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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Berkeley Springs, WV, USA
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    23

    Default Feedback please on my proposed method of raising 5-10 queens

    New to beekeeping and looking to experiment with making queens.
    Here is the method I propose to use. I would appreciate any feedback from all of you experienced folk. I installed packages in mid April.

    I have 2 hives one very strong (A) and the other doing well but not as good (B) . I propose to use this queen (A) to mate from and then use the colony (A) to rear the queen cells after I graft them. I would take the good queen (A) and make a 5 frame nuc with two frames of brood from the strong hive (A) and one from the weak hive (B) (with bees brushed off) and have a nuc feeder on top. I propose to allow the strong hive (A) to keep one of the queen cells and then make some other nucs with the other queens. Just trying to learn as i go along!

    Also is it allowed to share queens (ie do you have to have a license to give queens away or sell them?)
    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    4,067

    Default Re: Feedback please on my proposed method of raising 5-10 queens

    You're going to have some challenges - mating nucs for example. You can start a good mating nuc with a frame of brood and a frame of food, but that will eat up your resources mighty fast if you make many of them. On the other hand I have a friend that will graft just one or two cups to put into a queenless mating nuc and let them raise a queen from start to finish. If the nuc is pretty strong and well fed there's no reason why it shouldn't work OK as long as you have reasonable expectations. Go for it - you don't learn if you don't try.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Rock Hill, SC
    Posts
    46

    Default Re: Feedback please on my proposed method of raising 5-10 queens

    These are new hives drawing comb and the poorest one is "doing well"? We had one bum queen in five new packages this year. Tried adding a swarm cell from another hive and a couple frames of brood but there just wasn't enough critical mass to save it and I wasn't willing to risk stripping much more from the other hives to save one. If they are doing well in your opinion why not leave them alone and wait?

    You could always just re-queen hive B? Hive A's queen may be a good genetic source but much less work for you.

    Best of luck,

    Kevin
    Experience isn't always the best way to learn...You usually get the lesson first...And the instruction afterwards...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Columbia county, New York, USA
    Posts
    1,535

    Default Re: Feedback please on my proposed method of raising 5-10 queens

    Quote Originally Posted by WVBees View Post
    I installed packages in mid April.
    ...I would take the good queen (A) and make a 5 frame nuc with two frames of brood from the strong hive (A) and one from the weak hive (B) (with bees brushed off) and have a nuc feeder on top. I propose to allow the strong hive (A) to keep one of the queen cells and then make some other nucs with the other queens.
    I dont' think you are going to have enough resources of brood and bees to do all this- you only have two hives that were started from packages two months ago.
    If you "make a 5 frame nuc with two frames of brood from the strong hive (A) and one from the weak hive (B) (with bees brushed off)", then where are the nurse bees going to come from that need to keep the 3rd frame of brood warm? Too much brood and too few bees to care for it.

    Then you want to "make some other nucs with the other queens"- I don't see how you will have the extra frames of brood and extra bees needed for all this. Remember that any nucs you make and place in new locations will be losing all foragers as well.
    The little bee returns with evening's gloom,
    To join her comrades in the braided hive... -Tennyson

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    4,067

    Default Re: Feedback please on my proposed method of raising 5-10 queens

    I've been thinking about this question a bit, and I would like to make some observations about it:

    1) It's true that when you go chopping up your hives you do risk disaster if you make a bad mistake.
    2) As long as you keep your existing queens going in decent nucs they are pretty good insurance against such a disaster.
    3) Here in TN our honey season is almost over at which point the resources in those hives could be put to use for rearing queens, and as long as you actually have good young queens to put to work by late August/early September (for the fall build up) there's no real reason not to.
    4) You need to have a pretty good idea what you are doing, but if you play your cards right you could considerably improve your apiary by the end of the season.
    5) Are you a wood worker - can you come up with the nucs and whatnot that you will need? Doing this will be a lot harder if you aren't/can't. If you aren't the kind of person who does what has to be done exactly when it needs to be done, then you might just want to take up photography instead.
    6) My philosophy is that 2 queens can lay twice as fast as one - 5 can lay even faster

    So if you think you are up to it, and feel adventurous here is my hypothetical plan:

    1) Take the queen out of your best hive, and establish her in a nuc with 2-3 frames of brood, a frame of food (pollen and honey if at all possible) and an extra shake of nurse bees. Put the queen nuc in another location so that the old hive will retain the foragers. Feed both hives, but beware of robbing. If you feed all hives in the yard at the same time robbing will be less likely.

