Some misc Nicot chat ...
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  1. #1
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    Default Some misc Nicot chat ...

    As we're about to start yet another q/rearing season, thought I'd post a few words about the Nicot system. BTW - Nicot is a product of the French company Nicotplas, and 'Nicot' is pronounced "Nick-o" and not Ny-koT or Nick-oT.

    Ok - first-off, laying-cage problems ...
    A couple of weeks back I stumbled across a university discussion where a researcher was complaining about the constant problem of eggs being removed or eaten. That has been my problem too for as long as I can remember. The consensus reached there was that this may be caused by either not enough pollen, or a reaction to excessive disturbance. Both of those suggestions make sense, and I'd add to these that the bees may also simply want those cells for another purpose - such as storing nectar, should there be a flow on. So - all of these can be avoided or reduced somewhat, should egg-'theft' ever become a problem. (Note to self ...)

    Next - Chinese 'Nicot' knock-offs. These are good value for money, but do have a few drawbacks - the first being that with the singular exception of the brown cell-cups, nothing is interchangeable with any part of the authentic Nicot kit.

    Secondly, some of the cell holders do not hold the cell cups securely, likewise some of the roller cages. I've had both cups and cages fall off the cell-cup holders in the past. Very annoying. A simple fix is to either cut some kitchen towel into 5mm strips and insert some each time to 'take up the slack' - or - simply put a lick of molten wax onto the offending parts.

    Thirdly, and this is something I've only recently discovered ...

    This is how most people are used to seeing the Nicot roller cage setup:



    But - when used in an incubator, an alternative setup is to have the roller cage lid placed onto the cell block, thusly:



    However - you can't do this with the Chinese clones, as this is one detail they appear to have missed (i.e. the lid recess doesn't fit the cell block base). But, to be fair, it is a somewhat unusual (and perhaps unnecessary) way to arrange the roller cage assembly.


    Ok - I have some good-ish news for those who prefer raising natural queen cells. In order to equip such q/cells with Nicot roller cages, it has been necessary in the past to employ one of these Nicot 'specials':



    Now these may not be any more expensive than other bits of Nicot kit, but outside of France they're as rare as rocking-horse poo, and ordering them is uber-expensive - but now there's a much cheaper solution ...



    I've just taken receipt of 30 of the above, and they fit perfectly into a Chinese 'Nicot' Roller cage (albeit a very sloppy fit into the genuine article).
    So - these can be used either for queen-introduction onto a comb, or emergence into a roller cage.

    I paid the equivalent of $2.50 (post free) for 30 - but I've seen some chancers asking $1 each for them on Ebay - so do shop around ...
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Some misc Nicot chat ...

    I have tried the nicot system with very poor results and have tried every trick in the book to no avail but I really like grafting into them.I get good takes with them and can use the roller cages to let queens emerge in them whether in the incubator or in hive.Or I can pull from the cell bar and put a cell between frames to hatch.Brown cell cups are cheap also and the rest is reusable.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Some misc Nicot chat ...

    I never had any problems with the eggs being removed in my Jenter system. I suspect the problem with the Nicot is that there is only one of four cells open to lay in and the rest have plastic cappings (and no brood). Bees don't like scattered brood.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Some misc Nicot chat ...

    A friend and I both started queen rearing last year. He chose to try Nicot and I chose grafting. I had better results that he did. I will admit that the Nicot concept is really great and we had fun with it but there are a couple of major drawbacks that we found and have read about. The biggest issue is getting the queen to lay in it. I have read but not found that some queens just will not lay eggs in the cassette. We did find that every queen we tried did eventually lay in the cassette, but you never knew when she would start. If we put her in the cage today, she might start laying today, or tomorrow, or 3 days from now. That just plays heck on any scheduling you are trying to keep. It also possibly means that you may have to open up the hive and check for eggs and larvae for 3 or 4 days in a row before you are successful. Having to open up the hives several times really disturbs the hives progress. It also screws up your scheduling in making the cell builder. The other major issue to me is that the whole process takes much longer than grafting. You first have to put the cassette into the hive to get it "warmed up" and cleaned by the bees for several days before putting the queen in it. Again, this is another 2 times you are disrupting the hive (putting it in and taking it out to put the queen in it). You are sequestering the queen in a small cage with 144 (?) cells in it and giving up on her laying 1,000 eggs per day for 3 or more days in the regular comb. That is a pretty poor exchange.

