multiple queens from production hives
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  1. #1
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    Default multiple queens from production hives

    Has anyone put queen castles sitting on their production hives?
    obviously a good queen excluder would be under the QC, separating the two

    Another way to put it, has anyone used the outer two frames (each end with doors and division boards in place) in their top super to breed queens?

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: multiple queens from production hives

    See Doolittle's book: Scientific queen rearing. He did something like that back in the late 1800's. I'm planning on trying it this year.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: multiple queens from production hives

    No, but last year I moved a super above the other full super to get the brood in it to emerge before extracting and put a qe under them both. The bees made queen cells on two of the frames. After they were capped, I put them in nucs. I would think the concept is similar.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: multiple queens from production hives

    Yes ffrtsaxk , Doolittle is exactly who got me thinking on this line, Laidlaw refers back to it as well, though notes if you were to raise many queens there are more efficient ways.

    And yes, it sits right beside pulling open brood frames up and getting a virgin in your top box, JWPalmer.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: multiple queens from production hives

    Keep me posted on how it goes, Outdoor N8. I will probably be trying it during the summer since I ordered queens to requeen with in May. Iíll let you know how it works out for me.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: multiple queens from production hives

    All ready, I have figured in setting up the box (was putting boxes together this weekend and playing with QE's) exactly like Doolittle, it will up the cost $10 per box. Where putting a box on it's own base and top (queen castle configured) adds $14. The trade is one less queen with the gain of 30lb honey.

    I still would like to hear from someone who has tried this system.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: multiple queens from production hives

    I havenít been able to find anyone else who even knows about it.
    I am going to use a double queen excluder to keep the two queens from trying to fight through the excluder. I overwintered in 3 deeps. So, I will just take a hive down to 2 deeps and replace the third with a queen castle with the double excluder under it.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: multiple queens from production hives

    Quote Originally Posted by ffrtsaxk View Post
    I havenít been able to find anyone else who even knows about it.
    Really - not anyone ? ( http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/trip2017_02.htm 3-queen hive stuff - halfway down the page )

    I am going to use a double queen excluder to keep the two queens from trying to fight through the excluder.
    Very sensible. Sounds like you've read (and understood) Doolittle's Appendix to Sc. Qu. Rearing ...
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  10. #9
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    Default Re: multiple queens from production hives

    I use a both a Bottom and Top Entrance all the time.

    With the Brood frame you move up to the Top Box for raising Queens, Notch the bottom half of a few cells with the youngest larvae you can find.
    The bees treat these broken cells as a Queen Cup. Referred to as OTS (On the Spot queen raising.)

    http://www.mdasplitter.com/docs/Help...tching-web.pdf

    If the bees are not used to a Queen Excluder it takes a day or so for them to get used to it, so this is enough time of reduced Queen Pheromone to trigger emergency cells and the Notched Cells are basically a "Make Queen Cells Here".

    Made some a few weeks ago, saw the Virgin Queen going on mating flights the other day.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: multiple queens from production hives

    The Snelgrove or double screen division board works on the same principle. I have been using it for 4 years or so to produce a few queens for splits and requeening. I dont know about using multiple queen castles though. Enjambres tried something similar with divided boxes and division boards but found some difficulties.

    I foresee a posibilty that the closer the nucs are to the larger hive might decrease mating queen return success and increase robbing pressure. A single starter hive above the mother hive a la Snelgrove is not problem getting cells started and queen mated.
    Frank

  12. #11
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    Default Re: multiple queens from production hives

    Little John, finally, I am talking to someone who has done it. Are there any problems that we should be aware of that Doolittle didn't cover?

  13. #12
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    Default Re: multiple queens from production hives

    Not really - but although I had great hopes for BIG numbers ( >5 Nucs) using horizontal hives, the results thus far have been disappointingly erratic - so a vertical set-up producing a more modest 3 nucs over a medium strength brood box appears to be optimum.

    As you will no doubt have deciphered from Doolittle's Appendix, the problem he encountered was queens coming close enough across a single barrier to threaten each other, sufficient to cause disquiet and anxiety amongst the colony, which resulted in the killing of one or both queens.

    I've run a lot of experiments with two QX's back-to-back with minimal spacing - very much along the lines of the example given in Simmin's 'Modern Bee Farm' 1914, page 316 onwards, which he entitles: "Quadruple Nucleus and Queen-rearing Hive" - but as with so many of his other inventions, this didn't work any too well, for that tight spacing really isn't enough - several inches of separation being far more desirable.

