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  1. #41
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    Default Re: Moving from ok queens . . . to great queens.

    Some very great informative postings here, thanks everyone. I would like to add one thing that I do here, that I did not notice in all the previous postings here...

    I make up my cell builder 4 days ahead of the grafting, and it contains one frame with a good portion of eggs. In 4 days, I go in and remove that frame and destroy all the queen cells and give it to another hive. Then I insert my grafted cell bars in it's place. This gives me a hopelessly queenless cell builder with a full force of nurse bees actively producing royal jelly! I get much larger well built cells this way and I think it's because the nurse bees are actively producing royal jelly in the starter when I insert the cell bar.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  2. #42
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    Default Re: Moving from ok queens . . . to great queens.

    Ray, that is one of the exact reasons that I recommend grafting each day for at least three days, and another good reason to use a hatchery to examine the queens from each batch before selecting the ones that you wish to mate... this method is described in the paragraph just below the picture of the two cell finishers... thanks for pointing that out. It's the same principle of the nurses being in "cell building mode" for the second and third grafts, and thus sometimes those cells are better than the ones before...

  3. #43
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    Default Re: Moving from ok queens . . . to great queens.

    Quote Originally Posted by rrussell6870 View Post
    I have sent you a few gifts, so you can try this out for yourself to see if it works for you.
    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    I'll read up about hatcheries a bit more, and plan on using them next year.
    Or perhaps I'll try them this season, lol. Thanks so much Robert.

    Quote Originally Posted by rrussell6870 View Post
    I recommend grafting each day for at least three days, and another good reason to use a hatchery to examine the queens from each batch before selecting the ones that you wish to mate...
    I know I've gone over this before, but for some reason I'm not really getting it. If you wish to make 30 queen cells, putting a bar of 10 cups in per day, for three days would work great. That would leave you with (at least for the non-professional breeder) with about 10-15 queens in the end (70-80% success rates in drawing out, hatching, and mating). But what if you only want to end up with a handful of queens in the end, say 3-5. If you used the same math in reverse, you only need to graft around 10-12 cups. With that few amount of grafts, are you better off using the method that Ray described (a frame of eggs, three or four days before you place your grafts), or would you be better off doing three rounds of say five grafts a round? Or would you be better off still grafting 30 cups, doing three rounds as you described, culling the ones you don't need early (and harvesting their RJ for the next round), and putting the rest in a hatchery for visual inspection before planting?

    I also don't have much experience planting a virgin into a mating nuc. Is it done the same way you would introduce a queen, for example? Giving the hive three days to get used to the virgin before you release her from the california cage? The only reason I ask is that I know the sooner you get her into the mating nuc, the better. So I'm hesitant to hold her back by three days.

    One last thing I was hoping to pick your brain about is the difference between priming cells in the summer, and double grafting. Priming the cells would obviously be more work up front, but less work overall (as priming isn't really that big of a deal). But double grafting would theoretically provide "fresher" royal jelly. If you had a fresh source of royal jelly (or perhaps you purchased some from a reputable apiary ), priming makes sense. But if you don't have any on hand, would double grafting not only "prime" the cups, but also accomplish the goal of getting the hives into "cell building mode" as you described above?

  4. #44
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    Default Re: Moving from ok queens . . . to great queens.

    One other side mention, apart from the topic of this thread. I'm waiting on some HBH and pollen substitute from Brushy Mountain to come in. Once it's in, I'll start feeding the "soon to be" starter colony, then doing my last batch of grafts for the season. Hopefully they will be able to emerge and mate with enough time to get them through the winter. I have a feeling I'll be making up quite a bit of fondant this late fall, lol.

  5. #45
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    Default Re: Moving from ok queens . . . to great queens.

    Not much time now, so I will have to get back to the other questions a bit later, but wanted to go ahead and answer at least the double grafting question... double grafting is ok for getting the girls in cell building mode, but not something that I would recommend for summer queen rearing as the jelly that the last larvae was floating on will be viewed as unnatural by the bees, and either be eaten (along with your new larvae) or they will start a new layer of jelly on top of it and the old jelly will only serve as a new cell floor... this is why we only use a tiny amount of jelly to prime the cells... less for the bees to have to clean up or work around, but serves its purpose of acting as a pillow to lay the larvae on, keep the larvae fed from the needle to the fresh jelly, and keep the larvae moist during that time as well...

