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Santa Cruz, CA
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My local supplier was out of the queens I wanted, as sold individually, but had some available as packages. I suckered out and ordered a few packages to get the queens but have a new strategy in mind.

I'd like to add frames of brood, without bees from donor hive, to the packages I install. How many frames of brood would you say a 3lb package of bees can manage/keep warm with night temps around 50F, day temps around 70F?

And yes, I have my reasons for not bringing brood frames with bees - mainly not to knock down the numbers in my main hives by much, since I now don't have to and we're on a heavy flow.
 

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Santa Cruz, CA
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I'm thinking they could cover 4 frames of brood, three to be safe so I don't get chilled brood around the edges? Or is that still ambitious?
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Generally speaking, a 3# package has about 10k bees. A deep frame holds about 2000 bees per side, give or take. So 4 frames should be ok. 50° is not that cold so even the edges should be good. Problem is that there won't be bees to cover the brood the queen will be laying initially. I would cut it back to two or three frames. Why do you want to take so much brood out of your production hive?
 

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Keep in mind that for the first three weeks the package is usually losing bees. If some of that brood is capped, it will help make up for that. Also it's colder at first and less so later. How cold your nights are has a lot to do with the answer. I would say four might be possible, but two would be very safe.
 

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Im with Michael Bush in that I think 2 would be a safe bet. I would make sure at least 1 was capped so that they have an influx of young bees to keep the hive populations somewhat "balanced". It will also help with having young nurse bees to feed brood as the package population ages. The other frame could be open brood its up to you. I would also add in as many drawn empty combs as I can. A package that doesn't have to draw out a place to lay first builds up surprisingly quick.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks all. Sounds like my instincts are pretty dead on.

I may end up dividing out a weaker colony, with bees. While all my other hives are already filling out their second brood box, and almost ready for supers, I have one that is just a little slow with an older queen. Healthy, just not as robust as my others. I'll likely divide out those resources and replace the queen. I'll also keep the original hive location, with some brood, for one of the package Queens and possibly divide that package out to the others, making them even stronger.

I guess we'll see what resources I have, in total, when I get the packages this weekend - but should have plenty without stressing out my production hives.
 

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5 ,8 ,10 frame, and long Lang
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I would vote for 2 frames as well. I have done 1 frame of brood and a stores frame, quite often, IE frame in slot 2 or 9 in a normal 10 frame. they really zoomed. better if sealed so they get the boost and some nurse bees earlier. As much comb as you have helps.

As an option give each package 1 frame, then in 8-10 days give them a second frame of brood, stage it in slower. Also if one of your better hives is somewhat honey/pollen bound give the package a honey/pollen frame on the outside, and open the brood nest of the bigger hive to help with swarm control. you have several good options.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Sounds good.

I also failed to mention that I have enough clean drawn frames to cover 90% of what I'll need. The rest will have foundation or a starter strip. I also run 8 frame side by side facing opposite directions. I plan to keep them pushed together and installing the queen and brood frames toward each other for the extra warmth. Probably not needed when it's only 50F at night, but couldn't hurt. Once they grow out for a month or so I'll move them to another yard altogether.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I installed 4, 3lb packages of bees on Saturday with 2 frames of brood each.

I went in today to take out the queen cages noticing one had fallen down. I lifted up the frame and there were queen cells everywhere. I quickly took the cage out and put the hive back together.

I sorted through the small pile of dead bees outside the entrance and have been entirely unable to find any queens.

Is it possible they just started them out of panic and once the queen starts laying they will tear them down? I was planning on going in on Saturday, giving them a week, before I went in and looked for the queen and eggs. Is that still the best course of action? Be patient?
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Where did they get the eggs to make the queen cells, from the brood you gave them? Hmm. I might consider using that caged queen in another split and let the package raise the ones they started. I am guessing that they saw an opportunity to "fix" the problem of the queen not laying and that is why you have cells now. Nice problem to have.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Where did they get the eggs to make the queen cells, from the brood you gave them? Hmm. I might consider using that caged queen in another split and let the package raise the ones they started. I am guessing that they saw an opportunity to "fix" the problem of the queen not laying and that is why you have cells now. Nice problem to have.
I don't have enough resources to do another split. I took down a weaker hive to add to the packages, don't want to take any from my honey hives which are in full production.
 

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I installed 4, 3lb packages of bees on Saturday with 2 frames of brood each.

I went in today to take out the queen cages noticing one had fallen down. I lifted up the frame and there were queen cells everywhere. I quickly took the cage out and put the hive back together.

I sorted through the small pile of dead bees outside the entrance and have been entirely unable to find any queens.

Is it possible they just started them out of panic and once the queen starts laying they will tear them down? I was planning on going in on Saturday, giving them a week, before I went in and looked for the queen and eggs. Is that still the best course of action? Be patient?
It's not clear to me from your description what is the status of the package queen that was installed. The cage fell, but had she been released or was she still in the cage on the bottom of the nuc? Since you bought these packages mostly for the type of queen they had, I'd have cut out any cells I found. If the queen wasn't accepted, then I'd break this down and use the resources elsewhere in your apiary.
 

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mtnmyke,
I normally use sealed brood, adding nurse bees and population. The eggs and Larvae can cause the exact issue you have.
Are the queens released from the cadges? Did you like the genetics the brood came from? next warm day need to have a look.
If the queen is there she should rip the side of the cell open and sting the cell queens. Also should see eggs. Since queens can hatch in 16 days and they can use a 3 day old larvae you have 10 days from sat before they could emerge. I guess you have some inspection and decisions to make.
GG
 

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Santa Cruz, CA
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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
My original gut told me to used capped brood but the forum here convinced me to use open brood to increase queen acceptance.

The queens are all released. There are very little dead bees outside the hive and she's not one of them (they're marked). I'm guessing they are in there, just worried about the queen cells.

I can do a quick check for them today and knock down any cells if they're accepted, I just hate disturbing them this early on. I also have a feeling they will tear the cells down once the new queen starts laying?
 

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Santa Cruz, CA
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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
I just peeked through the hives. The queens are out and I had eggs in all of them. A couple had already torn down all queens cells and the others still had 2-3 which I knocked down. I'm guessing they would have done that themselves, but if there is a laying queen it certainly won't hurt anything.

However, I popped the lid on the last box and there was a ball of bees on the top frames and I could hear a piping queen! Out of fear I had disturbed them and at that moment they decided to kill the queen, I simply put the lid back on and walked away. I found it very strange that they were right up top doing this. In the past I've experienced bees balling on a new queen when I pull out the frame shes on, but later find she is fine. Later, I find they have killed her - depends on the position of the moon, I don't know. I did lay a 10 frame telescoping cover inverted under the entrance. I expect if they did kill her, I'll find her on that board within the next little while.

Ugh...bees.
 

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Santa Cruz, CA
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Still no dead queen kicked out of the hive. There are a few workers, a couple drones, but nothing of concern and definitely no dead marked queen.

I'm still hoping they were just protecting her. I'll give them a couple more days before I go in and check again...
 

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Santa Cruz, CA
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Well, good news!

I popped the top on the last hive again and could not find the queen anywhere but there were tons of eggs, yet still several queen cells.

I figured I'd knock the cells down since there were eggs and on the last cell, found the queen chewing the #### out of it, tearing it apart.

I apparently caught her in the act of tearing them down! She walked off and I pinched it out for her. She casually walked away and laid an egg.

Sounds like all 8 of my Queens were accepted!
 
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