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  1. #1
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    Default Queen Castle - First Timer?

    Hi folks,
    I built a medium depth 3 frame by 3 chamber queen castle to raise a couple queens and/or grow my apiary. I've only raised one other queen and it was in the hive after a squish earlier this spring so this is a new and exciting experience for me. Questions are as follows:
    1- I know most people use two chamber units and add a frame of young brood and a frame of honey/pollen.

    My unit has three slots, what would you place in the slots. 2 brood/1 stores or 1 brood/1 store/1 empty frame or some other combo?

    2- My eyes aren't great, seeing eggs on a transfer frame is impossible, so I have to guess a bit in which frames to pull. This presents several questions:

    How quickly will they stat to pull a QC, is 24 hours long enough to wait to look? Normally I would wait a few days but showers are expected for the next 5/6 days.

    If no queen cells are built and I verify that the queen is still back in the parent hive I will assume that I didn't give them young enough stock. Can I simply move that frame back to the parent colony and move a new frame in to the castle?

    Thank you in advance for any guidance and here's a pic of my homemade castle, the top box just surrounds the feeder jars.

    image.jpg
    Last edited by Thershey; 05-02-2014 at 12:20 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Queen Castle - First Timer?

    >My unit has three slots, what would you place in the slots. 2 brood/1 stores or 1 brood/1 store/1 emptying some other combo?

    I would pull the queen from a strong hive and put her in one section with a frame of brood a frame of honey and an empty frame. Ten days later I would pull three frames with queen cells and three frames of honey and put them in and put the queen back in the hive. The results are well fed queens from the strong hive for the new splits in the queen castle...

    >How quickly will they stat to pull a QC, is 24 hours long enough to wait to look? Normally I would wait a few days but we showers expected for the next 5/6 days.

    They are more obvious in 48 hours. But, as I said, I would make the original hive queenless and wait 10 days and then pull the queen cells from there...

    >If no queen cells are built and I verify that the queen is still back in the parent hive I will assume that I didn't give them young enough stock. Can I simply move that frame back to the parent colony and move a new frame in to the castle?

    Yes, you can.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Queen Castle - First Timer?

    Michael said...I would pull the queen from a strong hive and put her in one section with a frame of brood a frame of honey and an empty frame. Ten days later I would pull three frames with queen cells and three frames of honey and put them in and put the queen back in the hive. The results are well fed queens from the strong hive for the new splits in the queen castle...

    Thanks Michael. Now I may have a problem. I moved a frame of brood without queen and a frame of honey last night at 7 pm, 15 hours ago.

    - can I undo this process (put the brood frame back) and move a new one over with the queen?

    - after 10 days, when I pull the frames with QC's from the parent hive do I
    A) dispatch any and all other queen cells in the parent hive?
    B) do I simply move the frame with the original queen back to the parent or do I need to cage her and follow some sort of reintroduction protocol?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Queen Castle - First Timer?

    >Thanks Michael. Now I may have a problem. I moved a frame of brood without queen and a frame of honey last night at 7 pm, 15 hours ago.
    > - can I undo this process (put the brood frame back) and move a new one over with the queen?

    You could. But why not let it play out and you'll get to see the difference. It's not that this won't work.

    > - after 10 days, when I pull the frames with QC's from the parent hive do I
    A) dispatch any and all other queen cells in the parent hive?

    Up to you. If they aren't too crowded they would just supersede and that's not all bad.

    > B) do I simply move the frame with the original queen back to the parent or do I need to cage her and follow some sort of reintroduction protocol?

    I just put her back with the frame of bees she's on. They are her entourage and she will act like the queen instead of acting like a scared usurper and I think that is a lot of why she's accepted. A puff or two of smoke in the hive before you put her in will help...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Queen Castle - First Timer?

    My thinking was that I did not want to overly impact a young hive by taking their queen away. Also, I do not yet have a yard 2 miles away to take the queen/castle. From Mel's OTS methods I thought this was important to do. I'm assuming you don't share that opinion?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Queen Castle - First Timer?

    In 40 years I've never moved a split to a different yard. For 25 years or so I had no other yard to take them to. It is important to allow for drift by shaking in extra bees or juggling location (such as having both halves of a split face the old location) or, in the case of a cutdown split you intend for the field force to go to the old location and make a honey crop...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Queen Castle - First Timer?

    Your method makes life easier for bad eyes too. Takes the guessing out of whether I gave them young enough stock. Thanks again for all you do to guide us newbs through our mistakes as we learn, greatly appreciate it.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Queen Castle - First Timer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    >Thanks Michael. Now I may have a problem. I moved a frame of brood without queen and a frame of honey last night at 7 pm, 15 hours ago.
    > - can I undo this process (put the brood frame back) and move a new one over with the queen?

