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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am starting my third year of beekeeping and last year I did not manage to salvage any of the queens produced by my hives. Other than those I used to requeen with. By the end of last year I did get 3 queen castles made and about 8 mini mating nucs. this gives me space for 20 queens to mate.

I also managed to get my apiary up to 23 colonies. 10 of which are second year full size colonies or older. Based upon last year and 4 colonies I am expecting as many as 300 queen cells to be produced during swarm period alone out of these 23 hives.

What I am trying to do right now is plan ahead in order to save and sell as many of these queens as possible.

With the mating compartments I have and the nucs I have I am hoping to be able to get 40 of them mated and built up to 5 frame nucs.

I have plenty of room to get all of them emerged in incubators and caged. but for now it looks like I would have to sell the rest as virgin queens.

What I am looking for is any suggestions on ways to get more of these virgins mated even if I sell them afterward. I have all sorts of ideas but no idea if any of them would work. So if you have any tricks you have used to get one more queen mated I woudl like to hear them.

I am tapped out on purchasing or building additional equipment for this year. we have already added 93 new boxes of one type or another and most of them will not be usable for even temporary mating compartments. I will have about 35 medium supers that if I could convert them to queen castles temporarily I might be able to swing that. it depends on how much materials are required and how much it costs. But in short I have already done all I can as far as adding additional equipment. now I am looking to do as much as possible with that equipment.

So far that has been the flawless record of beekeeping for me. The bees are outproducing what I can keep up with at every turn. Some failures would almost be welcome at this point. It seems no matter how much equipment I buy or build it is full before I an get it finished. boxes are going on hives unpainted simply because they where needed a week before we even got them built.

Anyway any tips on how to stretch what I have as far as it will go is appreciated.

23 hives 11 of which are nucs that will be moved to full size hives in the next 6 to 8 weeks.
11 of the hives area full size deep with a med 10 frame. And one Top Bar hive.

I also have 40 5 frame nuc boxes and and 45 10 frame medium boxes. 20 of these med boxes will go on the full size hives in the next few weeks for their expansion and build up for honey production.

This leaves available for making any addition mating space 35 10 fame medium boxes and 40 5 fame nucs. Any frames of brood bees or drawn comb would have to come from my 10 full size hives or 11 nucs currently in existence.

So far my thinking is centered around ideas like breaking down every full size hive into minimal numbers of frames allowing a virgin queen to make her mating flights from that then as virgins mate and start laying all of my full size hives would be rebuilt from their brood production. this basically makes swarm period a time that all hives are reduced to two frames of bee sand brood a virgin is introduced and allowed to mate once mated the virgin is captured and sold and then the full size hives are reassembled prior to the start of the main flow. With careful timing there is about a 6 week window to pull that off. Yeah I know it is way off the chart ideas and like I said I have no idea if it would even work.

In a nut shell every queen produced is worth money. and I cannot set around and just watch potential sales float by again this year. Last year we made great progress in cashing in on honey sales. this year I am starting with cashing in on queens produced by my hives simply due to attempts to swarm.

My goal is to make enough honey with the bees this year to buy an older lower priced F 250 or similar crew cab truck and utility trailer. I may also attempt to end the season with 200 or more hives. Once again cost of materials and equipment is the deciding factor. Colonies I can make. it is the boxes to put them in that keeps slowing me down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Here is some info in more details.
I currently have 23 colonies that consist of 10 deep and 17 medium boxes.
In addition I have 11 5 frame nucs

I also have 12 new empty deep boxes and 45 new empty medium boxes along with 18 new deep nuc and 18 new medium nucs.

IN total I have 170 drawn deep fraems and 170 drawn medium frames. I also expect to increase the number of drawn frames or at least started frames during the swarm prep period. Going by actual numbers from last year I anticipate as many as 220 addition frames can have at last some start to having comb built in them prior to queen cell building.

This gives me a total of an estimated 540 fraems to work with that are fully drawn some will have brood some will have honey. most will be in some condition of empty or nearly empty some may not have any drawn comb at all.

Assuming I can come up with some cost free way to convert every box in my apiary to a mating nuc compartment. I have equipment to make up to 340 compartments. Each compartment would receive at least 1 full drawn frame and one partially drawn frame.
22 of these compartment would need to be used to keep my existing queens in. The remaining 318 woudl be used to get virgin queens mated. this actually getting mated more queens than I expect my apiary to even produce.

As queen mate return and prove they are productive. My existing queens will be restored to 5 frame nuc boxes and additonal mated queens will be used to start colonies in the other 20 nucs.

Mated queen swill then be sold until each original queen has been restored to a 10 frame deep. any brood produced from sold mated queens will be added to these colonies. These ten frames boxes should at that time be restored to a 10 fame deep with as much as 6 to 7 frames of brood.

This woudl leave me with an estimated 90 mated confirmed queen that I am free to sell or make additional nucs from. any sold queens will have there brood added to production hives or nucs if they need it.