    I am not a fan of the hbh idea, simply because it messes up the natural guttural health if the bees... if they are healthy and feeding on natural forage, I wouldn't want to throw in any essential oils that bees wouldn't naturally bring in to the hive, especially during queen rearing... that's not saying that it would hurt anything, but it seems to me that a natural diet (even considering cane syrup more natural in this case) would be better in the long run... I have had customers that have touched queen cages with a dab of hbh and watched their queens and attendants go belly up immediately... so it stands to reason that during the process of providing the very most optimal nutrition for the bees to feed the most important larvae at its most critical stage, you would want to stick with what bees have chosen to use for their nutritional sources for the last hundred million years... just give them more of it, more access to it, and more bees to administer it... does that make sense? I'm not knocking hbh, as I feel it has its uses, but I personally just wouldnt use it during queen rearing or on selection stock.

  6. #46
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    Default Re: Moving from ok queens . . . to great queens.

    Actually it's not pollen that makes well fed queens, it's bee bread. If you kill the microbes, and HBH will, then you won't get bee bread, you'll just have indigestible pollen.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #47
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    Default Re: Moving from ok queens . . . to great queens.

    I agree with you Ray, I inadvertently discovered the same effect, about this time last year (see "Larger queen cells - do they produce larger queens?"). I admit that I haven't always used it, since it is logistically sometimes difficult and I haven't noticed a significant difference in queens produced in the larger cells -- though significant differences may exist. I just haven't kept any careful records or even done any make-shift homemade experiments. It's just from casual observations that I make that comment. I have seen smaller queens produced from what I consider undersized cells, so I've taken to culling any cells that I consider undersized, though occasionally smaller queens appear anyway. Casual observation does tell me that consistently large mature laying queens are produced from those larger, well-provisioned cells.

    Here is a pic taken of a bar of the larger cells, that are dark brown. I'll make a controversial speculation that they're composed of beeswax tainted with propolis, that has been, for whatever reason, recycled by the bees.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  8. #48
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    Default Re: Moving from ok queens . . . to great queens.

    Some very nice looking cells Joe!

    As far as HBH goes, I've never used it before. I've heard both good and bad about their uses. I wasn't sold on using it this season (or really next season) until I read all the responses on here about how well it works to build cells. Having not had anyone say anything bad about it, I figured it was good to go.

    I'll skip the HBH this time around, and reconsider it for next year. Hopefully, I can do a side by side analysis of cell builders with and without HBH. I doubt I'll have the resources for that though, lol. I guess that all depends on how many queens I can pump out in the next couple of days.

    Russell - I know generally you are against feeding . . . at all. I wish I had the option. I have too many prolonged periods of no nectar, or no pollen. Often this time of year while they bring in pollen, it's from weeds and of little nutritional value (or so I've read). While I will go with you on the HBH, as it makes perfect sense, what are your thoughts on the use of pollen supplements in queen rearing?

  9. #49
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    Default Re: Moving from ok queens . . . to great queens.

    Robert,

    Thanks for the reminder on the poor Sunkists that lost their life due to the hbh exposure. I forgot about that. Good times. Live and learn.

  10. #50
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    Jan 2009
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    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    Default Re: Moving from ok queens . . . to great queens.

    I was planning on grafting this morning, but instead I put a frame of eggs/larva in the cell builder I've been prepping. I love this stuff.

  11. #51
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    Default Re: Moving from ok queens . . . to great queens.

    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    Russell - I know generally you are against feeding . . . at all. I wish I had the option. I have too many prolonged periods of no nectar, or no pollen. Often this time of year while they bring in pollen, it's from weeds and of little nutritional value (or so I've read). While I will go with you on the HBH, as it makes perfect sense, what are your thoughts on the use of pollen supplements in queen rearing?
    I'm not TOTALLY against feeding... it is of course a far better choice than starvation, and can be used to assist in comb building... Its just counter productive as far as good natural health goes, and people will find that simply promoting a truly natural diet will greatly lower their losses to pests, diseases, and even winter... that being said, if one takes too much honey away from a hive, it must be replaced with whatever is available if they want to prevent winter losses... so most of the time, its a give and take situation that creates the need to feed.

    As for the use of pollen substitutes during queen rearing, if its needed, it has to be done, but one the only good things about summer queen rearing is that your hives should already be well provisioned with pollen, so locating a few frames filled with it should be easy enough... again, thats where using a fresh split as a starter and a heavy queen right finisher come into play... the crowded split starter has plenty of provisions and has a huge foraging force for the space that have and less brood to feed than usual... so they have ample supply and means to distribute it...

  12. #52
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    Default Re: Moving from ok queens . . . to great queens.

    MB, my point exactly...