    Some years ago I came across a simple pen and ink drawing of a vertical setup where two QX's were separated by a shallow box containing drawn combs which was being used as a spacer - but sadly I cannot find that source again. However, I have found the same technique repeated in http://countryrubes.com/template/ima...ns_8_30_10.pdf

    The essence of which is:
    Raising Queens in a Double Brood Hive

    A small number of queens can be raised in a queenless brood chamber established on top of a strong colony, arranged in this order:

    1. A lower brood chamber
    2. Queen excluder
    3. Super
    4. Queen excluder
    5. Upper brood chamber

    In this arrangement, the upper brood chamber is used for raising queen cells and the lower brood chamber for the production; and the laying queen maintains the strength of the colony.
    That this exact set-up has been repeated within the above link suggests to me that it has been proven to work well, and I've already modified one of my rigs to this form for this coming season.

    The only possible snafu lies within the upper QX - which needs to be of such construction as to prevent queens from squeezing underneath the brood box dividers (assuming these are being employed). My own solution to this is to construct a custom floor for the divided brood box, with three QX panels inserted within it. This is a shot of the floor I'm making at an early stage of it's manufacture:



    For this:



    One bonus of using a shallow box as a QX separator is that the distance between the lower box front bottom entrance and the nuc entrances (one at the rear and one at each side) is increased to a minimum of 20 inches, so that should a virgin ever get lost, it won't be for lack of entrance separation ...

    I'll post a pic of the finished rig when it's completed.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  14. #13
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    Default Re: multiple queens from production hives

    Little John, thank you very much for sharing your insight! You have saved me the frustration of finding out that the double excluder didnít provide enough distance. I was already thinking that it might not work since I read a number of articles on managing 2 queen hives for increased honey production and they typically had the queens separated by a honey super with excluders on both sides. I was also wondering about the possibility of queens going under the dividers and how to keep that from happening. The castle I have can be divided into 2 or 4 compartments. But, it sounds like I should either set it to 2 or make my own for 3.
    I do have a couple more questions, if you donít mind. Do you keep the entrances to the queen castle open all the time or do you close them like Doolittle did? Also, do the workers bring enough pollen into the castle traveling through 2 excluders and across a honey super? I have to pull my mouse guards in the spring because they knock a lot of the pollen off and was wondering if the excluders would have the same result.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: multiple queens from production hives

    Quote Originally Posted by ffrtsaxk View Post
    The castle I have can be divided into 2 or 4 compartments. But, it sounds like I should either set it to 2 or make my own for 3.
    Well - I'd recommend not making too much work for yourself first time out - if you already have 2's, then work with those this coming season and test the idea out using 2x nucs, before developing it further.

    I've found that two nucs over a pair of QX's works well - these are a couple of divided Cloake Boards (dimensioned for two 5-frame nuc boxes over our 11-frame brood boxes), which I can either use as pukka Cloake Boards (spin the hive around, make the upper chambers queenless using slides to start emergency cells, etc) or simply rely upon the QX's without slides to stimulate supersedure cells:



    There are two further compelling reasons to use an intermediate box between the QX's which I haven't yet mentioned ...
    The first comes from Walter Kelly's 'How to Grow Queens' (1942-ish)

    FUNDAMENTALS OF MY SYSTEM

    (1) Bees above a queen excluder, with the queen below, consider themselves queenless. To prove this, take any strong colony and move eggs and brood above the excluder, and they will proceed (during a honey flow) to build one or more queen cells and allow them to hatch out.

    (2) The nurse bees that feed the young worker larva are the bees needed to start and finish queen cells. The bees drawing out comb and storing honey are not the bees for this job.

    The simplest way, with the least disturbance to the colony, to get the nurse bees in a queenless state and to segregate them from the field workers and wax builders, is to move the eggs and unsealed brood above the excluder far enough in advance[*] so that these nurse bees will segregate themselves.
    [*] i.e. well before the commencement of the operation - but also physically far enough apart to achieve an effective separation ?

    The second follows on from this: if queen-rearing is conducted during a honey-flow, with back-to-back QX's then the little darlings will commence storing nectar within the queen-rearing box - which hasn't yet caused a crisis with my 5-frame nuc boxes, but could well do so if I were to use smaller nucs (as I'm planning to do this year). But - a super inserted between the QX's offers them a far more suitable place for nectar storage.


    Do you keep the entrances to the queen castle open all the time
    Yes(*) - protected by anti-robbing screens. In order to initially keep the through-draught to a minimum, I reduce the size of the bottom brood box bottom entrance as far as possible (consistent with the amount of traffic flow), and close the OMF (SBB). Later, when the queens begin laying - at the very first sign of bearding, I then open the OMF to provide maximum ventilation.

    Also, do the workers bring enough pollen into the castle traveling through 2 excluders and across a honey super? I have to pull my mouse guards in the spring because they knock a lot of the pollen off and was wondering if the excluders would have the same result.
    That's a good question, and a valid concern. I too wondered about this, albeit with a Joseph-Clemens queenless starter-finisher (which remains queenless all season long, and so needs a QX over the entrance to stop any lost virgins from entering) - so I made-up a rig to test this.

