Massive, colossal nuc failure. What are our options now?
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  1. #1
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    May 2015
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    Default Massive, colossal nuc failure. What are our options now?

    Hi again!

    We recently made up a batch of nearly 50 nucs. I followed instructions to the tee...and experienced a colossal failure. So obviously I did something terribly wrong.

    We are trying to salvage what is left. Not sure what our options are...

    Came here looking for help again.

    Here is what I did and here is what we have left:

    What we did:

    1. Raised 50+ queens and had all in sealed queen cells.
    2. Made up 50 or so nucs: in each nuc we installed 2 frames of honey, one frame of sealed brood and some eggs, installed queen cells [my thinking was if the queen cell failed, the bees would raise their own queen].
    3. Left all nucs for two weeks. Opened each one today and experienced super disappointment. Out of 50 nucs, less than 5 laying queens.

    What we have left:

    1. 45 nucs with lots of bees but no queens, no eggs, no larvae.
    2. Two hearts that are deeply broken.
    3. Much less confidence.
    4. A dash of hopeless and despair.
    5. A fresh new level of humility.

    Ok, please give us some hope if it is at all possible. I know there are various options...just not sure which way to go...just don't want 45 nucs with all the bees dying.

    We do have about 60 strong colonies that are available for assistance.

    Thanks,

    Soar

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
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    Parthenon, Ar,USA
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    Default Re: Massive, colossal nuc failure. What are our options now?

    Two weeks may not have been long enough for virgins to emerge, mate and start laying. Don't give up yet.
    Neill
    Herbhome Farm USDA zone 7a

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
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    Dickson TN
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    Default Re: Massive, colossal nuc failure. What are our options now?

    Quote Originally Posted by herbhome View Post
    Two weeks may not have been long enough for virgins to emerge, mate and start laying. Don't give up yet.
    Give them another week.

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Massive, colossal nuc failure. What are our options now?

    Your post would seem to indicate you don't understand the queen timeline. http://beespoke.info/2014/06/25/queen-rearing-timeline/



    Depending on how fresh your capped queen cells were you may just now be at a time when you could expect them to start laying. As others have said, another week - 10 days before you should get concerned.

    What kind of yard did you have 50 nucs in? Unless your in a fairly good size apiary you may be short on drones to mate the queens. Good queens should have a min of 10 mating's with drones.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Massive, colossal nuc failure. What are our options now?

    Thank you for your replies and words of encouragement.

    It sure would be nice if this was only a matter of inspecting too early!

    We installed the sealed queen cells on Memorial Day. Most queen cells at that time had been sealed 2-5 days.

    We will inspect again next weekend and hopefully find more laying queens.

    If some of the nucs do not have a laying queen, what are our options?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
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    Powhatan, Virginia, USA
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    Default Re: Massive, colossal nuc failure. What are our options now?

    I agree with schmism. Queen cells sealed 2-3 days are in the fragile period. Better option is 2 days before emerging. They are tougher then. When you installed them they were still 5-6 days from emerging. 8 days to finish maturing mate and start laying is really quick. Review your queen math, you have another week at least. Personally, I prefer a stronger nuc, 1 frame honey and at least 2 frames brood, we have SHB and they wreak havoc with a weak nuc

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    West Bath, Maine, United States
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    2,284

    Default Re: Massive, colossal nuc failure. What are our options now?

    Doubles and triples, reload.
    Here ( spring does not really come until mid July and that is also the end of summer.) you would get more total bees faster than with singles and few bees. Curious with other views.
    It is not true that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
    They can learn them, they just can't do them.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Grand Rapids MI USA
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    1,425

    Default Re: Massive, colossal nuc failure. What are our options now?

    Generally speaking after 34 days (if the Q was raised from a egg) is the time to pull the panic button. If you have a Q failure just shake the bees out and the bees will beg their way into the other nucs or newspaper combine.
    Rod

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
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    tell city, in.
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    95

    Default Re: Massive, colossal nuc failure. What are our options now?

    If they don't have laying queens in 10 days give them a frame of young larva an eggs they will make a queen.

  10. #10
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    Jul 2012
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    Kirksville, Missouri USA
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    Default Re: Massive, colossal nuc failure. What are our options now?

    So, you surely have more laying queens by now, but maybe not all of them. Also, look for cleaned and polished cells in some of the combs adjacent to each other. That's where the queen is going to start in a few more days. I have had 7 days after emergence, up to 3 almost 3 weeks after emergence before laying queens. You are at 2 weeks past emergence on some of them right now. The queens you found laying did so pretty quick.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    Pendleton County, Kentucky, USA
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    Default Re: Massive, colossal nuc failure. What are our options now?

    What was the outcome? Were there more queens on later inspections?

  12. #12
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    Southeast Texas
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    Default Re: Massive, colossal nuc failure. What are our options now?

    I have raised several thousand nucs. I get better queens returning to the right boxes by turning the entrances north south east & west. then if you want to put on stands do so after queens are mated.

  13. #13
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    May 2015
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    Default Re: Massive, colossal nuc failure. What are our options now?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    >We installed the sealed queen cells on Memorial Day. Most queen cells at that time had been sealed 2-5 days.

