I set up 10 new mini-mating nucs (the Mann Lake variety) yesterday with capped queen cells from larvae grafted one week ago. The usual--a cup of bees, 1:1 syrup in the feeder, and a capped queen cell, together with an artificial queen lure. Foundation starter strips for the bees to draw out while waiting for the queen to hatch.
I'm seeking guidance about when I should be anticipating needing to pull the mated queens out of these cute little units...I understand that they'll get ready to swarm pretty quickly once she starts to lay.
That question ties in with timing for getting another cell starter set up to raise another batch of queen cells to replace the queens from these mini-mating nucs. I want to count backwards from the window for queen pulling so that I can plan to pull frames of capped brood for the cell starter a week before grafting, and then, a week after grafting be ready to replace the laying queens with queen cells.
I'm a weekend-only beekeeper, so I've got to plan this all out so that I don't wind up unable to do things when they can get done...
First you need to see capped worker brood. That takes 3 weeks from the queen starting laying.
Then you really want to ensure at least some of the capped brood emerge and are not aggressive etc (depending on drones queen mated with and her own genes)
SO I usually wait 4-5 weeks.. by which time most of the capped brood will have emerged, new eggs laid and mini nuc getting crowded.
(I have overwintered queens in the M Lake double mini nuc... )
the mini is likely going to give you a 2-week catch cycle, they are too small(total of 3/8s of a deep frame of comb space) and restrict the queens laying, you don't wait for capped brood in such a unit
the dubble is bigger, and you might get a 3 week cycle out of it