I think Delber gets it....Just set up your cell builder, your breeder queen's colony, and your grafting tent far enough away from your yards before you start.
On Day 19, build your nuc's on the trailer or truck bed. On Day 20, cut your Queen cells apart, plant them in the ventilated nuc's, and close them up. on Day 20 or 21, move them to the mating yard (10 miles away). This routine should lead to an increased % in successful nuc's.
Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/
Yeah, level of commitment and what's already available have a lot to do with it. I am constantly seeking new locations, nectar flows, and permission to put bees in peoples' properties. It's not easy in Southern California's police state mentality these days, but there are still a few cool people - mostly those to whom free pollination is a benefit, and especially if I lubricate the deal with honey and/or mead!
As a beek' who is transitioning from more-than-part-time to full-time breeder, I have to have at least 2 yards anyways, and a wood shop. I'm very lucky to have access to a huge, known DCA, and an organic farm with an amazingly friendly, understanding farmer, who puts up with my doing weed abatement on the last day possible so the bees have as much nectar & pollen as they can get before the fire inspectors come.
As for my breeders, the best in every yard go to the best yard or the best nectar flow, and nowhere near the pesticides. I've had to start all over, or make do with less-than-the-best, too many times. I have been collecting seeds to plant on my best yards, though. I'm hoping to have enough to make a big difference next year, and so far, the seed gathering part is working. Prayers and sacrifices to the rain gods, Yah-ta-HEY!
As for neglect - I suppose I neglect the empty combs more than the bees, much to the wax moths delight. Anybody have a good idea for storing the empty, drawn comb? I'm looking for a container to put hive boxes in and fill the whole thing with para-dichlorobenzine.
I suppose another angle on the whole matter is to over-produce the number of queens, keep lots of mating nucs, and put up with lower % winners, but still have enough hatched, mated, and laying queens. I think there is probably an economy of scale determining which approach is less total effort, and very worth looking into.
I'm struggling with my decision on what to do for mating nucs. I read about mating nucs first and thought that is the way to go. But I made up some frames this year and have them drawn out, but I'm thinking now that these are good for one thing, and then I will end up putting them up for 6+ months. So now I'm thinking either 5 frame mediums or 2 frame deeps is the way to go. I'm not sure how much you would have to charge for a queen mated in a 10 frame box, but there is no way you are going to get a 25 dollar queen from a 10 frame deep box. You are feeding a lot of resources for no return.
David, First I want to mention that your posts inspire much thought. The down side is those thoughts inspire comments. Not alwasy in agreement but intended for the purpose of discovery and further attempts at different ways of doing things.
My season this year is clearly dominated by attempting to rear as many queens as possible from the colonies I have. As you mention earlier there is much to improve on but in nearly every case their are at least encouraging results.
As far as increased losses in smaller colonies. I encourage you to look carefully at the impact of robbing. I am suspecting fairly significant losses of my queens for this reason myself.
I will ad that I have never noticed or had cause for much concern when requeening a full size colony. I have always recognized that it is nearly always successful. I have never really given it to thorough a thought as to why that might be. I do not necessarily agree that all cells in a multiple cell colony are destroyed by the first virgin. in fact I seldom find this is true. Although many cells are destroyed I nearly always find one or two additional cells that the virgin did not find or that where defended by the workers. I suppose the easiest way to support my observation is simply to ask. How is it that a colony can cast multiple after swarms if only one virgin survives. Obviously more than one virgin can and will survive in a single colony. So I do believe that the increased success of a full size colony with multiple cells is due in part to they have multiple chances.
Some further thoughts are along the line of just how to measure "More" successful. Is 100% success with one queen gettign mated. more successful than 50% rate with 4 Queens? The former appears to be better. but the later results in twice as many mated queens. Much is determined by the resources and options available. For example a single guaranteed mated queen is far more valuable to a person with just one colony than it is to one with 10.
One prospective would be to measure mated queens per frames used. this is simply an equipment being maximized way to look at it.
It is in my mind that you achieve 60% mating rate with 5 frame nucs. this results in 12 mated queens per 100 frames. Further I will assume a production strength colony is equivalent to some degree with a double deep at least. If it is a ten frame double deep you use 20 frames. This nets 5 mated queens per 100 fraems even with 100% mating rates. 5 queens compared to 12 yet it would appear to many to be more successful.
I have not forgotten the additional cost. My method assumes you use the same frames from the production colony they are simply divided into smaller compartments. So the difference is the cost of the nucs. I will assume $30 per nuc. It would require 20 nucs to hold 100 frames at a cost of $600. Average cost per queen is then $50.
