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This is well worth a read.

Diet quantity influences caste determination in honeybees (Apis mellifera)
Garett P. Slater, George D. Yocum and Julia H. Bowsher
Published: 27 May 2020https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2020.0614

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2020.0614

Many thanks to Bill Hesbach at Bee-L for posting the link to this research article.
 

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Thanks for the link. I was especially pleased when I read the source of bees came from nine (9) hives near Fargo, North Dakota. So far as I know, no publicity about this study was generated in our area - sorta sad.
 

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Always learning something new. Thanks for the link JWPalmer :).
 

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That was interesting. Scarcity has always been a driver in evolution and I think the honeybee caste system is a prime example of that.
 

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Thank you for posting the link, JW. That is a top-notch piece of work and they are to be commended. That study really confirms and underscores what practices have been succeeding for me.

30,000 extra five- to ten-day-old nurse bees (imported via 10 frames of emerging brood 10 days before grafting) in a huge, booming cell builder colony made during the peak of the main Springtime nectar / pollen flow and fed patties and syrup make for the best queens.

1600+ feedings per day is not accomplished in weak colonies unless a very low number of queen cells are being raised. This is risking an inferior queen.

A 6-frame nucleus box is better than a 5-framer for queen rearing on a small scale by virtue that it has enough bees to raise up to about 20 GOOD queens. If a queen breeder raises only 15 cells in such a setup, they most often come out quite healthy and vigorous. I'm pretty sure that 16,000 to 17,000 nurse bees in a 6-framer is able to handle the feeding.

A full-sized 2 brood box colony with 10 imported frames of emerging brood can raise as many as 60 queen cells (perhaps more), and many attempting the feat notice that 50 cells often renders a higher end result of accepted queens - most assuredly due to the fact that the queen cells are getting an uninterrupted, plentiful flow of food from the 5- to 10-day-old nurse bees.
 

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Thank you for posting the link, JW. That is a top-notch piece of work and they are to be commended. That study really confirms and underscores what practices have been succeeding for me.

30,000 extra five- to ten-day-old nurse bees (imported via 10 frames of emerging brood 10 days before grafting) in a huge, booming cell builder colony made during the peak of the main Springtime nectar / pollen flow and fed patties and syrup make for the best queens.

1600+ feedings per day is not accomplished in weak colonies unless a very low number of queen cells are being raised. This is risking an inferior queen.

A 6-frame nucleus box is better than a 5-framer for queen rearing on a small scale by virtue that it has enough bees to raise up to about 20 GOOD queens. If a queen breeder raises only 15 cells in such a setup, they most often come out quite healthy and vigorous. I'm pretty sure that 16,000 to 17,000 nurse bees in a 6-framer is able to handle the feeding.

A full-sized 2 brood box colony with 10 imported frames of emerging brood can raise as many as 60 queen cells (perhaps more), and many attempting the feat notice that 50 cells often renders a higher end result of accepted queens - most assuredly due to the fact that the queen cells are getting an uninterrupted, plentiful flow of food from the 5- to 10-day-old nurse bees.
This is well worth a read.

Diet quantity influences caste determination in honeybees (Apis mellifera)
Garett P. Slater, George D. Yocum and Julia H. Bowsher
Published: 27 May 2020https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2020.0614

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2020.0614

Many thanks to Bill Hesbach at Bee-L for posting the link to this research article.
This is well worth a read.

Diet quantity influences caste determination in honeybees (Apis mellifera)
Garett P. Slater, George D. Yocum and Julia H. Bowsher
Published: 27 May 2020https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2020.0614

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2020.0614

Many thanks to Bill Hesbach at Bee-L for posting the link to this research article.
Thanks for that link. Definitely a good read.
 

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Thank you for posting the link, JW. That is a top-notch piece of work and they are to be commended. That study really confirms and underscores what practices have been succeeding for me.

30,000 extra five- to ten-day-old nurse bees (imported via 10 frames of emerging brood 10 days before grafting) in a huge, booming cell builder colony made during the peak of the main Springtime nectar / pollen flow and fed patties and syrup make for the best queens.

1600+ feedings per day is not accomplished in weak colonies unless a very low number of queen cells are being raised. This is risking an inferior queen.

A 6-frame nucleus box is better than a 5-framer for queen rearing on a small scale by virtue that it has enough bees to raise up to about 20 GOOD queens. If a queen breeder raises only 15 cells in such a setup, they most often come out quite healthy and vigorous. I'm pretty sure that 16,000 to 17,000 nurse bees in a 6-framer is able to handle the feeding.

