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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The objective: to produce 250 queens per week for sale from May to July.
The context:
  1. 40 strong hives and all necessary equipment.
  2. One man operation.
  3. Lack of experience in large scale queen production.
  4. British Columbia
I'll be working by myself fully dedicating my time, so I need some insight from wiser experienced beekeepers on the feasibility of this project and on the best method to follow. My lack of experience prevents me from being confident enough on any particular method.
The two methods that I have considered so far are:
  1. Permanent single queen-less starters that I'll be supplying every week with brood from dedicated brood supply doubles. And permanent double queen-right finishers that I'll also be supplying with brood every week from dedicated brood supply doubles.
  2. Permanent double queen-less starter/finisher that I'll be supplying constantly with brood and/or bees.
May this new year be the best beekeeping year ever for all of us
 

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5 ,8 ,10 frame, and long Lang
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I would google "mike palmer sustainable apiary"
and watch a few of his UTubes.

this one in particular

How many queens did you raise last year?
How many years have you had bees?

Are you thinking 10 batches of 25?
25 batches of 10
5 batches of 50?
do you have the matting NUCs ready?


GG
 

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How many queens did you raise last year?
How many years have you had bees?
In addition to the above, I'd enquire what methods have youi already tried - and how did you get on with them ?

Also - if you're going to be producing several thousand queens each year, I'd be interested to know more about your breeding-quality queens - presumably these are from established lines ? What criteria have you been using when scoring them ?

I'd second GG's recommendation to watch Michael Palmer's video, and - as you'll be needing lots of bees for mating nucs - his 'Sustainable Apiary' video is also well-worth a watch, if you haven't already seen it. Especially the 'brood factory' concept.
Good luck,
LJ
 

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The objective: to produce 250 queens per week for sale from May to July.
The context:
  1. 40 strong hives and all necessary equipment.
  2. One man operation.
  3. Lack of experience in large scale queen production.
  4. British Columbia
Not sure the numbers add up. 250 queens a week with a mating rate of 80% you will need over 300 mating nucs so round up to 325. To make 325 mini nucs you will need 325,000 bulk bees per week from 40 hives for 3-4 cycles which is 8,125 bees per hive 3-4 weeks in a row starting in April. That would take about a quarter of your bees every week. On the bright side your bees will not be thinking about swarming in April/May. On catch days you will be going through 325 hives which if it was only 1 minute to find the queen, mark her, add attendants, and secure finished product that will be 5 1/2 hours. I believe Mike P can do that with 3 catchers and himself, so multiply that by 3 or 4. And the following day you will have to add the new cells and feed these days catching and adding cells will have to done on time in all kinds of weather. You will probably have to catch 2 days a week and graft 2 days. All my numbers are optimistic, mini nucs are such a pita but needed for you numbers, you are 1 person, lack in experience, I think BC will help you because of the longer daylight and little dearth. And 40 hives are going to have to make 7000 lucky drones per week so you will need about a quarter million drones flying a week, hopefully you have neighbors that have good stock.

To get these numbers I would get an incubator that was big enough to hold 1000 cells.

I think a better number would be 100 per week and that would still be 500 mini nucs. Not sure why you came up with 250 per week Now if you are selecting the 40 strong hives out of an operation of > 2000 hives and have access to bulk bees not in your 40 strong hives. You will be busy, but with some help on catch days it might be doable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I would google "mike palmer sustainable apiary"
and watch a few of his UTubes.

this one in particular

How many queens did you raise last year?
How many years have you had bees?

Are you thinking 10 batches of 25?
25 batches of 10
5 batches of 50?
do you have the matting NUCs ready?


GG
This is my first season working for someone else and I don't have any bees yet.
Now after putting more thought into it, 250 queens with that much hives is just unthinkable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
In addition to the above, I'd enquire what methods have youi already tried - and how did you get on with them ?

Also - if you're going to be producing several thousand queens each year, I'd be interested to know more about your breeding-quality queens - presumably these are from established lines ? What criteria have you been using when scoring them ?

I'd second GG's recommendation to watch Michael Palmer's video, and - as you'll be needing lots of bees for mating nucs - his 'Sustainable Apiary' video is also well-worth a watch, if you haven't already seen it. Especially the 'brood factory' concept.
Good luck,
LJ
I haven't started queen rearing at all but will start next season. I'm planing on getting some II queens from reputable breeders. I know their expensive but they're worth it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Thanks Thorting for the excellent response.
I realised my numbers didn't add up at all. Didn’t consider how much bees I’ll need for the mating nucs. But I gave this more thought and these new numbers seem to make more sense this time.
Considering a third of the queens won't make it. That's 100 queens per batch.
New numbers:
170 strong double hives: 5 starters, 5 finishers and 5 brood suppliers for each; 150 hives will be dedicated bee suppliers for the mating nucs. Each one of these 150 will supply 1 cup of bees every 4 days. And to be careful not to deplete my hives, I try to synchronise the days the bees hatch and the day I harvest my cups. So on day -21 I introduce 2 empty frames under the excluder for the queen to lay in. On day 0, I have at least 150 cups of bees hatching that I can harvest on day 1 and place in 150 mini-mating nucs. On day 2 I can introduce the queen cells in the nucs.
Days
Cups hatch
Cups harvest
2 Empt Fr in & 2 Br Fr up.(Brood for the cups:)
Queen intro: mini nucs
Graft frame prep
Graft & intro to starter
Intro to finisher
Supp/Start brood rot
Supp/Finish brood Rot
-21​
2BC
-17​
2BC
-13​
2BC
-10​
GFP
-9​
x​
SSBR​
SFBR​
-8​
-7​
-6​
GFP
GIS
-5​
x​
IF
-4​
-3​
-2​
GFP
GIS
SSBR​
SFBR​
-1​
x​
IF
0​
CHch
1​
CHvest
2​
QINucs
GFP​
GIS
3​
x​
IF
4​
CHch
5​
CHvest
SSBR​
SFBR​
6​
QINucs
GFP​
x​
7​
x​
x​
8​
CHch
9​
CHvest
10​
QINucs
x​
x​
 

