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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    lewisberry, Pa, usa
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    6,080

    Smile Queen grafting question

    It seems the last month, my numbers for queen cells are down. Although I do everything the way it should be done, I can't seem to get good percentages. I do not remember having much problems in years past, and the weather was just as bad last year with drought, etc.

    Do others see a natural drop in the number of queens cells based on time of the year and as it gets later in the summer?

    They know they are queenless. But no matter what I do (feeding, adding nurse bees, etc.), it seems that I can't get the numbers very high for the past several weeks.

    Is this natural? Is there anything else to be done later in the year that you didn't do earlier in the summer/spring?

    Thank you for any comments.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
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    5,254

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    My cell building came to an end at the end of July. My last graft was 4 cell builders with 45 cells in each. My last grafts were accepted at the same rate as usual...42 or 43 out of the 45. They are often the nicest cells of the year. I've never tried to raise cells this late, as winter is just around the corner. I finished catching the last queens yesterday. My nucs are all made up by the first week in August, and the mating nucs have been expanded to 8 frames. What queens I have left (17) will be used to requeen 4 frame nucs, whose queens aren't performing well.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Wheatfield, IN
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    2,069

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    I only did 40 cells on my last batch and they started laying last week so I don't have the date in front of me but that gives you a rough idea. That was my last batch for the season and will be used for requeening hives.

    This last batch was my best take of the season.

    I had trouble earlier in the year getting good takes after having good success last year. I switched to a new grafting tool which helped and then started leaving them queenless for 48hrs with no larvae, eggs or open brood present. I also added more nurse bees. My take went from 50% earlier to 95% later in the season.

    I can't say I've seen a time of year impact me... I had the exact opposite experience you've had as far as timing this year and % takes. It seemed to be resolved with a new tool, adding more bees, and leaving them queenless for longer.

    Just my experience this year.
    Dan Williamson
    B&C Honey Farm http://www.flickr.com/photos/9848229@N05/

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

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    Are you feeding pollen patties and syrup when you place the grafts in and prior?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lewisberry, Pa, usa
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    Thanks MP.

    Dan, I had the same problems/take as you earlier. Really bad takes in early spring no matter what I did. I know I had problems with one breeder queen that I mentioned earlier. But things improved to good takes later in the spring and summer.

    But now, back to crap. So I'm thinking that no matter what one does, enviroment and seasonal timing must effect the graft take rate more than I had thought. I thought that doing all the feeding, prep with nurse bees, etc., would of offset this, but I am either missing something or thats just the way it goes.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    lewisberry, Pa, usa
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    Chef, Yes.

    I had hivetop feeders on for more than a week prior. I had pollen patties on, but I can't say that did much. They were bringing in so much and have frames packed. They didn't eat to much of the pollen sub patties.

    I can't say it was lack of resources. My rate was cut down like hitting brick wall.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    EASLEY S.C. USA
    Posts
    113

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    Bjorn,
    I have had the same problem all year. And right now i have very few drones and i have been feeding for the last month. I have just put in several drone frames to see if that will help the situation. I guess time will tell.
    Dwight

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Southern Oregon
    Posts
    1,162

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    Bjorn, I have also noticed getting a high take is more challenging this time of year. We went from a take of 95+% to around 50%. I subsequently switched to queenright cell builders, boosted feeding and the amount of nurse bees. Things seem now to be back to normal. We have a dearth this time of year so it is challenging to keep robbing at bay and ample nurse bees, however it is very possible. We had to feed every colony in the cell building yard to provide cover enough to be able to feed and work the cell builders. Our last graft was great, and one batch of cells under way now. To me it seems like more nurse bees than normal, and more feeding have rectified the situation. The reason I switched to queenright cell builders is two fold. One, being the donor hives of nurse bees are not recovering as fast from each brood pilfer, and two; the cell builders are now generating more of their own brood and seem to be functioning in a more cohesive manner.
    John B Jacob www.oldsolbees.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
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    5,254

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    >They didn't eat to much of the pollen sub patties.<

    You feed your cell builders pollen substitute? Why not feed them pollen? Collect it when pollen is plentiful, and freeze. Then, pour it onto a nice dark worker comb, and rub it onto the comb with the ball of your hand...until the comb is full. Then you know the cell builder has enough good pollen where it is needed.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lewisberry, Pa, usa
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    >>>You feed your cell builders pollen substitute?

    Yeah, I tried that. I try everything once. Although I have not trapped my own pollen to hand fill comb. Maybe another day perhaps.

    I feed my bees with a hivetop feeder. And guess what, I don't fill the thing with honey! I fill it with sugar syrup. Imagine that. Not any more un-natural as it is for someone to feed pollen sub now is it?

    The thing with pollen sub is I know whats in it. I don't know what in natural pollen. I realize I'm in an area with diversity of pollens, and its probably very healthy for them. But I don't think my pollen sub is any less healthy. I do build the bees on it in early spring prior to natural pollen, and those bees seem just fine, using it to build the spring cluster.

    Anyhow, I don't think thats the answer or the information I'm looking for. But thank you.
    Last edited by BjornBee; 08-28-2007 at 04:22 PM.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,427

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    >It seems the last month, my numbers for queen cells are down. Although I do everything the way it should be done, I can't seem to get good percentages. I do not remember having much problems in years past, and the weather was just as bad last year with drought, etc.

