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So I have a problem. Been grafting queen cells and 90% of the time I get 17/18. Haven’t tried to put a graft of more than than in a hive because I ve read that due to resources, all the grafts won’t take. That’s been born out of my observations as well. My problem is this: as soon as we get to the capping stage, every time the bees start tearing down the queen cells until there is only 3-6 cells left in the hive. Things that I’ve tried: starter/ finisher hive. Finisher hive both queen right ( moved up open brood, moved up capped brood) with queen under excluder. Tried queenless finisher hive with nurse bees, capped and uncapped brood. Tried cell starter, cell builder, and cell finisher hives. Tried cloake board method. Shook in enough bees that finisher hives were near swarming conditions. Still are getting the queen cells culled to about 6 cells. In desperation, I’ve bought an incubator to put capped cells into as soon as they’ve been capped. Still trying incubator method with roll cages. It’s still puzzling that I checked finisher hive yesterday ( day before capping according to queen math) and had 17/18 beautiful queen cells with only 4 left to cap. Checked today, and the hive has already torn down three queen cells, with two still uncapped. I’ve moved to capped to the incubator ( first time trying this) and left the others to finish capping. My big question. Why do the hives keep tearing down my queen cells right at the critical capping time? I’ve stuffed the hives with bees, feed and pollen frames so it’s not a question of resources. I should say I’m using the nicot method because my direct grafting does have as high as an acceptance rate. Any help is appreciated.
 

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I thought bees nearly always select for the best,even with natural swarm cells, which is why I never reduce the numbers after making splits.
I know some beekeepers reduce to one cell per hive, a sure recipe for to get a queenless hive
 

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I thought bees nearly always select for the best,even with natural swarm cells, which is why I never reduce the numbers after making splits.
I know some beekeepers reduce to one cell per hive, a sure recipe for to get a queenless hive
I'm impressed. Didn't realise anyone still used swarm cells (that is, those produced by the swarming impulse).

As the first virgin out kills the others, reducing the count to one (which timing, rather than bee-selection was therefore responsible for selecting), I'm not sure I follow the logic of your criticism.
LJ

Just came back on to correct myself - the first one out killing the others doesn't apply during the swarming procedure (which I never get to see, therefore wasn't in my sights) - only during the other impulses.
 

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Radar, agreed. I see that written often here, and never could understand all the slaughter of queens. Precious resource.
 

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LJ, When found in time, I harvest swarm cells and place them in the incubator to emerge. It is often said that swarm and supercedure cells produce the best queens. Why would anyone want to tear down those cells?
As far as the OPs question, clearly something about the process the bees do not like. See how the incubated queens do, or if they are even accepted when placed in a mating nuc. There may be something else in play that has not been considered.
 

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We typically start 60 cells and, on average, expect a yield of around 50 cells per queen right builder. If the builders, finishers or starter/finishers are solid boxes of bees with an abundance of resources and you are in sync with seasonal swarming impulses then your problem lies elsewhere. Keeping in mind that healthy queen cells are a microcosm of the health of a hive I would look closely for any signs of disease, most notably efb or perhaps a high mite load. I have seen a dramatic turn around in cell production with a simple treatment of tm.
 

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LJ, When found in time, I harvest swarm cells and place them in the incubator to emerge. It is often said that swarm and supercedure cells produce the best queens. Why would anyone want to tear down those cells?
Well, Radar doesn't tell us precisely how the queens arise during his own making of increase - but if it is using swarm cells, then as I say I'm impressed.

However, the vast majority of beekeepers make queens using the emergency impulse. So - let's take the case of a beekeeper who has raised a dozen queen-cells using this principle - either by grafting or similar method, or on natural comb using (say) the Miller, Hopkins or Alley methods. When it comes time to introduce those queen cells, if he is not going to introduce one - then how many ? Two - five - ten ? How many is considered enough ?

Agreed, such a beekeeper isn't tearing anything down exactly - but he's doing much the same thing by having to make a decision as to how many cells to introduce. One is the norm - there's really very little point in introducing two or more, as they will only be torn down by the first virgin out.
LJ
 

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there is something they do not like about those cells.
mites?
smell is off?
slightly wounded during grafting?
chemical in the cup from manufacture.

at some point the bees decide not to use that queen and tear it down.
tinker with things and you may find out the answer, then again , perhaps not.

GG
 

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there is something they do not like about those cells.
mites?
smell is off?
slightly wounded during grafting?
chemical in the cup from manufacture.

at some point the bees decide not to use that queen and tear it down.
tinker with things and you may find out the answer, then again , perhaps not.

GG
The things you list here will generally result in non acceptance. The subsequent tearing down of cells, in my experience, is usually because of disease (including bqcv), poison pollen or pesticide exposure. A rogue virgin would not be consistent with some surviving and has an entirely different appearance as they are “cut” from the side and only rarely are there any surviving cells.
 

