1. Join Date
Dec 2007
Location
Hughson, CA
Posts
157

## Queenless Starter Colony

Been using shaker boxes for starters and want to switch to a queenless starter. Do most people use a single or a double for their queenless starter? I want to continue to be able to introduce two frames of 60 cells each for a total of 120 into the starter at a time. Thanks

2. Join Date
Sep 2010
Location
Stafford, Virginia
Posts
319

## Re: Queenless Starter Colony

I use five frame Nuc boxes, single.

3. Join Date
Dec 2008
Location
syracuse n.y.
Posts
4,338

## Re: Queenless Starter Colony

Originally Posted by Matt Beekman
I want to continue to be able to introduce two frames of 60 cells each for a total of 120 into the starter at a time. Thanks
from a bee culture article, you need 400 nurse bees per queen cell, to get the bees to start 20 queen cells, using 4000 bees per lb, that comes to 20x400=8000/4000 about 2lbs of nurse bees to start that many cells. plus they say you need 25% extra just in case so figure 2 1/2 lbs of nurse bees.. that's nurse bees not all the bees in a starter are nurse bees.
the more nurse bees the better fed the queens the longer the queens will last. so for 120 cells you need around 15 lbs of nurse bees, so whatever size box you can fit them in will work.

gee I just did the math, 15 lbs of bees is 60,000 nurse bees, you don't get that many nurse bees in my three deep hives.
Last edited by wildbranch2007; 01-05-2013 at 05:03 AM. Reason: added gee

4. Join Date
Sep 2011
Location
Reno, NV
Posts
3,798

## Re: Queenless Starter Colony

What I have seen is a 10 frames deep packed with nurse bees. And this is considered only large enough to start 40 cells at a time. When it comes to finishing the cells they need to be split into two frames of 20 and given to separate finishers.

5. Join Date
Feb 2006
Location
Herrick, SD USA
Posts
6,281

## Re: Queenless Starter Colony

I look at it from a slightly different perspective. We use queen right doubles with a cloake board and expect to be able to net 10 cells per day per builder over an extended period of time and that is assuming a quality hive. I would expect a queenless starter to be able to do a bit better than that but 120 in a shot is a pretty lofty goal though probably doable from a double teeming with young bees and little to no open larvae to feed. I probably wouldn't try to stretch them that thin though. But you can't BS a builder/starter they will tell you pretty quickly when they are being over taxed.

6. ## Re: Queenless Starter Colony

In my experience it's the density of the bees that matters, not the number of boxes or even the number of bees. Of course a high density of more bees will get more cells made, but the quality and the enthusiasm is related to how crowded they are. A starter works best when it's overflowing with bees.

7. Join Date
Sep 2011
Location
Reno, NV
Posts
3,798

## Re: Queenless Starter Colony

Michael, I noticed this concerning mating nucs and comments of them being over wintered. Made me think again of my 5 frame nucs that may be shy on population.

8. ## Re: Queenless Starter Colony

Matt,

I use a single box. Michael is correct. It is the density that matters and young nurse bees from the brood nest.
I will setup the starter in the morning by shaking bees into a box with frames of nectar, pollen, and I like a few frames of open brood. Leave space for your grafting frames and put some syrup and supplement on them if there is no flow. A light syrup is best. In the afternoon I put the graft in. Come back 24-48 hours to remove started cells and place in them in the queen right finishers. I divide the cells up and only let each finisher complete a bar of cells.
You can then graft right back into the starter a second time. You may be able to get a third round out of the starter, but in my experience, the bees are “spent” in terms of starting cells. F. Ruttner did some nice work years ago looking at how bees handled starting successive batches of cells. With each successive batch of cells, the number and quality declined.

Joe

9. Join Date
Dec 2008
Location
Solano, California, USA
Posts
2,102

## Re: Queenless Starter Colony

Originally Posted by Matt Beekman
Been using shaker boxes for starters and want to switch to a queenless starter. Do most people use a single or a double for their queenless starter? I want to continue to be able to introduce two frames of 60 cells each for a total of 120 into the starter at a time. Thanks

Matt. When we graft I usually try to do about 1000 cells in a day. We use 4 "stacks." Each one is a Queenless starter and finisher. In the morning we go out and shake 100 pounds of bees in the almonds. While someone is shaking part of the crew spends some time picking through some "boomers" pulling out frames that are loaded with fresh pollen. Basically the more pollen the better.

By lunch or one pm we pour the bees in the "stacks" with about 25 pounds per stack. I put an empty shallow on a bottom board. We pour about 5 pounds in the shell and "spray" them to reduce drifting. On the shell we put an excluder. Above the excluder we put a deep shell with one frame of brood and 3 or 4 drawn dry combs. About 10 pounds of bees go in this second box. Top it off with another excluder. Next goes on another deep with 6 or 7 frames of pollen. Balance of the bees get tossed on the pollen frames. When we graft the next 2.5 hours we put in 5-6 frames (temperature dependent)with 3 bars containing 15 cells each stack Each grafting frame gets jammed in between two frames of pollen. This works out to 225-270 cells per stack. Nurse bees have great access to all the pollen they need by turning their heads left or right. Gets the hypopharyngeal glands cranking.

After the grafting is done each builder gets another box on top containing feeders for syrup and medicine as well as about 4 brand new frames. The new frames give the bees a place to expend their energy drawing comb. This reduces burr comb between the cells. Feed syrup each day till cells are long,fat, and ready to be closed.

Get about 85-95% take depending on the weather.

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