    It seems like the spring was a bad start with that "Palm Sunday" freeze, then it was too wet, then it was too dry, then it was too hot, then it was too wet again. It's been a poor year for queens here.

    >Do others see a natural drop in the number of queens cells based on time of the year and as it gets later in the summer?

    Yes. Feeding seems to help some, but it's not a cure all.

    >They know they are queenless. But no matter what I do (feeding, adding nurse bees, etc.), it seems that I can't get the numbers very high for the past several weeks.

    Me neither and it's now dropped off to pretty much nothing or one or two queen cells.

    >Is this natural? Is there anything else to be done later in the year that you didn't do earlier in the summer/spring?

    I think feeding is helpful, but a good fall flow would help too.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    lewisberry, Pa, usa
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    I'm always leery getting on a site and fessin up to having problems as a queen breeder. You never know how someone might take it.

    Thanks MB. My last graft that I pulled on Sunday had 5 cells. And thats doing everything I know how to do. Right now, I'd be happy with the 50% some are getting.

    It started slow, was great in the middle, and now were back to nothing.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Southern Oregon
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    The other thing I have found to help for late season queens is to start some totally fresh cell builders. We just caught some queens out of a couple of very strong hives for requeening. So far they are extremely eager to build cells, almost more so than our regular cell builders.
    John B Jacob www.oldsolbees.com

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Frederick County, Maryland, USA
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    414

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    I'm South of BjornBee by ~100 miles bit in similar habitat. I too have had a drastic decrease in cell acceptance, even while utilizing all the excellent input in this thread so far. The cells look nice, but there aren't many of them. The Fall flow is starting here, and grafting another batch to see how they were accepted with this change would be interesting: can someone help me get 30-32 hours out of a 24 hour day?

    Adam Finkelstein

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Nevada County, CA
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    1,083

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    <can someone help me get 30-32 hours out of a 24 hour day?>

    Thats easy. Just work faster and harder, sleep less, and make sure you find out which hospitals near you have the best cardiac response teams on staff.
    doug

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,245

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    I am curious as to whether apparently good cells are going bad 4+ days after grafting or if they are simply not accepted from the time they are put in. There can be nothing more fickle than cell builders. Any little problem with a hive will always show up as a major problem when you are trying to raise cells. My first thought is a seasonal thing but you, I am sure, are experienced with what does and dosen't work in your area this time of year. Of the major problems I have had or have heard of others having. #1 Coumophous is the kiss of death, nuff said #2 Any other bee disease that may barely be noticable in the brood. #3 Some type of spray residue in the area. #4 Poison pollen such as the dreaded yellow jasmine and I have to believe there are many others. I have seen this cause havoc in cell production yet be barely noticable to the general health of the hive. The most frustrating thing of all is that you may never know what the problem is, it can go away as quickly as it comes. Good luck and believe me you are not alone, anyone who does this has problems occasionaly most just won't admit it.
    Jim

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,254

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    I just expanded the last group of mating nucs from 4 to 8 mini-combs. I do this by catching one of the queens on one side of the movable division board feeder, moving the feeder over to the sidewall, and allowing the second queen to have all 8 combs. I usually move the feeder over after a couple hours, or sometimes the next day. This group was delayed due to funeral of an old friend. The feeders were moved after 4 days.

    I removed what emergency cells had been started. What I found interesting was that about 1/3 of the nucs failed to start cells. Some had cups that were dry, but no cells with larvae. Those that started cells had only one, and a few had two. At the height of the queen rearing season, these nucs would have started several cells.

    I think this fits in with the discussion in this thread. We certainly have a good flow of nectar/pollen from Goldenrod here, so food supply isn't the problem. This isn't about cell builders failing to raise cells. This is about colony survival. The nucs that failed to start cells would surely become queenless, and die off.

    So, to me, the moral of that, and this thread, is...

    The bees know best. They know it's the end of the season...whether because of diminishing daylight hours, or whatever. Those who are having difficulties raising late season queen cells should take note. You've discovered the time limits to your cell building efforts. Next year, finish your cell building earlier. If you need more queens, start more cell builders/mating nucs, and get the work done before you reach the deadline you've just discovered.

    Thinking..."Bees make better beekeepers than beekeepers make bees."

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Frederick County, Maryland, USA
    Posts
    414

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post

    Thinking..."Bees make better beekeepers than beekeepers make bees."
    Heh heh heh,
    you should see my pollen baskets...

    I think my baseline pollen levels were really low--and I needed to make the cells for several orders--I just made more grafts and "it "was all good".

    Adam Finkelstein
    adamf7@gmail.com

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Southern Oregon
    Posts
    1,162

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    Further, it is still possible to grow great cells. One may have to make some adjustment for the season. As long as there are still plenty drones it will be very possible to grow great queens, its just that what works in April may not work in September.
    John B Jacob www.oldsolbees.com

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Southern Oregon
    Posts
    1,162
    Just checked the first graft in two fresh cell builders, its like spring again. Looks to be about 95% take. I'll try to post some pics after they are capped.
    John B Jacob www.oldsolbees.com

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