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  1. #1
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    Sep 2012
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    Default Brood Break with a queen cage vs. queen removal, any experience with this?

    Hello everyone.

    I plan on doing a brood break for my hives very soon to help with varroa management. I was either going to:

    1. remove the queen in a small nuc and let the hive requeen itself
    2. cage the queen on the frame for 2-3 weeks.

    For those of you using brood breaks to help with varroa management, any tips on which you think is the better way to go? Since I will have grafted queens to replace queens if needed, I don't necessarily need more queens. It would take a bit less equipment to give the brood break by caging the queen on the frame though.

    Please share with me your experiences.

    Thank you!

  2. #2
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    Ash Grove MO. USA.
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    Default Re: Brood Break with a queen cage vs. queen removal, any experience with this?

    All my experience has been with the hive requeening itself. If I understand the process right once all the brood hatches out the female varroa are desperate for a place to lay. The first few cells laid in by the new queen draws all the varroa in where they then suffocate once capped.

    I'm not sure of this but I do give mine a couple brood breaks each year and I have no mite problems. I've never treated with anything.

    I would think 4 weeks would be a long time to keep a queen caged but since I've never done it I don't know.
    Woody Roberts

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Brood Break with a queen cage vs. queen removal, any experience with this?

    Thanks for your reply wolfer. Sounds like I should stick with my original plan and let them requeen themselves and use my grafted queens in the case they fail at requeening.

    With two or so brood breaks in place, when do you time them? I think I remember you saying that you pull the queen in the spring when you are ready to make splits. Do you make splits again with all the hives you have in the mid summer? Just curious if this allows for some extra honey crop for you or if this pretty much leaves honey to the bees.

    Right now I am more interested in propagation, but I would like to have some honey as well and have been managing my hives to that a couple are more focused on honey production and a couple are more my brood making donors for splits and nuc making.

    Thanks

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Brood Break with a queen cage vs. queen removal, any experience with this?

    Honey flow is pretty much over here by the end of June. I usually split again after June 21. If there is a fall flow it won't start until sept.
    With a little feed I can start a nuc here around aug 1 and get them in a single deep by winter.

    Other than swarm prevention I don't like pulling the queen during spring flow. I do it sometimes but I don't like it.
    I don't ever have swarms though.

  5. #5
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    Jun 2013
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    Default Re: Brood Break with a queen cage vs. queen removal, any experience with this?

    @Wolfer,

    Not meaning to hijack, but would you care to expand on your statement that "you never have swarms"? I, for one, would like find out more why that might be. Attempting to avoid risk of swarming has obsessed me all spring and I am not satisfied that I understand what's best to do. And so far, knock wood, no swarms, but I don't think I'm completely out of the woods, yet! And I can see that this will be a major hurdle for me every spring. I would really like to hear about how you handle this. Perhaps you could start a new thread - I'd look forward to reading it.

    @Beelosopher,

    I'm not sure I completely buy into the brood-break-as-mite-suppressant-tactic. My three colonies were all cut-out from my barn walls last summer. Two of the three lost their queens in the cut-out hoo-haw and went queenless while they cooked on up on their own.

    Despite being swarms which had been temporarily without any brood during the swarm, followed by the queen-less period afterward, two of the three developed treatable mite numbers by September.

    And the two that needed mite treatment were the two that went through the extended broodless, queenless, period. The only colony that has never needed treatment is the one that still has the original swarm queen and has NEVER had a brood break. Of course my bees are mutts, or ferals, or escapees from some other apiary, so that might make a difference in their genetics. But being queenless with the ensuing cook-their-own-queen period and brood break didn't prevent them from needing treatment at all. Instead it just delayed it to the farthest margin time-wise of when is practical here in upstate NY.

    If you do this, may I suggest you monitor very closely particularly in August and Spetmeber so you can catch any slight uptick and deal with it before it gets too cold. (Unless you are planning on treating with OAV later after brooding shut downs for the year .)

    I know it's a popular approach (brood breaks as mite treatment) and if I had happened to try it on my low-mite hive I might have concluded it works like gangbusters. But that hive is somehow different from the other two, because it has never needed treatment, whereas the other two had this approach applied to them (without meaning to, it just happened) and they did need treatment.

    Does anybody know of any dissected pupal cells which showed that cell-starved foundress mites had crammed into them and perished as a result? Somehow, that seems hard to credit, at least to me.

    Enj.

  6. #6
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    Apr 2013
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    Default Re: Brood Break with a queen cage vs. queen removal, any experience with this?

    Seems that a 3 week break followed by a treatment that effected phoretic mites would be a pretty good strategy...
    Last edited by mdax; 06-09-2014 at 03:33 PM.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Brood Break with a queen cage vs. queen removal, any experience with this?

