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.