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This is my first season working for someone else and I don't have any bees yet.
Now after putting more thought into it, 250 queens with that much hives is just unthinkable.
think it out 2 or 3 times
then do it right the first time.
consider less per/week or month, at first then grow into it.
As well you may need to develop the market, having 250 queens on the table in cadges, means you need orders.
maybe find a commercial and "hire out" to do his queens, with his bees, many requeen every year. get your process down, taking the sales and startup bees off the table temporarily.

good luck

GG
 

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And 40 hives are going to have to make 7000 lucky drones per week so you will need about a quarter million drones flying a week, hopefully you have neighbors that have good stock.
The importance of this can not be overstated. I used to talk bees with Velbert Williams at the feed store. He spoke often of the lack of diversity within the drones and a lack of numbers. No bee trees and fewer small scale beekeepers, etc. He said he could raise more queens, but feared the quality would suffer due to being poorly mated.

Alex
 

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The importance of this can not be overstated. I used to talk bees with Velbert Williams at the feed store. He spoke often of the lack of diversity within the drones and a lack of numbers. No bee trees and fewer small scale beekeepers, etc. He said he could raise more queens, but feared the quality would suffer due to being poorly mated.

Alex
I'm hearing "Community Mating Area"
CMAs

10+8+13+20+12+.... soon there is enough......

GG
 

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Although not requested, my advice would be to forget those numbers during year one. I'd recommend 'feeling your way' into this type of operation during your initial year - perhaps offering 'special offer' queens only as and when they materialise, in order to build-up the beginnings of a good reputation.

There's also the possibility of unknown problems occurring and, at the risk of stating the obvious, the unknown cannot be planned for in advance. As an example, although my own queen rearing numbers are but a tiny fraction of what you propose, what I have discovered over several years is that queen-mating here becomes very unpredictable during the latter months of the season. The most likely cause are dragon-flies, although swallows could also be implicated. So - I've learned to raise an excess number of queens early in the year to compensate for this.

In general terms, I'd also suggest running several smaller hives (as starters, finishers, whatever), rather than one big one - in order to lessen the effect of a screw-up. All it takes is one virgin to emerge a day or two early, and that's goodbye to that particular batch of cells. Most of us have been there, and had that happen.
'best,
LJ
 

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I ran 44 dedicated mating nucs by mid-season 2021. First year of digging into queens. I caught queens as I sold queens, and most of my people expanding (and buying several) came on Sat (had their splits ready Sat).

I had no set goal and it took a few hundred hours of work this year to even know what the variables are. There were many, multiple, and varied disappointments. I may expand my count a bit this year, but probably not by much. I have a flexible job which I often left mid-day to go and make $6-7/hr in bees.

All the best. If I had been going for your numbers I would have required 1-2 full-time helpers and $20-30K in reserve. At the end of the day that would take me back to $6-7/hr.
 

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I was rooting around one of my 'archive' hard drives earlier today, looking for an early copy of a CAD program, when I came across a queen-rearing .PDF which had been mis-filed and could possibly be of interest to this thread:
https://www.researchgate.net/public...her_hive_model_that_facilitates_queen_rearing (there's a download link on that webpage for the full article)

The system found to be the most successful in that research was a 5-frame nuc box (used for rearing the queens) placed over a full-sized single-box queenright hive with a QX between them. FWIW, I've used a similar system on numerous occasions - mine being two 5-frame nuc boxes (using only one at a time) placed over a divided Cloake Board (each half of which having it's own QX panel), placed over a strong queenright hive. I found that set-up worked extremely well, and can recommend it.
'best,
LJ
 

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Plans often look great on paper.

Then there comes:
Rain and mud, robbing, having to feed, that round with poor returns and half the mating nucs need to be restocked (and sets the schedule back two weeks), "critters" eating holes in your mating nucs or knocking mating nucs over, wind, bees raising their own cells in the nucs and rejecting your cells (cell protectors don't always work), vandalism, syrup pump breaks, helpers don't show up, customer never comes to pick up the order (and won't return your calls), truck breaks down or gets stuck in mud or blows a tire, cell builders don't build cells (or tear them down), a virgin flies in and tears down all the cells that were supposed to be planted tomorrow, drones clog the queen excluder on the bottom board of your queenless cell builder, drone mother colonies just quit rearing drones no matter how much protein you give them, that colony you THOUGHT was strong enough to be a finisher wasn't, supply house slow shipping queen cages/mailing boxes, making queen candy just right, early emergence in the incubator, small hive beetles eating the mating nucs alive, sore back, sore muscles, bad shoulders, and on, and on, and on...

More fun than any beekeeper should ever want to have!

Has the OP thought about going to work for a professional queen producer if he hasn't already?
 
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