Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 19 of 19 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
698 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I ordered a knock-off mostly for the hair roller cages. I usually use JZ-BZ for grafting but sometimes getting them out the day it calls for can be sketchy with my work and family schedule.

For my 1st round I'm going to try the plastic box instead of grafting like I'm used to. My question is what do I do with all the cups I don't need? If the queen lays out all of the cups there will be a lot of leftovers. I don't think I would leave them in there but are the leftover cups trash?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,456 Posts
Cell-cups can easily be re-used, although they're cheap enough to buy in bulk.

Before the queen lays in a cup, the bees will 'polish' the cell cup - what this means is that they lay down a coating of a wax-propolis mix onto the cell-cup base to cover over the plastic (as bees hate plastic). While that wax is still fresh and relatively soft, it can easily be removed with a popsicle (lollipop) stick shaved-down to fit the cup - a quick rotary twist is all it takes to remove the lion's share of the wax - it doesn't need to be spotlessly clean, as it'll only get coated again next time.

If that wax is left (say, over winter) and turns hard, it can be softened by soaking in a Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda) solution. This also helps to soften the wax which is attached to the outside of those cell cups which have been drawn-out into queen-cells - but it only softens it - it still needs physically removing.
So - if I need to re-use a cell, I first remove the wax on the inside with a popsicle stick, and then - using a length of blunt-ended dowel rod inserted into the cell-cup - push it firmly through a 10mm plumbing fitting (although anything similar with a 10mm hole will do the same job) which then strips-off any external wax.

All-in-all re-using them is a hassle, and it's much easier to buy-in a stock of cell-cups and use new cups each time. But - if you have time on your hands on a cold winter's evening and nothing else to do - they can be re-used. :)

BTW - I found the Chinese cell-cups I bought to be poorly made. In particular, the rims were very rough indeed and needed to be wiped over a sheet of wet-and-dry abrasive paper. In contrast, the genuine Nicot cups are extremely good - so suggest you buy those if you can.
'best
LJ
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
698 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
But, will they clean out the unused cups that had an egg if I just pull the frame and let them dry out? Seems a huge waste to use 110 new cups every time if I'm only pulling 20 or so for queen building. Do they clean out the other 90 and I just replace the ones I actually used?

I'll probably just graft into them over time but since I got the magic frame as part of the kit I figured I would try it once.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,456 Posts
Much depends on your success rate (in getting larvae fed and ready). The wax-propolis mix they use to coat the cell-cup is somewhat sticky, and doesn't break away cleanly - so, whenever you pull and replace a cell-cup which turns out to be empty, or still has an egg in it - when it's replaced the wax tends to build-up. This isn't a problem for the first few cycles, but eventually the wax builds-up such that the cell-cup stands proud of the laying matrix, and the rear cover will no longer fit in place. Then - you have to either clean the cell-cups out, or replace them.

Replacing them might seem wasteful, but 500 genuine Nicot cell-cups can be bought for the same sort of price that a queen would cost if purchased - so it really all boils down to how much your time is worth.

I suppose what you could do, is to work with just the central 2 or 3 columns of cell-cups, and only ever remove those. Leave the others "as is" and just ignore them. If the wax should build up in those - just let it build up. I've never done that, but I can't see why it wouldn't work.

My problem has always been bees removing (or eating) the eggs - so I've always needed to remove all 110 cups in the hope of finding a handful of larvae. Even now I'm only getting 50 or 60 larvae each time - but for me that's a huge improvement.
LJ
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
698 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks LJ. I guess the long & short of it is that regular grafting is much more efficient and that the magic box is for someone who can't or won't use regular grafting.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,456 Posts
Yes - that's about it. In my case it's can't - at least not with sufficient predictability.

Grafting has many advantages - the ability to rear a few larvae from several queens at the same time, as opposed to all from one queen. But the main advantage as I see it, is the number of visits to the hive. With grafting - just the one - and you don't need to find and capture the queen either. With the Nicot laying cage system I've sometimes been in and out of the same hive half-a-dozen times in a week when the queen refused to lay.
LJ
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
Good luck! I put a queen in my Nicot for the first time on Saturday. Checked today & had enough hatched larvae to transfer to my cell builder - I transferred 22 over.

I look forward to hearing how it works for you!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,456 Posts
Much depends on your success rate (in getting larvae fed and ready). The wax-propolis mix they use to coat the cell-cup is somewhat sticky, and doesn't break away cleanly - so, whenever you pull and replace a cell-cup which turns out to be empty, or still has an egg in it - when it's replaced the wax tends to build-up. This isn't a problem for the first few cycles, but eventually the wax builds-up such that the cell-cup stands proud of the laying matrix, and the rear cover will no longer fit in place. Then - you have to either clean the cell-cups out, or replace them.
For the benefit of anyone who couldn't follow what I saying about wax build-up in Nicot cell-cups - here's a diagram which might help. Although cells have a few degrees of down-bubble from the horizontal, I used Microsoft Paint for this - and so the cell is shown vertical. Easier to draw.

The reason bees 'polish' or line the cell-cups with wax is partly to cover the plastic (which they hate), and partly to provide a covering of propolis which has anti-bacterial properties (all brood-comb cells are given this protective layer) - but also to eliminate the hard shoulder which the cell-tube presents - seen in 'A':

'B' shows what results - a nice smooth rounded tube, ideal for housing the growing larva. But if that cell-cup should be removed and replaced, then just as happens with propolis build-up on frames with Hoffman side-bars, a build-up of wax/propolis will occur at the mating edges - shown at 'C' in red - and the cell-cup will gradually be displaced further and further away from the cell tube until the back plate of the laying cage will no longer fit.