A full-sized 2 brood box colony with 10 imported frames of emerging brood can raise as many as 60 queen cells (perhaps more), and many attempting the feat notice that 50 cells often renders a higher end result of accepted queens - most assuredly due to the fact that the queen cells are getting an uninterrupted, plentiful flow of food from the 5- to 10-day-old nurse bees.
kilocharlie, This next year should be the first time I try grafting. So I'm a newbee at this part. I've a question about the cell builder you mentioned above. Are you saying that you build the cell builder colony 10 days before you graft? Other information I've read says to do your grafting 1-2 days after starting the cell builder. Please confirm the 10 day part.

Also I was going to try to start with a 5 frame nuc but seeing this and thinking I should have the resources this year to populate a 10 frame deep, maybe I'll go that way. Especially after reading the discussion in the link.

Thanks.
 

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First questions are: 1) how many STRONG, HEALTHY colonies ya got?; 2) How many nuc's?; 3) How many queens you gonna need?

The answers determine which system you should use. Your total bee resources are the single most important aspect affecting your method. Less than 6 colonies => use a 12-inch tall, 6-frame, ventilated nucleus box for your queen cell raiser colony, and keep it down to 12 to 15 queen cells at a time.

If you have 6 to 12 colonies, you should probably build a strong, single brood box colony into a cell builder, adding a brood box with 10 frames of imported, capped / hatching brood from other colonies 246 hours before beginning grafting. Depending on your apiary, you may have to start even earlier (like 2 or 3 weeks before day -10) and newspaper-combine 2 colonies to make one strong one for your queen cell builder. Usually, your strongest colony is your queen mother from which you are grafting - don't use that one. At this small level, forget drone rearing. That's for LARGE apiaries.

Will continue next post - emergency.
 

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Oops! looks like I left out the idea that you are aiming to make 2 queen cells for each nucleus colony you can afford to make. Plant 2 and pray for 1. Very few failed nuc's that way.

The Less-Than-6 Colony Method of using a ventilated, 6-frame nucleus colony should be arranged 1=Capped brood, 2=capped brood, 3=pollen + open nectar/honey, 4=capped brood, 5=capped brood, 6=capped brood. The special 6-frame nuc' should have a special feeder inner cover with a 4-inch diameter hole spanned with 1/2-inch hardware cloth to hold the patty and allow bees to feed on both sides of the patty, plus 1 or 2 mason jar lid holes fitted with perforated lids. I drill several feeding holes with a #60 drill bit. An extra 6-frame box encloses the feed chamber. A regular 6-frame sized inner cover and a top covers the whole shebang. This rig can produce 3 to 15 queens per batch all Spring and Summer long, allowing the queen rearing "newbie" to get a lot of practice each season.

Back to the 6 - 12 (maybe even 15) colony level, a 2- or 3- brood box colony is better if you can spare it. A single brood box colony should be almost ready for a second brood box (already has at least 1 honey super on top). To this I'd add an empty brood box, bring in 5 to 10 frames (10 is better) of capped, hatching brood - one each from other colonies 246 hours before grafting begins.

This 1 brood box + 10 frames in a second brood box setup can handle 30, maybe 35 queens for at least 2 cycles no problem. IT IS OF EXTREME IMPORTANCE TO REMOVE ALL QUEEN CELLS AT THIS TIME. Check again 5 days before grafting, and again the day before grafting - REMOVE EVERY QUEEN CELL!!! Also, feed them another pollen substitute patty with real pollen added and a Miller hive-top feeder (or Don the fat bee man's modified version!) full of Pro Sweet syrup or 1:1 with HBH added.

The queen cells you remove can be placed temporarily in an insulated cigar box or a plastic fishing vest box with cotton balls (and either of these in turn get placed into a styrofoam beer cooler with a 95 degree hot water bottle), and go ahead and make up a nuc' out of 2 queen cells if you prefer. I prefer to retain full control over the timing of queen rearing, so pulled cells get placed into 5-hole hatching cages and into the incubator. I used to just squish them.

Quite possibly for up to 20 (perhaps even 50) colonies it is better (if your schedule allows) to run 2 six-frame queen cell raiser ventilated nuc's split on an 11-day cycle (first one on day zero, second one on 5th day the first one again on the 11th or 12th day), the bees staying in the nuc's for 22 days. That's 2 twelve-inch tall, ventilated, six-frame cell raiser nuc's with feeder top boxes and up to 40 nuc' boxes to plant the queen cells in each cycle. Fewer queens more often IS better for a learning curve, and allows adaptability for the season. And your learning all about queen rearing - management and grafting - at once.

