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  1. #1
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    Default Queen Development Question

    I grafted on April 1. I rechecked them on the 3rd, and a dozen JZBZ cups were drawn out. On the 6th they were capped, and on the 10th I moved them into mating nucs.

    According to the calendar I have, they should have hatched on the 13th, last Wednesday. Wikipedia says they take 15.5-17 days to emerge, which would be between late Tuesday and Thursday.

    I checked them today (Friday the 15th) to discard any unhatched cells. Mind you there were 12 nucs with cells in it. The first one I opened, the queen cup was waxed inbetween the two cells, and when I pulled on it the cell stayed behind while the cup was removed. It gave me a great view looking down into the cell, where a white, half developed queen sat.

    The second nuc I checked, I was a little more careful to remove the frame to the left and right, grabbed the cup (and the same separation occurred), this time there was a darker, half developed (but dead) queen sitting in the cell.

    I stopped checking the others, and havn't opened them yet. Did I do something incorrect in transferring them into the nuc? Should I check the others?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Queen Development Question

    do you know that the queen was dead for sure?
    when they are nearly fully developed they look a browny black colour and dont move a whole lot sometimes you can see them move a leg if you look closely.

    If they are all dead the only thing I can think that would kill them all would be cold, how did you move them to your nucs? and were there plenty of bees in your nucs?

    sometimes if the weather is really cold the queens can take longer to emerge I'd be inclined to give them another full day before checking again.

    welcome to the joys of queen rearing!
    I reckon queens are sold way to cheap when you consider all the work that goes into them!

    frazz

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Queen Development Question

    Quote Originally Posted by frazzledfozzle View Post
    do you know that the queen was dead for sure?
    The first one was white, not fully developed or even close. The royal jelly that was in the bottom of the cup had all dried up. I assumed if she wasn't done developing in 18 days, she wasn't going to finish at all. Is that an accurate assumption?

    The second one was very dark brown, almost black. The royal jelly was the same as the other one. This one, however, didn't appear to have finished developing either. I've been trying to find pictures to compare, but I can't. I did watch her for a few seconds, no movement whatsoever.

    Quote Originally Posted by frazzledfozzle View Post
    If they are all dead the only thing I can think that would kill them all would be cold, how did you move them to your nucs? and were there plenty of bees in your nucs?
    I don't think it was that cold in the past week or so. Not enough to give them that much trouble, but I could be wrong.

    I took a monster hive and divided it up into 12 nucs, that's what I used for mating nucs. The two I checked were deeps, three frames each of brood in varying stages, all attending nurse bees with them. The other 10 nucs comprise of one deep with four frames, 8 mediums with two frames each, and 1 medium with four frames.

    It took me a little longer to "transfer" the queen cells into the nucs than I thought. The monster hive wasn't being too cooperative. I also wasn't sure if I should have left the queen cells in the sun, or in the shade, upsidown, or rightside up. I was trying to be as gentle as I could in removing them from the cell bar, but a few needed to be twisted quite a bit. I fear maybe I was too rough on them.

    I watched a few videos, and I've seen breeders putting "1 cup" of nurse bees into a mating nuc. I figured two-three frames each would be sufficient (but I could be mistaken).

    Quote Originally Posted by frazzledfozzle View Post
    sometimes if the weather is really cold the queens can take longer to emerge I'd be inclined to give them another full day before checking again.
    I was under the assumption, and we all know about assumptions, that the average queen development takes 16 days. Hot days can push it closer to 15, and cold days can push it closer to 17 days. But I didn't think they would go beyond 17 days. Perhaps I'm wrong though.

    The other thing that confused me was that since it's my first time grafting, I'm sure some of the larvae were a little bit older than ideal. That would just mean that they would be born earlier, right? So why would it take that long?

    But even still, if the weather did push it back to 18 days, they should have been born today (or would be in the next few hours). Why would one of them still be white? That one, obviously, woudn't have made it.

    Sorry, just a little bit confused about timing, and whether or not I should count the ones that havn't hatched yet as a loss, go ahead and check in on them, or give it two more days (tomorrow is severe thunderstorms all day). I'm just concerned about leaving them queenless (if that's the case) for too long. If there are queen development issues, I'd want to combine them while it still makes sense.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Queen Development Question

    I dont know for sure how long your cells were out of the hive? or what you did with them while you were making up your nucs.
    I dont know if your cell raising hive and your nucs are at the same place.

