What method do you use in raising queens, and why?
What method do you use in raising queens, and why?
Good question. I graft as it is challanging and fun. Plus I can still see
I use a queenless cell builder and either take the queen out and make a small nuc or obtain bees from other colonies using a smoke up box. I have found the smoke up box to save me a heck of a lot of time.
I usually will place the bees in a queenless nuc as I usually only do small batches at a time since I do not have a lot of mating nucs.... as of yet that is
I used mini mating nucs. It is a deep, split in 4 mini pockets. I use black plastic foundation to make things easier to see. I like the mini mating nucs as they do not take a lot of resources unlike 2 frame nucs, etc.
I do have an incubator but havent used it too much. Used it two seasons ago but not last season.
To graft, I like making sure to use a frame that is black plastic as it is easier to see the larvae.
I've tried just about every method published. And I've got my own derivation of course :>)
Each system has a list of advantages and disadvantages. Some fundamental questions that differentiate methods are:
- what resources are required for queen rearing
- how many queens are needed
- how long will they be produced
- how much flexibility/extensibility is needed
- will cells or mated queens be the end product
- will an incubator be used
- how much risk is acceptable
I use different methods depending upon my resources, needs and the conditions.
For a few replacement queens, used within a single beeyard, I like to graft a few wax coated plastic queen cups pushed into the face of a brood comb in a queenless split. The split is put above a swarm board on the parent colony with a rear facing entrance. It just takes a few minutes. Little additional effort or equipment is needed. Risk is minimized. Production rates are very low.
A Cloake board works great when more cells are needed over a short time period.
When a smaller quantity of cells are needed over an extended period, I like using what I call my duplex method. A standard hive body is divided in half. One side contains the breeder queen. The other side is free flying, queenless and will start/finish the cells. The queen, on a frame of brood, is moved to the queenless side and the function of each side is reversed after every cycle. This method will sustain a dozen very high quality cells per cycle over an extended time period. It requires a minimal amount of equipment. The breeder queen isn't overworked. And the whole thing can set on a beekeepers back porch requiring very little effort or attention.
When a large number of cells are needed over an extended period, I use a queenless, free flying starter-finisher split from and set behind a support hive. Sealed brood is rotated into the starter-finisher from the support hive. And the hive positions of the starter-finisher and it's support hive are switched every two cycles. This method minimizes risk. It's extensible and very flexible.
The basic idea was described by Steve Taber as his "new Taber method" in "Breeding Super Bees". The idea is simple but Steve's writeup makes it sound very complicated. He uses many pronouns and it's hard to tell just which one refers to what. And one of them erroneously refers to the wrong item making it very hard to understand. I think a sentence was left out during printing.
Maybe I should put a methods page on my website.
Any questions about a particular method?
"When a smaller quantity of cells are needed over an extended period, I like using what I call my duplex method. A standard hive body is divided in half. One side contains the breeder queen. The other side is free flying, queenless and will start/finish the cells. The queen, on a frame of brood, is moved to the queenless side and the function of each side is reversed after every cycle. This method will sustain a dozen very high quality cells per cycle over an extended time period. It requires a minimal amount of equipment. The breeder queen isn't overworked. And the whole thing can set on a beekeepers back porch requiring very little effort or attention."
I really like this method. What divides the queenless part of the deep? So, you one one side queenless, one side with the queen. You take the breeder queen out with a frame of brood and put it into the queenless side, making the other half queenless. Do you graft at this point?
" One side contains the breeder queen. The other side is free flying, queenless and will start/finish the cells. The queen, on a frame of brood, is moved to the queenless side and the function of each side is reversed after every cycle. "
i too like the sound of this technique. do both sides have an entrance and free flight? it seems to me they would but from reading the above it seemed there might be a question.
all that is gold does not glitter
sounds like any improvements in queen rearing now comes in the form of time savings. Sounds like modified Doolittle methods are the majority.
In wrangler's post, I am confused about the entrances. Are they on the same side of the hive? Is this actually the same thing as using a hive on top of a cloake board and rotating out frames, but only on a horizontal plane.
Chef, I have read that queens are better accepted in the mini-mating nucs, but I am concerned about having specialized boxes and frames. How do you get drawn comb , I was thinking of putting two frames end-to-end and attaching them with a strip and then just inserting like a regular frame to get them drawn out.
I need to come up with a game plan before spring.
I've mostly used the Jenter box but I've been needing more queens than are in it so I graft the rest of the larvae in the Jenter box after transfering the ones in the cell plugs.
I intend to use a starter hive more, but have used just a moderately strong hive made queenless for starter/finishers and, in a normal year, have had good luck with that.
in the past I have primarily used methods involving grafting... although I do believe that for most folks superior queens could be reared using sqlcrk 'au natural' method. I am currently trying to move towards a modification of a 'non grafting' method of rearing queen cells.
in the very near term I will likely buy more queen cells than I raise.
My duplex was a deep box with a dado cut down the center of each end and a piece of 1/4" plywood use to divide it in half. Two additional pieces of ply were used like an inner cover.
