Rearing queens for a small operation
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  1. #1
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    Default Rearing queens for a small operation

    I'm in my 4th year of beekeeping and I am a small operation with 6 production hives and various nucs through out the year. In this early phase of my beekeeping I don't plan on growing more than around 10 hives plus nucs.
    I try to set a goal each year of starting to learn a new aspect of beekeeping. My first years have been focused on keeping the bees alive and nucs, with the specific goal of not purchasing packaged bees.
    I think I have become reasonably competent with making spring nucs from swarm cells and helping my bees survive. But the issue I tend to run into is that when I need a queen I don't have one or suppliers are out, and It is a pretty long process (and a little pricey) to get one.
    Also I have a few hives that have good traits and a few hives that have not so good traits (propolize the fool out of everything).
    So I have decided my project for this year is to start learning queen rearing on a small scale.
    My Primary focus on beekeeping is the production of Honey for sale and a fun learning experience for myself and my children.
    What methods would you more experience beeks recommend for a beek with a small operation on a learning level?
    I don't think I want to tackle grafting yet.
    I have done some reading on general queen rearing and I may be looking at this wrong, but I figured I would determine which method of raising queens first and focus my reading and research on that method.

    Thanks For your help.

    David
    Let's Eat Grandmaw ........... Let's Eat, Grandmaw.......Grammar Saves Lives

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Rearing queens for a small operation

    I am also a small operation beek. I would try the Miller Method. Beekeeping for Dummies tells you how to do it. But you might be able to find something online as well. But the Miller Method is the easiest way to raise a few queens.
    Keep you hive tool sharp, your smoker lit, and your veil tight ... It's Bee Time!

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Rearing queens for a small operation


  5. #4
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    Default Re: Rearing queens for a small operation

    I am another hobbyist with about a dozen hives hoping to raise my own queens this year. In other words, after doing some research I think the following should work for a small-timer like me, but haven't implemented anything, yet . . .

    I don't think grafting is hard to learn, and once you learn the technique, you have the best flexibility for choosing which queens you propagate from. In other words the benefits of grafting are well worth the small effort to learn it.

    Grafting tools are cheap. Buy a couple of different styles, then practice by selecting and moving the proper aged larvae from one cell to another. Don't take any steps to make queens from these grafts, just successfully moving them to a nearby cell is the goal. There will be lots of larvae to practice on and no big deal if you make mistakes. There are two skills being learned, here: 1) choosing the correct-aged larvae to transfer; and then 2) the actual manipulations to do the transfer. You will know you got it when the bees start accepting a high percentage of those transferred larvae. At that point, moving on to working with larvae for actual queen rearing will be easy.

    After doing some research, I plan on using a Cloake board for my small queen rearing operation:

    http://www.thebeeyard.org/rearing-qu...-board-method/






    .
    Last edited by shinbone; 01-20-2015 at 10:00 AM.
    --shinbone
    (1975-1980, and now since 2011; maintain about 10 hives; Zone 5b; 15" rain; 5500')

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Rearing queens for a small operation

    mdasplitter.com or mel disselkoens book will teach you everything you need to know. It is perfect for what you are wanting to do and it works.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Rearing queens for a small operation

    > I would try the Miller Method. Beekeeping for Dummies tells you how to do it. But you might be able to find something online as well. But the Miller Method is the easiest way to raise a few queens.

    The miller method:
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesmillermethod.htm

    The hopkins method:
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beeshopkinsmethod.htm

    Better queens method:
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesbetterqueens.htm

    A few good queens:
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesafewgoodqueens.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Rearing queens for a small operation

    Grafting is the easy part, learn how to make up a good cell builder and good mating nucs. Here is a very good system by Joseph Clemens for raising queens, but it does use grafting, but can be modified to be non-grafting system.

    https://www.beesource.com/forums/show...arter-Finisher

    Just one of the many ways to raise queens without grafting...
    Raising queen cells without grafting - Cut cell method
    By OldTimer...

    https://www.beesource.com/resources/e...t-cell-method/
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  9. #8
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    Default Re: Rearing queens for a small operation

    Quote Originally Posted by Ddawg View Post
    I don't think I want to tackle grafting yet.
    I was at the same stage as you are, last summer. I was somewhat intimidated by the idea of grafting, and the need to build special frames etc. Then when I walked into local bee supply store, there it was, ready to go, complete, frame with bars etc. So I grabbed it 'for future use'.

