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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had two bars I grafted with a total of about 27 queens. I didn't have enough mating nucs built and I had nothing stocked. I figured a day to take care of making a few more and getting 6-10 3 section deep mating nucs stocked with frames of brood honey pollen etc. Well it has taken three days and I have only done 6 for a total of 18 queens. Now it is a hurricane so I am thinking that the queens that are still in the cages inside of the queenless finisher (banked?) are going to be too old to mate properly. I hope to get out early tomorrow and make some more nucs up and stocked but how long do I have? I have one last bar that I grafted 5 days later than these that I am working with so that is a back up if the general opinion is that these queens are aged out for mating.
Of course I was in a rush to get the queens into mating nucs before the rain came too hard, Not possible. I had them in some cages that came with a Jenter kit stuffed over the cells. As I put two of them up to the nuc entrances they squeezed past and flew off. I caught one and it flew off again. Another I saw had landed on the grass below me but when I went to pick her up she vanished. I don't know how queens do this. I'll be looking at them and less than a second later poof, gone. Oh well, I'm glad I have more queens than mating nucs this time.
I really should know better. I am never prepared as well as I should be.
 

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Like you I am always learning about them. Yes, the new queens are very fast that their
bodies are a lot lighter than a mated queen. They can just took off the frame just like that.
Sometimes they would fly into the nearest nuc so you might have 2 queens in a nuc. It happened
to me many times with disappearing queens. And sometimes you will see the workers balling on a
foreign queen in there. Good luck! Always better to have more queens on stand by. Banking them
is useless since they only have a 2 week windows to mate after hatching. They need to freely roam
while strengthen themselves for the mating flight. All you can do is to try and hope for the best outcome now.
 

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After they are three days post-emergence, it is nearly impossible to get a nuc to accept them. And, even when the queens are younger than three days, the nuc you're introducing them to, needs to be hopelessly queenless, which means they need to realize that they are without a queen of their own, and that they have no queen cells, and no brood young enough to produce viable queen cells from, which can take as much as seven days after they are made up and you've removed any queen cells they may have started. It is so much easier to have the queen cells emerge inside each individual mating nuc.

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I, more than once, have pulled a bar of cells from their cell builder colony, only to have most of them, emerge within minutes of each other, while I was holding the bar in my hands. I really had to hurry and put each one into individual cages, but in the next ten minutes, released each one into pre-configured mating nucs, that were hopelessly queenless, without any brood, young enough to raise queens from. Most of them were accepted and graduated to mated/laying queens within about two weeks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I think I'll be OK with the ones that hatched and I placed in nucs because they came from a 2 deep queenless finisher. Each nuc got a frame from this finisher that was full of the same bees that raised them. I guess time will tell. I planned on waiting a few weeks before checking but now I am going to look in a few days to see if I can spot the introduced virgin queen. Maybe it would help to keep the Virgin queen in the cage and let her out after a day??
Many companies sell virgin queens??? There has to be a way to use them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I've done a lot more reading on virgin queens and almost all that I read states the queens can mate up to 3 weeks after hatching. Some literature states more, some less. This is the average. I also read that virgin queens are regularly introduced into queenless hives/nucs etc. Seems like they can be problematic if simply allowed to walk in but a lot of folks state they do it all the time without an issue of rejection. Those that like to make the introduction as smooth as possible say that putting honey or syrup on the virgin queens makes them accepted all the time so long as there is not another queen in the hive???
I am not grasping at straws even though I am looking at trying to introduce several virgin queens into mating nucs I have stocked. I suppose this will be another subject for debate in the word of beekeeping. What else is new?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well it is not an issue anymore. I had the queens hatch on the last bar that did not have any cages around the cells. There was one queen walking around in the box and there were 4 cells unhatched. These I put cages on and the queens hatched int the cages as I watched. The others were still in their cages-I guess about another 12 or so. I had been building mating nucs for all these cells. I had already stocked 16 mating nucs but I didn't put enough bees in most of them. I found few bees in most and I also found some SHB starting to slime frames. I cobbled together some more mating nucs and I guess I salvaged maybe 10 queens by putting them into the quickly constructed nucs along with the nucs that were previously put together that did have enough bees. Essentially I will start over even if these 10 mate properly. This has been a lot of learning. I got so frantic about not having enough mating nucs that I got in a rush stocking the ones I did have made and didn't put enough bees in them. It took me longer than expected to make another 16 mating nucs which I made from cypress I have on hand. I made deep boxes that hold 4 mating nucs each. Oh well-live and learn. I had a bit of a temper tantrum after finding the slimed frames. I also had to be somewhere this afternoon and couldn't deal with the problem by putting the 20 frames (about 2-3 had SHB starting) in the freezer so I put them all about 100' from the hive and let the bees rob them out and I'll freeze them tomorrow I guess.
Now I have to figure out how to stock the next go round of mating nucs. I am going to use some frame feeders I built and totally forgot about so I won't be risking frames of honey. I'll put in a frame of brood and a frame with some honey but mostly pollen and a frame of drawn comb or foundation plus shake a few frames of bees of brood frames. That's the plan right now anyway. It is a lot more resources from other hives than I thought it would be but a large problem was not wanting to break down hives with honey supers on them to get the needed bees. I'll bite the bullet next time and either take the honey off for extracting or break them down and reduce them to a single deep and put the honey back on. Or maybe I'll just set the whole apiary on fire. It all depends on the mood I am in.
 
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