This thread is essentially an extension of: https://www.beesource.com/forums/sho...isc-Nicot-chat ... but the story I'm about to relate may be of value to others (perhaps ?), and so I thought I'd start a new thread to describe the following events.
For anyone who hasn't read the above thread, it's a tale of woe. I've been trying to use the Nicot Laying Cage for many years - but always without success - with not even one larvae resulting. That is, until this year when I managed to recover 8 larvae (from 110 cells) - oh whoopee ...
But those 8 larvae were to cause me to question "why were they left and fed, and not removed along with the rest ?" The only explanation I could think of was that they were larvae from the first eggs laid ... and perhaps there was a clue there ... once the egg reaches a certain age (assuming it hasn't been molested by then) perhaps the bees treat it differently ? Well, it was an idea worth pursuing ...
Added to this was the idea of 'value' which keeps being raised in my mind: by this I mean if a colony is queen-right with lots of bees of all descriptions, maybe they don't really need any more brood - especially if they sense there's something not quite right about the comb in which eggs have been laid. Perhaps that 'iffy' comb has more value to the colony as a store for nectar instead ? So - "remove those eggs - there's something not quite right there, anyway."
Contrast this scenario with that of a queenless colony - in the jargon "a hopelessly queenless colony" - that is, one which has been queenless for an extended period, and no longer has any means of generating a queen from existing brood. What 'value' would such a desperate colony place upon a frame (even an 'iffy' frame) of eggs ? So - let's find out ...
At the moment I have two such queenless colonies: one is a 5-frame Joseph Clemens queenless starter-finisher (albeit recently moved into a 11-frame box, appropriately dummied down); the other is a much larger Laidlaw-sized 11-frame queenless starter-finisher. Both have been queenless for several weeks and have had open brood added at regular intervals during that time, with the resulting rogue queen-cells duly cut out.
Two different (genuine) Nicot laying cages were used for this trial - one mounted in a slatted batten configuration, the other mounted within an existing and well seasoned black comb.
Queens from two different strains of bee: one Carniolan, the other Buckfast - both F1's - were inserted into the laying cages, which were then left in their respective hives for approx. 36 hrs, until eggs were seen upon inspection. As soon as eggs were present in 8 out of 8 randomly removed cell-cups, the queens were released, the bees brushed off the frames, and protection plates inserted to prevent further access to the eggs. Then the frames were returned to hives for a further 24 hrs.
After this time, the frames were transferred to the queenless starter-finishers (or "hopelessly queenless colonies"), with their protection plates now removed. 24 hrs later, the two Nicot Laying Cages were checked for larvae - with outstanding results.
Every single cell examined contained either a larvae or an egg. Not one single evidence of egg removal was found.
To recap then ...
As soon as the breeder queen has laid her eggs, access to those eggs is then denied to her colony.
After 24 hrs, those eggs are given to a "hopelessly queenless colony", which will presumably have forgotten the smell of their old queen, and so will not reject the eggs as being foreign to them. For that reason, I would suggest that it's unlikely this technique would work with a Cloake Board setup, as the duration of queenlessness is then too short.
Needless to say, further trials will need to be conducted to ensure that this technique is sound, but identical results were obtained here by two trials having completely different components.
If anyone else should try this method - please advise of the outcome.