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Cell builder questions

1568 Views 3 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  kilocharlie
How does one keep a cell builder populated with young bees? Are the nucs (I am using 5 frame) given frames of capped brood? If so what is the schedule?
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Most people use the cell builder for a couple rounds them break it down into nucs or give it a queen. Repeat with another hive as required. At least that's what I generally do. I've tried adding additional brood frames, but I think they get confused/sad about not having a queen over time. You start getting the chance of laying workers or to many field bees. *shrugs*

At least that's my experience.

This year, I'm trying things a little differently. I'm doing similar to Michael Palmer, where I'm building what would be a swarming nirvana. Basically, I robbed out 8 frames of capped brood, 1 frame pollen, shook in 4-5 frames of nurses through an excluder then came back in 5-6 days and scraped every cell. I should be giving this builder grafts on Friday.

I'm curious to see how it goes, compared to my previous versions. I'll probably start 2-3 sets of cells, then break them down into mating nucs.
Add a frame of sealed emerging brood once a week, or every ten days when you pull the queen cells to start another round.

Here is a great thread to read concerning keeping an ongoing cell builder nuc setup.

Here is another great cell builder link...
Michael Palmer uses a slightly modified approach proposed by Brother Adam of Buckfast Abbey in southern England. He imports 7 frames of capped brood from overwintered nucleus colonies 10 days before grafting on day 11. This over a strong colony in the first place. His Cell Starter/Finisher colony is made queenless from the morning before the (afternoon) graft through the day the Q-cells are capped, then he re-unites the colony with it's queen (she's under an excluder and a box away from the grafts) and stops feeding them.

The same can be done using the Cloake Board Method, which re-unites the queen an the Cell Starter/Finisher only 24 hours after introducing the grafts, but in reality you could pull the Cloake board out (re-uniting the Cell Builder bees with their momma) at any time.

You should see how many bees he has in these colonies! Holy beehives, Batman! And the size of his cells are huge!

If a 5-frame box like in the link that Ray provided can start a 48-cell frame, think how many frames a 4-box-tall colony primed with 20 frames of capped brood can start! I've started as many as 4 frames in a single 4-box-tall colony (196 queen cell grafts). I don't really know their limit yet.
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