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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sorry for so many questions, but I'm about to pull my hair out, which would be really hard since what little that I have left on my head is shaved. LOL

What sort of numbers do you guys run on % of queens that successfully mate and return to lay eggs? If my calculations are correct then yesterday was the first possible laying date for my nucs. As of today I had 2 queens laying in 6 nucs. 33% is a crappy success rate, IMO. I know that there can still be queens that haven't started laying yet so what I need to know is how long should I wait until I combine the nucs back with a hive or add a frame of open brood to allow them to make another queen. Is there any reason to check them again before next Saturday?

Also, are 10-20 bees at the reduced entrance that are "butt up" fanning nasonov a sign that the queen is gone on a mating flight?

On a positive note, the two queens that are laying are doing really well. Both nucs had large areas of eggs on one frame each. They looked like professionals at work.

And finally a question about comb.....

Two of the nucs that I didn't see the queen or any eggs in, had frames that looked ready for eggs, if there is such a thing. There was a honey band around the top, extending slightly down each end, and the remaining cells, where the eggs/larvae would normally be, were polished. Not a single cell in the normal brood area of the comb had any nectar or pollen in a single cell. The cells were clean and dry looking. It appeared to me that the cells had been cleaned spotless, "trued" up and looked ready for eggs. Can I read anything into that, or is that what bees would normally do regardless of the status of having a queen mating, mated or being queenless?
 

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Nectar and pollen don't mean anything in regards to queen presence.Lots of variables raising queens.Bear in mind normally from egg to laying around 28 days.You didn't state when you grafted or how old the queen cells were.Also everything is weather dependent.
 

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On Michael Bush's website he has a section called "Bee Math", which might help you work out the timing.

Are these introduced queens, or ones that the hive cooked up on their own after the splits? Were the queens visible inthe hive or were they still out on the town?

I wish I could offer some knowledgable advice about the timing, but I will be trying my first split in a few weeks, so you're way ahead of me there. But I wanted to compliment you on your careful observations and good way of expressing that in your description of the empty( so far but not for long, hopefully!) cells. I think that seeing-with-comprehension-of-what-I'm-actually-looking-at is one of the hardest things to learn about beekeeping. I look at the frames, I see the bees, but I'm not really sure how much detail I am actually registering. Your excellent, vivid, desription will help me recognize the qualities of individual sections of cells. Thank you for that!

I'm betting your dilatory ladies will be back and on the job, soon. The nasonoving and the everything but a mint on the pillow-ready cells sound like very good signs. Hope you will post again, soon, with good news.n

Enj.
 

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If you did all 6 at the same time, and only 2 are laying, I'd give the other 4 a week to get laying before worrying. However, like was said in above posts, when did you start all this and just what was your process? Much easier to give advice and discussion if we know all the facts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
I put capped swarm cells in the splits. I wrote the date on top of the splits but going from memory I think it was on 4/13. I know FOR CERTAIN that the cells were not capped on 4/11, but were on 4/13. They were installed on the frame they were laid on. Each nuc had a cell that hatched.

I've read Michael Bush's website and calculated that 5/2 was the first possible egg laying date. (If someone wants to double check my bee math, please do) 5/2 was Friday and I checked yesterday 5/3. I know that one day isn't enough time to get in a twist about not having eggs so I want to know at what day do I intervene if I need to? I am to the point of "Robbing Peter to pay Paul" when it comes to resources. I've lost 3 out of 4 of my production queens to swarming. I've caught 2 swarms but both have virgin queens. I have 2 splits with laying queens, and 2 nucs with laying queens. My production hives had capped queen cells in them last Satuday, so if a queen hatches and mates they will be okay.

I'm trying not to jump the gun on requeening my production hives by combining a queenright nuc with them. Since the production hives have the resources to requeen themselves I want to see how that plays out. Also since our flow is on, that gives the hives no brood to take care of.

I will not go through this next year. I will pull the queens out of my production hives and put them in a nuc before swarm cells are built. I didn't know enough this year to be that proactive about this. I thought that opening up the boxes would be enough. It wasn't.

I am going to give fall queen rearing a shot this year. If I can raise queens in the fall, and get them through the winter, then I will have a queen bank to put queens back where they need to be next spring. I will keep what bees I need and sell the rest of them.

I would buy some queens if I could find some, but my normal supplier is just starting to make grafts to sell.
 

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You don't really need to wait. If you have other colonies that can spare a frame of eggs (least invested by donor colony), to donate to each of the hives in question, then they will get a boost in population and have the resources to start another queen, if necessary.

And, yes, the bees are very good at making room for a new queen to begin laying. When I'm inspecting, to see how my virgins are coming along, I always find it encouraging to see areas of comb that appear to be prepared for the new queen's to lay in. I always wonder how the bees suddenly make large areas of nectar/honey to seemingly disappear.
 

