From my first three months in beekeeping.
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  1. #1
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    Default From my first three months in beekeeping.

    I got my bee package at the end of April and they did well in a single deep with old used frames that I had bought on Craigslist.
    Since they were doing well I started messing with them.
    This is what I have experienced, and I am not saying this is what anyone should do.
    Nicot system: if your queen lays in the cells easily then good job let the eggs hatch before placing them in a queen rearing situation. My queen did well twice and the third time did not lay in the nicot system.
    Try grafting. It is essentially free. If you screw up you have lost almost nothing.
    If you are new to grafting, graft at The Hive site. You can pull a frame with young larvae and graph them into the cups at The Hive without worrying about transferring the frame and the cell's to a special grafting site (provided you can see). When you return to the hive you can re graft into the unaccepted cups. You can keep doing this until you get the number of Queen cells you desire.
    When I was done with my cell Builder I added the bees back to the hive without any lll outcome. Later, I separated The colony with a cloake board which I left in place for over a week. I added the queenless half hive back to the Colony with no bad repercussions. I was afraid they (queenless) would attack the queen. They did not.
    Love to hear experienced souls comment.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: From my first three months in beekeeping.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andhors View Post
    I got my bee package at the end of April and they did well in a single deep with old used frames (!) that I had bought on Craigslist.
    Since they were doing well I started messing with them.
    This is what I have experienced, and I am not saying this is what anyone should do.
    I should hope not.

    I can't remember ever hearing of a first-year beekeeper attempting to raise queens before now. There's an almost vertical learning curve facing new beekeepers regarding 'the basics' during their first year, and so perhaps the making of a split and getting colonies to successfully survive their first winter are more appropriate objectives during year one.

    I'm left wondering exactly what you've achieved by "messing with the bees" (your own words) like this: in particular, how many mated queens - that being the objective of queen-rearing - did you actually produce ?

    There is absolutely no point in raising queen cells 'just for the hell of it'. It's essential to have sufficient resources to get the resulting virgins mated, and with just the one colony it's hard to see how you could have achieved this. Indeed, with the raising of queen cells being so resource intensive, it's actually counter-productive (imo) for a colony to be raising queen-cells for absolutely no purpose. Those resources would have been much better spent either storing honey, or building-up their numbers such that a single split then becomes a realistic proposition.

    My concern is that having read your post, novice beekeepers in less advantageous regions might also be tempted to try raising queens before they've even begun to master the basics - with predictable consequences.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  4. #3
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    Default Re: From my first three months in beekeeping.

    Four months xp here:
    I have had 0 luck with returning virgin queens, and the 2 frame mating nuc I tried turned into a free feeding station for all, I managed to increase my hives from 5 to 13 using mated queens, I'm holding off on the grafting just yet, Hoping to come out of the winter with 13 hives is my focus at this point. I have probably done more than I should have already, but I usually go all in.
    Did you manage to get any queens mated? did you sell them, or make new colonies?
    NCSBA Certified Beekeeper - my Youtube Vlog
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  5. #4
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    Default Re: From my first three months in beekeeping.

    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post
    I should hope not.

    I can't remember ever hearing of a first-year beekeeper attempting to raise queens before now. There's an almost vertical learning curve facing new beekeepers regarding 'the basics' during their first year, and so perhaps the making of a split and getting colonies to successfully survive their first winter are more appropriate objectives during year one.

    I'm left wondering exactly what you've achieved by "messing with the bees" (your own words) like this: in particular, how many mated queens - that being the objective of queen-rearing - did you actually produce ?

    There is absolutely no point in raising queen cells 'just for the hell of it'. It's essential to have sufficient resources to get the resulting virgins mated, and with just the one colony it's hard to see how you could have achieved this. Indeed, with the raising of queen cells being so resource intensive, it's actually counter-productive (imo) for a colony to be raising queen-cells for absolutely no purpose. Those resources would have been much better spent either storing honey, or building-up their numbers such that a single split then becomes a realistic proposition.

