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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    Campbell River, BC, CA
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    Default My Project for Year 3

    So, next summer will be our third year having bees, and, my project for the summer is to learn about raising queens, via 'hands on trial and error'. We dabbled slightly this summer, the easy way, by starting a couple nucs with appropriate resources, and letting them raise queens from scratch. So, for the year coming up, I want to try grafting, on a very small scale. I've got a plan, and have the equipment / resources for that plan, but, I'm interested in some feedback from those more experienced, as to what is right, and wrong, about my plan.

    I already know which queen we want to be the mother for this exercise. She's the result of a swarm from one of our hives in the first year, and did a fantastic job of building up that hive after the swarm left. The hive wintered well, and, this year produced a very good honey crop, we never saw swarm preps in this one. The bees are always 'nice' when we open the hive, we've never had a sting from them. If she is still doing well when spring rolls around, this is the one we want to graft from. We have another hive beside the house, which is downright nasty, impossible to lift the lid without getting stings. They wintered well last year, did so-so this summer, but are downright mean when you are anywhere near the hive. My plan is, to use this one as the 'builder', and when done, it will be requeened as a side effect.

    For equipment, I've got 5 nuc boxes, and the hive beside the house. I want to raise half a dozen queens, and, am trying to do so without a lot of special gear. So, to start, my idea is to mount 10 cell cups on the bottom of a medium frame, rather than build a special cell bar frame. To start, we will begin by finding the queen in the hive beside the house, on a friday evening in early may, then put her with a frame of bees into a nuc, for storage. On saturday, I'll graft into the cups on the bottom of the medium frame, then put that frame into the hive which is now queenless. I'm thinking, it's a full size queenless hive, so should do fine as a cell builder. Am I missing something here, or, is this the right approach ?

    If all goes according to plan, by the following weekend, I should have a row of capped cells on the bottom of that frame, and it's a crap shoot as to how many of them (if any) the bees took to, and actually built out. Now comes my next question, is it safe at this point to move the cells once capped, or do I need to leave them longer ? I'll be using the jzbz cups, so, no cutting etc involved, just unplug them and move. At this point, the plan would be, a couple frames of brood/bees, and a cell, into each of the nucs, frame of pollen and honey as well, I've got frame feeders for all of them too. I may have to raid a couple of our other hives to finish stocking the nucs with bees, that's ok. I'd leave one cell in the original hive, along with whatever bees are left. If I have enough cells, this would be the point in time where old queen in the nuc, gets hive tool test, and replaced by a cell. The end result, one nasty hive decimated, and 5 populated nucs. A week later I should have virgin queens in all of them, and another week after that I should see them laying.

    For everything I've read here about raising queens, this seems to be a plan that meets all the necessary bullet points, and net result should be, one hive decimated and re-queened, with a bunch of nucs going at the same time.

    Is this a viable plan, or, is it flawed in some way I dont see ?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    Weeki Wachee, Florida,USA
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    2,026

    Default Re: My Project for Year 3

    I don't have a lot of experience but didnt find it that hard to raise queens.
    After a couple try's you'll have a better idea what works well for you.

    I wouldn't let the mean hive raise drones it might not matter but couldn't hurt to give them a drone frame and kill them before they hatch.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Tipton, TN, USA
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    784

    Default Re: My Project for Year 3

    Quote Originally Posted by grozzie2 View Post
    ...put her with a frame of bees into a nuc, for storage...

    I should have a row of capped cells on the bottom of that frame

    Is this a viable plan, or, is it flawed in some way I dont see ?
    If she truly is mean, I wouldn't bother with saving her.

    I normally go through my starter/finisher hive and move all the eggs/young brood together. This concentrates the nurse bees and makes finding rogue cells easier. But don't assume that you found every egg. I've had queen cells on a frame of capped brood.

    I tend to leave my starter queenless for more than 1 day before I put in the grafts. The bees don't always take to the new cells, but I've also had good results putting in grafts seconds after pulling the queen.

    Also, I feel the this gives me a better chance to find and strike down their cells. IMO, you want them be hopelessly queenless for best results. If they have the chance, or the larva is better. They will not draw out yours.

    24-48 hours after you put the cells into the starter, you need to go through the entire box looking fro started queen cells. These need to be scraped, other wise your pretty cells will get destroyed by a rogue.

    You need to keep the bees well fed during drawing the cells. Whether through nectar flow or syrup.

    For Queen Calendar.
    http://www.thebeeyard.org/queen-rearing-calendar/

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    St. Albans, Vermont
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    5,474

    Default Re: My Project for Year 3

    Quote Originally Posted by grozzie2 View Post
    On saturday, I'll graft into the cups on the bottom of the medium frame, then put that frame into the hive which is now queenless. I'm thinking, it's a full size queenless hive, so should do fine as a cell builder. Am I missing something here, or, is this the right approach ?
    Why would the bees choose to use your larvae for cell building, when they have larvae of their own, in their own comb, already being cared for by nurse bees.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    Campbell River, BC, CA
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    530

    Default Re: My Project for Year 3

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    Why would the bees choose to use your larvae for cell building, when they have larvae of their own, in their own comb, already being cared for by nurse bees.
    This is why I am asking. So, I am guessing that what you mean is I should leave them for a few days, then scrape any cells they have, to go from queenless to hopelessly queenless. Or am I missing something else?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    St. Albans, Vermont
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    Default Re: My Project for Year 3

    Have you read anything on cell building methods? Most use a queenless starter of one kind or another. Personally, I would never graft into a colony that has open brood present. I suppose making them queenless and waiting until all larvae in the hive were at least 3 days old, and you cut out all the cells...that might yield some cells from your grafts. I'm still skeptical.

