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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
How selective do you think a colony can be when rearing its own queens? Well, based on the observations I made from two splits I started 16 days ago, they can be highly selective and just because they cap queen cells doesn't mean they will let that queen fully mature.

The Facts
-Pulled the old queen out with 5 frames into a separate hive.
-Pulled 10 frames out of the now queenless original colony (still 3 deeps high with brood) and made another split.

The Observations
-The first queen cells were made using older larvae and capped early with short to medium sized smooth cells.
-A few days after these first cells were started the bees started rearing queens using the most recently laid eggs.
-On the 12th day after splitting I noticed that the all previously sealed queen cells in both colonies were opened at the bottom. Being relatively new at this, at first I thought the queens in both colonies somehow, in denial of biology, hatched out at 11 days until I noticed the other nice large, rough cells where once were what I thought were going to be the losers destined to be killed off.
-On the 15th day (yesterday) both queenless splits had completely torn down all the first capped cells in favor of the larger, more well fed queen pupa reared from the youngest possible larvae.
-Unlike the smooth queen cells, the bees were eagerly covering these high graded cells.

Some authors (Snelgrove for example) suggest pinching off the first cells started (at 4 days I believe) to be sure those queens that remain were raised from eggs to ensure the best queen. Though that probably works, based on what I observed, I don't think it's necessary. As long as we've provided the bees with the right resources they'll make the right selection on their own.

~Reid
 

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Nice observation and reporting there Reid, thanks. When doing walk a way splits, I always make sure I give a frame with plenty of eggs. I figure it gives them time to choose and make the best.
 

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so far i have let mine raise 6 out of 7 queens. They are all nice fat and plump minus the one Russian hive. She is petite and skinny and lays like a banshee....
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the replies.
I'll report back to this thread after the queens start laying and give an update on their progress. The weather is pretty nice as far as a NW spring is concerned and drones have been flying for over a month, so I don't expect any problems getting the queens mated. Though there always is the rough swallow that might screwse things up.

~Reid

p.s.- In addition to these splits I'm going to put together a Cloake board tonight and raise a few more so I can have some additional queens ready to lay in some post-harvest divides. I've never used a Cloake board, but from all I've read it seems like a great way to go about raising a few queens from your own stock even without grafting (which I have no intent to do).
 

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You can use a cloak board and or just wait till they make up cells. Then move some cells to a Nuc or 2 with some Nurse bees, whallah...extra cells and queens. I made 2 extra splits this way in March.
 
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