The entrances were on the front. A short piece of wood was centered in the entrance which directed flight returning bees outside corner. I've tried entrances on opposite ends and sides. No difference was noted.
That was my solution, but there are other options. A tight division board feed, aka Kirk Webster, would work. A follower board with canvas flaps would also work.
I've also tried a vertical approach to the duplex and Taber methods noted above. Both were a failure.
With the duplex method, a single story hive with a breeder queen is split in half with the queen, young larva, etc. on one side. And sealed brood, food and grafting frame on the other. The queenless side is just a very small, free flying starter-finisher. It will produce a dozen cells. So a single bar is grafted each cycle.
At the end of a cycle, the duplex is worked much like a free flying starter-finisher with its queen right support hive would be. Except the function of each side is changed by switching the queen and frame of bees on one side, with the grafting frame on the other.
The usual balancing is also done by redistributing bees,food, sealed brood, empty frames, etc. as needed.
the duplex hive may be turned into a graftless system. these are my thoughts correct me if i'm wrong. first the grafting bar would be replaced with a regular frame of wax. at each rotation the queenless side would have the developed queen cells cut out and a frame removed to transfer over to the queen right side. the queen right side would have the queen and frame of most developed brood removed and transfered to the queenless side.
all that is gold does not glitter
With due respect, making a hive or nuc queen less and let it raise its own queen, emergency queens, will produce inferior queens.
In an emergency situations the bees will feed different stage larvae and the oldest one will hatch the first, you know the rest.
I believe that swarm cells and supersede cells are the 'au natural'
tecumseh;276117]in the past I have primarily used methods involving grafting... although I do believe that for most folks superior queens could be reared using sqlcrk 'au natural' method. I am currently trying to move towards a modification of a 'non grafting' method of rearing queen cells.
in the very near term I will likely buy more queen cells than I raise.[/quote]
I do think grafting into a 5 frame nuc is ok. Just needs to be packed with bees. I did this and raised around 20 queens last season.
I use a variation of Brother Adam's method of cell rearing. It was taught to me by Kirk Webster. It uses no extra equipment or support colonies, and produces one batch of cells for each colony used. The hive is taken out of honey production for only a short time.The first batch of cells isn't ready for 20 days from cell builder set-up, but another batch is ready every 8 days after. It's so simple, anybody with a strong colony can raise a batch of quality cells.
Select a really strong colony. 10 frames of brood or more, and a prolific queen.
Day 1: Separate the brood chambers with a queen excluder. Below the excluder is the queen and most of the sealed brood. Above the excluder is most of the unsealed brood. Replace supers if there are any.
Day 10: Check entire colony for queen cells. Above excluder, the bees sometimes get nervous at being separated from the queen, and start emergency cells. Below the excluder, they sometimes start swarm cells. This is actually a good thing, as you know they are ready to build cells. Give feeder of thin syrup...even if you think there's a flow on!
Day 11: In morning, remove colony from stand. Replace bottom board on stand, and add a super from above. This helps insulate the cell builder, and acts like a honey flow is on...bees move uncapped honey up. Place top hive body on next. It has only sealed brood. Remove two outside combs...usually honey. Make space in center, and add good fresh pollen comb.
Go into bottom brood chamber. Has queen, and all of unsealed brood. If you haven't smoked them, the nurse bees will be located on the brood. Shake 6 or 7 combs of bees into the top box. Best through an excluder shaker box so you don't get a queen.
Top box is now packed with young bees, and will get most of the field bees. They have been made queenless, and have no larvae from which to raise a new one. They get quite frantic...really a site to see. Replace supers and cover.
Close up bottom box, and screen. Move to another yard.
Go have lunch. Listen to a bit of Telleman. Then you'll be ready to graft.
After a few hours, the cell builder is ready for the graft. It goes in the space created...right next to the pollen comb. After giving graft, I give 3 bars of 15, cover and
re-fill feeder. Feeder must not run dry for five days...until the cells are sealed.
Day 16: Bring bottom box with old queen back. Remove cell builder from stand. Replace with hive with queen. Remove cover, and add excluder. Place cell builder with sealed cells on excluder. Replace supers and cover.
Day 20: Cells are ready to use. Remove cells, excluder. Replace cell bar frame with empty comb, and replace supers. Colony is back into honey production.
The cell building management is on an 8 day cycle. So, every 8 days you have another cell building chore to do. The schedule would look something like this:
Set up a celendar. Start with number 1 on the day you set-up the first cell builder. Number each succeeding day 2, 3, 4...8, 1, 2, 3, 4...8, etc. The first few weeks you won't have a chore each day, but once queens are ready, you will.
Day 1: Set-up cell builder
Day 2: Check cell builder for cells
Day 3: Grafting day
Day 4: Catch queens
Day 5: Cells out
Day 6: *Day Off*
Day 7: Give comb to breeder
Day 8: Re-unite cell builder
BW: check your pm please.
Mostly I make queenless nucs w/ eggs present and let them raise their own queens. I do this because I find it the simplest way for me.