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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,408

    Default Queen Raising Addiction

    I've often thought about raising queens, for myself, and others. This year I have actually begun to work at teaching myself how to do it. I am especially interested in producing, not just, good queens, but superb queens. It has so often been said that the fate of a colony depends on the quality of their queen. I want to experience having outstanding queens.

    My first success was when I removed the queen from the colony I had chosen to be the cell builder/finisher. After 2 days they began making their own queen cells. I removed all of them except those on one frame. On that frame I swapped their growing queen larvae with larvae from my chosen breeder queen. To my amazement, it was a complete success. I was able to produce 3 queens by larva substitution. They should be mated soon, when I will wait to see how they perform and how their offspring turn out.

    Next I was determined to succeed by grafting into artificial queen cell cups. My first two attempts did not achieve any live queen cells. My first try, I grafted dry. No takes. My second attempt was using stored royal jelly thinned with a little water. No takes. My first successful try (number three) was with fresh royal jelly transferred, on the spot, from spontaneous queen cells, built by the bees of my next cell builder, recently made queenless.

    Bottom line - queen raising is addictive. After interfering in my bees lives by directing their process of queen raising, I find that the appearance of queen cells that I have conspired to enjoin my bees to produce is one of the most beautiful sights, next to the sight of so many gorgeous queens. I may never get enough of this -- I am certainly glad that the season in my area is nearly, year-round.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  2. #2

    Default

    Welcome to the addiction!



    Jim

  3. #3

    Default

    Hi Joseph,
    I find dumping lots of young nurse bees in the cell builder after every cell harvest helps make grafting more successful. Keep a feeder on them and let the mated queen lay for more then 30 days before you move or sell her helps allot. Grafting the smallest larva your eyes allow adds more visits from the nurse bees. Up to 1700 visits are optimal.
    Addicted,
    Danny Slabaugh
    Promoting Better Beekeepers by sharing what works for me.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,408

    Default

    I seem to be able to transfer, mostly very small larvae, but my largest concern is turning them during transfer. Is this critical? Will they drown if they are turned over? Is this even possible, or will they turn themselves back over to the side they prefer?
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Troupsburg, NY
    Posts
    4,072

    Default

    This doesn't help with the addiction any:


    "I reject your reality, and substitute my own." Adam Savage

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    College Station, Texas
    Posts
    6,973

    Default

    joseph ask:
    but my largest concern is turning them during transfer. Is this critical?

    tecumeh replies:
    very.. this is called rolling the larvae and will result in a damage larvae and culled queen cells. if you prime the cell first then the larvae should slide off the grafting tool.

    if you are really interested in producing a small number of quality queen then perhaps you should look into the smith method. michael bush has a copy of one of his books on his web site. although my own efforts in queen rearing in the past has utilized grafting I am looking into a 'modified' smith method myself at this juncture of time.

    grafting is a good skill to hone however and the first time you see one of your own grafted queen laying is quite the pleasant experience.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Southern Oregon
    Posts
    1,166
    Growing superb queens is an incredibly gratifying experience. Think of all of the lives these royal bugs will touch: Yours, for sure, the beekeepers who's livelihoods depend on them, the growers livelihoods who depend on them, the seller of the produce who depend on them, and the consumers who need bee pollinated nutrition. Our queens will have a profound impact on all who have contact with them and even on some who only have indirect contact. Our queens will impact a lot of lives and livelihoods. I never knew what a really great queen was until I began growing my own. Keep up the great work. Severely addicted...
    John B Jacob www.oldsolbees.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    EASLEY S.C. USA
    Posts
    113

    Default Queen Raising Addiction

    Pegjam,
    I noticed the burr comb on your frame of cells. I have stopped this by putting in a frame of foundation in the cellbuilder. It works great.
    Redtractor1

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Troupsburg, NY
    Posts
    4,072

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by REDTRACTOR1 View Post
    Pegjam,
    I noticed the burr comb on your frame of cells. I have stopped this by putting in a frame of foundation in the cellbuilder. It works great.
    Redtractor1
    I had one cell starter that not only completely fille the space with burr comb, but then filled the burr comb with honey. Very messy. Thanks for the info, think i'll try that next time.
    "I reject your reality, and substitute my own." Adam Savage

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,408

    Default

    Curious, I too chose pink, pink canvas, as the top partitions/covers for my condo mating nucs. Yes, ripe queen cells look very nice. Presently I have just been using Kelley style top bars as my cell bars, with no secondary cell bars. I plan to build some cell bar frames and use grooved bottom bars as cell bars. The groove is good for JZBZ plastic cell cups (I chose the black colored ones too), and 100% beeswax cups fasten just as well. My present cell bars, two, with combinations of all wax cups and JZBZ cell cups to see which will work best for me (so far, both work about equally well).

    Nice looking queen cells in your photo. Fascinating how unique these are and how they produce the ultimate female honeybee.


    Quote Originally Posted by peggjam View Post
    This doesn't help with the addiction any:


    Last edited by Joseph Clemens; 08-26-2007 at 02:25 PM.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Edgefield County, South Carolina
    Posts
    651

    Default Burr comb

    The beeworks queen rearing video mentions adding foundation to give them something to work on and keep from building burr comb. Good video--thanks to those who directed me there.
    sc-bee

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,408

    Default

    Well, I've been relocating my non-Cordovan queens, moving them into condo nucs, as insurance. Then I've been using their queenless populations for swarm boxes, combs of emerging brood, honey, and pollen to boost cell finisher colonies. I've also placed one of my hard-won queen cells into many of these, now queenless colonies in the hopes they will produce nice golden queens that will, at least, convert these colonies to producing only Cordovan drones. During any and all manipulations I've been eliminating non-Cordovan drones by the pluck and pinch method. But in one colony, after doing this on each frame of the two upper supers, I then saw so many dark drones in the three lower supers that I gave up doing it by hand (I plan to make a drone trap to help with this task).

