Trials and tribulations of Queen-Rearing 2020
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  1. #1
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    Default Trials and tribulations of Queen-Rearing 2020

    This is an extension of last year's https://www.beesource.com/forums/sho...plete-success-!!

    Have just completed the first Nicot Laying Cage run of this season - which proved to be a very strange event.

    I set-up a Cloake Board hive and a Joseph Clemens Queenless Starter-Finisher for Q/R purposes. In order to confirm queenlessness in the boxes and to give the colonies an opportunity to start wild q/cells, I placed a frame of Miller-type combs in each. Both hives started drawing multiple q/cells in those combs, together with one or two wild cells on their brood combs, which of course were culled.

    Having had success with it's use last year, I installed an egg-protection plate into the Nicot Laying-Cage - however, adverse weather made timing very imprecise, and the plate had to be pulled earlier than desirable, and only 52/110 larva were obtained. Directly after pulling the Miller-combs, 48 of these larvae were presented to the hives on 3 frames, each having 2 bars of 8 cell-cups - 1 frame being given to the JC hive, and 2 given to the queen-right Cloake Board hive, as this was significantly stronger.

    A 'Day-8' inspection revealed that in the Cloake Board hive 26 (of 32) q/cells had been drawn and were either now capped or in the process of being capped. But in the JC hive, not one single q/cell had been started - why ?. Dunno - it's both queenless and strong enough for the job, the Miller combs showed that. There's no obvious way a virgin could have entered, and there are no wild q/cells in evidence. So it would seem that the bees in that hive have simply 'gone on strike'.

    Ah well ... I'll be starting a second run in a day or two's time, and will give them another chance then. If they persist in strike action, then I'll break-up that colony into nucs, and re-build another. But - this is weird - it's never happened before.

    So - the egg protection plate is proving to be an essential bit of kit in this little corner of the world. A few pics for anyone interested:

    The Egg Protection Plate (as featured in the original patent) - a bit difficult to see as it's transparent:



    The eagle-eyed amongst you may have been able to detect a colour difference across the matrix. So I've enlarged the graphic and marked it with a red line. To the left of the red line the cells appear darker, with a slight bluish tint - that's due to the thin-wall aluminium tubes with which I've lined the cells on that half of the matrix. (There was a thought at one time that the cell diameter midway between drone and worker size chosen by the Nicotplas company may have been responsible for indecision in young queens, who then aborted laying - inserting the tubes to provide a precise 5.00 mm lumen was an experiment I conducted. It appears to make no difference)



    And finally the Egg Protection Plate as installed, with the QX holding it in place.



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

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Geauga, Ohio
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    Default Re: Trials and tribulations of Queen-Rearing 2020

    A beek in NE OH here has found that his queenless cellbuilders often require 2 or even 3 introductions of grafts before they will start drawing them out. I have just had the same experience (did not happen last year).

    The "cell builder" was a swarm, then given frames with eggs/larvae and made queen cells 12 days later, so queen must not have made it back. Only 2 drawn frames with brood, rest they worked on.

    So I know there isn't a queen in there because of the queen cells made on the introduced combs, but they did not draw out the grafts. Bees too old? Needed to regress? Well, I give up, different job for those bees. They drew out a nice bit of wax on the graft bar, despite not being fed!

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
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    Hampton Arkansas
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    Default Re: Trials and tribulations of Queen-Rearing 2020

    Just made a cell builder the other day by pulling the queen from a hive with 1 frame of brood and placing them in a nuc. I waited a couple of days and went in to the hive and tore all started cells down, then I grafted and placed the grafts in the hive and as they do on the first round I think I got 8 out of 15 to take. After the cells were capped I placed them in the incubator. I then waited 1 day and re grafted. I went and looked at the new grafts on day 2 after grafting and they had not started any cells so I went to looking and found fresh eggs in the frames. I went thru the hive and found another queen. So either I had a virgin in the hive when I pulled the queen or one found her way into the hive. Either way It sure messed up one round of grafts.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Trials and tribulations of Queen-Rearing 2020

    Hi Trish - so your story's the same as mine then - natural comb ok, but plastic cell-cups rejected ? Two things spring to mind - maybe some colonies just prefer making the decision themselves to select larvae and draw out a horizontal cell into vertical, rather than accepting vertical cells and continuing to draw what they assume some other bees have already started.

