# Thread: How many queens can one person catch per day?

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## How many queens can one person catch per day?

I realize this open for debate, but I'd like to see some numbers from successful queen breeders on how many queens they can catch per day using mini-mating nucs.

48 at 10 minutes per queen? 96 at 5 minutes per? Does it take more or less time on average to find the queen?

How much time does marking/clipping slow you down?

Obviously, this will vary from person to person, but I'm assuming that you will have a rough time per queen to know when you need to hire more help.

i.e. one man can catch 96 queens in a 8 hour day, but to raise any more. I'd need to hire another catcher, so I "should" increment my yards by 96 mating nucs....

Thanks in advance for any information.

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## Re: How many queens can one person catch per day?

A good queen breeder can evaluate and cage about 100 queens in a day. With a continuous production cycle based on 21 days, that means he can run about 2500 nucs presuming a loss ratio of 20%. This will work the average guy pretty hard, you are talking about can see to can't see plus a lot of work in the grafting room after dark. The queen breeder I am most familiar with ran an operation where his father built equipment, his brother managed drone production and support colonies, and he ran 2000 nucs.

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## Re: How many queens can one person catch per day?

Thanks for the response. This is the kind of information I'm looking for... Trying to figure out how many I can realistically run...

I'll probably be looking at a ~28 day rotation, running 4 sets of mating nucs.. Grafting every Friday and Planting/Catching on Sundays.

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## Re: How many queens can one person catch per day?

Originally Posted by KevinR
I realize this open for debate, but I'd like to see some numbers from successful queen breeders on how many queens they can catch per day using mini-mating nucs.

48 at 10 minutes per queen? 96 at 5 minutes per? Does it take more or less time on average to find the queen?

How much time does marking/clipping slow you down?

Obviously, this will vary from person to person, but I'm assuming that you will have a rough time per queen to know when you need to hire more help.

i.e. one man can catch 96 queens in a 8 hour day, but to raise any more. I'd need to hire another catcher, so I "should" increment my yards by 96 mating nucs....

Thanks in advance for any information.
I hate picking queens myself. Most people despise the monotonous nature of the job. I detest it worse than extracting.

Those who are good and fast at QP'ing are worth their weight in queens.

I have one that regularly comes home with 200 after less than a full day if the take (%)is decent. His 2013 record was 303 queens in one long day on April 6.

The key to make it happen: Knowing that "piece work" reimbursement intersecting with someone who is highly skilled at catching queens is the only way to fly. Its the best win-win situation we got going down. He comes home happier than a clam from knowing he's done a swell job and I gladly depart with a large pile of funds to keep it all rolling.

To bad the funds earned in those few week of April don't keep on keeping on all year long.

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## Re: How many queens can one person catch per day?

Initially, I imagine that I'll be catching most/all of the queens.... But I'd like to get the point where I can pay someone else to do it... I can see some type of profit sharing/incentive program.

I just want to know that it's "realistic" to catch X queens in a 8-10 hour day. I don't have any problems with sharing the wealth, when the time comes.

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## Re: How many queens can one person catch per day?

Shoot for 100 a day. You might get a few less........or a few more. This will not include time for grafting, rebuilding, feeding or putting bait into the traps to keep at bay the critter who love to molest mating nucs.

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## Re: How many queens can one person catch per day?

From mini nucs, should be a lot more than 100 per day. If you are trying to figure out how many nucs you can run, how many you can catch in a day is the easy part & should not really be the determining factor in how many you can run.

If mating is bad that slows things down a lot, if the time is being taken to balance up the nucs & ensure they are all in good order for the next cell plant. Likewise nucs that have been allowed to build up too much & have bees hanging out the door can slow you down looking for the queen when she runs off the comb & hides among bees somewhere. But things such as making gear, making sure nucs are properly fed, just ensuring all nucs are alive and making full use of your equipment, grafting & messing with cell builders, and a heap of other "incidentals" are where the time goes.

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## Re: How many queens can one person catch per day?

Originally Posted by Oldtimer
a heap of other "incidentals" are where the time goes.
And that folks is the rest of the story.............

Thumbs up to OT for picking the ace out of your time laden hands. Its the main reason why most queen operations are not a one man show.

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## Re: How many queens can one person catch per day?

I'm with Oldtimer 100%.

picking queens is the easy part of the operation and absolutely no indication of how many nucs you can run.

wealth? I'm not sure there's alot of that going on either shared or not.

I don't know how breeders in the US make money with the pitiful price you all get for your queens

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## Re: How many queens can one person catch per day?

KevinR I think you might find this Michael Palmers Queen rearing video interesting , link below, catching queens starts at 1,00 hour 55 seconds. Shows how he does it (five people) 128 queens every four days.

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## Re: How many queens can one person catch per day?

Originally Posted by Stephenpbird
KevinR I think you might find this Michael Palmers Queen rearing video interesting , link below, catching queens starts at 1,00 hour 55 seconds. Shows how he does it (five people) 128 queens every four days.

