of each and guide me to choosing between them....

    Currently, I'm leaning toward Cloake since I don't have to make a split from my few (8) hives to get cell starters/finishers. This means less equipment and presumably (in my inexperience) with less work as I don't have to shake bees so often.

    Thanks,
    Waya
    WayaCoyote

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
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    Post

    All methods have pros and cons. I my opinion it is probably best to try a method. Attempt it several times until you become familiar with it. With experience you can master the technique or at least experience some level of success. This success will fuel a desire to try again, at least it did with me. Once you get pretty good with one method try another, until you are good with the second method. By this time you'll be able to start answering your own question. If you read about a third technique you'd be able to decide what aspects of it are appealing to you and what parts you may not like. I would suggest trying that method before dismissing it.
    Try different methods and eventually you'll find the one you like. I personally would not worry so much about how to do it as much as getting it done.

    Before you ask, learn how to graft. It's not all that hard. A magnifying glass is usefull if your vision is diminishing. Best of luck.

    Jean-Marc

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    College Station, Texas
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    Post

    what jean-marc sound 'right' to me.

    read anything you can get your hands on by jay miller. the cloak board accomplishs the same function as a double screen or an inner cover placed between the two hive bodies. if you had a small number of hives and limited bee resources this approach of using a queen right hive would likely be my choice. I have noted that some folks flip the hives entrances on about a two day cycle as they exchange the cloak board (or it's equivalent) with a queen excluder.

    good luck...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Post

    I've never had luck without a queenless starter (As Jay Smith also recommends in Better Queens) but I have done queen right finishers. If the hive is strong and crowded enough it works fine. It just takes more work. I usually don't have the time for the queenright finisher, but I also usually can't afford the resources for the queenless starter/finisher.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Seattle, Washington State
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    4,398

    Post

    I went throug this same thing last year and through most of this season.

    I only had a few strong hives going into this season and I bought a lot of packages.

    Here is what worked for me:

    I bought a used peice of queen rearing equipment from a friend of mine. It is a 8 frame super that is split into 4 sections with mini frames so now you have 4 mini mating nucs. These had a lot of bees in them so all I needed to do was drop a queen cell into each mating nuc and i was good to go.

    As far as the cell builder is concered, it is the amount of bees you have in one area, or density. People say you want to have a hive that is overflowing with bees. However, it is better to have a lot of bees in a small amount of space rather than having the same amount of bees in a larger space. For example, if you have two brood chambers and have avout a box worth of bees, it will not produce the best results. However if you crowd them down into one deep or even a nuc, you will have better luck.

    So what this means is that I think (and this is only my opinon) that you should dump some bees into a small mating nuc, find the queen and place her in this mating nuc and graft from your hive you want to and let the queenless hive build the cells.

    This is my plan from start to finish for next year:

    I plan to purchase some more supers with 4 frame mini mating "pockets". I will also make or purchase a speical super that will hold all the frames without dividers and I will purchase some packages of bees with a queen and dump them into this special box and let them work until June or until the weather is good.

    I will than place the mini frames into the mini mating super and place the queen from the package in one of the pockets. I will than go to a hive that I want to use for a cell builder and finisher, find the queen and place her into another pocket. I will drive the bees down to one deep (maybe), graft, and let them build. I will than take the queen cells out and place them in the pockets so the bees can take care of them all.

    I might try a cloake board... we will see.

    I hope this helps.
    Chef Isaac..Culinary Arts and Honey are a sweet mix! http://www.sweetascanbeehoneyfarm.com & http://www.adoptahive.info

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
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    Post

    MB wrote: I've never had luck without a queenless starter (As Jay Smith also recommends in Better Queens) but I have done queen right finishers.


    Michael,
    Does this mean that you haven't had luck with FWAF/ Cloake for starters? I figure them as "queenless" since though the bees are separated from the queen. But refered to them in this thread as queen right since they are rejoined for building/ finishing and since there's a constant population growth from the queen.

    Waya
    WayaCoyote

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
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    Chef:

    Sounds like you have a similar mating system as I do. Mine are 10 frame boxes. They are Dadants, but half length. The boxes are divided in 2 and can be further divided in 4 with plywood pieces. The box has cuts to fit the plywood. The bottoms can also be divided into 4. These boxes can de stacked up. They are stacked 3 high now. Queen on the right and queen on the left side. I pulled the last queens in Sept and all the brood frames were combined. Later I dumped queenless bees at the entrance. They were kinda weak. These bees came from dron laying hives, queenless hives, in short the problem ones. Next spring I'll put 1 frame of bees with brood, then dump bulk bees on them. The brood will keep the unit together, until virgins are mated. On a bright note these units had low varroa levels. I guess the mutiple brood cycle breaks kept the varroa down. I still hate them.