    Ginn, I had forgotten who that was last year. Lol. Sorry about that, but dont feel bad, its happened with three other people this season... I think the terms "healthy" and "natural" are used too loosely by the hbh marketing... its not anything that a bee would find in nature, so it seems a bit misleading to call it a "natural" "dietary supplement"... my greatest fear about hbh and any compounds of multiple essential oils is that while it seems to help at first, in time the pests are building immunities to the low concentrations of each oil used in the ingredients, and the bees are losing their immunities to bacterial, viral, and predation threats at the same time... bee keeping is one of those things that can get better with every season, or get worse and worse... what we do now, will ultimately effect what we get out of our bees in the future.

  13. #53
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    Default Re: Moving from ok queens . . . to great queens.

    Quote Originally Posted by ginn68 View Post
    Thanks for the reminder on the poor Sunkists that lost their life due to the hbh exposure.
    Ginn, can you expand upon that? I don't think I've heard this story.

  14. #54
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    Default Re: Moving from ok queens . . . to great queens.

    Quote Originally Posted by rrussell6870 View Post
    I'm not TOTALLY against feeding... people will find that simply promoting a truly natural diet will greatly lower their losses to pests, diseases, and even winter...
    I must say that it is shocking that such a large queen producer as yourself is so against feeding. I don't know many commercial operators personally, but from what I read about them they usually heavily feed in order to get the hives going earlier in the spring, and push them a little bit later in the fall. At least, as far as pollinator and queen rearing operators go.

    These past couple years I've relied heavily on feeding. I can't really tell you why, other than the area I'm in isn't exactly a Utopia for bees, and I'm also probably pushing them a little bit harder than I should. Lessons to be learned there. But I wish I had a week (or a year) to follow you around your yards Russell, I think there's a lot to be learned.

    High up on my list of things to get is a pollen catcher. This way I can actually just feed pollen straight back to the hive if need be. It's a shame those things are so expensive though, and an even bigger shame that you can't build them yourself (at least, I havn't found a decent plan around).

    As far as your summer starter method goes, I do have a question for you. Essentially, you are leaving all sealed brood and the foragers of a hive in the old location, while removing the queen and the open brood and putting it in a new location, correct? Wouldn't most of the nurse bees be on the frames of open brood? So wouldn't you be transferring all the nurse bees that you want AWAY from the grafts, which is the opposite of what you want to do? If you shake a few frames of nurse bees into the cell starter, wouldn't that deprive the open brood frames of both food (from the foragers) and nurse bees? Or am I just thinking things are a little bit more complicated than they actually are. I realize that the sealed brood will emerge, giving the starter more nurse bees, but that would take a few days at least (and yes, I realize this is where the "multiple days of grafts" comes into play).

    You also mention about using double deeps. I use mediums. You mentioned using the "equivalent of mediums." Most would consider this two mediums (which is actually one and a half deeps, but neither here nor their). Wouldn't it be better to use only ONE medium? With a swarm box, you try to crowd as many into a small area as you can, so wouldn't the theory go the same for the summer open hive starter?

  15. #55
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    Default Re: Moving from ok queens . . . to great queens.

    I think you will find that contrary to popular teachings, foragers can and will return to the jobs that the hive needs... so the mass numbers of foragers that will be now squished into half the space that they once had will provide plenty of added hands on deck... also, keep in mind that summer is different than spring in laying patterns as well... in spring the queen has whole frames that she can lay in one day and they will generally emerge that way as well, giving her the whole frame again, less what ever nectar or pollen the bees rush in to put away in the frame... but during the summer, the brood cycles have already taken ups and downs, thus creating odd ages of brood, for example, as brood is emerging and stores are used up on one frame, the queen may be laying in the freshly emptied cells, then moving to the next frame, only to return to that original frame the next day, etc... this means that brood on a single frame may emerge on different days, even if it is all capped when you look at it... so a hive body with one frame of open brood (as much large larvae as possible) and a ton of capped brood frames will have new nurses emerging by the hundreds to thousands every day in a continuous manner... once you set up this configuration, you may be surprised at just how fast this starter becomes a booming box of bees, rolling all over the place, confused, and driven by the most dominant instinct that this situation creates... make a queen.

    On the deep vs medium issue, it really doesn't matter, but if you have 4 mediums stacked up with brood in three and you take away two of the brood boxes, you will have so many bees stuck outside that it just seems like a waste... what I would do in that situation is leave two brood boxes and move some of the unnecessary brood into the center of the honey super, and move the honey frames into the outer edges of the top brood box of the starter... then the split gets some extra brood and the starter get some extra food...