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As far as the OPs question, clearly something about the process the bees do not like. See how the incubated queens do, or if they are even accepted when placed in a mating nuc. There may be something else in play that has not been considered.
Agree totally - any chance that queen is an intermittent drone layer ? That would cause tear-downs, or as Jim says - check the mite load. Also - has larvae from another queen been tried using the same starter/finisher systems ?
There's something seriously not right there ...
LJ

Last thought (clutching at straws ...) - any reports of anything similar from neighbouring beekeepers ?
 

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Well, Radar doesn't tell us precisely how the queens arise during his own making of increase - but if it is using swarm cells, then as I say I'm impressed.
.

LJ
I maybe accused of having double standards, but I only graft from Queens that have spent 2 winters in the same hive, or Supercedure queens.

On the other hand swarm cells when available make good queens, unfortunatly not every swarm cell has a queen in, I was once given 10 swarm cells from a particurlarly good hive which had over ran its owner and reached swarming stage, I took those queens and put them in an incubator and 4 were completly empty, since then if I find a hive with swarm cells I split it and leave all cells.
 

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I'm impressed. Didn't realise anyone still used swarm cells (that is, those produced by the swarming impulse).

As the first virgin out kills the others, reducing the count to one (which timing, rather than bee-selection was therefore responsible for selecting), I'm not sure I follow the logic of your criticism.
LJ

Just came back on to correct myself - the first one out killing the others doesn't apply during the swarming procedure (which I never get to see, therefore wasn't in my sights) - only during the other impulses.
Hi LJ,
I use swarm cells a lot, not exclusive as at times I pull a supersedure cell.
I only need 2-4 queens in the spring and then maybe 6 or so in july.
I pick the hive I want the cells from and simply not super, if that in 2-3 weeks does not produce the desired results, I add a super or 2 of honey from over winter dead outs to create the honey dome.
check every 7 days or so for the cells, when I see them do some NUCs

mostly take all the swarm stopping advice and do the oposite

Out of 4 here at my close yard I got 3 nice queens, out of 4 at a second yard 2 nice ones, 1 being superseded, and one not returned or not mated.
for a 10-15 hive operation it works.

GG

I am not going to lie there is the danger of swarming out the best queen in the yard, so I do have a couple decoys out, of the last 3 I did catch 2. The ocational one that gets away I think the ferals will be helped so I can still sleep at night.
 

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As the first virgin out kills the others, reducing the count to one (which timing, rather than bee-selection was therefore responsible for selecting), I'm not sure I follow the logic of your criticism.
LJ

Just came back on to correct myself - the first one out killing the others doesn't apply during the swarming procedure (which I never get to see, therefore wasn't in my sights) - only during the other impulses.
I think I have posted this photo before, but if not, here it is again.



Short story. 15 grafted, 13 accepted, 12 emerged into the cell builder hive.

Longer explanation. How did this come about ? I ended up in the hospital for a week starting the day before these cells were due to be transferred into mating nucs. They emerged a couple days later. When I got home, we found a whole bunch of virgin queens in the top box of the cloak board cell builder, and the original queen in the bottom had swarmed.
 

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Extraordinary ... I'm beginning to believe in Black Magic. :)

With the queen & colony swarming - the logistics of that situation make complete sense - but how many times have we heard the opposite story: someone screws-up with the timing, doesn't have roller cages in place ... and ends-up losing the lot (well, all except one) ?
LJ
 

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So I have a problem. Been grafting queen cells and 90% of the time I get 17/18. Haven’t tried to put a graft of more than than in a hive because I ve read that due to resources, all the grafts won’t take. That’s been born out of my observations as well. My problem is this: as soon as we get to the capping stage, every time the bees start tearing down the queen cells until there is only 3-6 cells left in the hive. Things that I’ve tried: starter/ finisher hive. Finisher hive both queen right ( moved up open brood, moved up capped brood) with queen under excluder. Tried queenless finisher hive with nurse bees, capped and uncapped brood. Tried cell starter, cell builder, and cell finisher hives. Tried cloake board method. Shook in enough bees that finisher hives were near swarming conditions. Still are getting the queen cells culled to about 6 cells. In desperation, I’ve bought an incubator to put capped cells into as soon as they’ve been capped. Still trying incubator method with roll cages. It’s still puzzling that I checked finisher hive yesterday ( day before capping according to queen math) and had 17/18 beautiful queen cells with only 4 left to cap. Checked today, and the hive has already torn down three queen cells, with two still uncapped. I’ve moved to capped to the incubator ( first time trying this) and left the others to finish capping. My big question. Why do the hives keep tearing down my queen cells right at the critical capping time? I’ve stuffed the hives with bees, feed and pollen frames so it’s not a question of resources. I should say I’m using the nicot method because my direct grafting does have as high as an acceptance rate. Any help is appreciated.
You have had excellent acceptance and you have eliminated most of the common reasons for failure. One of the things that workers will choose as criteria for culling down to the most desirable cell is the age of the larvae chosen. The workers purpose is only to requeen and not the production of 15 or 20 queens. If some of the larvae were slightly older at the time of grafting (I am not suggesting ancient or compromised) they might be ones culled.
One piece of advice I have seen is to choose even aged larvae to graft. Is there any chance that this variable could be part of the mystery of torn down cells?
 
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