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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My plan is to mate 50 queens each week all at once. Another words they will all be grafted on the same day each week. Would it be better to split the amount to let's say 25-30 queens grafted every 3 or 4 days, does that make more sense as far as drone usage? I'm thinking if all 50 queens go out to be mated at the same time maybe it will all be done in 3 or 4 days and then the drones will have no queens for 3 or 4 days seems like spreading it out makes more sense. All thoughts and ideas are appreciated.
 

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My plan is to mate 50 queens each week all at once. Another words they will all be grafted on the same day each week. Would it be better to split the amount to let's say 25-30 queens grafted every 3 or 4 days, does that make more sense as far as drone usage? I'm thinking if all 50 queens go out to be mated at the same time maybe it will all be done in 3 or 4 days and then the drones will have no queens for 3 or 4 days seems like spreading it out makes more sense. All thoughts and ideas are appreciated.
Maybe more important is that it will spread out the work 10 days after grafting or whatever needs doing for the next stage of the operation. I say better to have your eggs not all in the same basket ` divide and conquer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Maybe more important is that it will spread out the work 10 days after grafting or whatever needs doing for the next stage of the operation. I say better to have your eggs not all in the same basket ` divide and conquer.
Yes I agree with you about spreading out the work and so then maybe the only drawback is basically, I'm using the Michael Palmer style strong cell building colony, it may be a bit under utilised by only putting 30 cells in it.
 

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I dont think it would waste any resources though. You could always throw a frame of bare foundation in the slot and get a frame niceley drawn out. Getting a bunch of started cells is the easy and fun part; then the work starts. How predictable is your weather? Are you emerging into an incubator or must get them into Nucs?

calkal; not speaking as the expert here; just started grafting last season myself. I am just thinking out loud (tallking to myself:)); some of the things looking forward to doing a bit more myself the coming season.
 

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If the average queen mates with an average 15 drones you'll need 750 drones per week to mate with your new queens.

In the spring I feel like I have at least that in each hive. Depending on how many hives you have in your area, I doubt you'd have a problem on that front. I think I recall experts saying that 10% of a spring hive can be drones. Some reports say around 2,000. Either way, that's a LOT of drones! If you're worried about it, throw a drone frame in your best hives to help spread the genetics.

But to the point crofter brought up, grafting and pulling 50 cells in a single day could be a lot to handle depending on what you're doing with them. I tend to do rounds of 30 or so, using double screened boards. This allows me to combine the colony when I'm not grafting and then I can split it back out at my convenience. I just shake all the bees into the top where I put my grafts. All the field bees head back to the bottom. Gives me a ton of nurse bees who think they're queenless while maintaining warmth and convenience. You can also exchange the double screened board for an excluder and you have an instant finisher.

What's your planned setup?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
If the average queen mates with an average 15 drones you'll need 750 drones per week to mate with your new queens.

In the spring I feel like I have at least that in each hive. Depending on how many hives you have in your area, I doubt you'd have a problem on that front. I think I recall experts saying that 10% of a spring hive can be drones. Some reports say around 2,000. Either way, that's a LOT of drones! If you're worried about it, throw a drone frame in your best hives to help spread the genetics.

But to the point crofter brought up, grafting and pulling 50 cells in a single day could be a lot to handle depending on what you're doing with them. I tend to do rounds of 30 or so, using double screened boards. This allows me to combine the colony when I'm not grafting and then I can split it back out at my convenience. I just shake all the bees into the top where I put my grafts. All the field bees head back to the bottom. Gives me a ton of nurse bees who think they're queenless while maintaining warmth and convenience. You can also exchange the double screened board for an excluder and you have an instant finisher.

What's your planned setup?
Yes you and Crofter are right, 50 cells per week is a lot of work. I don't use an incubator and go directly into nucleus colonies with the cells. I did this last year for 6 weeks in a row and made close to 300 nucleus colonies I can say it was a ton of work however like most bee work a whole lot of enjoyment and satisfaction is well.
Making up those nucleus colonies was very labour intensive. Sometimes I broke up full size colonies to make the nuc colonies but I also had some brood factories which I liked much better. One of the problems with breaking up full size colonies is if the queen can't be found one of the cells is automatically sacrificed and breaking up a colony is a chaotic situation.
I am planning to have about 80 brood factories this year, for me that is a much saner way to go.
A question on the cell builder you described above, what is the top box that you shake the bees into? Do you start with a double deep colony and then separate them with the double screen board keeping the queen in the bottom? Or do you add a box on top with combs, brood, food etc and then shake the bees into that?
With your system how do you feel about the cell quality?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I dont think it would waste any resources though. You could always throw a frame of bare foundation in the slot and get a frame niceley drawn out. Getting a bunch of started cells is the easy and fun part; then the work starts. How predictable is your weather? Are you emerging into an incubator or must get them into Nucs?

calkal; not speaking as the expert here; just started grafting last season myself. I am just thinking out loud (tallking to myself:)); some of the things looking forward to doing a bit more myself the coming season.
I would say weather is generally unpredictable. I couldn't agree more about when the work begins, last year I made up about 50 nucleus colonies each week that was definitely the peak of labour by far for the week. I have no plans for an incubator and am emerging directly into nucleus colonies.
I appreciate all thoughts and ideas.
 

