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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I caught a swarm about a month ago. I hived them in a 10-frame, SBB Lang on foundation. The queen is laying a nicer pattern than any of the 5 nucs I bought this year with about 4 frames of open and sealed brood. I've never reared any queens before, let alone grafted, except for an occasional queen cell on a frame transferred to its own nuc. I'd like to use a version of the Hopkins Method to try my hand at queen rearing.

I took a few, 10-frame screen-bottomed deeps, and converted them into 4 x 2-frame queen castles for mating nucs. Interestingly, when I made the Hopkins shim, I found it fit around the outermost division boards nice and snug. Then by removing the center division board I now have a nice central bee-tight 5-framed nuc, flanked by a 2-frame nuc on each side. Dumb luck, not planned.

If I take a frame of a nectar/pollen and a frame with a little open and capped brood along with the queen and put them in one of the flanking 2-frame nucs; and keep the frame with the most eggs for placing flat on the shim; and crowd down the rest of the colony into the central 5-frame nuc beneath the flat-lying frame with the most eggs, and feed everyone 1:1 sugar syrup;

1) Do you think this will work to produce some queen cells?
2) Do I need to eliminate a ring of eggs/larva leaving an intact central cell to give the bees more room to build queen cells? If so how many should I eliminate?
3) Should I check in 4-5 days and eliminate any capped cells or cut them out for early use?
4) After I collect whatever queen cells are produced, do you think I can repeat the process by switching the original queen cell production frame with one from the flanking 2-frame queen-right nuc?
5) Should I shake more "foreign" nurse bees into the central 5-frame nuc?
6) When we're done with 2 rounds of queen cells, and I remove the Hopkins shim and all the division boards will the nurse bees likely re-accept the queen?
7) Any other tips?

Thanks, Steve
 

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Any pix of your set up? What did you make your division boards from? Thickness?

I have a Russian queen I'd like to get some daughters from, and after taking a queen rearing class, I'm not going to try grafting any time soon. :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Any pix of your set up?

Sorry, no pics. I'm making another, so I'll post some soon.

What did you make your division boards from?

plywood.

Thickness?

1/4 "
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
To answer my own questions, now that I'm "experienced"

1) Do you think this will work to produce some queen cells?

Seems to be working, but let's see how many laying queen(s) I actually end up with in the end. Definitely a fun learning experience.

2) Do I need to eliminate a ring of eggs/larva leaving an intact central cell to give the bees more room to build queen cells? If so how many should I eliminate?

No, I chickened out thinking I'd be eliminating the wrong cells, so I let the bees decide. See #7

3) Should I check in 4-5 days and eliminate any capped cells or cut them out for early use?

Checked, but no capped cells at 5 days after I made the nuc.

4) After I collect whatever queen cells are produced, do you think I can repeat the process by switching the original queen cell production frame with one from the flanking 2-frame queen-right nuc?


I haven't gotten that far yet. Planning on cutting out the first round of cells in 2 days. Swap production frames. Add a new frame of brood and nurse bees to the nuc.


5) Should I shake more "foreign" nurse bees into the central 5-frame nuc?

I did. I'll add more in my next round.

6) When we're done with 2 rounds of queen cells, and I remove the Hopkins shim and all the division boards will the nurse bees likely re-accept the queen?

That's the plan.

7) Any other tips?

Without eliminating cells, the bees did just as others in related posts said they would do - they made "clumps" of queen cells. I know I'll lose some cutting them out, but will put the "clumps" in mating nucs and let them figure out for themselves who will be the queen. I should still end up with at least 15 good queen cells. Since I only made up 12 mating nucs, looks like I better get to work making more or combine the cells!
 

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Clumping does seem to be a problem. Right now, I've got a hive & a nuc producing queens from a farm cutout (and I *really* want these genetics), and a double hive & a nuc working on some Russians. It was pretty intense trying to separate cells without damage, thus my interest in the Hopkins method. I'm too chicken to try grafting.

I know the feeling about the mating nucs. Something I learned in my queen rearing class it that it's possible to take the mating nucs elsewhere if you know where there's some superior drones. Next year, my virgins are all going to Virginia Tech. Heck of a yard over there, so the DCAs must be spectacular.
 
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