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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi, All!

I have my fun of grafting the Cordovan this year. This is my final attempt at grafting tonight hoping to
get the last batch of the August queens to overwinter some nucs with. I will feed them like crazy both patty and honey syrup.
If I have 5 out of 15 successful then I am happy.
What is your last grafting date? You think my last batch will make it this season?
 

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I've got one last batch cookin' too. My usual cut off date is the end of July, but I remember last year I had wished I'd done one more batch or so after that. I'd been looking for a good choice for my last batch, but I've let my breeder queen colonies get large and honey'd up and don't like to disturb them this late in the summer.
This graft/grid placement date was 8-3-14. due to hatch 8-15-14.

Velbert sent me a nice juicy Pol-line from his breeder and I couldn't resist getting some daughters locally mated with my stock & overwinter. I came across her, still in a small colony and it was a great opportunity to get some larva. I was impressed by her pattern and her looks as a new young queen. Those potential superstars always have a superior work force right from the start, even in a mating nuc. The organization and effeciency is very noticable.

The issue isn't so much getting them to rear up the cells, It is where are you going to place them when they are done? What are you going to do with your cell builder when it is done? If it's queenless it will need time to build up before fall. Or you'll have to distribute frames to other hives.
And this time of year, time is running out.








I brushed more young bees into my queenless cell builder before this last batch. As soon as the cells are capped they will go into the incubator to free up this colony to receive a mated queen ASAP.

Cells about day 4-5. Well started and well fed. (I actually got two additional single bar frames started as well, for a total of about 58 good starts.) Although I found the marked queen before I brushed the new cell builder bees, this time of year there can easily be a second queen, a daughter also residing in the hive in addition to the older queen. Glad to see they started the cells and no young queen accidently got through. I ran them through an excluder just to be sure, But you are not really sure until you see cells successfully started and tended.
Disrupting a donor hive for fresh young bees to freshen the starter colony is also a consideration this late in the summer.




Queenless nucs are targets for robbing this time of year. A queenless nuc that is being fed is really a target.

My established mating nucs hanging on the fence are strong enough to ward off robbing. I still have a call for mated queens locally-so the current queens will be sold and these pol-line virgins installed. With no time to build back up due to too many broodless periods, I will combine these nucs with the divided deeps you see on the benches. I may end up with extra queens, but I'll deal with that if necessary.
I guess what I am saying is, iI will likely have to sacrifice being able to overwinter any nucs I rear late queens in, due to no time to build numbers of young bees back up before fall.



I also still have fairly good mature drone populations. Although not as many as early spring, by feeding my larger hives protein, they continue to rear drones.

2 colonies in a divided single box really need to be equalized before late fall. By combining the frames from the fence nucs I will have the resources to do that.





I successfully overwintered some really small mating nucs last year with very cold temps. I use a fortified sugar block on all colonies in a single deep and insulate the hive more throughly than larger hives.

 

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Here is a sample of my last batch of Glenn Carniolan Hybrids. Just hatched virgin out of the incubator.

I think I actually might get slightly bettter quality queens during dearth periods, because the cell builders eat more of my special recipe feed. Some might say BS, but I find it to be true here.




Another Glenn Hybrid hatched out as a placed cell in nuc. Recently mated and just starting to lay. This is a 2014 Glenn # 7 daughter. Glenn # 7 is a 3 year old hive, the darkest glenn descendant I have that I think exhibits more of the pure VSH traits. A self sufficient hive that gets the job done, without much help from me. They'll refuse to take up syrup when others are greedy. I've never treated the hive for mites and never seen a mite in the hive. It requeens itself every spring without missing a beat. Builds up fast, but no swarming. I give it plenty of room though, you can be sure of that.

Most of my queens have very good longevity. I have no idea why this hive requeens itself annually. Weird, good or bad? It just 'is' I guess. All I can do is stand by and observe.

 

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Last batch of queen cells went into the incubator this morning. Thank goodness I have an incubator, it is forecast to be about 100+ degrees today. These cells would likely be toasted if they were to remain in the cell builder hives and that would put an end to my last efforts.