    Like Snapper1d above, I also tried grafting into the Nicot cell cups and found them to be easy to use and just as reliable as the JZ BZ cell cups. Attaching the roller cages is a breeze and is nice insurance. All in all, I found grafting to be a whole lot easier, faster and reliable. My friend and I both agrees that we will be trying the Nicot kit again this year because it is a great learning tool but will not be relying on it to be our main source for queens.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Some misc Nicot chat ...

    If you are looking for a new Nicot system, PM me. I have a new one that I'm not going to use.

    Hope this is not a violation of the rules. If it is just delete it.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Some misc Nicot chat ...

    Quote Originally Posted by beemantn View Post
    If you are looking for a new Nicot system, PM me. I have a new one that I'm not going to use.
    Gee, I hope I didn't t talk you out of using it! I actually do recommend that anyone who really wants to understand every aspect of beekeeping and queen rearing give the Nicot/Jenter system a try. Sure, it has its drawbacks but every aspect of beekeeping has its good points and its bad. My hope is that someday I will be teaching a beekeeper how to use the system because grafting is not an option for them.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Some misc Nicot chat ...

    I use Nicot. The trick to getting the queen to lay in the cells is introduce the cells 24 hours before inserting the queen. AND place a small amount of honey in each cell before you place in the hive. Encourages the bees to clean out the cells...

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Some misc Nicot chat ...

    Quote Originally Posted by madasafish View Post
    I use Nicot. The trick to getting the queen to lay in the cells is introduce the cells 24 hours before inserting the queen. AND place a small amount of honey in each cell before you place in the hive. Encourages the bees to clean out the cells...
    What's the trick to get them to leave the eggs alone, so they get to hatch ... ?
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Some misc Nicot chat ...

    Quote Originally Posted by dudelt View Post
    Gee, I hope I didn't t talk you out of using it! I actually do recommend that anyone who really wants to understand every aspect of beekeeping and queen rearing give the Nicot/Jenter system a try. Sure, it has its drawbacks but every aspect of beekeeping has its good points and its bad. My hope is that someday I will be teaching a beekeeper how to use the system because grafting is not an option for them.
    O no. I use a different method for rearing my queens. Just clearing out some stuff I don't need. System is good for learning, that's for sure. Let me know if interested.

    [email protected]

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Some misc Nicot chat ...

    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post
    What's the trick to get them to leave the eggs alone, so they get to hatch ... ?
    LJ
    I always feed the hive for at least a day before using the Nicot cage -or ensure there is a decent flow on. Perhaps the bees are short of food?

    (Feeble I know but all I could think of)

  12. #11

    Default Re: Some misc Nicot chat ...

    I use the original French Nicot system exclusively to produce a couple of thousands queens a year. I use it, because it works best for me.

    Haven't had any egg removal problems, because I graft and do not use the queen cage (what for anyway? Too complicated and not practical at all...) I used it once and returned to grafting quickly. The cage now is somewhere in the pile of cool beekeeping equipment you need to have in my personal junk yard. If you read the instructions coming with the cage it says you need to let it sit inside the hive for a couple of days, just as madasafish says. Rtfm as we used to say back in the old computer days.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Some misc Nicot chat ...

    Read the manual ? Tried that, and then some ...

    Apart from 'seasoning' the Laying Cage (and even coating the face of it with wax), amongst the variations I've tried have been:
    # New cell cups, old cell cups - with honey, sugar water, or dry - no difference.
    # Leave Queen in the cage for 3+ days - only eggs resulted, suggesting that eggs are being removed, and duly replaced by the Queen.
    # Leave QX on after Queen is removed.
    # Remove QX after Queen is removed.
    # Place Laying Cage in centre of brood-nest.
    # Place Laying Cage towards one side of brood-nest.
    # Fitted 'access denial' shield over the eggs for 2 days (as per US Patent #4392262, 1983) - but eggs are removed (or eaten ?) immediately the shield is removed.

    On the hunch that Queen proximity (i.e. pheromone concentration) might be a factor, I made some replica laying Cages (with QX's) using plastic foundation. The queen was placed in one of these replicas when removed from the Nicot cage, with the replica cage placed hard up against the Nicot cage. No difference. But - the queen laid-up the comb on the plastic foundation without problems - these then hatched into larvae and were used for grafting. This supports MB's idea that the '1 cell in 4' layout might be responsible - there's also Nicot's choice of cell diameter, which is midway between worker and drone - but if either of these are indeed responsible - then how is it other people are reporting successes with the system ??