The overall result is I completely break down every frame of bees in my apiary to make mating compartments From every super and body in my apiary. but then those very same hives then have as many as 323 queens producing brood to restore them all to production strength. this breaking down. mating period and restoration would span the time that the hives would otherwise be prepping for swarming or attempting to swarm.

Some of these numbers come from actual results I have had last year. 50% return on virgin queens and that they will succeed on two frames. Some of it is being optimistic or at the very least taking a big risk.
 

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DY - A friendly suggestion: you'd get more responses if your questions were more succinct.

JMHO
 

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I'm not sure what your questions are, but if your doing heavy splits and making a bunch of queens... I wouldn't count on a honey crop...

I would assume that you can do 2 frame splits when the weather is warm enough. I've made many 1 brood 1 honey/drawn comb splits... They just need to stay warm and feed.

If you are planning to do starter/finisher system, then you wouldn't split every hive... You need someone to do the initial heavy lifting..
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
DY - A friendly suggestion: you'd get more responses if your questions were more succinct.

JMHO
I suppose I see it as I would get more responses if others had them to make. I am not in control of what others do or do not do. I never really asked a question at all. I shared an idea and basically left it out there for anyone to comment on. No comments is one of the options in that situation.

I actually suspect eh lack of response has to do with it is a complicated idea. And that most would not be willing to actually think it over.

I do thank those that have done so.

Kevin you bring up a couple of points. First of all this is not regarding another queen production other than what the queens will do naturally on their own Queen rearing grafting etc are a completely different issue. For that reason by the time I am removing queen cells and splitting these hives the heavy lifting will be over.

I successfully got virgins mated on 2 frames late last summer. so I am pretty confident that will still work. Spring nights can still get cool here so how that effects the development is still to be seen.

As for lost honey production. Consider this.

If left to their own and allowed to swarm. that would result in lost honey production. In am in fact preserving those losses. So for sake of discussion I will say I have a population of bees that is roughly twice as strong than if swarming was not prevented. Of course I am assuming that these measures will in fact prevent swarming 100%. The difference is that this population is now busted up into tiny pieces. But this splitting up is exactly in time with when the bees woudl have split themselves up anyway. I just did it in far greater numbers and did not get a bunch of queens killed in the process.

Now after swarming a colony goes through a two week period or so of restoring their population in preparation for foraging and honey production. I am also at the start of a three week period for the virgin to mate and start laying. At first that looks like the virgins need a week long to get mated than the bees need to be built back up. but it is not necessarily so. Swarming for a colony is a span of time . as far as I can tell a span of at least two weeks. I have attempted to take a very close look at this span of time. and to me it looks like the period of time from the first capped queen cell until the bees are ready to start making honey spans from April 14th to June 1st. or about 6 to 7 weeks. The time needed for a virgin to emerge mate and be laying is 3 weeks. this gives me 3 weeks to get production colonies built back up to production strength which is exactly what the original colony would be doing if it had been left alone. again on a more manged and effective scale.

The original queen will still be laying brood and building up for this entire 7 week period. Just as if she had swarmed. Starting 14 days from release of the first virgin I have a daily increasing number of additional queens producing some number of additional brood. there will be 5 weeks remaining of the build up period for at least some of these new queens to contribute to restoring the production colonies. keep in mind for all colonies to be restored to their original strength each virgin only needs to produce 2 frames of bees and brood. They will have 5 weeks max 2 to 3 weeks minimum to accomplish that. And this is restored to their double strength population of never having swarmed. In reality I suspect to land somewhere between a colony that did swarm and one that did not.

My goal for honey production is 1000 lbs from 10 production hives which is based upon numbers that my hives have produced when they did swarm. If I am successful as I hope at restoring them I believe I can expect my first one ton year for honey production. Keep in mind I have 11 addition non production colonies that will add some volume to the honey as well.

The real question is this. can a virgin queen mate and produce two frames of brood before the flow starts? How much increase in brood production can I expect from my 23 original queens once there colonies have been split up and they think they have swarmed?

Financially. I stand to make round 90 nucs and 20 queens that can be sold for something around 14 to 15 thousand dollars. If it costs me honey so be it.

At best I could expect 200 lbs of honey from these came colonies and at my best price I could sell it at $15 a lb. That is 30 thousand dollars but it includes quite a bit of additional expenses. Basically I am taking my best shot at getting as much as I can of both.

Additional queen rearing nuc making etc will come later after honey production. I am not set up for all out queen production at this time. hoepfully if I make some of this money I will be soon.

Basically I am in a situation that I do not grow unless my bees make money. so i am attempting to wring every dime out of them that I can. I do not have time to grow by one or to colonies per hear from each colony I have.

So far my actual track record has been.

400% increase in year one. 600% increase in year two. and I am shooting for 900% increase or better this year. I see there is the room to improve my methods that much.

Anyway I am not yet seeing any "You are completely crazy" Sort of responses. That I will take at least as a good sign.
 
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