We must then also look at the cost of equipment per double deep. You can get a deep set from Mann Lake for $75 and still need to add another deep to it plus 10 fraems. I Will say $13.00 for the additional deep. For a total cost of $88 per hive which translates to $88 in costs per queen.
I will jsut say to anyone reading this. be very careful about what appears to be a better more productive method. It dependent on production in relation to other factors. It is also dependent on the goal. IF the goal is higher assurance of a mated queen larger is better but realize it comes at a higher expense. if cost of production is the issue. then smaller appears to be the way to go.
One other thought I had from your comments was yo mentioned leaving bees 2 and a half weeks to be queenless before allowing them to build cells. I am interested in your reasons for this delay. As a comparison I will offer my most resent cell production experience. We made 18 nucs queenless or gave already queenless nucs brood to rear queens on the 10th of this month. two days ago on the 18 we removed 82 cells from these frames. I am not seeing the need for any delay for bees to make queen cells. Earlier this year we had the same results while making all of our production colonies queenless. They produced on average 19.5 cells per colony starting within 24 hours of being made queenless.
I suppose to me it was always an assumption that bees will almost immediately start making queens cells given under natural conditions they only have 6 days at most to get the process going.
One final observation in the difference in this delay in giving them brood. In two and a half weeks that you delay my queens will have been reared and emerged and some of them completing their orientation flights. A week later they will be laying and starting to be productive.
Everything gets darker, as it goes to where there is less light. Darrel Tank (5PM drawing instructor)
10-frame deeps with 3 vertical slots inside the 16.25" ends give you a lot of options. With 2 hive partitionsplaced in the outter slots, you get 3 x 3-frame mating nuc's. With one partition in the middle slot, you get 2 x 5-frame increaser nuc's. With queen excluder partition in one of the side slots, you get 7 + 3 breeder queen isolation for egg-laying so you don't have to look all over the hive for 1-day-old larvae when grafting. You can still use it for a 10-frame box as well.
Almost all my boxes are set up like this so any box = any use. The drawbacks? I have to keep a whole bunch of corks in my pockets, I have to make narrow inner covers, and special hive bottoms. I used to make separate entries in the hive bottoms going different directions, but now I just let them go out the cork holes. They seem to like it better, and it's easier - one hive bottom fits all uses except full 10-frame arrangement in wide-open fly-out mode.
It also works with Illinois medium (6 5/8" deep) boxes and they weigh about 50 lbs max, as opposed to 90 lbs max. I'm phasing out my deeps (I'm getting a case of OGS - Old Geezer Syndrome)- I'm going all 6 5/8" boxes and frames, so any frame can go in any box (and I can still lift the buggers 25 years from now).
Most breeders agree that 3 frames or more work FAR BETTER THAN 2 frames or less for mating nucs, because they can make a more natural cluster at night. Mini mating nuc's tend to have swarming/absconding problems some times, it rarely ever happens in larger nucs.
If I were using 8-frame equipment, I'd make up 2 x 4-frame double nuc's only, not 4 x 2-frame mating nuc's. I'd be experimenting with 3 frames + a 1-gallon frame feeder vs. 4 frames + a mason jar for mating the queens. I hear these max out about 41 lbs.
Overall, for the time and effort, I'd rather make the 1/4" plywood hive partitions, the narrow inner covers, and the 3-slot hive bottom boards than have to make mini-mating nuc's and draw out the frames of mini-comb and use them for only a month or 2 a year, then have to store them for the wax moths to destroy.
Last edited by kilocharlie; 06-21-2014 at 09:01 AM.
Thanks for the inf Kilo, I think I will build a couple this weekend!
Quick question, what is the best material for the partitions? Luan would be cheap, will it hold up or get crazy warped?
Try running the financial numbers on a 75% effective assumption at each step of the queen rearing process, and also count your available resources based on which "ingredient" (brood combs, nuc' boxes, nectar flow, 32-oz. cups of bees for mating, etc.) you have the LEAST of. Now over-produce your queen cells based on those limits.
Too many queen cells = no problem. It's the mated ones laying a solid pattern that you are concerned with.
For partitions, I've used Lauan, it works. One-quarter inch thick, 5-ply Baltic birch is awesome, but way expensive. 3-ply is cheaper and works OK. Coroplast (political signs - I harvest them one minute after the polls close on election night ) is good but not real durable, but something to experiment with (Coroplast also makes great tops if you don't have galvanized sheet steel, and folds up into mini nuc's in a pinch).
Last edited by kilocharlie; 06-21-2014 at 09:54 AM.