    It's driving me nuts. I take some consolation that numerous other people have experienced exactly the same problem - time and time again I hear reports from people who favour using the Nicot system ... that is, except for Nicot's Laying Cage.

    I don't mind failure too much, providing I know why I'm failing. For the last 7 or 8 years, as soon as I've generated my quota of queens for the season I dust off the Nicot Laying Cage and try again - but have never succeeded in raising even one single larva from it. But, I intend to keep on trying ...
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Some misc Nicot chat ...

    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post
    BTW - Nicot is a product of the French company Nicotplas, and 'Nicot' is pronounced "Nick-o" and not Ny-koT or Nick-oT.
    Thanks. I have been butchering that for many years now. Normally with "Knee-cot" or "Knee-co" (just depending on how French I felt that day), but never "Nick-o"

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Some misc Nicot chat ...

    Another example of this being "a bientot" (sorry - can't easily do the appropriate accents over the letters), meaning "see you later ...". Likewise, that's pronounced bee-en-toe - again, the last 't' isn't pronounced.

    Curious language - even inanimate objects having a male or female gender. Still, they probably think English is a bit weird in places ...
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  16. #15

    Default Re: Some misc Nicot chat ...

    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post
    Read the manual ? Tried that, and then some ...
    ...But, I intend to keep on trying ...
    LJ
    Huh, not a single larva? That's interesting. The time I tried it, I harvested about 60 larvae from 100 or 110 cells I provided. I need to search my old photos to illustrate my trials. Didn't do much than spraying it with sugar water, let it sit in the hives for a day or so, and putting the queen into the cage. Once there were larvae I removed the cells from the cage and took them into a starter.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Some misc Nicot chat ...

    Quote Originally Posted by BernhardHeuvel View Post
    Huh, not a single larva? That's interesting. The time I tried it, I harvested about 60 larvae from 100 or 110 cells I provided. I need to search my old photos to illustrate my trials. Didn't do much than spraying it with sugar water, let it sit in the hives for a day or so, and putting the queen into the cage. Once there were larvae I removed the cells from the cage and took them into a starter.
    My problem is that I usually only want about 20 larvae - small scale queen production and limited mini nucs- so a lot go to waste!

  18. #17

    Default Re: Some misc Nicot chat ...

    I guess simply grafting is the way to go. That's why everyone does it.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Some misc Nicot chat ...

    I tried the Nicot system for two entire years with absolutely horrific results. And I followed the instructions a number of times to the "T."

    I have 4-5 used Nicot systems laying around and about 7-8 brand new systems, never even opened up.

    I will never use them ever again!

    Moved on to grafting and experienced wonderful results and it was like a million times easier than it first appeared.

    Also did a lot of walk away splits before learning to graft and we often experienced 100% success rate.

    We experienced 0%-3% success with the Nicot system. For us, it was a complete and total waste of time and money.

    Grafting using the Cloakeboard method and grafting using the professional method [20-30 frames of sealed brood, then wait 10 days, then add grafts]. Having tremendous success with these two methods.

    Nicot leaves a sour taste in my mouth...

    I sincerely wish I had never tried it!

    Yuk!

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Some misc Nicot chat ...

    This is a shot of one of the false laying cages I made to test my 'queen pheromone proximity' theory, and - although the experiment itself didn't work - brood was reared successfully in the false cage, which would indicate that some kind of fault lies either within the Nicot cage itself, or perhaps in the manner of it's installation ... ?



    Now most people (as I understand it) install their laying cages within an existing brood comb. What I've done is to surround the Nicot cage with battens to prevent comb being drawn around the cage. This itself is not a novel idea - Dave Cushman has used this kind of method, and I note that Roger Patterson has added his two penn'orth to: http://www.dave-cushman.net/bee/cellplugbox.html indicating that he would do exactly as I have done:



    But - I'm mindful of MB's comment about the wider '1-in-4' cell spacing within the cage - and - without brood comb surrounding the cage, then a little over 100 of these wider-spaced brood cells are hanging there, surrounded by so much fresh air. Is this brood cell 'isolation' freaking-out the bees in some way ? The queen lays in the cage because she has no other option - but the nurse bees do have an option: because if they're not happy, then those eggs will be removed.

    Anyway - that's the theory I'm working with this Spring, and I'll be fitting a second genuine Nicot Laying cage within an existing brood comb - and see what happens ...

    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  21. #20

    Default Re: Some misc Nicot chat ...

    Erm, as far as I understood, you cut a section out of drawn comb and insert the cage into the comb.

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