Mini-Mating Nuc Timing Question
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
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    New Haven, CT
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    Default Mini-Mating Nuc Timing Question

    A rainy day here in New Haven...

    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...

    BTW, I posted this on the Queen Rearing subforum earlier today, but didn't get any responses, so I'm reposting it in the main forum to try to get a new set of eyes looking at it. If nobody responds to a post, it disappears, as you know...

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    Default Re: Mini-Mating Nuc Timing Question

    Yikes, for starters, I dont get your initial timeline. You grafted the cells last weekend and have already moved them into the mating nucs? The queen calendar I use has you move them on day 14, not day 10. Regardless, you should plan on pulling the queen around day 10 post emergence. This gives her time to get mated and just started laying. I just pulled my first mating nuc queen of the season and installed her in a queenless nuc. She was in there about 11 days and had layed up the little bit of drawn comb that wasn't filled with syrup. If you graft every two weeks, I think the timing works out about right.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  4. #3
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    Oct 2013
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    New Haven, CT
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    Default Re: Mini-Mating Nuc Timing Question

    Hi JW:

    I agree that I'm not doing things not according to the ideal calendar. I am adapting the calendar from The Beekeepers of the Susquehanna Valley
    (www.thebeeyard.org). I grafted on Sunday, April 28th. The larvae I grafted were eggs laid by the queen on Thursday, April 25th. Ideally, I should have moved them to the mini-mating nucs on Tuesday, May 7th, or Wednesday, May 8th, and they would have emerged on Friday May 10th.

    As a weekend-er, that ideal schedule won't work for me. I'm working on the schedule that lets me take actions necessary to try to move things along on the days I'm able to get into the apiary. I hope that my gentle handling of the capped queen cells won't be rougher than they can handle--deformed wings or some other developmental flaw.

    I appreciate your providing an estimate of 10 days post-emergence as being the right window for removal of the mated queen. For me, that now means that May 18th & 19th are when I should be splitting up my unproductive hives into nucs in preparation for introducing the new queens from the mini-mating nucs. Obviously, if weather doesn't permit a timely mating flight, egg-laying will be pushed back.

    Assuming blue skies and warm weather, I ought to be thinking about grafting the weekend before that--the weekend of the 11th & 12th.

    I appreciate your recommendations. Thank you. I hope to be able to report success in the future.

  5. #4
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    Oct 2013
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    New Haven, CT
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    Default Re: Mini-Mating Nuc Timing Question

    It really does seem to be a bit of a treadmill. Get on and keep running!

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    Default Re: Mini-Mating Nuc Timing Question

    Understood about having to make a timetable work. You will most likely be OK. I am certainly not an expert in this process. This is my first year to use the ML double mini and I am walking the same walk you are. Never pulled the queen before because I had always used larger nucs and transfered the whole shebang when they outgrew it.

    Checked my notes, on April 27th I saw my first mated queen returning from a mating flight. Saw my first eggs on May 1st, and caged her on May 4th. All available cells had eggs in them. Installed her in a hive this afternoon.
    Last edited by JWPalmer; 05-05-2019 at 07:13 PM.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  7. #6

    Default Re: Mini-Mating Nuc Timing Question

    I always give the queens minimum 14 days after hatching before I even consider taking them out of mating nucs.

    The behavior of the queen changes after she has been laying several weeks. She calms down, which helps to get more success in setting her into her new home. I would make new mating nucs for the next grafts, and then put the third grafts to the first mating nucs for second round.


    The danger for the mini hives to swarm is minimal before there will be an larger group of hatching bees, that is 21 days after the queen has started to lay eggs.
    There is more danger to have too weak mating nucs, in the beginning just around the first queen has been laying couple weeks, if the original amount of bees is too low and the queen laying is delayed.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Dayton, Ohio
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    249

    Default Re: Mini-Mating Nuc Timing Question

    I am also a weekend beekeeper. My farm/beeyard is an hour from my home and I work it Wed/Sat/Sun.
    I just started raising queens last year, and decided to put the queen cell in a queenless nuc and hope for the best.
    I time it the best I can.
    Other ideas are appreciated.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    Suffolk, VA
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    Default Re: Mini-Mating Nuc Timing Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Juhani Lunden View Post
    I always give the queens minimum 14 days after hatching before I even consider taking them out of mating nucs.

