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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Yesterday I completed my first graft using a Nicot Cage. Today I moved the graft from my starter cell to my queenright finisher and the good news is that I have at least one and possibly as many as three queen cells started. The bad news is that the 1-3 larvae were all that I found when I did the graft.

I think the root of the issue may be related to the 'pre-conditioning phase' when I placed the Nicot cage without cover in the donor hive (into the center of the broodnest) for thee days to be 'accepted' by the hive.

When I went into the hive to cage the queen three days later, I saw that pretty much all of the cups were full of nectar. I put the queen in assuming that the worker bees would clean the nectar out of the cups for her to lay in, but apparently they had other ideas. When I went in yesterday for the graft (5 days after caging the queen), almost all of the cups were still full of nectar and out of the few cups that were not full of nectar, only 1-3 appeared to have young larvae in them (which have now been successfully started).

So my questions for those with experience using a Nicot Cage are:

1/ has anyone else ever had the worker bees store nectar in the Nicot Cage during the preconditioning phase? Is this normal? Is is a problem?

2/ should I have rinsed out and dried the cups to clean out the nectar before cagng the queen?

My first graft is hopefully not going to end up a total failure, but nectar in the cups before the queen was caged caught me by suprise. Any advise for how to avoid this and/or how to deal with it greatly appreciated.


-fafrd
 

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Yeah, I've had that problem when I left it in the queen box in the donor hive for more than two days. My goal is about 48 hours to "pre-condition," with the cover off (as you describe), but there are days I just cannot break free and get out to the bee yard.

Grant
Jackson, MO
 

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Thanks Grant. So from your response I assume that if you do not clean out the nectar (as was my case - I left it alone) then the queen will not be able to lay into the cups, right?

So you just dab out the cups with a q-tip leving a bit of nectar residue in the cup but that is not a problem and the queens lays inmost/all of the cups, right?

I was going to rinse the cups off in how water and dry before reassembling the cage, but maybe that's not worth the trouble based on your experience...

thanks again,

fafrd
 

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I have used a Jenter for a couple of years. Each time they have started putting nectar in the cells, but removed it when I put the queen in the cage. I only left her for a max of 20 hours and it was gone and all of the cells had eggs.

They hadn't filled the cells and were probably just drying nectar in there, but it didn't take them long to remove it.
 

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Thanks beedeetree. That's what I thought would happen in my case as well. I had left the Nicot cage in for a full 3 days for preconditioning ad the cups were all compltely filled when I caged the queen. I had thought that they would move the nectar but after 5 days, only about 5-6 cups had been emptied out (and only about 2-3 of those had eggs or larvae in them.

I'll try preconditioning for only a single day next time and if I see cups completely filled with nextar, I think I am going to clean it out before caging the queen...

-fafrd
 

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I use the Nicot system and I always put the Nicot box in for "conditioning" for 24 hours prior to enclosing the queen. I have never had them put nectar in cells before enclosing the queen. Although, there is often nectar in a few cells when I remove the queen. I just placed 38 cell cups in cell bar frames in two starter colonies today. And, I will place a frame in another starter colony tomorrow using the Hopkins method for the first time.
 

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I probably left the cage in too long for conditioning (4 days). Will cut down the conditioning phase to 24 hours next time and hope that that avoids the problem...

-fafrd

p.s. have never tried the Hopkins method and would be interested to hear back from you once you have been able to compare the two methods...
 

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>1/ has anyone else ever had the worker bees store nectar in the Nicot Cage during the preconditioning phase?

A Jenter, but yes.

> Is this normal?

Yes.

> Is is a problem?

If it's capped, uncap it. Other wise it's not a problem as they will move it as soon as you put the queen in it.

>2/ should I have rinsed out and dried the cups to clean out the nectar before cagng the queen?

No, they will clean it out in a matter of a hour or two.
 

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I actually leave the Jenter in a hive all year. I move it to the end frame when I am done and then back to the center of the brood nest a few days before I add the queen.

I will say the by leaving it in all year there gets to be "stuff" put in the cell cups. After I had left it in all year and then went to pull larva after having the queen in the cage I found that it was harder to see them because there was propolis? or wax? or something in the bottom of the cups.

I was worried about whether the hives would accept the larva but I got good acceptance and when I went back to take the Jenter out to clean the cups I found wall to wall capped brood in the Jenter except for the 28 cups (now holes in the capped brood pattern) that I had put in the cell bars.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
>2/ should I have rinsed out and dried the cups to clean out the nectar before cagng the queen?

No, they will clean it out in a matter of a hour or two.
Michael,

This is what I thought would happen (which is why I left the cups as is when I caged the queen) but the cups were still almost all full of nectar when I harvested 5 days later. There were only about 6 of the 110 cells that were not full of nectar. Any idea why the bees may have decided to leave the nectar in the cells despite the presence of the queen in the cage?

-fafrd
 

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Heavy honey flow or your feeding to heavy, some time if you will put in a couple of fully drawn combs that are empty so they will have a place to go with some of the extra incoming flow.
 

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Michael,

I am going to try a second graft in my Nicot Cage, and thought this time I would try cleaning out the nectar from half of the cups and leaving the other half 'as-is' to compare. How would you recommend to clean nectar out of the cups - rinse in hot water and dry out with a paper towel, or do think there is a better way to get the nectar out of the cups so the qeen will want to lay in them?

Also, how do you clean out your cups between uses - boil in hot water, or something else?

thanks,

-fafrd
 

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During my last round of queen rearing with my Jenter (in late April) I took about 26 plugs to put in the cell bars and put the Jenter back in the hive as the end frame. When I went to get it out I found that there was capped brood in all of the frames except the 26 places that I removed the larva, so I put it back in.

I went to get it out the other day and found that they had filled it with honey and had started capping it. I wasn't sure what to do, but decided that I would put it in the center of the brood nest the next day (I had to replace the missing plugs so I didn't put it right back in) and see if they would clean it out. It was late in the afternoon so I put it on my patio and when I went out the next morning there were a few thousand bees cleaning out the frame. In about three hours the frame was perfectly clean and ready for the queen.

So you might just set it out and see what happens.
 

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Also, how do you clean out your cups between uses - boil in hot water, or something else?
thanks,
-fafrd
Just drop them in boiling water for a moment or so, of course the manufacturer recommends against reusing the cups, they are disposable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
It was late in the afternoon so I put it on my patio and when I went out the next morning there were a few thousand bees cleaning out the frame. In about three hours the frame was perfectly clean and ready for the queen. So you might just set it out and see what happens.
Interesting idea. Unfortunately, I did not have three hours the first time I caged the queen. I was visiting the donor hive of another beekeeper and he wanted to cage the queen and put the hive back together quickly. I will keep your idea in mind for next time I need to clean out the cage between uses (or if I have half a day at my homr apiary before caging the queen). Still interested to know the best way to clean out the cups 'on the spot' in case you have any experience or an opinion...

thanks,

-fafrd
 
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