    As I discovered on my first attempt last summer, the grafting is the easy part. For my first attempt, I grafted 15 cups on a single bar, then put it into a queenless colony that was hopelessly queenless (or so I thought). They went to work on 8 of the 15, so for my first attempt, I thought that was pretty good, better than I expected. Here is what my bar looked like only 20 hours after putting it into the hive.



    I wasn't really prepared to place 8 cells, so, I made up 4 nucs of 2 frames, then placed a couple cells into each. I did end up with 4 virgin queens in 4 nucs, and that's where I started to learn a few more of the 'not so obvious' issues of queen rearing, that apply no matter what method you use. My lessons were :-

    a) We call them 'mating nucs', but if it's a dearth, the big colonies have a different name, they call them 'feeders'. Mating nuc can be robbed empty in an hour.

    b) Grafting with the chinese tool was not at all difficult.

    c) If you haven't thought it thru and planned in advance, making up mating nucs on the fly will burn up a LOT of resources, hence I only made 4. I actually tore down the queenless colony after they got the cells built, and used it to make up the mating nucs.

    In this case, the whole exercise was essentially unplanned. I ended up with one split that didn't requeen themselves, totally broodless and hopelessly queenless, or so I thought, so I decided to experiment with a bar of grafts rather than shake out or combine. It was intended to be a learning experience more than a serious attempt at raising queens, just an experiment. When I got to the phase of tearing it down, I found eggs on one frame, but still couldn't find a queen in that colony.

    Now that I'm over the 'fear of grafting', I have a completely different plan for the upcoming season. We are going to split all of our colonies as we come into the swarmy season, and all of those splits will get cells I've raised myself. It's much easier than I thought it would be, and just 'makes sense'. Using my own cells to queen the splits means I wont have to deal with the resource issues of making up mating nucs, and I can split on my schedule, not based on 'availability of queens'.
    Last edited by grozzie2; 01-20-2015 at 11:11 AM. Reason: added more

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Rearing queens for a small operation

    Vance G hit on it!! I just purchased and read Mels book over the WE and the Dolittle system with an excluder will be the way I go from here on. Just gotta get the timing down for my area. His way is great too and probably preferred but I always have a hard time finding the queen in a well built up colony. My 60 something year old eyes don't cut it. So the Dolittle system it is for me. A small time hobbiest or beginner with 1 good hive that wants increases cost free on bee purchases or queen purchases the OTS system is the way to go.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Rearing queens for a small operation

    I grumbled about the price of the book after I had already been using the method and the book seemed just a copy of the free on line material. I changed my mind on that. The book makes everything crystal clear for an old guy like me who likes paper books.

    Quote Originally Posted by mgstei1 View Post
    Vance G hit on it!! I just purchased and read Mels book over the WE and the Dolittle system with an excluder will be the way I go from here on. Just gotta get the timing down for my area. His way is great too and probably preferred but I always have a hard time finding the queen in a well built up colony. My 60 something year old eyes don't cut it. So the Dolittle system it is for me. A small time hobbiest or beginner with 1 good hive that wants increases cost free on bee purchases or queen purchases the OTS system is the way to go.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Rearing queens for a small operation

    Quote Originally Posted by Ddawg View Post
    I don't think I want to tackle grafting yet.
    Once you try grafting you will probably say "Why didn't I try this earlier". It's one of those things that sounds intimidating, but is actually quite easy once you get the hang of it. I agree with shinbone. Give it a try.

    Oldtimers guide is very useful too.
    https://www.beesource.com/resources/e...t-cell-method/
    Stephen 40+ hives. 6th year. Treat. Germany.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Rearing queens for a small operation

    Quote Originally Posted by Vance G View Post
    I grumbled about the price of the book after I had already been using the method and the book seemed just a copy of the free on line material. I changed my mind on that. The book makes everything crystal clear for an old guy like me who likes paper books.
    I hear that!! The price after I read the book and took massive notes is way underpriced now. Lots of material and details with the OTS method. I picked my strongest hives this am and now gotta go back and study the timing for my parallel which is 29 and not 43 like Mels. The nectar flows are all different also as is the swarming timeline.
    Now also, eyesight and finding the queen is no longer a hinder to produce queens so that alone to me paid for the book with lost time and aggravation.
    PLUS, the brood breaks will eliminate the mites building up and wrecking the winter colonies. That's a plus that was kinda hidden in the real reason I bought the book which was to raise all the queens I needed for increases.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Rearing queens for a small operation

    Thanks for all the Help and links! I figured the best thing to do for starters is order Mel's Book, so I Did. Regardless of what I do it looks like a wealth of good information.
    Thanks also to Michael Bush, the actual 'First' thing I did was read your website.