Also, the bees will 'polish' the cell cup every time it's used, and so the depth of wax inside the cell-cup will likewise gradually increase. Cleaning or replacement then becomes the only 'cure'.
LJ
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,392 Posts
OK I purchased one of these kits off ebay (full disclosure), I then put tape over all but 20 of them. I put the queen in it and checked every couple of days and after 10 days I gave up and pull the plugs to let her out. On day 5 from pulling the plugs I went back in to find she was still stuck in the thing and I had to go else ware for my grafting stock.
So after reading this I need to do all the cups?
Do something to the knock off ones to get the queen to lay in them.
And actually just get real nicot cups?
I now have about 10 extra queens sitting in Palmer side by sides that I do not know what to do but still want to continue to hone my grafting skills after blackberry flow ends (some call it using the welfare bees)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,456 Posts
Interesting idea about taping-off some cells. The original Patent talks about painting wax over the face-plate in order to make the plastic surface more acceptable to the Queen - so that's what I've done to the 3 laying cages I have. Tape would no longer stick to that wax of course, but I'm sure something could be found that would.

Plugs ? Personally, I've never used them - nor the candy opening above the matrix (which I taped-off before applying the wax coating). I just catch the Queen, pull-off the QX cover, run the Queen onto the exposed faceplate, and then swiftly re-attach the QX to keep her confined. Then later, remove the QX completely to release her ...

Does anyone use those plugs ? I'd be interested to hear from anyone who does, and how well they work (or don't) - they've always seemed like an unnecessary complication to me.

One complaint I frequently hear is that people can't get their Queens to lay in the cage. I also encountered this, but found that painting wax over the face-plate, together with priming the cells with either honey or sugar syrup solved that particular issue. I'm still trying to figure out precisely why they remove eggs, rather than feed them.

There's a lot to be said for grafting. If only ... :)
LJ
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
698 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Looks good Ben. I've decided to hold off until after locust flow which should begin next week. I'm still catching swarms as well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
67 Posts
I used nicot system last 3 years and am trying grafting now :)

I no longer clean used cups: just dunk them in water, leave for a few days, quick wash under running water, let them dry.

The KEY thing is when using new or used cups.. dribble honey into the cups in the frame - just a little. Leave in hive for 24 hours before inserting queen.
Bees will collect honey and clean all cups...


Makes acceptance by queen more likely as well..

edit

I have just cleaned 120 or so cups in a washing machine.
40C or c 95F wash
75 minutes wash, normal non bio soap podwer. Rinse and spin. (800rpm spin)
Cells in a net bag - used for delicate items and washed with other clothes items.
Came out undamaged - and clean.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
698 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
How long until she lays?

I caught the queen and put her in the box contraption last Sunday after having it in the hive without her for 24hr. She's been in there almost a whole week and I didn't see a single egg on the cups. I went ahead and made a queenless split, doing my favorite flyback-split, and now I have a hive full of bees with no young larvae to raise a queen and the original hive with the queen in the box, returning foragers, and a frame of nurse bees.

I can't leave the queenless box go too long but right now it is ideal to use as a starter/finisher. How long should I give her to lay in the contraption before I just go ahead and graft, now from another hive.

*I did wax the contraption and put a small amount of dilute honey in the cups last week. I saw the house/nurse bees working in them which was interesting to watch from the back.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,456 Posts
I caught the queen and put her in the box contraption last Sunday after having it in the hive without her for 24hr. She's been in there almost a whole week and I didn't see a single egg on the cups.
[...]
How long should I give her to lay in the contraption before I just go ahead and graft, now from another hive.
After a week with no eggs, personally I'd release the Queen and pull out that laying frame. Confining the queen behind a QX for too long can cause supersedure - which has happened to me (just once, luckily), but I read on another site that a guy who confines the Queen "for the duration" - i.e. right through from egg-laying to larvae extraction - finds this to be a constant problem.
So - I'd recommend checking for supersedure q/cells for a week following release after a lengthy confinement.
LJ
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
698 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
***update***

Per LJ's recommendation I released the queen. When I examined the box in my workshop with better lighting and more magnification (darn eyes) I did find a small amount of young larvae. Maybe 12 or so. Those cups were placed in the queenless part of the split. I will check it on Tuesday and report back. If I need to regraft I will grab larvae from another hive.

I do agree with LJ after trying this once. If you can graft, grafting is much quicker than setting up, waiting, tearing down, then moving the cups. The box turned what should have been around an hour of work into a multiday adventure.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,456 Posts
I found a very interesting video from a guy (who clearly knows his business - checkout his playlist), who describes a problem with the Nicot Laying Cage I've not come across before - or if I have, then I wasn't aware of it. He finds eggs ... then eggs ... and then eggs - but never larvae. It appears that the eggs are being removed from the Laying Cage cell-cups by the workers and re-located in an adjacent comb - and so the Queen then obliges by laying yet another egg in the empty cell-cup, and so on ...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9PasKb4dPE - main video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3uQQ0kVsBI - the last 5 mins (which were accidently clipped-off the above)

It would appear that's how my use of an egg protection plate works - by the workers being physically prevented from moving them until those eggs are almost ready to hatch - and so the bees then leave them in place as a fait accompli.

But - the more I work with the Nicot system, the more grafting appeals. In and out in one visit :) I've still got my 000 brush and illuminated magnifier - think I'll give it another go ...
LJ
 
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
Top