    I think they were damaged either by heat or cold before you put them in depending on what you did with them.

    If it was me I would make the nucs up first then go and get the cells keep them in the downward facing position.
    If your cells are on the same site and your nucs are made up you can take them directly from your builder and plant them in your nucs.

    If you have to travel you either need to find a way to keep your cells at the correct temperature or leave the cells in the builder longer so they are only a few hours from opening when they are taken out this way they will be much stronger and will survive a ride to your out apiary.

    At 10 days old the queens are still delicate and very suseptible to changes in temperature.

    so I'm taking a quess that you took your cells out then left them somewhere either in the sun or the shade and by the time you got done making up your nucs the damage was done.

    frazz

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Queen Development Question

    Just one more quick thought if you made up your nucs on the same site as the hive you were breaking up most of the bees will go back to the original hives location leaving only the nurse bees to stay with the nucs.
    If you have 2-3 frames of brood there will probably be too few nurse bees to keep the brood warm you would need to plant your cell right in the middle of a brood frame preferably one that has young lavae on it, If you planted your cell at the top of the frame the bees wouldn't keep it warm because they will be over the brood.

    does that make sense?

    frazz

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Queen Development Question

    Quote Originally Posted by frazzledfozzle View Post
    I dont know for sure how long your cells were out of the hive? or what you did with them while you were making up your nucs.
    I dont know if your cell raising hive and your nucs are at the same place.
    My nucs and finisher hive is at the same place.

    I tried to be as quick as possible, but I guess I wasn't really thinking too much about the temps. I was also so anxious about having capped cells that I went right for them, took the cell frame out of it's finisher, sat it down beside the hive, then made up the nucs. Even though it wasn't too long, my guess is that this is the source of the damage.

    Lesson learned though

    Quote Originally Posted by frazzledfozzle View Post
    At 10 days old the queens are still delicate and very suseptible to changes in temperature.
    I knew at 10 days old they were still very sensitive, but I figured I could remove them from the hive for 10-15 min (or possibly a little longer). I guess I underestimated how delicate they were.

    Quote Originally Posted by frazzledfozzle View Post
    Jmost of the bees will go back to the original hives location leaving only the nurse bees to stay with the nucs.
    I thought about that. I made sure that I swapped box locations (the nucs were stacked, about the same height as the original hive, that had a top and bottom entrance) in an attempt to even up the "numbers" a little bit. That doesn't mean that it worked, as three of the nucs (from the outside) appear to be packed, while the two that I checked up on were not quite so busy.

    Quote Originally Posted by frazzledfozzle View Post
    you would need to plant your cell right in the middle of a brood frame preferably one that has young lavae on it, If you planted your cell at the top of the frame the bees wouldn't keep it warm because they will be over the brood.
    I did make sure that I put the cells not just on the top bars, but down a little bit. Where the cells were, there was capped brood. The capped brood to the left and right of the cell appears to be alright, so I assumed that they were able to keep the queen cell warm enough as well. None of the nucs appeared to be too small on hive numbers (again, this is my first time grafting, so my assumptions could be far off). They all appeared to be at the strength that a normal hive is at, just in two-three frame size, if that makes any sense.

    So if we are to assume that I did some damage, either in the movement of the cells to the nucs, or in the drifting of field bees leaving too few numbers in the nucs, can we assume that the other 10 cells have either hatched or will never hatch? Or should I still give it two days and re-check?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Queen Development Question

    When you checked the cells, were they covered in bees? Frazz is dead on the money with an issue that effects a lot of beginners... taking brood frames from hives and making nucs with them in the same yard can be tough... your making the bees have to choose between the brood and the cell... most will choose the brood... when we do this, we plug up the nucs for a minimum of 2 full days, and only open them in the evening... then give them a cell with no protector right at day light the next morning... that is another thing to remember, when starting nucs in early spring when temps are up and down, protectors can be your worst enemy... I believe that the "grid" design of the protector hides the shape of the cell, and that the cell transmits pheromones by touch transfer... if you watch bees walk on cells that are in protectors, they do not straddle the protector, thus they never touch the actual cell... save your protectors for when it gets hot if you want to use them... if the bees do not see the cell for what it is, they will not incubate it.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Queen Development Question

    We try to make up splits the day before the cells are ready and leave them closed up till the next day. We have screened bottom for ventilation. Pull the cells and place in nuc with bottle of hot water for warmth during transport. Keep cells pointion down at all times. We transfer 10 day cells, if you grafted on 1st and planted on 10th they were only 9 day cells. This makes them more susceptible to damage. They definatly would have emerged by 15th. You need to check the rest and decide how to proceed. Either find more queen cells or queens. The longer you wait the more likely they will build there own queen cells and then they won't accept what you give them.