Not pretty, but these cells will do the job.
Ended up with 42 total.



Now I can scrape off the grunge and put everything away clean and ready to go for next season. This summer went by in a Flash.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yes, it is hot here too. But we have a little bit of a breeze these couple of days so that will
help a little. I thought the bees have a way to fan their hive to regulate the high temp, right.
During the cold winter they would cluster together to create a 93F inner cluster temp and during the hot
summer months they would spread thru out the hive to keep it cooler. It is hot and humid in there but better
than the outside hot and dry weather. If the larvae can survive then I think the qcs are fine too.
I'm learning and experimenting as I go along now. Hopefully these cells will be o.k. to give me some Fall queens. I saw
a capped qc yesterday so I think everything is o.k. in there. The backup is to do a 3 hives combine going into winter iff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hurray! Just check on them today. They're about more than half size long as your capped queen cells right now. Still need
a day or 2 for them to be cap. The RJ already filled up pass the rim of the plastic cups. I use a slightly bigger
cup than the normal JZBZ type than yours.
My question is will the queen be normal size once the RJ got filled up to the rim of the plastic cup? Have you notice what is the
level of the RJ inside your capped cells, Lauri?
 

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Here are the results of my test batch from the same queen. ( I generally graft some JZBZ when I put the queen in the grid. ) This gives me two batches a week, about 4 days apart.

This was a small batch of 15-so they got good treatment. Longer than usual cells, but the cells size is really a non issue. It's like a bag of potato chips. A half filled big bag is no different than a smaller bag that is full.
Here is how the cell and Jelly looked after hatching.



Did she even eat any?



Apparently so. She was up in the cell this morning when I found her..Woofing down the left overs.



A different color than momma, perhaps some of Velbert's Russian line showing. Pol-Line/Russian hybrid? I'll have to get some feed back from Velbert before I can specualte.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
An update:

Thanks, Lauri for answering my cell questions. Feeling a bit at ease now.

I check on my qcs tonight. Some of them are still hanging outside to cool down a bit.
Out of 15 grafted, I took out many to keep only 6 of them.
So far they build big long cells and keep on depositing RJ in them passing the plastic
cell rim already. Keep in mind that these are the bigger cell cups so the RJ amount should be
more than the regular JZBJ plastic cups.
One got sealed with a good amount of RJ and a big cell while the others are still growing.
I'll be making mating nuc soon to house these cells in. Now I wish have an incubator to select the
queens from.


Current hygienic Cordovan cells development:
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Update 2:

Virgin Cordovans in the nucs now.
I wonder if any of them will make it to the mating flight. We'll see in 2 more weeks or so.


Newly hatched virgin queens:
 

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Pretty queen, Beepro. See if your camera has a Super Macro setting for those close up shots.It will get you in focus.

Here are the results of my cells set 7-29 , still have good drone populations.



My last batch of cells/virgins were installed 8-12 & 8-15. They are mated and back but no brood to check yet. I really should have done one more batch or so just to push the limits and see where my true cut off date is. But any risky queen rearing all comes down to risking the mating nuc. And I am trying to build up my mating nucs to overwinter. Another broodless period is NOT what they need right now. Still....I should have done a couple, just to see.

My starter colonies are all queenright now so I'm done.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Lauri, you really should push the limit to see. One or 2 nucs is all you need to see what is your cut off date as every
year it is different but around that specific date or week. You are limited to what bee resources you have there. I don't mind
to overwinter some small nuc hives for the spring build up. It is all about the queen's ability to lay. Plenty of pollen and nectar
around here during that time. I still have some cells that are already capped in the past 2 days or so but 1 has not.
I will see if early September is a good month for their mating flight for the remaining virgin queens.
It seems that every year after Halloween that our weather gets cold here. But this year and last the weather pattern is changing.
We are having a long drought while the east coast is flooding including AZ. With the change of weather we should have a fairly mild
winter without much rain it seems. So the mating flight should be good around Sept. at 80F on average. There is not much risk for
me since I can always recombine the 3-4 nuc frames into the existing QR hives if things not working out by then. Survival is important
to them around that time so they should not be that picky going into a stronger hive.
 