Larger operations from 15 colonies on up usually have more options, but queen production becomes a high priority. If running a honey operation, a division between honey production colonies and queen / nucleus production colonies is proportioned out. Seems to me my mentors usually kept queen / nuc' production to about 1/4th of their total, but I was not seeing all the hives - more were out in pollination contracts.

Your question to yourself is, "How many bees am I going to risk on replacement / re-queening / expansion / nuc' sales vs. how many managed for production?" Hint #1: you are not borrowing brood frames from production colonies except for maybe very largest ones. Hint #2: you'll be adding from a 32-oz drink cup to maybe a 56-oz cup full of bees to a nucleus colony.

Going to replace all queens after August 15th's IPM grand slam treatment of formic acid? That's one queen each (one nuc' if you are smart!) or 2 queen cells planted in each nuc'. Want more for next year? Figure half might not make it over Winter, that's 2 more queen cells each. At low levels of colony numbers, you are not selling off nuc's. That's usually above 60 colonies in your apiary before you can make plenty of excess and have "too many" well-mated queens for next year's budget.

An experienced queen rearing beek' can sell nuc's with as few as maybe 20 colonies because he gets a high percentage of well-mated, accepted queens for his grafts and does not use up too many bees making them. He may also be adept at making very small nuc's early and larger sized nuc's as the season rolls along. He may still yet be set up with a few Jumbo Dadant or Brother Adam beehives and have his bees populate up 2 weeks earlier than everyone else and be running all HUGE colonies - and he just has to get rid of the excess bees, so he sells nuc's. But he's not going to be running 10 queen cell raiser colonies.

A good queen rearing calendar - and yours is a project that should expand with experience - details, photos, notes about previous pitfalls, etc. - is the basis of the operation. Search Beesource for one, then look around the internet for others. Print out all of them, then sit down and read them, then mentally go through the process and pencil up our own. After you've typed it up and run it once or twice, modified it, and it's working for you, take 2 copies to the local office supply store and have them laminated.

Likewise make up your queen rearing equipment list and your grafting day punch list and laminate them, too. Yes, they will get updated and modified again and again, but just do it. A grease pen can mark off each task and get wiped off later.

time for dinner - more tomorrow. Thanks for your patience - KC
 

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Oh, before I go - one more thought. Probably better than 3,000 bees on a solid deep frame of capped brood. 5 of those in an extra-deep 6-framer is 15,000 bees in the 5- to 15 day old premium nurse bee age bracket (plus a regular colony supplying them) handling about 15 queens in ideal conditions at a time. A thousand nurse bees per queen cell feeding each queen cell 1,640 times a day. This is the basis of our system - they are ab-naturally overpopulated with nurse bees in that age group, over-fed, have been preparing all Spring for swarming, and will suddenly be made queenless with not a single larvae to make into a queen. Then at 3 pm on Grafting Day, WAH-LAH! the beekeeper gives the a frame of grafts in artificial queen cell cups. Kind of a nuclear powered royal jelly factor on steroids for the baby queenies. That's our goal.
 

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Oh, before I go - one more thought. Probably better than 3,000 bees on a solid deep frame of capped brood. 5 of those in an extra-deep 6-framer is 15,000 bees in the 5- to 15 day old premium nurse bee age bracket (plus a regular colony supplying them) handling about 15 queens in ideal conditions at a time. A thousand nurse bees per queen cell feeding each queen cell 1,640 times a day. This is the basis of our system - they are ab-naturally overpopulated with nurse bees in that age group, over-fed, have been preparing all Spring for swarming, and will suddenly be made queenless with not a single larvae to make into a queen. Then at 3 pm on Grafting Day, WAH-LAH! the beekeeper gives the a frame of grafts in artificial queen cell cups. Kind of a nuclear powered royal jelly factor on steroids for the baby queenies. That's our goal.
Thanks KC
FYI 10/2020 I have 5 double deep 10 frames, 1 single deep 10 frame, 2- 3 frame nucs. I started these nucs 6/28/20 from another queen breeder and they never built up. I fed them until last week and they hardly drew any comb, no empty comb to give them. These are the 2 queens I wanted to graft from in 2021 because of their genetics. I hope they make the winter!

Looks like the single 6 frame nuc would fit my needs to start this next season. Also I'd rather start slow and build up my confidence with success. Looks like I'll need to build a six frame nuc soon. I do like to keep records so thanks for the list of info that I need, more there than I'd have thought of.

Jim
 
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