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agree with waiting another week and seeing areas of polished cells being prepared as a good sign. adding a frame of eggs and just hatched larvae is is also a good idea as it only takes a few days to see if they start new queen cells on them. your virgins could have been out mating when you looked. i actually had one return from a mating flight and land on the frame i was holding in my hand the other day.

i'm in the same boat brad, and the majority of my colonies are mating queens at this time. i also agree with the strategy of cut down splits prior to swarm season for next year. let me know if you come up short, i have ten nucs promised but may have a spare or two depending on mating success.
 

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On a large scale 90% is about as good as you can do. Two weeks after the installation of "ripe" queens cells 80% is a pretty realistic expectation. If you wait a couple more weeks to get the "second catch" or "bastards" you can expect another 5 to 10 per cent.
 

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You're on the cusp, I'd check them Tuesday and if you can't find a queen in the non laying nucs, give them a frame with resources available to make a new queen or laying workers is going to start soon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
This has little to do with the original post but I figured I'd post this since very few people I know care anything about discussing honeybees.

Starting with a recap of the story of making splits from the beginning: I divided my nucs between my house and a buddies house a few miles away to try and help my chances of having mated queens. (I have posted before about having a large Purple Martin colony) I had another strange day today. My buddy had yet another afterswarm at his apiary today. I was at church and he texted me, so between Sunday school and the sermon I talked him into trying to pull the queen from the swarm and let them go back to their original hive. It worked, and he found 2 queens in the swarm. He caged both of them. He was proud of himself, and I was too. I did tell him that I was giving him the Indian name, "Swarms A Lot." LOL

I posted last week that I hived a swarm at his house that split in half when it landed. I hived the halves separately. One in a nuc of his and one in a nuc of mine. As my luck of late would have it, he wound up with the queen and I wound up with nothing. I put a frame of eggs and young brood in my half of the split to anchor the swarm. When I checked them yesterday they had pulled 4 pitiful looking queen cells. He was going to give me one queen to put in my nuc and he was going to use the other to put in his queenless production hive.

He can't see worth a flip so I help him by finding eggs in his frames......He wanted to look through his queenless hive one more time to make sure there were no eggs. There were no eggs, but there were 4 more queen cells. He started pinching them before I got him stopped. I was able to save 2 of the capped queen cells and I was going to bring them home to make a weak split with and then use that weak split to requeen a hive, or requeen a nuc once I confirm that they are, or are not queenless. I put the cells in 2 of the orange plastic push in cell holders. Both cells were getting papery looking on the end, so I figured they would hatch soon. A few minutes later another virgin queen landed on the side of the queenless hive. That made 3 queens and 2 queen cells, right? Wrong. He decided to keep 2 of the queens and give me one and the 2 queen cells. When I got home to find a place to put my queen cells, I looked at them and one had hatched! I think the virgin on the hive was from one of the cells that we had laid on the top of the adjacent hive.

I've learned a lot in the last 2 weeks. Mostly what NOT to do, but I digress. One thing that I learned this afternoon is DO NOT make a split, without gloves on, after you've been handling hatching age queen cells. That makes pissy bees turn into stingy bees. I have a bad case of knotty fingers tonight. I will be glad when swarm season is over!
 

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>capped on 4/13 not on 4/11

The math is pretty simple. A queen emerges eight days after capping. So probably about 4/20. Two weeks to get mated a lay (typically) so that's 5/4. One week more is the maximum, so that's 5/11. 5/11 I 'd get worried...

>What sort of numbers do you guys run on % of queens that successfully mate and return to lay eggs?

It depends on the flow, the location, the time of year etc. One place where there were a lot of dragonflies it was very low. Typically I'd say higher than 80% and when things are going well, more like 90%.

> If my calculations are correct then yesterday was the first possible laying date for my nucs

Usually they are laying about 10 days after the first possible day and sometimes 17 days after...

> As of today I had 2 queens laying in 6 nucs. 33% is a crappy success rate, IMO. I know that there can still be queens that haven't started laying yet so what I need to know is how long should I wait until I combine the nucs back with a hive or add a frame of open brood to allow them to make another queen. Is there any reason to check them again before next Saturday?

I check them twice. Once two weeks after I expect them to emerge and if they aren't laying I check them again one week later (three weeks after emergence). If they aren't laying I drop them in a jar of alcohol and put another queen cell in. There is no reason to expect them to lay before that.

>Also, are 10-20 bees at the reduced entrance that are "butt up" fanning nasonov a sign that the queen is gone on a mating flight?

Maybe. Maybe not.

> Two of the nucs that I didn't see the queen or any eggs in, had frames that looked ready for eggs, if there is such a thing. There was a honey band around the top, extending slightly down each end, and the remaining cells, where the eggs/larvae would normally be, were polished. Not a single cell in the normal brood area of the comb had any nectar or pollen in a single cell. The cells were clean and dry looking. It appeared to me that the cells had been cleaned spotless, "trued" up and looked ready for eggs. Can I read anything into that, or is that what bees would normally do regardless of the status of having a queen mating, mated or being queenless?

They do that when they have a virgin that isn't laying yet. It's a good indication there is a queen.
 
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