    I've found the Cloak boards work pretty good. They are a lot of manipulating. They work better if the queenless top unit is supplemented with nurse bees from other hives. About 3 frames worth is fine. The cells get large.

    Jean-Marc

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Post

    >However, it is better to have a lot of bees in a small amount of space rather than having the same amount of bees in a larger space.

    Exactly.

    >Does this mean that you haven't had luck with FWAF/ Cloake for starters? I figure them as "queenless" since though the bees are separated from the queen.

    They worked fine for me if the starter part is queenless while the cells are started and queenreight to finish.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
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    Seattle, Washington State
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    Post

    Jean marc:

    When can I come up and visit? What would be the best time of year for you? I would like to spend a couple of days up there if possible.

    When you tal kabou the cloake method being a lot of manipulation, can you elaberate on that a little more? When I read about the cloake method, it sounded simple. Also, you got a link to the setup you got from dadant?
    Chef Isaac..Culinary Arts and Honey are a sweet mix! http://www.sweetascanbeehoneyfarm.com & http://www.adoptahive.info

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
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    FRASER VALLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA
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    Chef I:

    You can come visit anytime. However I'm off to Brazil and perhaps Argentina in2 weeks or so. I would suggest in January. The Canadian Honey Council is holding it's Annual General Meeting in Langley. That's a 30 min. drive from here.
    It's being held in conjunction with the BC Honey Producers AGM. Go to HoneyCouncil.ca for more info. Scroll under news and events.

    As far as the Cloak board goes, the manipulation that I did not like was having to go on day 1 to open the rear facing entrance and slide the divider in. I'm assuming all are familiar with the method. The bees in the bottom box will fly out and upon return fly to the entrance at the front, out of habit. They cannot return to the bottom box because of the divider and go to the top box. This creates the swarming impulse, lots of crowding and plenty of resources coming in.

    The day after sliding in the divider is the day you graft. So that is 2 visits just to graft. That is the part I dislike. Now if my queen rearing was done in my backyard, this would not be inconvenient. However it is not my case. My neighbours would likely object. I live in an urban area, not out of choice, just check out real estate around here and you'll understand.

    As far as my dadant mating stuff the idea was copied from Kettle Valley Queens. I got my equipment manufacturer to make some for me. I do not think Dadant makes any of this equipment.

    Jean-Marc

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Nevada County, CA
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    Post

    I just finished makeing an observation hive that is mounted on a top for an six frame nuc with a queen excluder between. Just for the fun of it I intend to use it for grafting and starting next year. It opens very easily and I can put the queen in the upper part with a frame of empty comb, take it out the next day and put it in the bottom for the eggs to hatch, graft, put the grafted cells back in the nuc which I will keep crowded and slide a thin piece of masonite over the queen excluder to make the bottom queenless.

    I should be able to watch a lot of the action without disturbing the bees too much by just taking the light shield off the observation hive.
    doug

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Post

    > When you tal kabou the cloake method being a lot of manipulation, can you elaberate on that a little more? When I read about the cloake method, it sounded simple. Also, you got a link to the setup you got from dadant?

    It's not that terribly complicated nor that terribly much work, but it IS more work. More trips to the hives to make adjustments.

    You need to set them up at the beginning, move things around to get two brood nests, the one with the queen and the one where I'm putting the cells, put in the floor to divide them, then later you'll have to pull it out. Then there is often the rerouting of traffic where you change the entrances around.

    If I just make a hive queenless and put in the cells I don't need to come back until I'm ready to move them into mating nucs.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Southern Oregon
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    1,162

    Post

    My preference about 80% of the time is to use a queenless starter finisher and the rest of the time use a queen right starter finisher. The queenless method requires consistent maintenance. This means regular brood additions to keep a large population of young bees. The queen right method I will use later in the season or if resources for brood additions are limited. This method requires rotation of the open brood to the cell growing area above an excluder at regular intervals. The thing I do not like about this is that the ratio of open and closed brood on each side of the excluder seems to have a steady push pull relationship, whereas the queenless method the conditions seem more stable and set as long as you maintain ample resources and young bees.
    The many techniques are probably viable in the right circumstances; it is just a matter to find the one that fits your schedule and operation. I have had good luck with one technique or the other, but what usually sells me on one or the other are ease of maintenance and consistency (cell size, take rate) over time.
    JBJ
    John B Jacob www.oldsolbees.com

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