    My concern is that having read your post, novice beekeepers in less advantageous regions might also be tempted to try raising queens before they've even begun to master the basics - with predictable consequences.
    LJ
    It looks like experimenting and education was his objective and it worked for Andhors.Without experimenting and learning you go nowhere.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: From my first three months in beekeeping.

    Quote Originally Posted by snapper1d View Post
    It looks like experimenting and education was his objective and it worked for Andhors.Without experimenting and learning you go nowhere.
    I'm all for experimentation - but when done from a position of some strength. Two novice beekeepers of similar experience have posted on this thread - one is going into winter with around a dozen colonies - the other (unless we haven't been told the full story) with one colony. Which stands the better chance of still having live bees come next Spring ?

    Both the Nicot 'laying cage' system and grafting are techniques more suitable for bulk queen production - there are far simpler methods if a novice beekeeper wants just a half-dozen queens - and even raising those half-a-dozen queens will be a helluva challenge if working with only one colony.

    I thought long and hard before posting what I did - as no-one likes to trample on a novice's enthusiasm. But what exactly is the role of more experienced beekeepers in the 101 forum, if not to help steer other beginners away from inexperienced advice such as that being offered at the top of this thread ?

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

  7. #6
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    Default Re: From my first three months in beekeeping.

    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post
    I'm all for experimentation - but when done from a position of some strength. Two novice beekeepers of similar experience have posted on this thread - one is going into winter with around a dozen colonies - the other (unless we haven't been told the full story) with one colony. Which stands the better chance of still having live bees come next Spring ?

    Both the Nicot 'laying cage' system and grafting are techniques more suitable for bulk queen production - there are far simpler methods if a novice beekeeper wants just a half-dozen queens - and even raising those half-a-dozen queens will be a helluva challenge if working with only one colony.

    I thought long and hard before posting what I did - as no-one likes to trample on a novice's enthusiasm. But what exactly is the role of more experienced beekeepers in the 101 forum, if not to help steer other beginners away from inexperienced advice such as that being offered at the top of this thread ?

    LJ
    +1 LJ.

    Before going into the "gymnastics" it is best to figure out your personal niche with your personal context in mind.
    Then practice the particular "gymnastics" that help you into that niche.

    Grafting and such - while sounding very sexy - not necessary and maybe, in fact, counter-productive (depending on your niche).
    Never bought into the grafting - because you, the human, somehow decide which exact egg from exact hive will become the queen - well, I decided to forgo such decisions as forever unqualified.

    However, I do care for the increase and loss replacement in my program - simple across-the-program splitting does exactly that.

    Well, unless you don't know what it is you want and the ability to "mess with the bees" IS IT.
    Suppose the "messing with the bees" is a valid option - an open ended option at that.
    Be ready to lose your bees - then get some more bees - it should not really matter if they die, not the point (a valid pastime hobby, why not?).
    Last edited by GregV; 08-02-2019 at 10:12 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: From my first three months in beekeeping.

    Thanks for your thoughts.
    I got one package when I probably should have bought 2. I had swarm traps out had no success. I was afraid if something bad happened to my hive I would be beeless and thought I could get another colony going to improve my chance of having bees come spring. I didn’t realize how poor my success would be at mating queens. I am surprised at the negative attitude toward grafting after all the conversation about making bigger better QC’s and reading about the dismal mating number some have had. I wanted 1 queen and from several QCs got none. Now a month later it is likely my last chance, so I want several virgins and hope to get 1 mated.
    I guess I could have done a split and prayed to the fertility gods. Anyhow, learning and observing and experimenting. Successes and failures. I will keep my errors to myself I guess.
    Thanks for you input.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: From my first three months in beekeeping.

    Ifix, no luck. Zero.
    Now I have 8 QC that will emerge over the next week. Don’t know what the drone situation is in this area. Should know in 3 weeks if I (or the virgins) got lucky. If I had known my success rate was going to be poor I probably would have bought a queen.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: From my first three months in beekeeping.

