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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,298

    Default Larger queen cells - do they produce larger queens?

    My queen cell-builder/finisher is in a 5-frame deep nuc box, with a screened bottom and a queen excluder covering a front entrance hole. I keep four or five medium frames in this nuc, and use 1, 2, or 3 single cell bars, with as many as twelve cells per bar. I feed continuously with pollen substitute patties and feed a quart of syrup once a week. I like to keep the two outer combs almost solid with honey and pollen; the other two or three frames I maintain as combs of emerging worker brood, and frequently check for rogue queen cells (which I destroy and harvest the royal jelly for priming).

    Using this cell-builder I've produced many groups of nice looking queen cells and some very nice queens. This photo is a group of my usual sized cells.


    About a week ago I was between cell batches and had a comb of hatching eggs I needed to place temporarily, so I put it into the cell-builder, exchanging it with a nearly empty comb (one that was emerging brood). A day or two later I again swapped it with a fresh frame of sealed-emerging brood and placed a bar of fresh grafts. When I returned to harvest these finished cells, I noticed that all of them were uniformly large, larger than most of the cells I've ever grown.

    I use JZsBZs push-in queen cell protectors, and my usual cells will allow the protector to be pushed all the way down onto the base of the cell-cup. These larger cells will only permit the cell protectors to be pushed to where the protector just contacts the rim of the cell-cups, and the tip of the cells are already protruding from the end of the protectors. In a few days, when this next batch is ripe, I will take a photo of these larger cells.

    I am anxiously waiting to see how queens from these larger cells perform, and if they are actually larger, more fecund queens.
    Last edited by Joseph Clemens; 08-18-2010 at 03:44 PM.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,556

    Default Re: Larger queen cells - do they produce larger queens?

    Hi Joseph,
    So let me suppose here a bit,
    I'm supposing that these cells came out larger than you normally get right?
    I'm thinking here that the addition of emerging larva from eggs, inserted into the cell builder, acted as a trigger or primer to get the nurse bees in the cell builder to start producing increased amounts of royal jelly for feeding the increased amount of larva to be fed. Then pulling that frame back out 2 days later left your nurse bees overly producing the royal jelly, so they packed in more than usual to your cell bar cells they were also feeding at the time. Does this make sense? I'm interested to hear what you find on queen size and performance over time. Do you plan on keeping these for yourself for awhile for observing?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,719

    Default Re: Larger queen cells - do they produce larger queens?

    Yes I'm with what RayMarler said, and I'm also thinking they will likely be good sized queens, so please update.

    However having said all that, big cells do not always equal big queens. In fact i've seen some pretty ratty queens emerge from what appeared very impressive cells. The main thing is to avoid any obviously undersized cells.

    Also, what is the photo. The cells in question, or a different batch?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,298

    Default Re: Larger queen cells - do they produce larger queens?

    Yes, these recent cells are much larger. They are about 3/8" longer, though they don't seem to be any noticeably larger in diameter. I too thought that having those nurse bees geared up to feeding all those newly hatched larva, then suddenly only having the queen cells to feed, may have been the trigger for these larger cells.

    I am continuing to prep the cell builder with a frame of hatching eggs, and getting the same results (larger cells). I am tracking these cells and the queens they produce. I will probably keep many of them, perhaps even requeening my production hives with these queens, then I can compare their performance with my usual queens.

    I've also thought of taking frames of hatching eggs, add them to the cell builder with their resident nurse bees (before this I only added frames of hatching eggs, without their own nurse bees), then leaving these additional nurse bees in the cell builder when I pull the frame of young larva. I wonder if there is a point where the cells produce optimal queens, and beyond this point (more royal jelly or larger cells) just goes to waste?
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,298

    Default Re: Larger queen cells - do they produce larger queens?

    Oldtimer,
    The photo in my initial post is a group of my usual sized cells.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    SOMERSET, ENGLAND
    Posts
    335

    Default Re: Larger queen cells - do they produce larger queens?

    Joseph,thank you for posting this,most interesting......look forward to your future updates.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    3,910

    Default Re: Larger queen cells - do they produce larger queens?

    I have cell envy just from your normal sized cells.

    How long can you keep a cell builder like this productive by adding emerging brood?

    How do you keep it from getting too crowded?

    I recently just had my first success raising queens in a 5 frame nuc like this - but I only did one batch.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,298

    Default Re: Larger queen cells - do they produce larger queens?

    <<How long can you keep a cell builder like this productive by adding emerging brood?>> I'm not sure ->I've been continuously using this same nuc as my primary cell builder starting in the Spring of 2009.

    <<How do you keep it from getting too crowded?>> I don't think that it would be possible for them to be "too crowded", the more the merrier.

    <<I recently just had my first success raising queens in a 5 frame nuc like this - but I only did one batch.>> I think raising queens is almost the most fun I've had while beekeeping.

    Initially this cell-builder nuc was in a normal 5-frame medium wooden nuc box. During the Winter of 2009-2010 I moved them into a nuc box built entirely of 1-1/4" thick styrofoam, without a completely screened bottom, just a few cracks near the bottom for ventilation and a slit at one end for the entrance. I'm amazed that they never developed a problem with laying workers -- perhaps because there are some cells of open brood on almost every frame of sealed/emerging brood added to the cell builder nuc.

    Now that they are four or five medium frames in a 5-frame deep nuc box, when undisturbed there are lots of bees clustering beneath the frames. During nectar flows I can add a foundationless frame, or plastic frame, every two days, and they will be built into combs.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

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