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I've read in several places that you can just drop an emerged virgin directly into a mating nuc. :scratch: Really? Is that so? How do you go about introducing an emerged virgin into a mating nuc? The normal candy plug cage seems like it might take too long, or they may not start paying attention to her in time. I've always introduced cells, but I'm concerned about timing with this batch.
 

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I've read in several places that you can just drop an emerged virgin directly into a mating nuc. :scratch: Really? Is that so? How do you go about introducing an emerged virgin into a mating nuc? The normal candy plug cage seems like it might take too long, or they may not start paying attention to her in time. I've always introduced cells, but I'm concerned about timing with this batch.
I think you just drop her on the comb, my YouTube buddy John made a good video about it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcx8Y2wyjiU
 

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I use virgin queens in mating nucs all the time. I typically use the emerged queen within 24 hrs of her emergence but preferably within a few hours of emergence. At that point they have no pheromonal presence so other bees just ignore them. You can take a queen out of a mating nuc and right then and there put the virgin queen onto a comb that has nectar and other bees on it. The virgin will typically stick her head in a cell and start eating while the other bees just walk over her. If they pay any negative attention to her just 'move' the negative bee aside with your finger and let the virgin continue on. A tiny bit of smoke or a spritz of sugar water will also break up any altercations but altercations are rare. Put the frame back in the nuc and within two weeks she should be laying. I also mark the virgins before putting them in. Makes it a lot easier to find them later on and it doesn't seem to affect the rate of return from mating. I suspect that using the virgin 48 hrs after emergence would be touch and go and after 72 hrs would likely fail.
 

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When I introduce a virgin to a nuc I spray them with sugar water, it works well for me. But hear lately I have been using powdered sugar, I open the nuc up then sprinkle powdered sugar across the top bars and let the virgin go. This has also been working great and a lot easier for me than spraying and mixing sugar water every time I need to introduce a few virgins.
 

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I suspect that using the virgin 48 hrs after emergence would be touch and go and after 72 hrs would likely fail.
you can use much older
http://www.wicwas.com/sites/default/files/articles/Bee_Culture/BC2012-05.pdf

I have had very good success droping them in a mini mating nuc with a cup of wet bees and locking them in for 3 days dark and cool

Other methods seem hit or miss. Acceptance seems better on the 2nd round if you get them in before the mated queens eggs start to hatch, this squares with what Taber writes about on accelerated queen rearing.
 

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msl: Thanks for the reference, I had not seen that. Reading Larry's paper, it seems that how long past emergence the virgins are dictates how you have to introduce them. Larry was caging them and having them released by the bees eating out the candy plugs. When the virgins are very young the way I use them, you can just put them directly into the mating nuc without caging. I do not know at what point you have to switch from direct release to caging but I suspect that after 3 days you better cage them and at 2 days its a toss up.
 

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When the virgins are very young the way I use them, you can just put them directly into the mating nuc without caging.
that hasn't been my experience
last Sunday I tryed to direct release on 2 mini nucs that had been queen less for a few days with 24 hour old virgins, both of them started pulling legs so I caged the virgins for a day and tryed again and they went in just fine
previous attempts at pull the queen and drop in a fresh virgin have failed me as well

This Friday I used some of the same batch (6 days old) by letting them walk out on to a side ways comb to see the reaction, they strutted around like they owned the place and were fed.. to larrys point its not a great idea as a few desided to take a quick flight, most if not all came back and landed on the comb or came thew the nucs entrance. You just cant move encase they have used you as an orientation point

I earlyer in the year I had round of 12 24hr virgins not get cared for by the nucs and were found dead in the cage
I wonder how much genetics and colony condition effects things
 

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I use virgin queens in mating nucs all the time. I typically use the emerged queen within 24 hrs of her emergence but preferably within a few hours of emergence. At that point they have no pheromonal presence so other bees just ignore them. You can take a queen out of a mating nuc and right then and there put the virgin queen onto a comb that has nectar and other bees on it. The virgin will typically stick her head in a cell and start eating while the other bees just walk over her. If they pay any negative attention to her just 'move' the negative bee aside with your finger and let the virgin continue on. A tiny bit of smoke or a spritz of sugar water will also break up any altercations but altercations are rare. Put the frame back in the nuc and within two weeks she should be laying. I also mark the virgins before putting them in. Makes it a lot easier to find them later on and it doesn't seem to affect the rate of return from mating. I suspect that using the virgin 48 hrs after emergence would be touch and go and after 72 hrs would likely fail.
I have found the same.Fresh hatched just let the virgins just walk right in and all is well.If over a day or two old it doesnt work well for me.Older virgins I cage for a couple days and then open the cages and let them walk right out onto the comb.
 

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I've introduced the odd virgin or two in the past - usually dunked them in dilute honey then let them crawl in. Never took much notice of success rates - they either made it or they didn't.

But this year was different - I introduced a batch of 32 virgins, all fresh from the incubator, none older then 36hrs, most were less than 24hrs old. I watched them all walk in unmolested (except one which took to the skies never to be seen again), and was beginning to feel pretty smug about the whole process.

However, results have been dire - at the time of writing this (32 days after introduction) around 30% have commenced laying - many of those in the last week/ten days. In 2 days time I'll be pulling the plug on the others.