    Buy a book on the subject. Queen rearing and Bee Breeding, Laidlaw-Page, from WicWas press is a good one. Contemporary Queen Rearing, Laidlaw, is still around.

    I use Bro Adam's method of incorporation the swarming impulse and the queenless response to grow thousands of quality cells. I know that's not what you're attempting.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Princeton, Kentucky, USA
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    164

    Default Re: My Project for Year 3

    Michael, could you briefly describe your queen rearing method. I don't want thousands of quality cells, but I wouldn't mind forty or fifty.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Campbell, Wyoming USA
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    438

    Default Re: My Project for Year 3

    I had asked M. Palmer the same thing at the start of last year. I hope he doesn't mind me posting this here but this was the response he gave to me:

    First, read some books. Brother Adam...Beekeeping at Buckfast Abbey
    Page and Laidlaw...Queen Rearing and Bee Breeding

    I'm sure you must know the biological processes of how thwe bees rasise a new queen. They use one of three methods...
    1. Emergency
    2. Supercedure
    3. Swarming

    It's no big deal to the bees. They do it all the time. It's no big deal to the beekeeper if you imitate what the bees do.

    Growing queens via emergency response is out as far as I'm concerned. Too risky, and there are way too few cells. De-queening a colony to produce a few cells on a couple frames of brood isn't worth the trouble and the wasted colony.

    Supercedure makes great queens, but nothing you can rely on or plan on. Sure, it's been shown that you can snip off a queen's antennae and the colony will supercede her. Again, nothing you can rely on and they only produce a very few cells. Another wasted colony for a couple of cells.

    Swarming is a great way to raise cells. Good cells and plenty of them...but still how do you plan? Still using naturally built cells in a limited quantity on frames of brood.

    Borther Adam took advantage of the emergency response combined with the swarming impulse, and that's what I've been doing for most of my queen rearing career.

    Basically, cell building is all about the jelly. There must be an over abundance of nurse bees for the number of cells raised. If you could build a colony into a powerhouse, and then remove the queen, the bees will build some nice cells, but very few. If you set up the colony correctly, you create a cell builder that is queenless and has no open brood from which to raise cells...so you give them a graft of say...45 cups...and they go to town.

    On day 1...Adam brings in a hive body of predominantly sealed brood and bees. This is placed over an excluder above a strong quenright colony.
    10 days later any open brood is sealed...no larvae in the box above excluder.
    The colony is broken down. Box above excluder is removed. Queenright hive is turned around onto ground behind stand and faced the other way. A new bottom is place on original stand facing original way. A partially filled super (this was actually placed above the excluder on day 1 so there won't be any open brood) goes on the bottom with the box of sealed brood...now called the cell builder...on top. The outside two combs are removed from the cell builder. An exceptional pollen comb is placed in the center with a space next to it that will receive the graft later that day. The bees in the core of the broodnest of the queenright section are shaken into the cell builder...through a queen excluded shaker box...so you don't get a queen in the cell builder.

    In almost no time, the bees in the cell builder realize they are queenless. Not only queenless, but hopelesley queenless. The start whining and crying and flying aimlessley around the hive and about the apiary. They run all over the outside of the hive very agitated.

    Later that afternoon, a cell bar frame with your grafts is placed in the cell builder, next to the pollen comb. The bees almost immediately calm down and go back in the hive. They jump right on the grafts and draw out beautiful cells...remember how packed with nurse bees they are and the volume of the hive has been greatly reduced.

    5 days later, the cell builder and the queenright section can be re-united as the cells are sealed at that point. Remove the cell builder and super from the stand. Replace the queenright section on the stand facing the original way. Place an excluder on that section and the cell builder with sealed cells and super on top.

    10 days after graft, the cells are ready to place in nucs, or whatever.

    Remember, the bees do the work. We only imitate the bees natural responses and provide the cell building colony with all the resources they need...in abundance!! Remember to feed the colony to whole time the cells are being drawn out, with 1:1.
    We the willing have done so much with so little for so long we can now do anything with nothing

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Princeton, Kentucky, USA
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    Default Re: My Project for Year 3

    Thanks Moon. Do you know what the purpose of the partially filled super is?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    St. Albans, Vermont
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    5,474

    Default Re: My Project for Year 3

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon11 View Post
    Thanks Moon. Do you know what the purpose of the partially filled super is?
    Two purposes.

    The super full of bees below the cells helps keep the cells warm and in the center of the broodnest.

    Bees don't like nectar/honey below the broodnest. Placing a partially filled super...open nectar not all capped...below the broodnest gets the bees to move it up, as in a nectar flow. Bees don't necessarily place the incoming nectar above the broodnest, but rather everywhere. The receiver bees take the load carried by the field bees and store it where they can, as fast as they can, so they can receive another load. They do store nectar, temporarily, in the bottom combs. This gets moved up and out of the broodnest at night when the flow stops for the day...if they have space to store it.

    Having the bees on a flow when raising queens is critical. Either a natural flow, or by feeding. Placing that partially filled super on the bottom board, and feeding thin syrup until the cells are sealed, creates flow conditions...even if there isn't one happening.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Princeton, Kentucky, USA
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    164

    Default Re: My Project for Year 3

    Thanks Michael

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Clackamas Oregon
    Posts
    759

    Default Re: My Project for Year 3

    Michael, whens the book coming out? I cut and paste all the real good posts into a word document and find most of them are yours. Figured you could just help a guy out here and publish LOL.
    “Why do we fall, sir? So that we might learn to pick ourselves up” Alfred Pennyworth Batman Begins (2005)

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