Building up
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Thread: Building up

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Orange, Vermont, USA
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    33

    Default Building up

    Ok here's a slight twist on the nuc vs. package issue.

    I'm getting started in queen rearing, I did a little grafting last year, and managed to raise about 15 queens. I'm aiming for 100 this year.

    I'll probably have 8 hives come spring, and I've ordered 4 nucs to replace some fall losses due to bears, so twelve altogether, not really enough to fill mating nucs without seriously depleting the population.

    So this is the question, I want to buy some bees to fill mating nucs. I'm figuring about 30 nucs, and I had planned to get 6 packages of italians the first week of april, let them build up in single deeps until late May and then toss the italian queens and divide the deeps up into mating nucs (2 frames each).

    Or, I could spring for local overwintered nucs which are probably available the first week May, but then I wouldn't want to throw out the queens.

    Any advice?
    -John McNeil

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Green Lane, PA
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    Default Re: Building up

    If you can overwintered nucs in early May that is what I would do.

    100 queens may be a little hard to do with your current resources, but if you have the coin to pick up a bunch of nucs or packages go for it.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    Gilmer,TX USA
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    Default Re: Building up

    100 is really ambitious. If you go through with it, do not plan on making any honey as there will not be enough bees to forage.

    mike
    Last edited by Kingfisher Apiaries; 01-18-2011 at 05:20 PM. Reason: Fixing my bubba spelling
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  5. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    Orange, Vermont, USA
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    Default Re: Building up

    I don't plan on making honey this year, except to have resources to over-winter my hives and enough nucs so that I'm not in this position next spring. I do realize that 100 is ambitious, but it's just a target, and may be adjusted to suit reality as the situation progresses.
    -John McNeil

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Building up

    I went from about 2 to 20. I would have had 40 if I did not lose colonies. Loses are something you most likely are not considering. When making and/or breeding queens you lose some, then some get squished, some just plain quit. Keep this in mind. Maybe set a goal of 50 in hopes of hitting 40. Ask any of the bigger beekeepers on here, they will tell you it does not come overnight. Also, get your queen rearing down to a science. you said that "I did a little grafting last year, and managed to raise about 15 queens"
    Before you make the jump, make sure your bungee is set up right!

    Mike
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  7. #6
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    Default Re: Building up

    Also, let me say that I am not at all trying to discourage, belittle, etc you. Just trying to help you think through this.

    mike
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  8. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Orange, Vermont, USA
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    Default Re: Building up


    I don't mean to sound overly confident. I *do* understand appreciate your point about biting off more than I'm ready for. So I'll come clean with a larger story.

    First of all Mike Palmer is mentoring me. I'll see him next week and annoy him with several stupid questions. He's a great resource. I was actually going to email
    him this question, but I decided to beesource it since he'll see it here too.

    I raised 15 queens last year in three rounds of grafting. The first round 12 grafts -> 7 drawn cells -> 6 emerged virgins -> 3 accepted virgins -> 1 mated queen.

    So things got better. I learned how bad my vision was, and got a magnivisor which improved my grafting success, I have a better sense of how many bees makes a mating nuc: too many reject the queens, too few abandon her to find a better place to live. Mating is still an issue, but the weather was weird last year, I may need more hives around for drones. I also learned all about mice and bears. And cheap veils with cloth tops on bald heads.

    I call last year a success, I wish I had a few more queens to overwinter, and I wish a bear hadn't taken out my two best hives, but I learned a lot.

    But you're right, so I'll restate my goal: This year I'd like to at least go through the motions of 5 rounds of grafting about 30 cells aiming for 100 queens. I may chicken out and skip every other round. I'll pull back if things get out of hand. I'll be very happy if I get 25 good queens. I don't need to sell them this year and I'm not easily discouraged by failure. The next two or three years are about getting the machine up and running and commiting enough mistakes to teach my the errors of my ways.
    Then I can spend the rest of my life trying to get good at it.
    -John McNeil

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Building up

    GO BIG or GO HOME....graft away my friend, set your goals and do your best to attain them....100 queens is not that big a number. MP is a great resource and mentor...GO FOR IT
    A government large enough to provide everything you need is strong enough to take everything you have. T. Jefferson

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    Orange, Vermont, USA
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    Default Re: Building up

    And this is why Beesource is such a great resource. You can get good advice from multiple sources and pick the answer you wanted to hear.

    Just kidding
    -John McNeil

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Woodlawn, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    326

    Default Re: Building up

    I am in about the same boat. I have built a bunch of 5 frame nucs, and am taking a queen rearing class this spring. I actually had some success grafting last year, but I really want to learn to do it right. Problem is, any real success will require pinching some queens, which I have a hard time doing. So I have some ideas. 1)Due to a scarcity of bees, I am considering building some mini-nucs. 2)I am going to continue retrieving swarms, which should give me some "extra" bees to work with, and help get my drawn comb inventory up for next year. Best of luck to you. Keep us informed on your progress.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Green Lane, PA
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    831

    Default Re: Building up

    Quote Originally Posted by bot View Post

    I'm not easily discouraged by failure. commiting enough mistakes to teach my the errors of my ways.
    Then I can spend the rest of my life trying to get good at it.
    You have all the qualities of a great beekeeper!

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Orange, Vermont, USA
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    33

    Default Re: Building up

    standman>
    I glad you reminded me, that's the other thing I learned. ->Drawn Comb<-
    A stock of drawn comb is the most valuable equipment you have!!