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Well, I am definitely pushing the limits, as I just grafted some larvae in today. I was going to be finished a 2 weeks ago, but I had a rogue queen emerge and tear down all but one cell. I was so bummed out because I was vigilant (or so I thought) with shaking all the bees off of each frame and double checking. But there it was, staring me in the face when I did the forensic breakdown; that one bloody cell. The good news/bad news is the emerged queen was pretty tore up from fighting with other queens and/or tearing the cells down. Her wings were knackered, and there was no way she was even going to able to fly. So I took the one remaining cell left, got rid of miss tatters, and popped in the cell. Fingers crossed.

The reason I decided to do another round this late in the game is because my yard close to the coast is still raising decent amounts of drone brood + it's a strong colony and I thought, "What the heck?!" I'll have to feed consistently whichever nucs make it, but it will be worth it for 4-5 nucs. We shall see...
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I never have a rogue queen emerge to kill my q cells. To prevent that from happening I took the capped
frames of bees into a cell builder after I found the original laying queen. I will make my graft on day 4 but on day 2 I will inspect these frames to
see if they make any qc. Usually they do and I have the option to remove them. But I think there is still time
to make some good queens so feed them more. I am done for now. And looking forward to the coming mid Spring to graft
some more on the flow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
How long are your queens lasting on average?
I don't know because they usually got replaced by the bees when they are old around 2-3 years. I had a 3rd year
old queen that she was laying drones instead of the regular workers so I replaced her while she was still laying.
Since I have extra grafted queens I will replace them myself every year at the early Spring and late Fall here. Young after the
solstice queens are the most prolific that they will lay late into the Fall when resources are available here. This will provide some
good young bees to overwinter with.
This year I'm changing to the Cordovan genetics so we will see. I like to keep the exceptional queens that are both
gentle and productive. Just replaced an Italian queen that is not too gentle that her workers like to fly out when
I opened the hive lid. I like bees that are both calm and gentle and not fly out that much on a hive check. So gentleness and
high honey production is what I am going for now. My goal is to wear shorts and a t-shirt to work my hives during the summer months without
wearing a veil. One day this will become true once I find some gentle genetics to work on. Have you found your gentle bees yet?

Highly prolific and productive bees:
 

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I think here in 100°+ weather everyday a veil helps for shade either way it's too hot! The Italians do good here. Just not last as long as I want them to. I'm changing them 6 months to a year. I had some Cordova n's but really slowed down when heat kicked in.
 

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Here's how my last batch turned out.

Heres the late virgin hatched 8-12-14 ( as shown above)



Mated & laying well. Even the mating nuc is grabbing a gear with feed storage and organization. I was impressed by the strength of this little colony even with yet another very late brood break late in the season.





Here's an interesting late experiment.

This virgin queen was hatched on 8-2-14. Placed in a mating nuc on 8-4, but I forgot to mark the outside of the nuc and I overlooked her. 10 days later, when I went back for a return check, I was horrified to see her still in the cage. I turned her loose and waited to see what happened.
Since she was an experiment, I marked her with my new blue Sharpie oil based pen. I really like the color and it stayed on very well.





While not as many drones as springtime, still plenty of drones Mid-late August for good mating.

I did have a couple other older virgins I placed late too. I'll check them and show you what they are doing with a couple nucs that were previous laying workkers and a 12 day old virgin mated in very late August.
Heres one photo where one of those queens mated and returned, but no capped brood yet. The workers were uncapping some of the old drone brood to prepare the comb for her. I hadn't seen THAT before.

 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I think early Fall is the time that they get rid of the drones to prepare for the winter. It is time to feed them also if not much honey and pollen stores now. Each location has its unique envorinment to operate from. I'm feeding them now to have some stores for this coming winter although there are still some natural plants blooming out there.
Nice blue pen marking there. So what is this experiment about? I often do experiments to find out an outcome.
 
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