    2) Reduce the size of the old hive as small as possible to make the population dense by removing empty foundation and food frames, but leave at least one good pollen frame and one good open nectar frame. Save the extra food frames in a safe place - freeze them if needed.

    3) Graft - check the take in 3 days. If it isn't good, then start over and graft again every three days until you get enough cells to work with - at least 6.

    4) 9 days after you made this hive queenless thoroughly inspect every single frame - brush most of the bees off of the frames one at a time. If you find frames with queen cells (you probably will) mark them and return them to the hive while you prepare a mating nuc for each one with a frame of food (not frozen!) then install the frames with cells along with the clinging bees into the mating nucs. If you miss a single cell the virgin will kill your grafted cells when she emerges tomorrow. Removing those frames will weaken your cell builder, but with any luck by now your grafted cells will by capped or almost so. You can probably reduce that hive to a 5 frame nuc at this point - if it doesn't still have at least 2 frames of capped brood, then give it some from the other hive.

    5) During that inspection count your successful grafted cells.

    6) On day 9 after you grafted make up mating nucs with a frame of brood and a frame of food. Get if from where ever you can as long as you leave each of your 2 old queens going in a good nuc.

    7) Early on day 10 after you grafted plant your cells in your mating nucs - you can put more than one cell in each by the way. Only one will make a queen of course but multiples will be insurance against duds.

    8) Look at the calendar - is there at least 50 shopping days until September 1st? If the answer is no then leave a cell or two in your cell builder and let it make a queen. If the answer is yes then wait 10 - 12 days and then graft again. The reason is that once your first batch of cells has been in the mating nucs for about 20 days brood should be easy to find in the ones that have queens. The ones that don't have queens can be used again for the next batch (after prepping them) or combined with the queenright ones.

    Brand new queens will lay like crazy if they have comb to lay in. I overwintered hives last year that started out as mating nucs in mid July, but some time in early September you have to count up your frames of drawn comb and decide how many hives you want to go into winter with and combine and equalize to get them to the size you want.

    I am not saying that you should do this, or even that it's a good idea. I'm just saying that it is possible. Lots of ways for it to go wrong - this isn't a complete plan - you have to know more than just what I've written to make it work. But none of it is secret or even very hard. And it sure is satisfying when you see your own queens filling those hives with brood.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Berkeley Springs, WV, USA
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: Feedback please on my proposed method of raising 5-10 queens

    David and all that responded,
    Thanks for the constructice advice. As I said I am new to beekeeping (3 prior generations of family kept bees in Ireland).
    David (or anyone else) I had 2 questions though: In point 6 you said make a mating nuc: is that in a 5 frame nuc box with one brood and one food and 3 foundations or in a special smaller box?
    Should the nucs be combined in September to survive the winter or what is the % chance of a 5 frame nuc boxe surviving the winter?
    Thanks

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    4,067

    Default Re: Feedback please on my proposed method of raising 5-10 queens

    You can use 5 frame nucs for mating nucs, but it is easier for a small number of bees to defend, guard, and climate control a small space. If you have 5 frame nucs then use them - fill them up with bare foundation though because empty drawn comb is A) hard to come by B) Great hiding places for hive beetles. As the nuc gets stronger they will drawn the foundation out as they need it. If you are going to build mating nucs lots of people find 3-4 framers to work well.

    5 frame nucs can certainly be over wintered - lots of people do it. Bigger hives packed with lots of honey don't require as much care and feeding over the winter. No matter what size the hive is it needs to have a dense population of young healthy adult bees by your first frost date. In which case if you don't let them starve they probably have as good a chance as any.

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