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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Johnston, South Carolina, USA
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    554

    Default Communal Mating Hive

    Here's a question. I want to raise queens in the near future and I've been reading the books and trying to derive a workable system. Would it be possible to make a "communal" mating colony. I'd split the bottom super into 4 2-frame compartments (like Brushy's Queen Castle) than put a queen excluder on top of the box, and another "food" super on top of that. The bees share the top super, and the queens hatch below, mate, return, and I have a 4-queen colony. After each queen lays in her 2 frames I take out the queens, introduce new cells, and the process starts over again.

    Really the only question I have its, will the workers accept only one of the queens and kill the others, or can I build off of the principles behind running a 2-queen colony?

    -Nathanael
    Beaches' Bee-Haven Apiary http://beachesbeehaven.com
    Aiken Beekeepers Association http://aikenbeekeepers.org

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Owen, WI, USA
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    2,552

    Default

    Interesting idea but it sounds like a lot of unnecessary work and too much additional risk for me. Lets set aside the question of acceptance of all the queens, tat many bees may think NONE of them are doing their job and treat them all accordingly. But first I am wondering why you don't want to just leave them in the bottom 4 way box without the other boxes over the top? You certainly don't need anywhere near 2 boxes of bees for mating. I think putting food in a different box on top would do more harm than good. The Qs do not need that many bees to mate, just enough to maintain her. The logistics sound like a nightmare. First, it won't just be putting the cells in, waiting a while, picking the queen then recelling. They will probably not all be on the same schedule for long. One cell won't take so you will have to recell and deal with that one's schedule. Or one won't mate as quickly so you will want to wait to assess her pattern before you pick her. Every time you want to look you will have to pull the boxes and the excluder, without smoke. There is a chance any one of the queens will be on the excluder and will get mixed up and get back into the wrong mating compartment. And this is assuming the excluder is tight enough to work as you are hoping. Most (all?) multi compartment mating nucs have some sort of flexible inner cover such as burlap or linoleum to make a good tight seal between the colonies.
    If you don't want to deal with trying to incorporate the smaller size frames a good compromise is to use medium nucs for mating units.
    Sheri

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    45,340

    Default

    I just use the "queen castle" as the mating nuc, except I made my own and it's medium and not deep:
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesqueenre...htm#matingnucs

    But mating them over a queen has been done:
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesdoolittle.htm#CHAPTER13
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesbetterq...0Upper%20Story

    Just not with four in the upper story. It MIGHT work.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Johnston, South Carolina, USA
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    Default

    My main reason for a "communal" mating colony is so that I can maintain the bees as a colony, not using a support colony and keep stuffing frames in a nuc. I'd allow the queens to return mated, lay a pattern and than put in a maturing queen cell from a starter colony. (Of course I'd have to wait for the brood to mature enough to where the workers would hatch before the new queen) Anyway, this way I could just keep my mating colonies going w/o robbing support colonies.

    Sheri, thanx for the insight... all my ideas are coming from my imagination, and not built on a lot of experience! So I could use some... maybe... a lot of help!

    -Nathanael
    Beaches' Bee-Haven Apiary http://beachesbeehaven.com
    Aiken Beekeepers Association http://aikenbeekeepers.org

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Owen, WI, USA
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    Default

    >>>Anyway, this way I could just keep my mating colonies going w/o robbing support colonies.<<<
    Once the mating nucs are stocked there is no need to rob support colonies, they will be a fully functioning colony, albeit a tiny one. The hatch from your newly mated queens will keep them stocked. You will have to feed initially, but you shouldn't have to restock with bees and with a decent flow they will make enough honey that getting plugged up can be an issue. Having extra empty frames to give them if needed is a good thing.
    Even if you used a nuc of medium frames you will not have to restock with bees, although it takes quite a lot of bees to initially stock a medium nuc mater (compared to the 4 way minis) plus the medium nucs have the advantage that you may be able to find a frame of honey to start them with and not have to feed at all. The minis are a pleasure to work but you need to consolidate the brood after the last pick, sort of a pain.
    Here is an album with some pics of our mini mating nucs.
    http://home-and-garden.webshots.com/...52137931fiBkzc
    Sheri
    Last edited by JohnK and Sheri; 05-04-2008 at 08:31 PM. Reason: fighting the link....hope I got it

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    45,340

    Default

    >(Of course I'd have to wait for the brood to mature enough to where the workers would hatch before the new queen)

    I'm not sure I follow you. I wouldn't wait for anything except the new queen to lay and take her out and put in a new cell.

    > Anyway, this way I could just keep my mating colonies going w/o robbing support colonies.

    As mentioned, a mating nuc is self supporting once you get it going. In fact you often have to split them or move them to a bigger box as they get too strong.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Johnston, South Carolina, USA
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    Default

    I think I'm starting to make sense out what y'all and the books have been saying. It's hard w/o some practical queen rearing experience...

    OK, we've got a mating nuc, mini, or not. The cell hatches and the queen mates, retuns, lays. So you take her out and pop in another cell? But how much room is left for that queen to lay in, if the previous queen fills up the frames w/brood?

    -Nathanael
    Beaches' Bee-Haven Apiary http://beachesbeehaven.com
    Aiken Beekeepers Association http://aikenbeekeepers.org

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

    >But how much room is left for that queen to lay in, if the previous queen fills up the frames w/brood?

    Well, it takes two weeks from the time you put the cell in until you expect to see any eggs. In that time a lot of brood has emerged and no eggs have been layed and all the open brood is capped. So any eggs are from the new queen and two thirds of the brood will have emerged.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesqueenrearing.htm#calendar
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Santa Rosa, California
    Posts
    86

    Default Not a good idea...

    Quote Originally Posted by Beaches' Bee-Haven Apiary View Post
    Here's a question. I want to raise queens... I've been reading the books... Would it be possible to make a "communal" mating colony... excluder on top of the box, and another "food" super on top accept only one of the queens and kill the others, -Nathanael
    Beaches',
    Your last statement is correct...
    The thing that is being overlooked is the size of the new Queen... It's only after sex with drones that the gyne swells up as her ovarium start to produce eggs....The Queen excluder only works on matted Queens... So you can see now where this will go...Just use the four position mating box the way it was designed to, without all the stuff on top... You will then have four matted Queens...
    Lee...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Johnston, South Carolina, USA
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    554

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by beemanlee View Post
    Beaches',
    Your last statement is correct...
    The thing that is being overlooked is the size of the new Queen... It's only after sex with drones that the gyne swells up as her ovarium start to produce eggs....The Queen excluder only works on matted Queens... So you can see now where this will go...Just use the four position mating box the way it was designed to, without all the stuff on top... You will then have four matted Queens...
    Lee...
    Thanks Lee. I had just mentioned that very point to another beek regarding swarm prevention (smaller queen slipping right through QE)... Don't know why I didn't think about it w/virgins.

    Sometimes we just need the obvious pointed out to us

    -Nathanael
    Beaches' Bee-Haven Apiary http://beachesbeehaven.com
    Aiken Beekeepers Association http://aikenbeekeepers.org

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Medford, Oregon, USA
    Posts
    54

    Default

    about the only advice i would add is to wait until the brood is capped before you pull her. some may disagree but i like to be sure I'm not getting a drone layer or a poorly mated queen.

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