    Johnny
    "Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." - Mark Twain

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Queen Development Question

    Johnny makes another good point... if you stock the nucs with brood frames, chances are they may have started cells of there own if there were any young enough larvae or eggs... check through your nucs before pulling you cells to ensure that there are no e-cells... if there are, cut them out... make them take only your cells as your grafted cells have a better chance at being higher quality.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Queen Development Question

    PHP Code:
    The royal jelly that was in the bottom of the cup had all dried up
    Did you notice how much R.J. were in the cups when you planted? Were they about half full? I ask because I haven't seen R.J. dried up in the bottom of the cells after emergence. It is still moist. I have very limited experience so take it for what it's worth.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Queen Development Question

    Another thought, you mentioned you didn't want to leave the nucs queenless, graft some more cells then after 48 hours in the starter plant them in your nucs. Although you shouldn't do this with a very small nuc, i.e. mini.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Queen Development Question

    I'm sorry it took me so long to get back to you guys. I really appreciate all the input and help. I've just been swamped the past few days, and this is the first chance I've gotten to write out an answer. I'll do my best to cover all questions and comments, to keep you better informed so you can give me the best advice moving forward.

    Quote Originally Posted by rrussell6870 View Post
    When you checked the cells, were they covered in bees?
    When I pulled them out of the finisher, or when I checked them on Friday to discard the unhatched cells? They were covered in the finisher, and when I removed them from the finisher, but in the nucs they appeared to not be paid much attention to. Other than the occasional passerby on the top, or near the brood, but they weren't covered.

    I don't use "cell protectors" as I'm trying to go as basic as I can. Get the technique in general down, then see what "fancy" things can do (or better yet, see how I don't need them).

    But I definitely underestimated how to make up the mating nucs. I just assumed that in commercial operations, they were putting in about a cup of nurse bees per nuc. If I was putting in two frames of bees with attending nurse bees, I didn't think it would really matter about the field bees, wherever they went. But I guess in a mating nuc, you don't put much brood in there, so the cup of nurse bees don't need to choose between brood and a queen cell. Perhaps that's where I made the miscalculation. I think I'll have to read up on how to "make" mating nucs. Not so much build them, but how to populate them. That's my difficulty, at the moment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Broke-T View Post
    We try to make up splits the day before the cells are ready and leave them closed up till the next day.
    You and russell appear to do something similar, of which I didn't. I think I'll try it next time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Broke-T View Post
    We transfer 10 day cells, if you grafted on 1st and planted on 10th they were only 9 day cells. This makes them more susceptible to damage.
    According to the calendar I've been using, http://www.thebeeyard.org/queencalen...ay=1&year=2011 the most sensitive developmental period would have been the 7th, 8th, and 9th. They claim to transfer on the 10th, so that's what I did. Should I have waited till the 11th?

    Quote Originally Posted by Broke-T View Post
    They definatly would have emerged by 15th.
    That's what I thought. Unfortunate.

    I'll check the other 10 nucs this afternoon, but I'm not too sure how I should proceed.

    I have two queens from Russell that are somewhere in transit (razafrazing USPS loosing my queens again :angry: ). They might show up tomorrow, but I'm not sure. They were supposed to be here last Friday, which would have made things much easier, but somehow they "misplaced" the package, along with my contact information. Civil service employees are fantastic. With the added days, I'm not sure if the nurse bees will survive. As such, I'm not sure if I will get a live queen, a dead queen, if it will be lost forever, or if they just sent it back to Russell. So I'm not sure if I should count on them or not.