    You could. But why not let it play out and you'll get to see the difference. It's not that this won't work.

    > - after 10 days, when I pull the frames with QC's from the parent hive do I
    A) dispatch any and all other queen cells in the parent hive?

    Up to you. If they aren't too crowded they would just supersede and that's not all bad.

    Not sure I follow the bold statement. I would like to reunite the original queen, partially because she is a great layer and brought a very weak hive thru winter, I would also like to minimize the non laying down time. 10 days won't hurt the hive as bad as 25-30. Are you saying that even if I do dispatch the remaining queen cells (those that didn't get pulled to the castle) they are likely to go ahead and supersede her within a short time of being reintroduced? If so, when does a laying queen get killed, after the new virgin emerges, when they cap a cell or as soon as the decide to replace her?

    > B) do I simply move the frame with the original queen back to the parent or do I need to cage her and follow some sort of reintroduction protocol?

    I just put her back with the frame of bees she's on. They are her entourage and she will act like the queen instead of acting like a scared usurper and I think that is a lot of why she's accepted. A puff or two of smoke in the hive before you put her in will help...
    Per this scenario of putting her back in, if you wanted to keep her alive, would you squish any QCs or will she/they kill the cells once she is back home?

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Queen Castle - First Timer?

    >Per this scenario of putting her back in, if you wanted to keep her alive, would you squish any QCs or will she/they kill the cells once she is back home?

    She probably will not destroy them. That is a job for a virgin queen, not a laying queen. The bees may or may not destroy them but I would not count on it. I've usually taken all the queen cells...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Queen Castle - First Timer?

    [QUOTE=Michael

    I wosuld pull the queen from a strong hive and put her in one section with a frame of brood a frame of honey and an empty frame. Ten days later I would pull three frames with queen cells and three frames of honey and put them in and put the queen back in the hive. The results are well fed queens from the strong hive for the new splits in the queen castle...

    .[/QUOTE]
    Mike for some reason or another I don't understand this..

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Queen Castle - First Timer?

    >Mike for some reason or another I don't understand this..

    What part is unclear? That a strong hive will feed queen cells better than a two frame split? That you can take more than one frame with cells from that strong hive for your splits after they have raised a lot of well fed queen cells? That those cells will then be mated in the queen castle? That you can put the old queen back in if you like?
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Queen Castle - First Timer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    >Per this scenario of putting her back in, if you wanted to keep her alive, would you squish any QCs or will she/they kill the cells once she is back home?

    She probably will not destroy them. That is a job for a virgin queen, not a laying queen. The bees may or may not destroy them but I would not count on it. I've usually taken all the queen cells...
    Well I jumped the gun and pulled my capped queen cell frames yesterday on day 13 instead of 14. My mother and wife were both excited to see everything so I gave them their wish for Mother's Day.

    Things went well, had a total of 16 beautiful capped queen cells on 4 different frames (3,8,3,2). I squished 5 QCs on the frame with 8 so I ended up loading a frame with 3 QCs into each chamber. My last question centers on the frame with 2 QCs, I left it in the hive.

    I marked the sequestered queen while I had her out, then waited about 30 minutes for things to settle down in the parent colony after pulling everything apart, then reintroduced her to the top of the frame she was on for the 9 days she was in the mating castle. She continued to lay in the castle, had eggs and larvae all over her transition frame. She ran right in and I closed up the hive. I left the frame with 2 QCs in the hive knowing that I have today and tomorrow to dispatch them if needed since emergence day should be Wednesday. Questions?

    - if I find the original, now reintroduced, queen alive and well tomorrow, can I safely assume she has been accepted back as the queen? It will have been 48 hours back in the hive.
    - if yes, I plan on killing the 2 remaining queen cells so she can carry on thus minimizing my non laying days to the 9 she was out.
    - if I leave the cells and let the re queening take place, when will the current queen be killed by the virgin... soon after she emerges or after she is successfully mated? I'd hate to kill a great queen now only to have something go wrong with the virgin over the next two weeks.

    Assuming the queen is alive tomorrow, what would you do, squish the cells or donate the queen to the queen juice bottle? If it matters, she is one year old this month and proved to be very hardy as she nursed two cups of bees through winter after getting robbed out to zero stores in September.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Queen Castle - First Timer?

    They might just live side by side. I`ve had 2 queen hives before, I`m sure it isn`t that rare. But I would pinch the rest of the cells if you see she is fine, or put them in a nuc too. I find that a 2nd year Queen lays the best,,,,,,,, Pete

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Queen Castle - First Timer?

    Thanks Pete. Much to my amazement, no sign of the reintroduced queen and they tore down the capped queen cells I left them Sunday. I fully expected one or the other but cannot understand why they would do both. I went ahead and grabbed a frame with 15 day old QCs from my mating castle, we'll see if they let those go the distance.