    Or - maybe some just don't like plastic. It's occurred to me that the rims of the cell cups I use (ex. Nicot Laying Cage) remain virgin clean. Bearing in mind that the bees only ever get to 'polish' the area at the bottom of the cell-cup, I'm wondering if putting a small deposit of wax (somehow) onto the walls of the cell-cup might pay dividends ?


    Hi GregH - yes, it's a bugger when that happens. There's definitely something wrong with my J-C hive, but there's a QX over the entrance, so it's hard to see how a queen could have entered.
    But - no matter, the Cloake Board hive has returned 32 q/cells which is quite a few more than I can easily handle (a dozen a week is about my normal capacity) - it was really just the extreme contrast which I thought was worth posting about. I rather like using J-C Q-ve starter-finishers, and this is the first time I've had a flat refusal.

    Wish I could graft efficiently - but I found it too unreliable (lack of skill on my part).
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Trials and tribulations of Queen-Rearing 2020

    Checked the J-C hive yesterday - one puzzle solved: it had somehow become queenright - and that lady is laying like a train ... But - another question's raised: how on earth did that happen ? Must have either been a q/cell oversight, or somehow a mated virgin got in. Couldn't have been due to the q/cells on the Miller-type comb, as that was removed completely ... Oh well.

    Spent yesterday making-up six-frame nucs with freshly-emerged virgins - placed the open roller cages on top of the top bars - lovely to watch the virgins wander in, completely unnoticed and unbothered. Sometimes there'd be a touching of antennae and a moment of head-to-head contact, but nothing more than that.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  7. #6
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    Oct 2019
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    Wakefield, Rhode Island, USA
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    Default Re: Trials and tribulations of Queen-Rearing 2020

    You are inspiring me to take up another aspect of bee keeping. I am unable to acquire any swarm cells for the 2nd year in a row from my little apiary of 9 colonies but I have another few weeks of opportunity left this year. The flow is starting in earnest here with 8 colonies ready. Strange that in the middle of a rain and high humidity my three "sensed" hives, especially the really big one, is dropping in RH. It dropped in a few days from 94 to 48% RH, but temperatures still in the 80's to low 90's at the top - honey making underway.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Trials and tribulations of Queen-Rearing 2020

    Bit of an update from my last post towards the end of May.

    The first Nicot run of the year was such a success that I had intended to re-run the exact sequence in the pain-staking detail I'd recorded - but when attempting to find the Queen, discovered that she'd been superseded. Whether or not queen-rearing had triggered that, or whether she was due for supersedure anyway, I'll never know - but there was no way I could then rotate that hive stack with the prospect of a virgin returning to it - and so I put that hive stack on ice until it became queen-right again, and turned to another hive and another queen.

    However, the next hive/queen didn't want to play, and after a week of unsuccessful confinement I gave up.

    So I tried a third hive, which produced slightly better results - but only slightly. 10 or 11 larvae resulted, in contrast to 50+ from my first colony - and which were produced under adverse weather conditions.

    But, there may be a simple explanation. And for this I'll quote from the 'official Nicot instructions' as published on their website:

    Put it [the frame with Laying Cage] several months in the middle of the brood without queen excluder (if you don't use it, keep it in the brood, the smell of the queen will make more easily the next egg laying).

    Feed the hive 4 days before and during the eggs laying.
    Now feeding may indeed be important to stimulate egg-laying, but I've not experienced a problem in this regard before, and there was a flow in progress during all 3 attempts thus far this year.