    Let's call grafting day, day 0 (even though the larvae are four days old from when the egg was laid). Then ten days later (day 10) they should go into the mating nucs. If the weather is unseasonably hot, day 9 will be better as they sometime emerge early. "Sealed 2-5 days" I guess means they were grafted 6 to 9 days ago? 9 works. 6 is kind of pushing it. The mating nuc usually does not do as good of a job of keeping the temperature correct so you want to push the timing towards more mature without crossing the line where one emerges and kills the rest. So day 10 is typical. 9 for hot weather. Then you don't expect a laying queen for a couple of weeks after they emerge (26 days after you grafted or 30 days after the egg was laid). There are a lot of +- of several days.

    Also when setting up mating nucs if you just do frames with bees and the weather is hot, they are usually not very well covered in bees. It may take a couple of more frames of brood shaken into the mating nuc to get the population up enough. Half of the bees will return to the old hive so you have to account for that with extra nurse bees. My typical mating nuc is a frame of honey, a frame of brood and another frame of brood's bees shaken in. That extra shake of bees is really critical if the weather is hot because there are a lot less bees on the combs.


    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesqueenre...beekeepingmath
    Michael, we are approaching a weekend of 106F weather for Sat and Sun. So we have taken your good advice to heart! Add more bees! Thanks again!

    Quote Originally Posted by Saltybee View Post
    Salty, are you saying to use colonies that have 2-3 full boxes of bees?

    I am saying just stack the failed nucs on top of the queen right to recharge.
    Didn't need to...it was our fault all along...we simply were looking way to early for the queens!

    Quote Originally Posted by DanielD View Post
    So, you surely have more laying queens by now, but maybe not all of them. Also, look for cleaned and polished cells in some of the combs adjacent to each other. That's where the queen is going to start in a few more days. I have had 7 days after emergence, up to 3 almost 3 weeks after emergence before laying queens. You are at 2 weeks past emergence on some of them right now. The queens you found laying did so pretty quick.
    Daniel, you are so right. We found over 90% of the queens along with the nice patterns of eggs and larvae.

    Quote Originally Posted by StacieM View Post
    What was the outcome? Were there more queens on later inspections?
    Hi Stacie!

    1. We found and marked the queens in 90% of the nucs. In 10% of the nucs, we could not find the queen.
    2. All nucs had fresh eggs and larvae.
    3. All nucs are being prepared to be transferred from 5 frame nuc boxes to 10 frame boxes with SSB's.

    Here's some of our exciting discoveries:

    1. We expected laying queens far to early. In the future we will wait the allotted number of days before looking.
    2. A number of our new queens have the colors of the Carniolians and we are finding those queens are much more challenging to find. Not sure why.
    3. Queen rearing is exciting, rewarding, and no longer so stressful as we practice more and more.
    4. Our confidence that we can potentially raise 1,000's of queens is growing daily.

    Quote Originally Posted by shannonswyatt View Post
    I'm certainly no expert, but I have had good luck, particularly this year with queens getting mated. I generally have used cells, but I have also placed virgins in some of the mating nucs. I've only had one laying worker, but I have had a couple others that I had to put in a second cells. I have some strong ones that I thought the queen didn't come back and I gave more brood, only to find the hive laid up full of eggs a few days later. I can't put my finger on how long it takes the queen to start laying. I have a few that I know started laying eggs within 5 days of emerging, but for the most part it seems like it takes at least 10 days before I see eggs. Some of that could be me, since I have a hard time seeing eggs on older comb, but not all of them. It sure is nice having nice new fresh plastic foundation when finding the eggs in the nucs. I'm better off when I can't check, since when I'm not out of town I want to check in the nucs way too often.

    Good luck with your splits!
    Shannon, we just started using Beekeepers of Susquehanna Valley Queen Rearing Calendar. It is interactive and removes all guess work.

    Quote Originally Posted by sakhoney View Post
    I have raised several thousand nucs. I get better queens returning to the right boxes by turning the entrances north south east & west. then if you want to put on stands do so after queens are mated.
    Sak,

    You have raised thousands of nucs? Wow, I hope you do not mind us asking you more questions when the need arises!

    We cannot place any bee boxes on the ground anywhere here due to extreme problems with ants. We do our best to place all colonies on bee hive stands that are ant proof. For us, it is an absolute must. The only other option we have [and we still do it] is we place nucs in trees. But this is proving to be a lot more work and exercise [Ask JRG, he came over and worked our nucs in the trees]. Poor guy, began to eat bananas like a monkey afterwards!

    And yesterday my wife hit her head on a nuc box in the tree and saw stars for a few minutes. We had to apply ice to her forehead afterwards!

    Now we are rapidly moving toward a new ant proof bee hive stand made of metal.

    I will try to post pics later!

    PS JRG, my wife recently purchased some mangos so if you are tired of all the bananas, we have some new fruit!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
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    Kirksville, Missouri USA
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    1,753

    Default Re: Massive, colossal nuc failure. What are our options now?

    90% mating success is pretty good. Did you see any cleaned out patches of cells in the remaining 10%. I have had small amounts of splits, 5-6, with from 100% to 60% success. It is always a very satisfying thing to see that first patch of brood from a new queen.

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