Just showing those beginners how I get started raising queens early in the spring in a northern climate, when resources are still somewhat limited. I'm taking advantage of an exceptionally strong hive to perform several tasks.
Here is a photo of my bottom board I use with a cloake board system. First of all, I live in a wet climate-so you can see the 'front porch' or landing board is screened to allow rain to just pass through.( Shown without plywood insert to close it up for colder weather or mite monitering)
This bottom board has an entrance on both ends. When I need to close the front and force the bees into the top box where the grafted larva will be installed, I don't try to turn the darn hive around-I just crack the back entrance and tape up the front. This hive ( shown below) almost didn't need that-it was already using the top entrance almost exclusively already.
This hive had been very strong all winter, is gentle, thrifty, excellent honey producer-so it was a definite donor hive for graft larva.
The two deep box's are packed full of brood and the queen was in the third box laying where she has lots of room-so queen excluder and insert went above third deep. Top deep has feed stores and two frames of inserted capped brood, larva, hatching eggs and eggs. Insert was left out for a few hours to allow more nurse bees to make their way tp to the frames of hatching eggs. Then insert board went in to force returning bees to only occupy top box.
Tomorrow I will check the two frames for possible started queen cells, remove one of those frames of hatching eggs and take my grafts, returning the frame and queen cell grafts into the top box-which has been queenless overnight, is packed full of bees ready to produce a new queen. I usually make them queenless late afternoon and insert the grafts by noon the next day so say 18-20 hours queenless. I rairly find started cells with that timing. Queenless for more than 24 hours you have to check for sure.
I'll let this hive start these grafts, then remove the insert after about 24 hours when the grafts have bees started well, to reunite the hive for the remainder of the graft finishing process. Momma queen still below excluder of course.
My special recipe protein patty on top, even though they are bringing in lots of pollen. I'd feed them syrup too, but none of my hives will take it up yet. Ether they still have enough stores or there is a little nectar available.
When these cells are ready to hatch, this hive will also be broken up into mating nucs-as it would surely swarm once the two bottom deeps hatch out. There is not enough of a flow to worry much about swarming yet...But it will be close timing for sure to control it. I have a swarm trap next to it..just in case I'll keep this queen in a semi strong, but controllable and better accessable hive for more grafts later.
I usually use a queenless starter hive, but it is just a little early to build that. Some of this hive, in fact, may be used to make a starter hive.
This is a daughter queen from a swarm I collected in 2011 near Mt. Rainier.
I close up the large opening of the cloake board with aluminum tape and give them a moderate entrance. It's still cold at night here-near freezing, but 60+ during the daytime
Back side of the hive-opened just a crack for bees below excluder escapement:
Heres a video of this hive about 10 days ago:
See the swarm trap on top the archery target with the maple tree branches overhanging it? What swarm could resist that set up?
10 frame swarm trap is Full of drawn frames with OdFranks special recipe cologne-(LemonGrass oil-hee hee) Also the two end frames are filled with moistened sugar with vinegar and electrolytes..(My sugar brick recipe) There were some left over frames I made for feeding this winter. Might as well use them..might even be attractive to the swarms.
Here is how I make that-
Then when the cells are capped they will have a roller cage installed over each one to keep the bees from building burr comb around them. Then near hatching time, they will go into my incubator to finish hatching. Virgins are marked, evaluated and directly released into queenless mating nucs.
You can see I use the Mann Lake/Nicot type cells, but I don't usually use the grid. I graft directly into the brown cell cups so I can use the roller cages. I don't like confining an importaint queen and don't like waiting for and checking the grid. I still use it, but only because I bought it. And not with an importaint queen. Don't want the hive to think she is a slacker and want to replace the old girl.
This is a new reptile incubator I bought off ebay. Amazon.com also has it.
EkoTerra brand. It's a step up from what I was using, but not the commercial quality I'd like to get or build someday. But it will certainly do. Gets up to temp in a few minutes and is all digitally controlled.