    Quote Originally Posted by enjambres View Post
    I'm not sure I completely buy into the brood-break-as-mite-suppressant-tactic.
    on its own, not sure I do either. This is one of several things I am trying out for an IPM approach. Regarding your comments about the swarms having more mites, I have read that when a give swarms naturally the mites seem to sense it somehow, so they ramp up mite reproduction as well. So in theory, the approach I use is to create an artificial swarm before the urge to swarm is actually there. Don't ask me to quote the study because I can't recall it. I think it was on beesource where I got the link to the study.

    Also remember, just because it is a swarm, does not mean it is a healthy swarm.


    Quote Originally Posted by enjambres View Post
    I know it's a popular approach (brood breaks as mite treatment) and if I had happened to try it on my low-mite hive I might have concluded it works like gangbusters. But that hive is somehow different from the other two, because it has never needed treatment, whereas the other two had this approach applied to them (without meaning to, it just happened) and they did need treatment.
    brood breaks, selective breeding (breeding with purported local tx free stock and bringing in purported non local tx free stock), (maybe drone comb freezing), unlimited brood nest, foundation less, (working on a transition to small cell) are a few of the things I am doing to attempt treatment free. I am not sure tx free is possible in my area without collecting a lot of swarms, which I don't have the time to chase down during regular hours. So while I am treatment free for now, I might have to do something if I see a spike in varroa raising them to the threshold levels.

    I will only know it is working if it is working

  8. #8
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    Great Falls Montana
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    Default Re: Brood Break with a queen cage vs. queen removal, any experience with this?

    I pull the queen and two frames of brood and move them to a different location in the yard. I notch some two day old larvae ala mdasplitter.com and stay out of the hive for a month to let the new queen start laying. My good queens from strong colonies get a chance to build another and if the original hive fails to requeen itself, I just recombine the nuc and give them back their old queen. Caging a good laying queen is always dangerous as you may have introduction problems or she may never return to her former productivity.

    I just caught a really fine queen today, moved her and found a foundationless frame chock full of two day old larvae. I spent five minutes notching about thirty cells all over the face of the frame and hope to catch a dozen or more good cells which will be easy to cut out and make little nucs with and will be sure to leave two for the original colony which will get the brood break and hopefully produce me a fine crop of honey from the alfalfa just starting to bloom.

  9. #9
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    Jun 2013
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    Default Re: Brood Break with a queen cage vs. queen removal, any experience with this?

    @ Wolfer,

    It's good to know that the often-mentioned blackberry thing is a timing point not a flow - that has frequently confused me. I do sometimes have wild-ish blackberries depending on the year, but perhaps not this year with last winter's cold, as they are marginal in my Z5/Z4 climate. I can watch closely for when they do appear and see if I can correlate that to other blooming brambles that are more reliably annual bearers. I would be very surprised if they bloomed before the Fourth of July. Blackberries here are a late summer crop that I associate with the last weeks of August. Black cap raspberries (a naturalized, or perhaps wild bramble), on the other hand are blooming now.

    Your reference to the solstice is also a point of confusion for me. I know when it is, of course, but I've wondered if it's wise to use it in my cold climate where I can expect that scarcely three months later we've had our killing frost and the growing season is effectively over. In a warmer climate there may be more time after the solstice to feed and build up a newly-created queen's colony than I would have before approching winter shuts things down again. And when you make queens in relation to the solstice is that notch the eggs/pull the old queen on the solstice or do you plan so that her mating flight is then, or her emergence or first brood, or what? Last year we did the cut out on June 23rd - and since I lost the queens in the ensuing melee, I "made queens" that day (though I had nothing whatever to do with the process and didn't even know it was going on until the extended absence of brood made it clear what had happened) a couple of days after the solstice. To my uneducated eyes that seemed to put them playing catch-up all summer and hard pressed to accumulate enough stores before winter. Of course, that was their establishment year, creating the hives prettty much from scratch. I was thinking that this weekend (14th-15th) would be a good weekend to make the splits from my two (so far) unsplit hives, which would make their combined egg/larval/pupal stages evenly straddle the solstice. Waiting until the solstice itself to do the split would put the earliest of the new queen's foragers in the field just two weeks before my first frost (28 days for the queen from egg to laying, more or less, and then an additional 42 days for her first workers to become foragers.) Thats 70 days from June 21st, or roughly around Labor Day. Does that make sense?