    This morning after checking to see if my queen cells were still in place (one had been destroyed - it had a little damage at its base when installing it), all the others were doing just fine; I grafted another top bar - cell bar of 12 cell cups. This time I placed them into a, swarm box as a cell starter. Tomorrow morning I will check their acceptance and move them into one of my cell finishers. This is great fun.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,408

    Default

    Well, that was disastrous, I checked on my swarm box and they had overheated and abandoned the cups. Now I'm gonna have to start again in the morning with another swarm box. This time I'm gonna make the swarm box out of 1-1/2" thick styrofoam.

    Update: It's 11:55 p.m., most of the bees have recovered, though I'm sure this didn't do them good. The cell bar is done for. I have constructed a new swarm box of 1-1/4" thick styrofoam with a screened vent on one end and a 2" diameter entrance on the opposite end. Early tomorrow morning I will start them again with a fresh cell bar and more nurse bees that haven't had such a horrible overheating experience.
    Last edited by Joseph Clemens; 08-28-2007 at 02:00 AM.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    College Station, Texas
    Posts
    6,973

    Default

    joseph writes:
    Update: It's 11:55 p.m., most of the bees have recovered, though I'm sure this didn't do them good. The cell bar is done for. I have constructed a new swarm box of 1-1/4" thick styrofoam with a screened vent on one end and a 2" diameter entrance on the opposite end. Early tomorrow morning I will start them again with a fresh cell bar and more nurse bees that haven't had such a horrible overheating experience.

    tecumseh replies:
    I don't think it is the material that is the problem, although certainly detail is a bit thin from my prospective. are you feeding, providing water, do you keep the swarm box in a cool spot, do you use a humidifier (I will assume the atmospheric humidity of a place like arizona is low to very low*), etc, etc, etc? phaedrus never had so many questions?

    beyond this you seem (??? -more questions) to have deviated from the standard swarm box design with which I am familar. most swarm boxes have no entry, they are essentially totally screened on the top and bottom and they should be counstruct to 2 to 3 inches deeper than the frames you are using. some folks even screen this added 2 to 3 inch to supply ample ventilation.

    *humidity is reported by an number of reputable sources as being much more important than temperature for raising quality queens.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,742

    Default

    A swarm box should be bee proof. It should have an extra 4" or more space at the bottom, lots of screen on the bottom and some vents on the sides. It should be kept in a cool dark basement and you should have a sponge SOAKED in water in the bottom of the box. If you aren't going to do the sponge, then spray a lot of water on the combs you put in.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
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    Default

    Thanks Michael Bush and tecumseh. I gave up on trying to use a swarm box, for now, at least, until I can put together a proper one. I went back to using my original cell starter/finisher after adding the nurse bees from the "swarm box".

    I appreciate how queenless bees seem to combine rather readily without problems. As soon as darkness comes I will be checking on my acceptance of this batch. I had been leaving a queen cell from my last batch for this hive to hatch and mate, but moved her to an upper super of one of my queenright hives that still has a non-Cordovan queen (making non-Cordovan drones). Hoping to see if the virgin can oust the old queen.

    Update: I had 16 cups that I grafted larvae into. I gave them a quick check in the dark wearing a red LED headlight and it appears that at least 12 have been accepted. I will check them again in daylight to be sure.
    Last edited by Joseph Clemens; 08-29-2007 at 02:41 AM.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,408

    Default

    Okay, now I have a swarm box made of 1-1/4" thick styrofoam building insulation. It is bee tight, with large #8 hardware cloth vents on the bottom and both sides. It has four feet made from pieces of the same foam and is nine inches deep for 6-1/4" frames. I plan to try it out with my next batch of queen cells. I also plan to insert a large area of screen in the cover for additional ventilation.

    Pics are here:
    http://www.wjclemens.com/cordovan-ho...m_Box_side.jpg
    http://www.wjclemens.com/cordovan-ho...Box_bottom.jpg
    http://www.wjclemens.com/cordovan-ho...e_from_top.jpg
    http://www.wjclemens.com/cordovan-ho...de_topless.jpg
    Last edited by Joseph Clemens; 08-29-2007 at 02:38 AM.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    College Station, Texas
    Posts
    6,973

    Default

    well joseph 12 of 16 for a beginner ain't so bad in my book. heck I can remember any number of times, and at a time when I was a long way from being wet behind the ears as a beekeeper, when a 66 % take rate would have been gladly accepted.

    you will likely discover that the bees will quickly chew up your nicely constructed foam box. without something to seal the surface the girls will quicly disassemble that kind of foam material.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Orlando, FL
    Posts
    1,313

    Default

    I had read that about foam. Particularly the low density foam that Joe used. (The blue or pink stuff is tougher)

    I had read in another thread online that you can use a thin coating of Gorilla Glue to seal it, but that is awfully expensive. Is there a cheaper alternative?

    How about shellac? Shellac is made with an alcohol base which I don't think will eat up the foam.
    Troy

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
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    Default

    I just discovered that once a grafted larva is accepted and the cell cup starts to be built into a queen cell -- they don't always continue caring for them and finishing them. Though I carefully grafted a new group of larvae into cell cups, them introduced them to the bees, four out of ten were initially accepted and had begun to be constructed, then tonight, three days later, I checked that cell bar and discovered that even the four that they had begun to care for were no longer in an accepted state, they were empty and had been torn back down to cell cup status. Bees continue to be mysterious.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

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