I have a lot of coroplast. I use it for top covers on TBHs and swarm traps. I think I will give that a shot.
How is it working for swarm traps? What is your shape? Are you giving them empty frames?, foundation frames?, drawn comb?, top bars?, or just a place to hide and let them build the comb?
Not well here for swarms. This isn't a great place for bees, I would do better in the city a few miles west than were I live. I have several types and sizes of bait hives. I have TBH nucs, most of them are about 18 inches long, but I have a few 2 and 3 footers. The bars are 19 inches long, the sides of the boxs are made from 1x12s and a 1x8 on the bottom and set at 30 degrees. Basically the same as Les Crowder or Phil Chandler. I also have 5 frame nucs out. The TBHs have a piece of comb. The 5 frame Langs are small, so I figured if I left them without comb and only top bars in them they may look bigger to the bees (or not). I had to pull some of my 5 frame nucs off of trees to use as nucs. I bait with LGO and I melt in old brood comb and some propolis in the box to give it the right smell. When I set them out in the spring the bees in the yard are all checking them out. This will definitely attract a hive, I had one fly in last year, in a TBH in my yard that was baited that way that I was home to see the move in. I place my hives in places that are concealed, but the height is eye level on them all. I'm sure that if I hung them higher in better areas they would do better, but I'm not a fan of ladders, and I don't want to lose any of the boxes. I had one torn down by a bear last year and I have had two torn down by probably kids.
I put out a couple with queen pheromone, it didn't get anything, doesn't mean it wouldn't work though. LGO is way cheaper, I don't think I would get the queen pheromone again, it was an impulse buy while at the bee keeping supply store.
I got one swarm in a hive this year, and that flew into a dead out TBH in the yard. It just had old comb in it (it was my comb bank!). Hell of a hive, wish they would have went into a lang though, since they are not the best comb builders, I have to correct them every week. They draw so fast from different parts of the bar and start overlapping. I will split them in a couple weeks. I may pull some honey from them today.
I've only had one swarm call, maybe 3# of bees but queenless. Bees ended up in one of my weaker hives.
I mainly put out bait hives now on the chance that I have a hive swarm and I miss it, maybe I will get lucky and catch it. They are all at least a half a mile from my home. I also have some out at my fathers a couple hundred miles away, but they don't get checked very often.
I'm sure I would do better if I put comb in, but for now I have no excess comb. I would rather use what comb I have on splits which are going to give you a hive versus a shot in the dark on a swarm that probably wont show up.
I'm amazed by the numbers that some of the folks get that I follow on Facebook. JP in New Orleans is up near 60. He is in the business of pest removal, but my god that is a lot of swarms.
I like my TBHs, but I want to start raising queens, and the TBHs really are not great for that. Please, no flames, I'm know there are folks raising queens in TBHs, but just about every system is based on using Langs. I've considered modifications to hives to use as starters and finishers, but really a Lang is the way to go. I may end up using some top bar bait hives for mating nucs though, since I have so many of them. I have about eight 12 inch hives that would be fine, I could just put a feeder in them and give them four or five bars of comb. I have another eight 16 inch boxes that could hold two mating nucs in them easy.
The problem I have now is I need another yard to keep bees in. I would like to have a nuc yard for mating nucs.
Check out this method. I used it 2 years ago . (I hope to use it again this year) using a top bar only. This year I hope to make special frames to build 3 rows of queen cells, but I think it would work well in a top bar.
About queens not destroying all cells. My impression is that new emerged queen use her piping sound to find competitors. If she gets an answer, search and destroy mode is initiated. Equally matured queens schould have equally developed ability to make sound. My thought of the matter.
Mating nuc volume; Small volumes like Apidea, Swibine can do have lower mating rate. But if mated almost allways faster in laying ( we are to few! Hurry,hurry!!- just a thought)
Ordinary walk-away splits allways do 100% in my area. But of course to much of input for to few resulting queen for my operstion though those queens probably had the best childhood...
BjornH - I've noticed that queen cells that are younger - not in late pupal stages like red eyes or purple eyes or ready-to-hatch, are often the ones that do not get killed by sister queens hatching first. On the same track - these are not pipping, either, but they are the ones leaving on after-swarms. Perhaps it is those still in larval stages that do not pose a "threat".
Some virgin queens are much more thorough than others about killing off the competition, though.
Delber - Thank you for providing the link to Oldtimer's fantastic post!
Last edited by kilocharlie; 06-24-2014 at 09:54 PM.
BjornH - that sounds like a solid theory based on observation. Thanks.