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Hi Guys

Michael's methodology is a great way to setup a free flying starter finisher. It's my favorite and most consistently successful way to raise queens. Many others, Laidlaw, Taber, etc use the basic principles as well.

Also, using free flying starter finishers is a very flexible and scalable way to produce queens.

  • extended use can be maintained by sorting brood and rotating the queenright and queenless hives.
  • for limited production through a extended timeframe, a single deep can be divided and run the same way by rotating brood and moving the queen each cycle.
  • several breeder queen can be incorporated into the process providing redundancy.
  • trash the incubator and use a queenright hive instead.

The rest is up to your needs, equipment, schedule and imagination.

-dm
 

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Michael, you said not to raise queens under dearth conditions. For me, that will mean no queen rearing after Mid to late May each year. Is it possible to raise quality queens during a dearth period if the colony is fed syrup for long enough?
 

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Okay, thanks. I still have capped drone brood hatching nearly every day. I know the colonies could start kicking them out at any time, but I can at least give it a whirl. I used swarm cells to make most of my increases last year, but I did raise a few queens last year up until the end of June, but I was only concerned about numbers, not quality. After seeing how poorly my "so-so" queens wintered, (every hive died that had them) I won't go through that again. It was cut and dried, not question about it. I wrote notes on top of every nuc when the queen started laying, including what the queen looked like. The ones that said, "small queen" all died out this winter.

Maybe it was coincidence, but I'm not wasting my time or my resources making dinky queens.
 

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Mr. Palmer, you have inspired me to raise queens. I am new to beekeeping and I want to grow my colonies fast. After listening to your presentation on Youtube, it's clear to me that queen rearing is the key to success in what I want to do. I probably won't be raising any queens this season but I will start next season. For now, I will be building some equipment to get ready for the process. I just started today and this is what I came up with.

Shown with my custom designed insulated outer cover

IMG_20150630_214330.jpg

I'm not yet certain what to do with the small inner covers...I assume I'll need feeding holes in them, would that be correct?

IMG_20150630_214410.jpg

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NUC entrance on each side of the bottom board

IMG_20150701_121711.jpg
 

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Nice wood working job Brad!

Those feeding holes are handy, but even better is to screen them with # 8 hardware cloth. You can use them for light ventilation if needed without the threat of robbing issues and changing the inverted mason jar is quick and easy with no cling on's or veil needed. They'll propolize it a bit at times, but it's easy to scrape off.

Also, with your thin divider you have a little too much room for 4 frames, too tight for 5. You can ether trim off the side bars slightly or use an additional follower board until your frames are drawn, filled and the main flow/supplimental feeding is over.

Here you can see one of those screened feeding holes in a divided mini nuc. ALso makes for excellent ventilation when they are first assembled and confininment may be necessary.



Here's the burr comb you'll get on that center divider with four frames.



Be sure to poke your holes in your mason jar lid, then flip it so they can reach the holes through the screen.



Fully screened inner covers work great for a quick non invasive view ( in almost any temps or weather) and for inverted mason jar feeding, but you have to be aware of the heat loss with a very small colony in cool weather if you have a big empty void over the screen to accomodate the jar. Just cover the screen and jar with a burlap sack to keep the bees from chilling on cool nights. It's an extra step that can be a pain of you have a lot of them, but I like the fully screened inner covers enough to put up with it.
I use a full 3/4" shim around the rim partly because I get that wood free and partly because it gives me plenty of room for protein patties and to let the bees congregate in winter on top the bars if I over winter them in singles. Usually around a sugar block.
I get some comb built on top during flow periods, but unless I am very neglectful, it isn't an issue.



 

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Nice wood working job Brad!
Thanks Lauri! Those are some great ideas. I'm going to implement those and I'll rework that divider board to either close up the space for four or allow for five frames...I was thinking that didn't look quite right...thanks for all the tips!
 

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A divider that was offset to allow 5 frames on one side and four on the other would be a better fit, but that would create a can of worms with anything you try to match to it, such as supers. Better to stay centered unless you are disciplined enough to only use them as mating nucs and never allow them to grow into something larger. That's great in theory, until life throws a monkey wrench into your schedule. Then, as I was this year, pretty much dealing with some drippy messes.
 

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A divider that was offset to allow 5 frames on one side and four on the other would be a better fit, but that would create a can of worms with anything you try to match to it, such as supers.
Agreed. That might have sounded like what I meant but it wasn't. The divider has to be centered for oh so many reasons.
 

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Also, with your thin divider you have a little too much room for 4 frames, too tight for 5. You can ether trim off the side bars slightly or use an additional follower board until your frames are drawn, filled and the main flow/supplimental feeding is over.
I trimmed down the divider board cleat to 1/2". Five frames now fit each side with a very small amount of room to spare.