In contrast, the queens in a handful of q/cell-intro nucs made-up at the same time were all mated and laying within 7 days of predicted emergence. Big difference - but dunno why.
LJ
 

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msl, LJ: Bees, I guess we will never really understand them... Not sure why it works for me and not for some others. I'll keep doing it until it doesn't work. LOL

mgolden: Been a while since I saw Lauri's posts. Interesting about using the cell cup. I always have their cell cup when I introduce them so maybe I'll start adding that into the mix.

headofmeadow: I started doing it a couple of years ago because for some reason in early spring here we recently started getting a lot of queen cells that are duds. It's not just me. Some big time commercial guys with 70 years experience raising local queens for their operation have been having the same issue. The bees cap the queen cells and they 'look fine' but never emerge. You can open the cell on day 12 - 13 and there's a dead larva in there. You can candle them on day 12 and figure out which ones are good but I figured I'd just let them emerge because they'll be out in an hour or so anyway. After emergence, you can then decide whether they are 'big enough' or whatever, mark them, and use them. When we get the duds we blame it on the weather but we don't really know for sure. This year it was very cold at the worst time. Last year we treated with fumagillin with limited effect and this year we treated with terramycin but probably too late to make a definitive judgement on its effectiveness. The dud cell phase eventually passes but when only 20 - 30% of your cells are any good it creates havoc when making splits etc. So I started letting the virgins emerge and used them. Next year I'll treat my cell builders and breeders with terramycin before the season starts. At this point this year, my cells are now 90+% good so I could stop using the virgins but I find using the virgins is fairly convenient. I'm small time myself with 25 hives, 10 nucs, and 20 mini-mating nucs but I raise a lot of queens for a sideliner and for the local crowd. Doing it this way on a larger scale would likely not be feasible. I do it for fun and I make 10s of dollars doing it, LOL.
 

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That's extraordinary
yep It was one of her latest FB videos (and the cage failure) that had me trying DR this year... my consern is like you they will dissapeer in time

there has been a lot of work on the subject as of late and I think there are some artifical cells on the marke for introduction

We compared the acceptance of 4-day old virgin queens introduced into mating nucleus hives using natural and artificial queen cells versus a wooden 3-hole mailing cage, a standard introduction method. The queen cell methods gave high acceptance (95% and 93% for natural and artificial, respectively) even though the queen was released from the queen cell approximately 10 minutes after being introduced into the mating hive. By contrast, success using mailing cages was significantly lower (47% and 73%) when the queen was released from her cage after 1 hour or 48 hours, respectively. The equal success rates of the reused and artificial queen cells suggests that high success is not due to chemicals present in natural queen cells transferring to the queens. To further investigate why queen cells give higher introduction success than cages, we introduced virgin queens into queenless observation hives. Workers attacked only 1 of 12 queens leaving a queen cell whereas 5 out of 6 queens leaving a cage were attacked.
https://www.researchgate.net/public...cial_and_natural_queen_cells_for_introduction
 

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The last run produced 8 Q/C's on a single bar which were looking good ... and then the weather turned pear-shaped: low temperatures, storm-force winds and driving rain. I took a look during one brief respite and there were precious few bees in the queen-rearing box - they'd all disappeared back down through the QX and into the brood box (cowards ...).

In view of this - I fired-up the incubator, and a couple of hours later went back out to that hive - but, before pulling the cell-bar I poked a thermocouple into the box. The air temperature in there was near enough 27 deg C (80.5 deg F) rather than 32-33 C (90-91 F) I maintain the incubator at.

Believing that those cells were probably dead, I popped them in the incubator anyway ... and stone me, one has just emerged (a day late) - and as far as I can tell she looks ok.

Tomorrow I'll introduce her into a colony which is driving me nuts - no signs of queenlessness, but no signs of laying either - after 6 weeks. I'll try Lauri's method of virgin-DR along with the q/cell. For now, I've just slashed the side of the q/cell and flared it out so that the virgin can poke her head into it without any risk of getting stuck.
Here's hoping ...
LJ
 

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Quick update - 8 a.m. as I write this ...

All virgins have now emerged except one - and all look ok - so it looks like there's more tolerance regarding temperature and queen-cell development in practice than I'd previously thought, as I had been getting quite OCD about conditions within the incubator. So - looks like I can now ease off a bit. :)

Will be trying-out Lauri's method of intro later-on today (if it stops raining) - looking forward to trying that.
LJ
 

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Yesterday was a real eye-opener ... !

I've been slashing the sides of the Q/Cell and flaring it out slightly so that the virgin could then re-enter without risk of entrapment, thusly:



I then took the opportunity of adding a small amount of honey to the remaining RJ (at least some RJ being present in all cells). The virgins were then introduced to colonies within 24 hrs.

As a test, I took the opportunity to vary the destination colonies as much as possible:
A full-sized colony recently made Queenless
A full-sized Queenright colony (with less than desirable genetics)
A nuc-sized persistently Queenless colony (with no L/W evident)

And of course my troublesome large nuc-sized colony of unknown Q status - which is neither obviously queenless, nor is the queen laying after 7 weeks.

And finally, direct intro into a Nuc made-up less than 1 hr before.

In all cases the behaviour was the same: little or no reaction for around 10-15 seconds, then lots of very positive interest - both for the Q/Cell and it's occupant. In all but one case, the virgin had re-entered the cell-cup and was presumably scoffing away (although the Q/Cell could also be a 'comfort blanket' ?).

In total contrast to a normal <24hr virgin intro, where the virgin is more-or-less ignored, now there was much interest - all positive: fussing, licking and so forth.

Can't comment on eventual success (obviously) but as far as intro's go - those were spectacular. Thanks Lauri.
LJ
 
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