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 ?