    As to the feeding, those guys not only produce queens, but also a honey crop... I on the other hand get others to extract honey from my hives for themselves just so I can get the empty comb back and to save my back from having to lift so many loaded supers from hives so that I can reach the chambers... I also open feed supers back to the yards in spring to make the hives smaller and accomplish the same goal as feeding, just without risking the health of my bees... there are several differences in my operation as opposed to some others, and the biggest one is that I do not Have to treat my bees to keep them alive... not that I am against it, or against feeding, again, what I'm truly against is dead bees... if they need to be treated or fed, do what must be done, but if you don't have to, why do it? I am required by state law to treat every colony that produces a package or nuc... so I test every single one and only treat at thresholds that are bit below the minimal accepted threshold or more, which are very very few... like MB and I say so often, you don't want to mess up the microbes that come from a creature feeding on what it is naturally meant to feed on... Messing up the microbes of a creature by substitution diets is like a human living off of cornogs and beer (yep, those were the days :-), sure they will be able to survive... at least until flu season comes along or until they need to physically protect themselves from a burglar... and how about their mental health and work ethics? How would they be effected by this type of diet... keeping them from starving, absolutely... building comb outside of a flow, sure... building up early to be prepared to catch a flow, ok... feeding straight through the season or taking off ALL of the honey for extracting and replacing it with syrup, waste of money on sugar and replacement bees down the road... feeding is also partially to blame for robbing losses... not just because feeding can start robbing, but also because robbing is mainly due to a hive(s) building up for a flow that isn't actually there, so when the feeding slows, the hives that are built up have to find feed some where... the other difference is simply good bees and great locations. :-)
    Last edited by rrussell6870; 08-18-2011 at 10:33 AM.

  16. #56
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    Default Re: Moving from ok queens . . . to great queens.

    I had a great idea at the time to wipe some 1:1 syrup w/HBH (Per HBH mixing guidlines)onto the wire of the cages. I thought this could help in the acctepance of the queens. I did this while I was gearing up to make the spilts. Once I was ready (15 min. later) to do the splits I reviewed the queens and they all were curled up dead. Dang... It was a real eye opener for me.

    Just to give some back ground on my operation. I run around 30-50 hives a year. Off of these I sell honey and nucs. Do I feed yes, but less and less every year. I don't feel it is the best balance for the bee's. Do I treat...I haven't in three years. I do measure mite counts and general data from each hive. I use this data for selection on my stock year to year. I am currently starting queen rearing. I have a lot to learn. My focus is quality queens at a lower volume. From how my first couple graft went...it might be at a very low volume. LOL...

  17. #57
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    Default Re: Moving from ok queens . . . to great queens.

    Interesting thoughts Russell.

    I stopped treating all together 6 years ago. I've lost some to varroa, but since I have so few hives to start with it doesn't really matter that much. I see DWV in a few of my hives from time to time (last check, there was one or two in three of my hives), but all in all it doesn't freak me out too much.

    I would like to stop feeding, at least as much as I am, at some point in the next few years. I think I need to learn how to better manage the bees before I do that though. That, and learn how to get what I want out of the bees (queens or honey, not both from the same hive) while letting them prosper.

    It's so easy to get caught up in the mindset of "Better nutrition = better hives. So feed them better and they will make better bees." In actuality, they have been feeding themselves for millions of years. I just need to select for the ones that are the best at feeding themselves.

  18. #58
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    Default Re: Moving from ok queens . . . to great queens.

    Now that we've had some more rain, the creosote bush is starting to bloom heavily, again and I'm getting some more of those nice extra-large sized cells.




    I believe this is happening due to the combination of the small creosote bush flow, supplemental feeding, and just before these cells were grafted I added the nurse bees off of two frames of just hatched eggs of young larvae.

    -------------------------------
    The only treatments I've ever used are spraying idle combs with Certan, or the equivalent. And I sometimes add a little copper gluconate to sugar syrup fed to some nucs as they are being created, if there is no flow and they are low on carbohydrate stores.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  19. #59
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    Default Re: Moving from ok queens . . . to great queens.

    Joseph,

    Awesome cells. I could snap a picture of one of my cells from last weekends graft. But my camera can't zoom in that close. Lol. No flow here. Getting some rj this week and I plan to do some more grafts next week. I plan to supplement feed and hope for some monsters like yours. Is that cell from your skc breeder?

  20. #60
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    Default Re: Moving from ok queens . . . to great queens.

    Yes this cell is from one of my SKC mother queens. I am using a borrowed Samsung SL620 camera with 12.2 megapixel resolution. I use a large capacity memory card, set the camera to its maximum resolution, use macro focus, then I copy the original images to my laptop, edit and crop the pics so they are suitable for forum posting, copy them to Google's Picasa web albums, then link the pics from there.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

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