    David
    Let's Eat Grandmaw ........... Let's Eat, Grandmaw.......Grammar Saves Lives

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Rearing queens for a small operation

    I'm currently working on some other material, but you might find my notes and qutotes useful in underatanding some of the "why"'s.
    http://beeuntoothers.com/queennotes.pdf
    Last edited by deknow; 01-20-2015 at 01:54 PM. Reason: fixed typo in url
    Sometimes the lights all shining on me
    Other times I can barely see. -The Grateful Dead

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Rearing queens for a small operation

    The On The Spot (OTS) method is appealing to me as a newbie and I'll likely try it.

    Here is another simple alternative for making queen cells ahead of time. Easier than grafting:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y64cKn4rLNM

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Rearing queens for a small operation

    Quote Originally Posted by deknow View Post
    Typo... http:// works better for the link.

    Dean, that is a really nice summary!
    Breeder Queens & Honey Bee Nutritional Supplements
    www.latshawapiaries.com

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Rearing queens for a small operation

    Thanks Joe, (both for the correction and for the kind words).

    I've been thinking specifically about this thread, and here is what I would do....

    1. Setup a few (maybe 3) Cloake Board hives in the most convenient yard, and rotate comb and check for cells appropriately.

    2. Practice grafting and using the CB properly....you could graft one hive each day or all at once...there is little to lose here if you get off schedule.

    3. Eventually you will have queen cells...any that aren't needed can be harvested for royal jelly.

    4. For each split, I would move the parent colony (keep in the same yard), and put the queenless split at the old location . I would put 2 48 hour old cells in each split.

    5. When cells should be ripe, check each split....use the second cell to place in a split with a failed cell, or place on a newly made up split.

    You could have 48 hour cells (that travel well) every day, a constant supply of royal jelly, and the extra forgers in the splits will keep them fed.
    Sometimes the lights all shining on me
    Other times I can barely see. -The Grateful Dead

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Rearing queens for a small operation

    Quote Originally Posted by BeeAttitudes View Post
    The On The Spot (OTS) method is appealing to me as a newbie and I'll likely try it.
    Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't get what the advantage of the OTS method is. It basically involves forcing e-cells, which are generally the lowest quality of queens available. All at the expense of sacrificing a frame of brood. I can see how it would be appealing to the beginner, in theory, but if you can select the right age larvae on the OTS method (and destroy the rest of the brood on the frame), you can select the right age larvae and graft from it. If you take a frame of 3 day old larvae and the first time you try grafting you kill 80% of the larvae you try to graft, you're still shooting better than the OTS method. I don't know, just don't get it.

    The rest of the MDA Splitter method may work well for others, but the timing of my flows are way off for it to work down here. Maples start blooming around Feb. 1. First grafts usually start around March 15 (at the earliest). Honey flow starts April 1. Dearth hits June 1. I can't take a hive, split it 3, 4 or 5 ways, get queens reared and colonies booming, then recombine them into one hive and take advantage of the honey flow in a 3 week (at best) time frame. But hey, maybe it works better elsewhere.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Rearing queens for a small operation

    Is all of this book so easy to follow? If so it must be great...as long as the well laid out info is correct

    Quote Originally Posted by FollowtheHoney View Post
    Janne....first hives April 2013, 19 hives, treat, plant zone 8b, at sea level, latitude 49.13, longitude 123.06

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Rearing queens for a small operation

    Are they the same person ...what is the book called? Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by Vance G View Post
    mdasplitter.com or mel disselkoens book will teach you everything you need to know. It is perfect for what you are wanting to do and it works.
    Janne....first hives April 2013, 19 hives, treat, plant zone 8b, at sea level, latitude 49.13, longitude 123.06

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