A second incubator ?
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  1. #1
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    Aug 2014
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    Default A second incubator ?

    Bl##dy British weather ...

    Right now I have a large number of newly-emerged virgins waiting to go into nucs - only the heavens opened-up yesterday and I couldn't get out into the apiary. Those virgins which have emerged are in roller-cages which have been sitting on a desk in a relatively cold room. Cold - in July ? Yes, it's our version of summer ...

    So although there were still a handful of ripe queen-cells inside the incubator - which is running at 34C(93F) - late last night I decided to cut my losses and look after the much larger number already out, and so wound the incubator temp down to 25C(77F) and put all the roller-cages back in.

    The emerged virgins are looking far happier this morning, and have been joined by 4 more which emerged overnight. In view of the lowering of temperature, I've already checked the wings of those 4, which look fine. The weather this morning looks promising, so hopefully I can get all these girls installed in their new homes during the day. So that's it for my 2019 queen-rearing season - which turned out to be brilliant towards the end.

    I now think there's a case for having a second 'incubator' on hand, running at a lower temperature for the purposes of temporary (weather-related) banking. Thoughts ?
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
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    Powhatan, Virginia, USA
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    Default Re: A second incubator ?

    Virgins emerge in the hive at the same temp, not necessary to run a lower temp.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: A second incubator ?

    Well, I can't remember now how it was that I even thought of this idea. It's not something I would try 'just for the hell of it' - maybe it had something to do with mated queens in mailing cages surviving ok at ambient temperature - or maybe it was something I'd read at one time ? A lower temperature certainly makes sense to me, as temperatures in small nucs (where emergence from q/cells is common practice) are unlikely to be up there in the 90's.

    I was rather hoping that I'd be hearing of some first-hand experiences - but in the absence of these, I've Googled around and have found just two sources of info thus far:
    Comparing Alternative Methods for Holding Virgin Honey Bee Queens for One Week in Mailing Cages before Mating, Ratnieks et al., 2012

    Ten or eleven days after grafting, sealed queen cells were placed individually into glass vials in an incubator (34C) and were kept there until emergence, after which they were placed in cages.

    Queens were held individually in cages in a temperature controlled room, 22C and given water ad libitum by placing droplets on the mesh covering each cage. Survival was determined at 0900 and 1800 each day.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/art...ne.0050150.pdf
    and:
    https://www.beesource.com/forums/arc.../t-243350.html
    beekuk
    I use an incubator for all my queen cells, but remove them from the incubator soon after emerging to a warm place with some food, but not as warm as the incubator, cover cages with a moist cloth, they do just fine until the evening when i run them into mating nuc's.
    beekuk is of course the username of Peter Little, a highly experienced commercial breeder from SW England. (Hello Pete !) So if Pete is reading this - is there anything more you'd add to this procedure ?

    I've noticed that Lauri was planning to trial RJ as a caged virgin feedstuff - dunno what the outcome was ...

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

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    Default Re: A second incubator ?

    LJ, although I am not having a good run with my grafting, I have done pretty well at harvesting qc's and putitng them in an incubator to emerge. I quickly discovered that left in the incubator, a newly emerged queen would die within 24-36 hours, even being fed water and honey. At room temp, 74F, all the emerged queens would still be alive 72 hours later, although their vigor was compromised for lack of royal jelly. One would think that there would be an opportunity to get the virgins caged and banked in a hive in between bouts of rain. That would give you four or five more days for the weather to clear and have stronger queens when you release them.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: A second incubator ?

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    LJ, although I am not having a good run with my grafting, I have done pretty well at harvesting qc's and putitng them in an incubator to emerge. I quickly discovered that left in the incubator, a newly emerged queen would die within 24-36 hours, even being fed water and honey. At room temp, 74F, all the emerged queens would still be alive 72 hours later, although their vigor was compromised for lack of royal jelly. One would think that there would be an opportunity to get the virgins caged and banked in a hive in between bouts of rain. That would give you four or five more days for the weather to clear and have stronger queens when you release them.
    Good thinking - I'll bear this in mind next time. Right now I've got about 9 or 10 left to find homes for - some of these are now 3 days old, and you're absolutely right - it's easy to spot those as they crawl around slowly in first gear, whereas the day and two-day-old virgins are still very lively. Hopefully the older ones will recover after a good feed.

    I also think that next time (next year) I'll put some RJ into the roller cage lids: each lid has 6 indentations, so 3 filled with a honey/fondant mix and 3 with RJ.
    'best
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Powhatan, Virginia, USA
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    Default Re: A second incubator ?

    An additional comment.
    I agree with the thoughts above, you can keep virgins at a lower temp. But the extra incubator may not be cost effective if you are only doing it occasionally.
    Hence my above post.
    Feeding the virgins as soon as they emerge is critical to their survival.
    I have a second incubator used primarily for transport of cells or occasionally virgins to outyards for placement.
    This time of year it is more to prevent overheating in the summer sun than chilling.
    JW can sympathize.
    Keeping humidity up helps longevity of virgins, I have had success with them seven days old although freshly emerged is preferable.
    Also helps keep royal jelly from drying out if you are trying to feed with that.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
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    Denver Metro Area CO, USA
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    Default Re: A second incubator ?

    Why not run a bank?
    gives you a few weeks instead of a couple days.
    After my incubators overheat debacle, I have rather enjoyed the freedom of the bank... No worries about weather or work.. I go deal with them when it suits me. Pick them up for use day one, day 4, day 10 what ever.

    I go on vacation next week, setting up my timing to cage and bank cells at day 5, a day before I leave for 7(so I have flex), when I come back I should have a batch good to go at my leisure.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
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    Default Re: A second incubator ?

    Apologises for the delay in replying. Yes, I think a bank is the way to go - in order to get the virgins fed an appropriate protein-rich diet, as well as for my convenience. So - the plan is now to only use an incubator to ensure a stable environment until emergence, and to free-up some space at the same time.

    FWIW - I was chatting to a neighbour yesterday and he's offered me a mini-fridge (ex touring caravan) which he had intended to scrap - it's interior size is somewhere around a 14" cube which I reckon is ideal. Insulation, shelves, and a handy door - what's not to like ?
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

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