    Michael Bush once told me "it's more art than science" about something bee related, I'm beginning to understand what he meant. What a hoot, every day seems to reveal a new puzzle with these little critters.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Queen Castle - First Timer?

    Strap yourself in, enjoy the ride,,,,,,,,,,Pete

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Queen Castle - First Timer?

    >...then reintroduced her to the top of the frame she was on for the 9 days she was in the mating castle. She continued to lay in the castle, had eggs and larvae all over her transition frame. She ran right in...

    I much prefer to take the frame the queen is on and put it in the hive. That way she has her entourage who already treat her like a queen and she's unlikely to run and hide or act out of place.

    >- if I find the original, now reintroduced, queen alive and well tomorrow, can I safely assume she has been accepted back as the queen? It will have been 48 hours back in the hive.

    Yes.

    > - if yes, I plan on killing the 2 remaining queen cells so she can carry on thus minimizing my non laying days to the 9 she was out.

    How will that minimize "non laying days"?

    > - if I leave the cells and let the re queening take place, when will the current queen be killed by the virgin... soon after she emerges or after she is successfully mated?

    Virgin queens don't generally attack laying queens, they attack other virgins. They may both lay until fall...

    > I'd hate to kill a great queen now only to have something go wrong with the virgin over the next two weeks.

    Why not set up some nucs for all these nice queens? Sell them on EBay?

    >Assuming the queen is alive tomorrow, what would you do, squish the cells or donate the queen to the queen juice bottle?

    I value queens. People buy queens. Unless there is a problem with her I would keep her and sell her. Or just keep her to have a spare queen around...

    > If it matters, she is one year old this month and proved to be very hardy as she nursed two cups of bees through winter after getting robbed out to zero stores in September.

    More like they nursed her... but the second year is usually the most productive for a queen.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Queen Castle - First Timer?

    [QUOTE=Michael Bush;1105834]>...then reintroduced her to the top of the frame she was on for the 9 days she was in the mating castle. She continued to lay in the castle, had eggs and larvae all over her transition frame. She ran right in...

    I much prefer to take the frame the queen is on and put it in the hive. That way she has her entourage who already treat her like a queen and she's unlikely to run and hide or act out of place.

    >- if I find the original, now reintroduced, queen alive and well tomorrow, can I safely assume she has been accepted back as the queen? It will have been 48 hours back in the hive.

    Yes.

    > - if yes, I plan on killing the 2 remaining queen cells so she can carry on thus minimizing my non laying days to the 9 she was out.

    How will that minimize "non laying days"?
    my assumption was based on my belief that it was an either/or scenario, I thought either the queen or the queen cells would be destroyed. A queen laying today vs. waiting another 2-3 weeks for the virgin was worth at least 20,000 more bees.

    > - if I leave the cells and let the re queening take place, when will the current queen be killed by the virgin... soon after she emerges or after she is successfully mated?

    Virgin queens don't generally attack laying queens, they attack other virgins. They may both lay until fall... great new info, certainly alleviates some concerns in the future. You should write a book. LOL

    > I'd hate to kill a great queen now only to have something go wrong with the virgin over the next two weeks.

    Why not set up some nucs for all these nice queens? i am, in the mating castle Sell them on EBay? this is my 2nd year, only had two hives and converted to all medium equipment this year. The bees are having to draw comb along the way. This hive just donated 3 frames of brood (with QCs) and 3 frames of stores to the queen castle. Those 3 frame castle chambers will become nucs.

    >Assuming the queen is alive tomorrow, what would you do, squish the cells or donate the queen to the queen juice bottle?

    I value queens. People buy queens. Unless there is a problem with her I would keep her and sell her. Or just keep her to have a spare queen around... been meaning to ask this, heard talk of banking a queen. How does one bank a queen?

    > If it matters, she is one year old this month and proved to be very hardy as she nursed two cups of bees through winter after getting robbed out to zero stores in September.

    More like they nursed her... but the second year is usually the most productive for a queen.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Queen Castle - First Timer?

    I usually just keep her in a two frame nuc with bees brood and honey that I might grow to a five frame nuc and then I might steal frames now and again. If I really want to bank queens, I'm usually banking a hundred or so and I set up a queenless nuc, catch all the queens and put them all in at the same time, the day I caught them (the day after they were made queenless)
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Queen Castle - First Timer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    I usually just keep her in a two frame nuc with bees brood and honey that I might grow to a five frame nuc and then I might steal frames now and again. If I really want to bank queens, I'm usually banking a hundred or so and I set up a queenless nuc, catch all the queens and put them all in at the same time, the day I caught them (the day after they were made queenless)
    That would make a cool picture.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Queen Castle - First Timer?

    yes that would make a nice picture Mike!,,,,,,,Pete

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