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 ...