You beat me to it.

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## Re: How many queens can one person catch per day?

3 min 9 sec this video, one queen, marked and new cell in

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## Re: How many queens can one person catch per day?

Thanks the info, I understand that there is more to it than actually catching the queen.

But I can make the equipment at night, feeding the nucs won't take long, and I've built quite a few cell builder/finishers. The incidentals should be handled prior or after dealing with the queens/cells. I'm more concerned with the time limits of catching/planting cells. The cells won't wait for me to shake an extra cup of bees into nucs 3, 8, and 12. Unless I get into the practice of using an incubator and planting virgins vs cells. But I suppose that's a different conversation entirely.

I've just never really sat down and caught 100+ queens in a day... The most I've caught in a day was ~24 or so... Unfortunately, I didn't keep good notes, but I think it took around 3-4 hours for me to leisurely do it while inspecting the nucs/hives and running back and forth for cells. I'd obviously get my act together as it takes off.

I expect my dad to help and I few other volunteers, but I can only really plan on my time at this point.

I hoping to get much more organized this year and catch/plant 50 a week to start... So I'll see where it goes from there. I just wanted to make sure that was a realistic number.

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## Re: How many queens can one person catch per day?

A lot depends on if you have help with the balancing, the moving and the feeding. Yea you can catch faster than 100 a day, but can you move frames add bees and make 30 trips to the truck and back any faster?

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## Re: How many queens can one person catch per day?

Kevin, I run 3 full size medium frames per nuc. My dad and I work as team. We open up hive, he grabs the first frame I grab the second. If queen not on first frame he goes to 3rd. When we find the queen I catch, mark and cage her. Marking only takes a few extra seconds thats why I mark them all at no charge. We can do 100 in a day no problem early on. as the flow stops we have a problem with robbing so have to start early then quit if robbing starts then start back up late evenings. then it might take two days to pull the 100.

It takes more time rebuilding misses and evening thing up than actually catching the queens.

Johnny

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## Re: How many queens can one person catch per day?

The issue I see here is: is the 'catcher' evaluating the queens and only taking those that appear to be 'viable'. Some turn out to be duds, for sure.

Also, a 28 day rotation seems excessive. Surely 21 days allows several days for that new queen to fill up the available laying space in a nuc sized hive. I believe it was Laidlaw who recommended something nearer to a 2 week to 16 day rotation. But we are talking nucs here.

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## Re: How many queens can one person catch per day?

Some people do 16 day rotations, some do 21+ day rotations, some have them in nucs for much longer...

I'm looking at the grafting on Fridays and catching on Sundays.. So I need to schedule it so that it works for me, so I could catch on the 21st day, but it will probably be between 21-28 days to account for the extra time for weather. Time will tell and I'll adjust it accordingly.

The 16 days... Is that from graft to laying or from cell planting to laying... Depending on the calendars you look at and your weather... 16 days isn't enough time... 10 days from graft to moving the cell, it should emerge by day 11/12, which gives you 4/5 days for her to harden and mate and lay..... I'm sure that's all doable, but seems a little tight, if you have any bad weather...

If I was trying to "maximize" and squeeze every possible queen from the nuc. I'd probably push closer to the 16 day mark, but for me... I think I'd just carry a spare nuc and pull a frame of brood with the queen, assuming they are over loaded.

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## Re: How many queens can one person catch per day?

Cells are grated, then put into nucs on 9th or 10th day. So the number of days is strictly referring to the time from when the queen cell is placed until the laying queen is removed.

So given your schedule, 23 days is also a possibility which should be long enough. Again, that 2 week to 16 day schedule probably was created for sunny central California where it 'never rains'. Probably is today though.

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## Re: How many queens can one person catch per day?

Originally Posted by Gino45
probably was created for sunny central California where it 'never rains'.
It depends on the time of day here for your weather..

It would probably end up at around 21 day is mark to look for eggs and the 28 day mark to check larva/pattern. Graft on Friday, move cells the following Sunday (day1), check/capture queen on Sunday 21/28 days later.

Using half-frame mediums for mating nucs.. She'll lay them up pretty quick, so I probably wouldn't have to "wait" the full 28 days.. But it will probably work out that way so I can keep my day job and play at being a queen keeper on the weekend. I used mostly 5 frame nucs for the last few years. I'll have to see how much more intervention the bees need in the mini mating nucs... I'm hoping that pulling or adding a frame of brood here/there and applying food is all that's "needed".

If the mini absconds or gets slimed out, it shouldn't be as big as a issue as losing a full 5 frame nuc from a resource standpoint anyway. Have 50 mating nucs made up, need to make another 150 between now spring time.

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## Re: How many queens can one person catch per day?

Originally Posted by Broke-T
have a problem with robbing
How many 3 frame nucs do you run in a mating yard? So far, I haven't had a lot of problems with robbing... Hope it continues that way, but I might have to look at integrated robbing screens on the mating nucs.

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