    However, the issue of queen pheromone could explain my results. The laying cage frame had been in storage over winter, and so the first colony would have had a matrix to lay in without any obvious smell to it - hence laying proceeded without undue reluctance, and the run was successful. But in contrast, both subsequent runs involved the same matrix which then held the pheromones of previous queens.

    This needs to be confirmed of course, but if indeed hive odour and/or queen pheromone plays an important part in the process (which Nicot suggests it does), then this implies that separate Laying Cages need to be provided for each selected Breeder Queen. Hmmm ...
    And - keeping the laying cage in situ for several months beforehand - how realistic is that ?

    I do have 3 Laying Cage frames, and so could test this out later-on, but right now that first colony is queen-right again and - in the hope that it's queen is as good as her mother - I've just started a modified Miller Method using a couple of starter combs I inserted into the brood nest during the supersedure event, which now have eggs in them.

    I'll return to playing with the Nicot Laying Cage when I've processed the next batch of q/cells - as my recent exercise in 'virgin introduction' into nucs wasn't as successful as I'd hoped: virgin intro: 30-40% successful, whereas Q/Cell introduction almost 100%.
    LJ
    Last edited by little_john; 06-21-2020 at 04:13 AM.
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  9. #8
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    Sep 2018
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    Default Re: Trials and tribulations of Queen-Rearing 2020

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Holcombe View Post
    You are inspiring me to take up another aspect of bee keeping. I am unable to acquire any swarm cells for the 2nd year in a row from my little apiary of 9 colonies but I have another few weeks of opportunity left this year. The flow is starting in earnest here with 8 colonies ready. Strange that in the middle of a rain and high humidity my three "sensed" hives, especially the really big one, is dropping in RH. It dropped in a few days from 94 to 48% RH, but temperatures still in the 80's to low 90's at the top - honey making underway.
    Robert, poor weather leads to less nectar collecting, leads to less nectar evaporating, maybe leads to lower humidity, just a thought.

    GG

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Trials and tribulations of Queen-Rearing 2020

    GG - "Robert, poor weather leads to less nectar collecting, leads to less nectar evaporating, maybe leads to lower humidity, just a thought."

    Actually the rain has been mostly at night, fog dissipates by mid to late morning and grey skies give way to sunlight. This makes everything lush and green with flowers all over the place . But the best numeric measure is three supers full and fourth added. Thus lots of "ripening honey".

    On top of that the values dropped into brood rearing range but was actually much higher during Spring buildup. The values compared to outside conditions indicate to me a controlled system - controlled by the bees. I have just given them the ability to managed it.

    I am essentially stopping now with the insulating box covering mostly supers. One sensor is on a hive with a newly installed queen post supercedure failure - also interesting as the temperature rose bak up to brood rearing levels . For sure the internal environment desires of the colony vary with vary with seasonal affects on the colony; no -brood, no foraging, Spring buildup, intense foraging, queen replacement, winter brood rearing - a lot to learn. I am goign to increase the number of hives sensed and hopefully more internal sensors. I failed to keep a fully insulated hive - brain fart - as I put supers on the insulating box went up with the supers - easily fixed. I am about to evaluate the rate of capping as a rough observation as compared to my memory of last year - an intuition test.

    The new question is what are the effects of night time external conditions on internal environment and bee behavior?

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Trials and tribulations of Queen-Rearing 2020

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Holcombe View Post
    The new question is what are the effects of night time external conditions on internal environment and bee behavior?
    No - it's bloody-well NOT. This is a thread about QUEEN-REARING in the Queen and Bee-Breeding sub-forum - it's not about relative humidity or the amount of moisture in honey.

    If you want to discuss such things - start your own thread ... and in the appropriate sub-forum.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Trials and tribulations of Queen-Rearing 2020

    Oooooooops! Apologies and i do like your queen discussion.

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