    The behavior of the queen changes after she has been laying several weeks. She calms down, which helps to get more success in setting her into her new home. I would make new mating nucs for the next grafts, and then put the third grafts to the first mating nucs for second round.


    The danger for the mini hives to swarm is minimal before there will be an larger group of hatching bees, that is 21 days after the queen has started to lay eggs.
    There is more danger to have too weak mating nucs, in the beginning just around the first queen has been laying couple weeks, if the original amount of bees is too low and the queen laying is delayed.

    I totally agree with everything said in this post, particularly giving the new queens time to lay - super important.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
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    New Haven, CT
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    394

    Default Re: Mini-Mating Nuc Timing Question

    Thank you all. I appreciate your thoughtful recommendations.

  11. #10
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    Mar 2015
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    Derry, New Hampshire
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    Default Re: Mini-Mating Nuc Timing Question

    If i can ask regarding these mini's. If you removed the queen and left them would they be able to make a queen cell on their own? So a final run they make a queen and transfer to a nuc with more bees?
    Terrence

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Mini-Mating Nuc Timing Question

    They're set up with a cup of bees and a foundation strip, and not all of those bees were nurse bees held to the nuc by the presence of the queen pheromone strip--some will have flown back to the mother hive. I suspect that producing a good queen cell would be tough in one of these mini-nucs, even if they were provided with a 3 day old, just-hatched larva.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Mini-Mating Nuc Timing Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Knisely View Post
    They're set up with a cup of bees and a foundation strip, and not all of those bees were nurse bees held to the nuc by the presence of the queen pheromone strip--some will have flown back to the mother hive. I suspect that producing a good queen cell would be tough in one of these mini-nucs, even if they were provided with a 3 day old, just-hatched larva.
    ahhh royal jelly right didnt think of that. thanks
    Terrence

  14. #13
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    Apr 2017
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    Default Re: Mini-Mating Nuc Timing Question

    Yeah, way too few bees to produce a good queen, not even sure if they could. Better to keep giving them queens or queen cells.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Mini-Mating Nuc Timing Question

    Quote Originally Posted by kaizen View Post
    If you removed the queen and left them would they be able to make a queen cell on their own?
    I've experimented with this a few times. Yes, they can and will make a queen. Is it going to be a great queen? Probably not, but they can produce queens that get mated and begin laying. This past winter I experimented with overwintering 4 of the double Mann Lake mating nucs (yeah, I babied these through winter!!). I lost one, but the others survived. I pulled these queens early in the spring for splits. I took the remaining mini-frames and stuck them all into a single (specially made) box. This box made a queen and she mated and is currently laying very well. I certainly wouldn't sell her, or use her in a split, but in a mini, she's doing just fine. This was great, because it gave me a jump start on brood for my minis. I use her to steal brood from for my other minis. Another situation that happened last year, I accidentally squished a queen in a very populated mini and they made a good queen. That queen was one that overwintered and was promoted to a nuc this spring. She's actually making honey this season.

    Again, not super queens, but it works. Keep in mind, that the populations in both cases noted above were WELL beyond that used to start a mini from scratch.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  16. #15
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    Sep 2016
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    Denver Metro Area CO, USA
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    Default Re: Mini-Mating Nuc Timing Question

    Is it going to be a great queen? Probably not
    it certainly seems like many people have been taught to feel that way. but work the numbers backward.
    Most people would seem to feel 10 pounds of bees with no other jobs and plenty of suplys would likely be plenty for 60 grafts
    3500 bees to the pound give us 35,000 bees / by 60 = 583..... 600 bees to a cup....hmmmm

    In Breeding super bees Taber repeatedly references Lui, Jay 1975 FIELD STUDIES OF QUEEN HONEY BEES (HYMENOPTERA: APIDAE) REARED BY SMALL NUMBERS OF CAGED WORKER BEES https://www.cambridge.org/core/journ...094B8C296CED57
    Saying that 200 young nurse bees and 400 mixed aged are enough to raise a “good” queen
    While the paper is behind a pay wall. Her 1973 Thesis “BIOLOGICAL FACTORS AFFECTING THE LABORATORY REARING OF QUEEN HONEY BEES” is online, and details the mating trials
    https://mspace.lib.umanitoba.ca/bits...=1&isAllowed=y
    also good is Lai’s 1969 Thesis “Rearing queens in the laboratory with small groups of worker honey bees” (witch laid the foundation for lui) and is on line as well
    https://mspace.lib.umanitoba.ca/bits...pdf?sequence=1

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