    Quote Originally Posted by ifixoldhouses View Post
    Four months xp here:
    I have had 0 luck with returning virgin queens, and the 2 frame mating nuc I tried turned into a free feeding station for all, I managed to increase my hives from 5 to 13 using mated queens, I'm holding off on the grafting just yet, Hoping to come out of the winter with 13 hives is my focus at this point. I have probably done more than I should have already, but I usually go all in.
    Did you manage to get any queens mated? did you sell them, or make new colonies?
    It sounds like you are on the right track. I would plan on having 10-12 of your hives make it thru winter if they have enough stores and your mite counts are low. Make sure you have a lot of equipment (boxes and supers) ready come spring with that many hives.



    I have never tried grafting. For my "backyard" operation with 2-4 colonies I have had good luck with simple walk away splits when I do not have robbing screens on the hives. I have made 2 queens this year (and doubled from 2 to 4 hives) using a walkaway split when there were drones in my hives.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: From my first three months in beekeeping.

    Andhors, LJ is correct in that you have probably put the cart in front of the horse in this instance. But, experimentation is good and makes you a better beekeeper in the long run. Learning how to do a walk away split is a better first step towards increasing the size of your apiary. Grafting queens is resource intensive and one hive cannot support any type of successful grafting endeavor. You just do not have enough bees to make it work. Ideally, each queen cell would get its own nuc with at least two frames of bees so eight queen cells would need every bee you have. I would try to make two nucs with 4 cells each and see what happens. Where I am, the predation diminishes as it gets later in the season, but so do the number of available drones. You still have a good chance at getting at least one queen to return and that should be considered a success. Best of luck, and please keep in mind that any negative comments are constructive in nature and are intended to help you and other beeks in similar situations. It is better to attempt and fail (and post about it) than to not attempt at all.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: From my first three months in beekeeping.

    JW thanks. I agree with you. I have seen several videos where virgins are placed with a small number of bees (100 or so) in a tiny box. Is that a reasonable mating strategy? I could try to mate several even though I have so few resources. Then put the mated queen/s in nuc.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: From my first three months in beekeeping.

    Yes you could. Mini mating nucs use a cup of nurse bees, about 600. But that is not enough bees to allow it to develop into a nuc. Just enough to get the queen mated and laying a small amount of brood. Once you have that, you can combine the ones that did not have their queen return along with another frame or two of bees. You need to be cafeful not to weaken your original hive to the point where it will not survive. You should consider using a 4-way queen castle which will need 8 deep frames total, but can be started with just one frame of bees and a virgin queen in each of the four compartments. A queen castle can also be overwintered atop a full sized hive for additional heat.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: From my first three months in beekeeping.

    JW thanks!

  15. #14
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    Default Re: From my first three months in beekeeping.

    +1 Greg
    Grafting and such - while sounding very sexy - not necessary and maybe, in fact, counter-productive (depending on your niche).
    Never bought into the grafting - because you, the human, somehow decide which exact egg from exact hive will become the queen - well, I decided to forgo such decisions as forever unqualified.

    I am a believer in letting the bees pick the egg to be the queen, Who am I to decide.

    Andhors, 2 methods to look int are Walk away splits, and My favorite forced swarming.
    However for me that is a May June project, as late splits can be hard to over winter.

    In both methods check often, walk away is the easiest, check in 7 days after the split. the 1/2 with eggs and Larve has the queen, the one withe Q cells does not. then resplit the Q cell side to and many as you have resources for. (my personal preference is 4 frames of bees or more, some do less)

    Forced swarming is as simple as not adding more space, the bees get crowed ( same as a "cell builder") start cells. so here you check every 5 days until you see cells. I then pull the queen with 2 frames of bees, and coast her on top of another hive over 2 excluders (wood bound). Split the remaining as many ways as you have resource for. I often move them to a different yard as the fly back effect will change the size and I do not want that. As an example a 20 frame hive can have the queen pulled and then make 4 splits if you have 4 different frames with cells. For the splits I use 5 frame NUCs . with forced swarming the bees decide the egg to use, and have the resources to feed it well. This year with just a couple shots at it I went from 7 hives to about 20. Find something that works for you and go with it. BTW you can share your errors, we all learn Vicariously from them.
    GG

  16. #15
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    Default Re: From my first three months in beekeeping.

    Thanks Goose.

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