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With the Snelgrove board I have only had naturally started cells. In 5 years or so, no complaints with queens raised. Using it as a cell starter and finisher for grafted cells will give me a better visual on cell size, uniformity etc.
Being that I was running mostly double deeps the usual sorting involve setting both boxes aside, put an empty onto the bottom board and shake all the bees into the bottom box.( I did not spend a lot of time searching for the queen) Place excluder, 2 honey supers then the box with almost all frames with brood on top of the supers and wait a couple of hours for the nurse bees to come back up to the brood. Then lift top box off, place Snelgrove board and put the queenless box on top of it.

If I wanted to slow down and delay future swarming in the bottom box, I would sometimes put 3 or so undrawn frames in the bottom and sometimes you have more frames with brood so need to have more than one box above the Snelgrove board at least temporarily.

I think if I was going to raise a larger number of queens I would use the Cloake board system.
 

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Yes you and Crofter are right, 50 cells per week is a lot of work. I don't use an incubator and go directly into nucleus colonies with the cells. I did this last year for 6 weeks in a row and made close to 300 nucleus colonies I can say it was a ton of work however like most bee work a whole lot of enjoyment and satisfaction is well.
Making up those nucleus colonies was very labour intensive. Sometimes I broke up full size colonies to make the nuc colonies but I also had some brood factories which I liked much better. One of the problems with breaking up full size colonies is if the queen can't be found one of the cells is automatically sacrificed and breaking up a colony is a chaotic situation.
Would you mind going into more detail about your Brood Factories, how you made them, were they last falls queens, or this spring's queens, how you grow them but prevent swarming, 8 frame or 5 frame, why you liked them better etc. Thanks so much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Would you mind going into more detail about your Brood Factories, how you made them, were they last falls queens, or this spring's queens, how you grow them but prevent swarming, 8 frame or 5 frame, why you liked them better etc. Thanks so much.
Well I think almost any colony could make a good brood factory. But mine are always in a single box, a double box would be way too much work. So that would be 9 or 10 deep frames that would make up the brood factory in my case. I say 9 or 10 frames because this year I plan to leave out one frame so I can put in frame feeders. Unless there is a stellar flow on I definitely plan to feed copious amounts of 1:1 sugar syrup and pollen patties. Because not only will I be taking 1 or 2 frames and sometimes maybe even 3 frames of brood each week from them but also I slip in foundations not drawn comb (to replace the brood I am taking) so they have a lot of work to do and they will use up that syrup and will be able to keep up with my production demands rain or shine. And of course when I say "taking brood combs" I'm talking about all the adhering bees as well. So the production demand is really quite high.
I think in a pinch any Queen can work although I am sure a young Queen is best because of her productivity.
This year's brood factories will all be headed by queens that I made last summer. But I think a spring made Queen could also work it's just whether you can get her built up enough to supply the brood when you need it.
When harvesting the brood and the bees I used to look carefully for the Queen on each and every frame because it really stresses me out thinking that I pulled her out of the hive inadvertently, that would be such a waste. So towards the end of last year (and I plan to do this all this year too) is use excluders and boxes as I go along. When I find a frame that I want to harvest I shake all the bees off and put it in a new box that will go back on top of the colony in a few minutes. When I have all the frames out that I want to harvest (1, 2 or 3) then I put the box on top of the colony over the excluder and in less than an hour they will be re-covered in nurse bees. Then I can confidently place those frames wherever I need them. It is a bit more work to do it this way but it actually goes much faster and I have a little extra joy in my heart knowing I am not pulling any queens!
As you are going through them each week you will easily notice if any cells are starting. But swarming isn't much of an issue because the harvest is so heavy and they are drawing wax constantly and I think this keeps them in the vegetative (growth) state and never let's them mature.
 

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Well I think almost any colony could make a good brood factory. But mine are always in a single box, a double box would be way too much work. So that would be 9 or 10 deep frames that would make up the brood factory in my case. I say 9 or 10 frames because this year I plan to leave out one frame so I can put in frame feeders. Unless there is a stellar flow on I definitely plan to feed copious amounts of 1:1 sugar syrup and pollen patties. Because not only will I be taking 1 or 2 frames and sometimes maybe even 3 frames of brood each week from them but also I slip in foundations not drawn comb (to replace the brood I am taking) so they have a lot of work to do and they will use up that syrup and will be able to keep up with my production demands rain or shine. And of course when I say "taking brood combs" I'm talking about all the adhering bees as well. So the production demand is really quite high.
I think in a pinch any Queen can work although I am sure a young Queen is best because of her productivity.
This year's brood factories will all be headed by queens that I made last summer. But I think a spring made Queen could also work it's just whether you can get her built up enough to supply the brood when you need it.
When harvesting the brood and the bees I used to look carefully for the Queen on each and every frame because it really stresses me out thinking that I pulled her out of the hive inadvertently, that would be such a waste. So towards the end of last year (and I plan to do this all this year too) is use excluders and boxes as I go along. When I find a frame that I want to harvest I shake all the bees off and put it in a new box that will go back on top of the colony in a few minutes. When I have all the frames out that I want to harvest (1, 2 or 3) then I put the box on top of the colony over the excluder and in less than an hour they will be re-covered in nurse bees. Then I can confidently place those frames wherever I need them. It is a bit more work to do it this way but it actually goes much faster and I have a little extra joy in my heart knowing I am not pulling any queens!
As you are going through them each week you will easily notice if any cells are starting. But swarming isn't much of an issue because the harvest is so heavy and they are drawing wax constantly and I think this keeps them in the vegetative (growth) state and never let's them mature.
Thanks so much for the time and effort, much appreciated. It is always interesting to read how others do it, sometimes you pick up a little bit of knowledge, even if your solutions are similar, or it's nice to know someone else is doing it in a similar fashion.
 
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