    I was thinking about going through the ones that are queenless and putting them above a queen excluder on top of a queen right colony. Do you think that's a good idea, or would I be better off combining them with a queen right, newspaper method? A third option would be to wait till tomorrow, see where my queens are at, and if they don't come, then combine tomorrow. Thoughts?

    Quote Originally Posted by rrussell6870 View Post
    ... check through your nucs before pulling you cells to ensure that there are no e-cells... if there are, cut them out... make them take only your cells as your grafted cells have a better chance at being higher quality.
    I will check for e-cells. I was actually going to do that anyway, but it's good to hear I was headed in the right direction.

    I don't have any other queen cells standing by to replace the failed ones with. It was my first batch of cells, and I was trying to go start to finish to see where I screwed up before continuing (done and done, haha). But now it's just a scramble to try to figure out how to save the bees in the nucs, as I have a shortage of queens and/or cells.

    Quote Originally Posted by muskratcreekhoney View Post
    Did you notice how much R.J. were in the cups when you planted? Were they about half full? I ask because I haven't seen R.J. dried up in the bottom of the cells after emergence.
    They appeared between full and half full when I planted. I know the RJ isn't supposed to dry up, but keep in mind I checked up on them two days AFTER they were supposed to have hatched. Likewise, I don't know if it's a bad sign, or what, but I figured two extra days might have done it (or the temperature swing I gave them).

    Quote Originally Posted by muskratcreekhoney View Post
    Another thought, you mentioned you didn't want to leave the nucs queenless, graft some more cells then after 48 hours in the starter plant them in your nucs. Although you shouldn't do this with a very small nuc, i.e. mini.
    I didn't think about starting a second batch of queens already. I guess I could do that, although I was really hoping to be able to graft from the Sunkist line next time. Oh well, life moves on.

    So of the available options, do you think I should:
    1) Graft from the best hive on hand today, put it in a swarm box, finisher tomorrow morning, then whatever stage the cells are in at 48 hours, plant into the nucs (while making sure the e-cells are gone).
    2) Wait and re-assess tomorrow, based on the availability of the USPS.
    3) Combine with another colony.
    4) Put them above an excluder, and use them as splits when the Sunkist queens make it here.

    Thoughts?

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Queen Development Question

    I've seen it take as long as 18 days when it's chilly and as short as 15 or even 14 1/2 when the weather is really hot.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Queen Development Question

    When I'm first making up my three compartment condo mating nucs, I insert a comb of nectar/pollen and one of emerging brood. I close the entrance with a piece of #8 hardware cloth and a thumbtack. I do this two or three days before the cells are ready to transfer. When the cells are ready to place, I first ensure I destroy any and all emergency cells, make a depression in the comb then place the cell in it. I leave the cells on the cell bar, covered with nurse bees and pluck them one-at-a-time, as I place them. The next morning I remove the entrance blocking screens.

    Once the mating nucs are "established" I don't worry with all those details, I just make sure to place another ripe cell as I harvest the resident queens.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
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  15. #15
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    Default Re: Queen Development Question

    Ideally I would like to make the nucs up without brood. Just nurse bees. Right now though, my operation isn't large enough to support that.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Queen Development Question

    I mentioned this in another thread, but figured I'd put it here for cohesion, or if you don't feel like following multiple threads.

    I cracked the remaining 10 nucs open today, and four appear to have emerged. All four were in 2 frame medium nucs. The others were not so lucky. I combined the 8 nucs that didn't make it into one hive, and threw those together with a ten frame hive I had waiting for the Sunkist. I made sure to go through and destroy all e-cells. So right now there is a deep, 2x medium, and 1x shallow queenless hive, waiting for a mother. If the queens make it tomorrow, I'll split the queenless one and requeen. If not, I'll probably throw them into other hives.

    I took the unhatched queens, and the e-cells, and threw them in an empty deep nuc. I figured it might act as a type of swarm lure. I wasn't going to do anything with them anyway.

    The interesting part though, is there doesn't appear to be a patter of the 33% that made it. They weren't the first four I put in, and they weren't the last four either. They were all 2 frame nucs that were moderately populated. Two of the ones that didn't make it were in 5 frame nucs, packed full of bees (most of the foragers returned there).

    We'll see how the USPS situation works out. It will also be interesting to see how many successfully mate. I'm hoping more than my 33% average (both a 33% grafting rate, and a 33% emergence rate so far).

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