    Do you recommend pulling the queen and few frames out of the hive and leaving the colony to requeen itself, or taking a couple of likely-looking frames (and nurse bees and supplies) out and putting them in a nuc and leaving the old queen in place? If I wanted lots of new queens I think taking the old queen out would be best as that would leave more resources remaining in the hives to support the growth of multiple queen cells. But, at the most, I only want to make a single nuc from each hive (my safety copy, if you will). And it seems like it would be quite dispiriting for the old queen to find herself starting from scratch again in an unfamiliar nuc (probably better at inhibiting reproduction-driven swarming, though).

    Enj.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Brood Break with a queen cage vs. queen removal, any experience with this?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vance G View Post
    I notch some two day old larvae ala mdasplitter.com and stay out of the hive for a month to let the new queen start laying.
    Vance I used notching this year for splits in the spring. It worked out pretty well for me. I also have been working on grafting, which is working well too. Grafting is a bit more of a process with planning. Bonus is that you get good at looking for the right age larva, which helps with notching too.

    As the others have stated, I do the same with moving brood up and back fulling with foundationless, or taking those brood frames and making splits if the timing is right (and the hive strength is right).

    Wolfer your genetics may be a key. I was considering russians here, but all the data I read was how the genetics need to stay russian or the mite resistance fades. In my area there are a lot of bees so there is no way to flood with Russian stock unless I buy new queens yearly or every other year. Just the same, I might try some russians in due time. Right now I am working with local resistance stock, italians, carniolans and just received some beeweaver queens this year. Anything that survives the winter and isn't extremely hot gets a chance at at an overwintering nuc situation. Would be great to eventually develop a strong local mutt resistant stock. A long time beek let me know that there are a lot of trucked bees in my area, and he noticed increased presence of hive beetles when that started years ago.

    For your year old queen nucs: Do you just make a maintenance nuc? (i.e.a few frames to keep her going, but not growing); upon her successful requeening, do you pinch her?


    enjambres - I plan on pulling queens to let my main hives requeen themselves this(likely this) or next weekend, as well as making my remaining over wintering nucs.
    Last edited by Beelosopher; 06-10-2014 at 07:49 AM.

  11. #11
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    Jul 2012
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    Ash Grove MO. USA.
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    Default Re: Brood Break with a queen cage vs. queen removal, any experience with this?

    I expect my genetics has a lot to do with it. I live in a bee desert. Before I got bees if I saw one on the white clover in the yard I call the family out to look at it.
    I've been there 13 years and have seen two swarms come by.
    There was a bee tree about a half mile from me that died this winter. It had been there for years. I've always felt this was where most of my drones came from.
    There are no other beekeepers within miles of me that I know about.

    This year I've branched out into some outyards and plan on raising some nucs at them to bring back home for genetic diversity. This may hurt me.

    On my queens I put in nucs. I usually let them get to a full size box then rob brood to hold them there until the following spring.
    The only queens I kill are drone layers. Since my area is not drone saturated I get drone layers more than most. I also have trouble with supersedure I believe due to queens not mating with enough drones.

    While I have a couple queens that are 4 this year most will be superseded at around a year so I only have to pull the queen on a few hives each year for swarm prevention. Most have been replaced by that time.

    I've raised several queens in nucs. If the nuc is strong, five frames of bees or more I've gotten pretty good queens. IMO weak nuc queens ain't worth a dime.
    Best queens are built in a double deep hive but they tend to build a lot of cells. At the current time I only have 8 two frame mating nucs and I dislike tossing all those extra cells.

    On another forum Iddee had mentioned a simple way to raise queens in a queen right hive that I'm going to try as soon as I free up some mating nucs.

    On a two deep hive make sure your queen is in the bottom with a queen excluder. This wasn't his exact instructions but I plan on waiting until all brood in the top is too old.
    I'll set a frame or two of eggs in the top box and cover the queen excluder leaving a top entrance. Once cells are started I'll remove the cover and the bees will finish the cells. Once capped I'll take the cells and the excluder off and the hive was queen right all along.
    I'm hoping this will limit the no of cells I have to deal with.
    I don't need many I just like to have some on hand.

    For me making bees is not the problem it's buying the equipment to put them in.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Brood Break with a queen cage vs. queen removal, any experience with this?

    I've only done it from the point of view of getting more honey. Removing the queen two weeks before the flow works for this. You could cage her. They still raise a new queen usually.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Brood Break with a queen cage vs. queen removal, any experience with this?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    I've only done it from the point of view of getting more honey. Removing the queen two weeks before the flow works for this. You could cage her. They still raise a new queen usually.
    I wasn't aware they would still raise one, but that is good to know.

    Do you think that letting the hives requeen themselves for a brood break is worthwhile for the purpose I listed?

    Thank you

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