    Last year I did 3-4 frames in each side of a double nuc (a regular deep divided down the middle). This year I was going to try splitting the deeps in four (2 regular deep frames) each and some mininucs too. Part of why I asked the original question was I'm still not sure how many bees I ought to aim for if I'm going to buy bees to fill mating nucs. I've heard that a package comes a month earlier but ends up being equivalent sized by the first flow (at least around here) but I don't remember how many frames of bees I've had in a new start by the end of May with a package installed first the week of April

    Good luck!

    Yuleluder>
    Aww. Now you made blush
    -John McNeil

  14. #13
    Join Date
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    Gilmer,TX USA
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    Default Re: Building up

    Well now that you mention MP........
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  15. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Winston Salem , NC
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    Default Re: Building up

    Go for it ! You might not reach your goal or you may exceed it. Bet you learn something you can tell others!
    larry

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
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    8,069

    Default Re: Building up

    [QUOTE=bot;610118
    First of all Mike Palmer is mentoring me. I'll see him next week and annoy him with several stupid questions.[/QUOTE]

    You couldn't annoy me if you tried... d:-)

    I should explain what we're doing here in Vermont.

    In 2010 we received a $12,000 grand under the specialty crop grant. Our intention was to train 10 beekeepers to raise queens and have 5000 queens available for sale by 2015. We're at about 1000 now with existing breeders here in the state.

    Last summer was the first year. Participants were given 4 nucleus colonies and 10 double nuc boxes to use as mating nucs. We had a class on queen rearing, distributed the equipment, and participants began the work. Some had very good success. Bot brought some beautiful queens to the summer meeting. Some of course had poor success and made all the mistakes that queen rearing folks make...namely a virgin or hidden queen cell in the cell builder.

    This year is round 2. Participants get two breeder queens of their choice, 2 breeder hives with vertical excluded chamber for isolating queen, and 5 - 4 way mating nuc boxes

    We're well on our way to the eventual goal. Some will make it, some won't. Some are figuring our how time consuming it is and to raise 500 queens will take up much time.

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Philadelphia, MS, USA
    Posts
    712

    Default Re: Building up

    Michael. can you give me some info on the breeder box with verticle excluder.

    I need to build a cpl for this year breeder queens.

    How many frames on each side?
    Is the bottom of the small side closed all way around?
    Do you keep it 1 story only?
    Cloth for inner cover?
    I have never seen these for sale. Are they custom only?

    Can you post some pics?

    Thanks Johnny
    "Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." - Mark Twain

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
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    6,563

    Default Re: Building up

    Broke-T: Gotta say we have tried those and just didnt like them as they tend to be a bit restrictive. We like to exclude a single and rotate in a good clean dark comb directly in the center usually every 5th day. I know some use these "baskets" with some success I have just never quite figured out the advantage.

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Philadelphia, MS, USA
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    712

    Default Re: Building up

    Last year I would have to hunt for a frame with eggs and just hatched larva. Then hunt for just the right larva. I was only doing 50 or so cells per week so it wasn't too bad.

    I just thought it would be nice to know where to find the right frame. I might inserting an empty drawn frame 4 days before scheduled graft. If the queen is isolated to one deep, she should find and lay right away shouldn't she?

    Johnny
    "Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." - Mark Twain

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Gilmer,TX USA
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    Default Re: Building up

    I do not remember who I was talking to (someone at the bee lab or larry connor) but they said that it is super easy to squish queens in those things. I squished a "pet" queen on accident and I was kinda upset. Do what jim lyon says, he grafts a lot of cells, i have queens from him,

    mike
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  21. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    St. Albans, Vermont
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    Default Re: Building up

    Hive body has vertical excluder that is cut to fit on table saw with metal cutting disc. The excluder is dadoed into the front and back walls of the body. Top edge of excluder should retain that metal binding to give surface. The excluder depth is from top of box to bottom board. The box is divided by excluder into 2 chambers. One with 3 combs and one with 6. There isn't one of those basket deals to fuss with. Very little risk of rolling queen. The bottom board has a cleat across the entrance that prevents the queen from exiting her chamber but leaving the other side open.

    The queen is kept on the 3 comb side. The colony should be fairly strong so they are able to provide lots of jelly. I use a grain bag inner cover which the bees glue down to the top of the excluder. There's almost never any cross over by the queen.

    The combs on the queen's side are managed so there is only 1 comb at a time in which the queen can lay. Queens can't lay in combs full of brood....that won't emerge in the next few days, or combs of honey, or foundation. 4 days before graft, you add a worker comb to the queen's side and against the excluder. The second comb on her side was the comb you added last time...for me 8 days ago. So, all that brood is young enough so it won't emerge in the next few days and give the queen a place to lay. The third comb is either honey or foundation. In order to put the empty comb in her side, you have to remove one. That would be the comb that had been number two and now the brood has started to emerge. That comb goes to the first slot on the other side of the excluder. The combs are handled about every 8 days. The combs that are furthest from the excluder on the bees' side is oldest, and eventually all emerged. These can be removed and foundation given at the sidewall. They get prety strong, and you have to give them a place to build comb and store nectar. When you're finished with cell building, you can change the breeder box to a standard body, and place it on a bottom board with a body of drawn worker comb under it. It will winter fine in those two boxes.

    Sometimes, you'll find that giving the empty comb 4 days before isn't quite enough. You go to graft and have only eggs. You can add the comb on the evening 5 days before, or give the nuc the comb the day before to warm and polish, and move across the excluder the following morning.

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