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I've been making between 40 and 50 nucleus colonies each week and dropping in Queen cells. In the future I'd like to do this for 6 or 7 weeks in a row. What is the best option for donor colonies? Split up a whole and complete colony? Or have 50 or so resource colonies and just mine the brood and food resources each week to build the nucleus colonies?
 

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I would divide hives in 2 with queen excluders. I would put enough stores and space on top and bottom. I would wait until the brood in the queenless areas is too old for making queen cells. How long does this take? Then I would harvest what I want from the queenless areas (no eggs). I would also harvest frames with no space for a queen to lay from the queen areas. Then I would reassemble the hive with no excluder. With this technique, you don't have to shake bees or find queens. I'm new. I just thought of this.
 

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Resource hives are always nice. Michael Palmer uses resource nucs to great success, he has a lot of talks on youtube about queen breeding and his method of getting swarm cells whenever he wants.
 

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Resource hives are always nice. Michael Palmer uses resource nucs to great success, he has a lot of talks on youtube about queen breeding and his method of getting swarm cells whenever he wants.
I call them Brood Factories. They are over wintered nucs that build up in the spring and provide me the need brood for cell builders and then most of my nucs for over wintering. Early on, May, we harvest frames of emerging brood to boost cell building colonies to the point of swarming. Grow awesome cells. We take a frame or two of brood from each...depending on the strength of the colony. Enough so they won't swarm until the next visit, but not so much they dwindle. If they've already started swarm cells we take three frames of brood. Replacement brood combs are located in the heart of the broodnest...making the colony think they're weaker than they really are, and to give the queen a place to lay...right there in the heart of her nest. Then about mid-June, we begin harvesting brood and bees to make nucleus colonies. By late May, early June, the nucs have built up to 5-6 stories. Now we're beginning the nuc making process. Each one gives a frame of honey, two frames of brood, and an empty comb...or a nectar/pollen....and the nuc loses one story. The following week we do in again, and mark the nucs that require another story. We build them up, build them up, take a little, take a little, knock them down, down, down...then build them up, up, and they're ready to winter. First nucs made this year...June 16. Checked that group and all queens accepted and laying. Second round on June 19...same. We've made 141 nucs so far, and by mid-July we should have about 350. Really is a sustainable way to grow bees without using your honey production hives.
 

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Thank you seacucumber for your response, I really think that could work.
Just a few more questions for you Michael. I have watched all of your national honey show lectures multiple times so I am quite familiar but I still have a few questions. When you harvest the brood and resources from the brood factories How do you know you don't have the Queen? Do you just look carefully and take a chance or do you use an excluder and shake all the bees off and then harvest the following day?
Tomorrow will be my 4th Sunday in a row grafting into the cell builders, I've been making them up-and-doing it like you presented in the lectures. The 1st week I got 38/45 and then 48/50 in then 53/56.
When you say your taking 2 brood from the brood factories to make up nucleus colonies are you talking one frame of cap brood and 1 frame of eggs and larva? That would make the most sense to me rather than 2 frames of capped brood.
I placed my 1st cells on the 17th of June but I have not went in to check yet for laying queens because I thought it was too soon, it sounds like you go in pretty quick what is a good rule of thumb here?
 

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calkal said: Just a few more questions for you Michael. I have watched all of your national honey show lectures multiple times so I am quite familiar but I still have a few questions.

>When you harvest the brood and resources from the brood factories How do you know you don't have the Queen? Do you just look carefully and take a chance or do you use an excluder and shake all the bees off and then harvest the following day?

We look carefully, and rarely take a queen...but it does happen. We've setup 140 so far, and none have an old queen.


>Tomorrow will be my 4th Sunday in a row grafting into the cell builders, I've been making them up-and-doing it like you presented in the lectures. The 1st week I got 38/45 and then 48/50 in then 53/56.

Very good. You've got the grafting part down

>When you say your taking 2 brood from the brood factories to make up nucleus colonies are you talking one frame of cap brood and 1 frame of eggs and larva? That would make the most sense to me rather than 2 frames of capped brood.

One honey, one sealed brood, one with sealed and open brood, and one comb of something. Enough bees to cover the brood

>I placed my 1st cells on the 17th of June but I have not went in to check yet for laying queens because I thought it was too soon, it sounds like you go in pretty quick what is a good rule of thumb here?

You're correct, it is too soon. We catch on day 16 after giving 10 day cells. I wouldn't think of going any earlier. Yes, most of my queens seem to be laying an day 11 or 12 after giving cells, but occasionally some are just laying on day 16
 

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I'm new. I just thought of this.
You might want to be aware that eggs and young larvae on the queenless side of the QE in your scenario are likely to be turned into queen cells. They won't just age out and become capped brood to make splits with, necessarily.
 

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Thank you Micheal!
 

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Thanks c-bees. I do know that they will make Queen cells above the Queen excluder if given the opportunity. And I think the same thing happens when you steal frames of brood and bees and put them in a nucleus colony. Maybe you don't drop a cell in for 24 or 48 hours, they must start Queen cells and I don't know for sure but I am assuming that when you put a Queen cell in, she emerges and either destroys any started Queen cells or the colony tears them down when they realize they have a Queen.
 

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I've been making between 40 and 50 nucleus colonies each week and dropping in Queen cells. In the future I'd like to do this for 6 or 7 weeks in a row. What is the best option for donor colonies? Split up a whole and complete colony? Or have 50 or so resource colonies and just mine the brood and food resources each week to build the nucleus colonies?
Sounds like a big operation. How many hives do you have available to pull resources from for the nuc building? I am currently stuck without enough strong hives to support my nucs. Much smaller scale than you though!
 

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Hi AR1, I have about 55 colonies that I can pull brood from not including some honey colonies which I'm really hoping I don't have to dip into for brood, however I am planning on splitting them up mid July or later if need be, hopefully most of the honey crop will be in by then.
Once I started this process I quickly realized brood would be my limiting factor however as I've been going along week by week I've been amazed at how much brood and resources the hives are capable of producing. That being said I have kept high quality protein patties on all of the colonies that I am harvesting brood from to keep them in full production. And it really seems to be working, the larva is swimming and little puddles of Royal jelly.
Their resilience is mind blowing. I harvested 2 and 3 frames of capped brood and bees from 14 single deeps. I replaced those frames with foundation checkerboarded throughout the brood nest, the next day and for the days after I really felt guilty thinking I had over did it, seems like I should have replaced them with comb. But I checked on them 9 days later and they had all 3 foundations all drawn out and laid up completely with eggs and larva...blew me away.
 
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