    Here is a shot of the test rig I made (with a precision QX, 4.16mm spacing), with a drawer below to catch pollen grains in the same way as a pollen trap:



    This was then fitted to a nuc hive and left in position for 10 days:



    There was a LOT of traffic during those 10 days, and yet when I pulled the drawer open, there were just two pollen grains in there. Ok, so that was a vertical QX - but I can't see a horizontal QX being any different.
    'best, LJ

    (*) Although Kelly talks about total worker-bee separation, I've found that in practice - as soon as the colony detects that there exists an upper entrance to the hive - a small cohort of guard bees set-up station behind each upper entrance (these being 22mm circular holes). At night - especially when chilly - I've observed these bees jammed solidly within the hole, effectively blocking it off.
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  16. #15
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    Default Re: multiple queens from production hives

    "... the little darlings will commence storing nectar within the queen-rearing box - which hasn't yet caused a crisis with my 5-frame nuc boxes, but could well do so if I were to use smaller nucs (as I'm planning to do this year). But - a super inserted between the QX's offers them a far more suitable place for nectar storage."

    So, back to the OP. Have you considered or tried using just the two outside frames in the super to raise queens?

  17. #16
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    Default Re: multiple queens from production hives

    Little John, Thanks, you have been extremely helpful!

  18. #17
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    Default Re: multiple queens from production hives

    Getting back to this, bottom line is: the desired outcome did not happen.

    The goal was to raise two 'extra' queens in the supper while maintaining the original queens brood nest in the bottom - thereby not disrupting mass honey storage.

    To start, I was making spring cut comb, keeping the hive pushed down. Of course their response was to go into swarm mode.
    Upon seeing them begin queen cells (non-capped), I selected the two I wanted and put them in a new box. They were put in slot 1 &10 with brood frames in 2,3, 8&9, but separated by vertical Queen Excluders. Each Qcell had it's own rear facing entrance with a colored disc reducer. This new box was moved to the top (#4) with a QE under it then the almost finished Cut comb box in #3, with a new drawn comb box in #2 and the original queen in the #1 but with 6 new drawn comb frames for her to lay in.

    In the end, both virgins emerged. Then it went sideways. The south virgin was ignored and died, found her laying on the QE. The old queen swarmed anyway. And the North virgin ended up breed and in the bottom box.
    Again, bees aren't reading the books I am...

  19. #18
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    Default Re: multiple queens from production hives

    Getting back to this, bottom line is: the desired outcome did not happen.

    The goal was to raise two 'extra' queens in the supper while maintaining the original queens brood nest in the bottom - thereby not disrupting mass honey storage.

    To start, I was making spring cut comb, keeping the hive pushed down. Of course their response was to go into swarm mode.
    Upon seeing them begin queen cells (non-capped), I selected the two I wanted and put them in a new box. They were put in slot 1 &10 with brood frames in 2,3, 8&9, but separated by vertical Queen Excluders. Each Qcell had it's own rear facing entrance with a colored disc reducer. This new box was moved to the top (#4) with a QE under it then the almost finished Cut comb box in #3, with a new drawn comb box in #2 and the original queen in the #1 but with 6 new drawn comb frames for her to lay in.

    In the end, both virgins emerged. Then it went sideways. The south virgin was ignored and died, found her laying on the QE. The old queen swarmed anyway. And the North virgin ended up breed and in the bottom box.
    Again, bees aren't reading the books I am...

  20. #19
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    Default Re: multiple queens from production hives

    I've heard of some guys putting additional queens in upper boxes by just using a queen excluder between boxes. Not sure on the details, but I think they were discussing even just sticking weak colonies onto stronger colonies like that and the bees just went on as business as usual.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: multiple queens from production hives

    Quote Originally Posted by JRG13 View Post
    I've heard of some guys putting additional queens in upper boxes by just using a queen excluder between boxes. Not sure on the details, but I think they were discussing even just sticking weak colonies onto stronger colonies like that and the bees just went on as business as usual.
    You will have to provide drone escapes in all sections shut off by queen excluder. Just separating by queen excluder is not enough to dependably start cells. If the bees can contact each other to exchange food through the screens they also exchange queen pheremones and may prevent cell starting.

    he two screen layers in the Snelgrove board separated by a space of 5/16" or so guarantees cell starting. Usually on at least three different frames. I have not tried to take multiple cells all the way to mating by dividing the top box. Usually pull one or two frames out to individual nucs for mating. Enjambres has played with dividers in the box above the division board but found problems.

    It is nice to gain the heat from box below but it limits access and being close makes returning a mated queen riskier.
    Frank

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