IMG_20150701_122401.jpg
 

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5 frames is fine when they are new and just getting drawn, but they will be too tight once they start getting filled. You'll want them to store a decent band of honey on the top and sides for your dearth periods. They need a bit of room for that and you need a bit of maneuvering room for frame removal and inspection. Don't want to roll that new queen ya know. 5 Tight fat frames are a bummer to get out down the road

 

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5 frames is fine when they are new and just getting drawn, but they will be too tight once they start getting filled.
Of course, you're right, it seemed pretty tight to me. I can go with four and add a follower if there's too much space.

I just made three more sets so I now have a total of eight 4 over 4 nuc boxes. I still have to build three dividers and bottom boards...I ran out of plywood.

IMG_20150701_183018[1].jpg

I truly appreciate the help everyone has offered on this forum...in particular a special thanks to Michael Palmer for sharing his years of beekeeping experience. Armed with this information, I feel well poised to begin building my colonies in earnest as soon as I have some practical experience with queen rearing.
 

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That's basically Kirk's method. But in reading Beekeeping at Buckfast Abbey, I see Bro Adam did it just a bit differently. I've switched to his setup. On day 1, instead of separating the brood above and below an excluder, he brings in brood from other colonies. So, place an excluder on top of the broodnest of your strong colony and the box of brood (7 frames of brood and 2 feed frames on the outsides). Supers back on top...no queens!

See, Bro Adam believed that the best cells were raised under either swarming or supercedure. Supercedure is difficult to control and usually not many cells result. Swarming on the other hand is easy to set up. Just try adding 7 frames of brood to a strong colony. I call these boxes of brood Bee Bombs...see my article in Bee Culture.

So, you set up a colony to get to swarming strength, and take away the queen. You control when they start their cells. They have all the resources and more...exactly what is needed to create quality queen cells.

One plus with Bro Adams approach...you can re-use the cell builder in a couple weeks after taking the cells. You never separated the queen's broodnest or restricted her from laying. Rather that using up the young nurse bee resource inthe CB, you are adding to it.

This is the best cell building method I have come across.
Tank you Michael. A great help sharing with us your knowledge .

Michael if understood well the CB is queenless while creating the queen cells. The queen is put it in a nuc. Am I correct? Then back to join the queen to its original family, under a excluder, after the queen cells are capped? Any special care for the acceptance of their mother which was absent about 5 to 6 days?
 

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How long can one spend grafting one frame? I saw videos of you with 30 cups on one frame. I limited to 15 cups per frame when I grafted last year because worried it would take me too long.
 

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I would just like to say that about 3 weeks ago I grafted some queens using the methods described by Larry Connor and only had 4 cells get drawn out. Granted I may not be the best grafter but I checked yesterday after using Mike's method and had 14 cells drawn out. I doubt that I got 4 times better at grafting over a 3 week period with no other practice. I am using this method from now on and am never looking back. Thank you Mike for your videos, posts, speeches and in person conversations.
-Dave
 

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Tank you Michael. A great help sharing with us your knowledge .

Michael if understood well the CB is queenless while creating the queen cells. The queen is put it in a nuc. Am I correct? Then back to join the queen to its original family, under a excluder, after the queen cells are capped? Any special care for the acceptance of their mother which was absent about 5 to 6 days?
Skipping the beginning and jumping into where the queen goes and why, remove the bottom brood nest dropping the upper boxes down onto the bottom board, this is now the cell builder. The brood nest with the queen is put on a seperate bottom board facing the oposite direction next to its origonal location. After preparing the space for the grafts in the CB the brood nest is shaken through an excluder into the CB creating a overflowing queenless CB.

The bottom board on the brood nest is facing the opposite direction to keep the two colonies separate and prevent the foraging bees from returning to the brood nest keeping the CB overflowing with as many bees as possible. This leaves the queen still in her origonal hive with some nurse bees and plenty of room to lay, mostly undisturbed.

After, the broodnest with the queen is inserted between what was the CB and its bottom board reuniting everything back into its origonal configuration.

If I got any of this wrong mike please let me know and thanks for taking the time to share what you have spent so much time learning.
 

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How long can one spend grafting one frame? I saw videos of you with 30 cups on one frame. I limited to 15 cups per frame when I grafted last year because worried it would take me too long.
I have used hot wet towels. Cover the grafted cells and the brood frame when they need not be exposed. But that's if I plan on doing alot, in my kitchen. When doing a few, I do it in a vehicle pass seat. My hives are on a steep hillside, so I place brood frame in cardboard box with hot towel to transport wherever I decide to graft.
 

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How long can one spend grafting one frame? I saw videos of you with 30 cups on one frame. I limited to 15 cups per frame when I grafted last year because worried it would take me too long.
Larva will live and be viable for at least 24 hours at 70 deg F more or less as long as they are not allowed to dry out. I even know of a case where freshly grafted cells were shipped by UPS overnite wrapped in a wet towel and some made it just fine.
 

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Mike saw you in Kamloops this past March really enjoyed you talks and plan to implement some of your methods into my operation. I bought 8 kona queens this spring and had 2 failures...... I'm even more sold on the wintering nucs now with my own locally raised queens.

1 questions when reversing the queen right hive is there any worry that the brood in this hive will be compromised once we shake nurse bees into the CB?
 
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