Drones and Cloake Boards
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  1. #1
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    Default Drones and Cloake Boards

    Answering another thread prompted me with a question I have.

    I use a cell starter and cell finisher. I'm thinking of with trying a cloake board as a lower resource way for small scale queen rearing.

    When using a cloak board for queen rearing a hive gets set up like this.

    Hive Top.

    Cell Starter/Finisher box

    Cloake

    Queen Excluder

    Queen right box

    Queen Excluder

    Bottom Board

    If I follow correctly, there are queen excluders on the top and bottom of the queen right box. Paul Kelley also puts QEs above and below the starter/finisher box.

    So obviously any drones are trapped. Is it too bad, so sorry? Do the boys just have to hold it and wait for you to tear down the starter/finisher?
    Zone 6B

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Drones and Cloake Boards

    In queen rearing, I rarely utilize combs with drone cells. The queen-right section is the one area that could possibly be remotely acceptable to allow for drone comb, but it would be far better to move that comb (with occupied drone cells in it) to another hive and let them hatch out there instead.

    The concept is that a cell raiser is a supercharged hive with 10 extra frames of emerging worker brood imported from other hives about 9 days before the grafting day. This makes for about 30,000 five- to fifteen-day-old nurse bees that are over-fed and suddenly made queenless for several hours with not even a single larvae from which to raise a queen. Then, TA-DAH! the beekeeper gives them a frame of grafts - newly hatched worker larvae - from his best laying breeder queen(s).

    On that 9th day (day 10 is grafting day), three of those 10 frames (the three that are most completely emerged) are replaced with one frame empty queen cell cups for "polishing", and one frame of open brood to get them in baby-caring mode, and one frame of super-fresh pollen right next to the open brood.

    The CB box is usually arranged as follows: 1) Honey; 2) capped brood; 3) capped brood; 4) pollen / honey; 5) grafts; 6) pollen; 7) capped brood; 8) capped brood; 9) capped brood; 10) honey. This is the arrangement on day 10. ( days before that it is 9 frames of capped brood and one of honey pollen.

    At 3:00 PM on day 10, that frame of queen cell cups is removed and taken to the grafting room (tent, or the cab of your truck - where ever you prefer to graft) and replaced with one more frame of pollen. The frame of open brood is replaced with the grafts a few minutes later. Try to get the grafting done in under four minutes. You may accomplish this by grafting one bar of the frame at a time.

    Myself, I graft inside a backpack tent with a table and a chair inside set up a day or two beforehand right near the breeder queen hive and the cell raiser hive. I like to do a "dry run", pretending to actually do each step, before I graft. I have a 5-gallon bucket of 95 degree Fahrenheit water, a spray bottle inside that bucket, my grafting frames (identical to the ones being polished in the cell builder), my grafting tools and backups, my 7X loupe, my Mini Mag flashlight, my bee brush, a bee vacuum for the few bees that invariably get inside the tent, and a damp towel to cover the grafts as I graft.

    You can indeed utilize a Cloake Board, but I am in agreement with Michael Palmer in that I prefer much better control over the nurse bees than a Cloake board gives. If you do use it, it should have a queen excluder built right into it, along with the slide board.

    If only doing a few queens, say 15 or so, you could do it in a 6-frame nuc' box.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Drones and Cloake Boards

    Quote Originally Posted by JConnolly View Post

    Hive Top.

    Cell Starter/Finisher box

    Cloake

    Queen Excluder

    Queen right box

    Queen Excluder ??

    Bottom Board
    Why have you got a QX between the Bottom Board and the Q+ve Brood Box ? - it's both unnecessary & undesirable.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Drones and Cloake Boards

    Quote Originally Posted by JConnolly View Post

    If I follow correctly, there are queen excluders on the top and bottom of the queen right box. Paul Kelley also puts QEs above and below the starter/finisher box.
    Is Paul Kelly the guy on UoG videos?
    If I remember correctly, the QE on top of the BB is to keep out rogue virgin Queens. Is this correct?

    Alex
    Ten years of Beekeeping before varroa. Started again spring of 2014.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Drones and Cloake Boards

    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post
    Why have you got a QX between the Bottom Board and the Q+ve Brood Box ? - it's both unnecessary & undesirable.
    LJ
    Well that is kind of what I thought, but several of the set ups I looked at had them. I assumed that it was because a cloake board cell stater/finisher is a hive that has been pressed to near the point of swarming. Some set ups use four queen excluders.


    Quote Originally Posted by AHudd View Post
    Is Paul Kelly the guy on UoG videos?
    If I remember correctly, the QE on top of the BB is to keep out rogue virgin Queens. Is this correct?
    Yes, he is the director of the Honey Bee Research Center. https://www.uoguelph.ca/ses/people/paul-kelly

    I think that is also the reason he uses the extra excluders. But for small queen rearing where I can mate a max of 8 queens at a time and where I can do no more than 16 queens a year I don't think that the upper excluders will be necessary.
    Zone 6B

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Drones and Cloake Boards

    Quote Originally Posted by JConnolly View Post
    Well that is kind of what I thought, but several of the set ups I looked at had them. I assumed that it was because a cloake board cell stater/finisher is a hive that has been pressed to near the point of swarming. Some set ups use four queen excluders.
    Strewth. I has no idea people used such strong colonies - indeed, one of the features of the Cloake Board is the congestion which re-directing the returning foragers up into the top box causes. That has always suggested to me that an uber-strong colony isn't absolutely necessary - at least that is, one which is on the point of swarming.

    You're quite right to bring up the issue of "what happens to the drones ?" as many write-ups of this method appear to suggest that once the box stack has been reversed - so that the bottom brood box entrance faces backwards - it can stay that way. If this is indeed so: "then what happens to the drones ?"
    If the lower brood box entrance is left open (so that the drones can freely come and go), then the colony will gradually habituate towards using (what is now) the rear entrance, which is hardly desirable. If that entrance is kept closed - which is what most write-ups seem to infer - then the only route into and out of the lower brood box becomes via the QX. Which is bad news for the drones.
    That's why, whenever I use the Cloake Board method, I restore the box stack to it's original position after each 'run'. This of course means reversing the stack twice, and so I place the stack on top of a turntable in order to make life so much easier.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  8. #7
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    May 2011
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    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: Drones and Cloake Boards

    I would make the lower box entrance moveable instead of rotating the whole box. Also I dont think it would have to be for a long time.

    I suppose in a very busy apiary with multiple other virgins being mated there would be risk of one returning to the wrong box and taking out the lower queen or generally confusing issues. If you had supers above the upper box you should have an excluder there too. You would not want a virgin setting up camp there and do a top down attack on your cells. I guess excluders everywhere is belt AND suspenders insurance.

    I probably will be doing only one run and had not thought of the extra excluders. It would be a bummer though to lose several bars of cells you were planning on.
    Frank

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Drones and Cloake Boards

    Quote Originally Posted by crofter View Post
    I would make the lower box entrance moveable instead of rotating the whole box.
    For me that would mean making a new bottom board. The cloake board method will be new to me so for now I'll just spin the bottom until I decide whether it works better for me than a starter nuc does. Since my grafting success rate is a dismal 50% then I'll probably need to make two runs.
    Zone 6B

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Drones and Cloake Boards

    Yah, no use messing up a good and proper bottom board; I have some that are pretty rugged so drilling a hole or two in the back is not much of an insult.

    I am not even going to think about grafting; too shaky. I will plant a few tabs of wireless wax to get it laid up to cut some comb strips from or cell punch.
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    Frank

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