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Discussion Starter #1
I gave a frame of drawn comb to the hive I want to raise queens from. The queen laid it full, and the eggs were hatching into larva on Wednesday. I used a nail to poke out every other row of cells in both directions.

I have a strong single deep hive that I wanted to use to raise the cells. I removed the queen and 2 frames of brood and bees and put them in a nuc.

I placed my jig with the frame of 4 day old larva over the queenless single deep. There is a one inch gap between the top bars and the bottom of the horizontal frame in the jig.

Today, 2 days later, I peeked in to see how they were coming along. The frame is completely covered in bees. On the top of the frame, the bees are raising a large patch of grubs. The cells that don't have any larvae are completely filled with honey.

On the bottom of the frame, the bees are only starting to draw out 3 or 4 queen cells. Every other available cell is plugged full of honey.

The bees are drawing several combs from the top bars to the frame in the jig, filling the 1 inch gap.

Is this normal for bees to store honey in the frame you are trying to raise queens on? In everything I have read about the Hopkins Method, I haven't read anything about the bees using the frame for honey storage instead of using it to raise queens.

I haven't read anything about the bees building comb between the horizontal frame and the top bars of the box below. Is this normal?

Why are the bees only making 3 or 4 cells? It is my understanding that a strong hive will make several dozen cells - sometimes 75-100.

This is my second time trying to raise queens with the Hopkins Method. The first time was over a week ago. The bees (in a different hive) filled every cell in the frame with honey. They didn't try to make any queens on the frame in the jig. They made queen cells in the regular frames in the hive.

What am I doing wrong? I am not feeding, as we have a really good nectar flow right now.
 

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You're not getting any quick responses, so I'll weigh in.

It sounds like you have a hive that is really full of bees with a heavy flow going on. It could be that they are really short of space and are filling in comb where ever they can.

Is it possible that the frame of young brood could have been damaged in some way? Maybe the brood got dried out while you were knocking down the extra cells.
 

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Countryboy,

I just did the same thing and using your results and mine I would make the following suggestions for both of us;

Bee quick - instead of "poking" cells, it might be better to "run" a blunt object across the frames to destroy the unwanted larva. These larva are so temperature and humidity sensitive, the faster we can get the frame into the cell starter the better.

Select really young nurse bees and pack them in - sounds like our bees were already too old. After 10 days of age, the bees no longer produce royal jelly and start to build wax instead, plus we had a number of foragers full of nectar. Maybe if we shake in bees from frames of open brood from a couple of hives during the day when most of the foragers are gone, then move the overflowing cell starter to another area to avoid the returning foragers, we'd have a better population of bees for the job at hand. Maybe we should leave the nuc with old queen at the original site to help her start over again. Make sure there aren't other queen cells on the starter frames, and keep them queenless long enough that they really want to start queen cells.

Any other suggestions,
Steve
 

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It's possible the hive you are using as a cell builder is not hopelessly queen-less. If they are not hopelessly queen-less, then they won't draw the cells so well as they have viable larva/eggs of their own. Is what it sounds like could be happening to me. When making up the cell builder, I like to use a queen excluder and pull frames of eggs/youngest larva in the top box with queen below. In 7 days I go back and move the bottom box with queen away. This gives me a box of nothing but nurse bees and emerging bees in place, with all the field force as well to bring in stores for raising the cells. This insures there is no way the box of bees could draw out a queen cell of their own, and waiting for 12 hours from splitting away the box with the queen will make the box you left in place really desperate, and when you put in your hopkins frame they should go right to it and build out many cells.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I removed the queen at the same time I put the Hopkins jig on. They had eggs and larva they could make queens with in the regular frames. I was hoping the bees would prefer larva in cells oriented like queen cups, rather than the bees having to draw out queen cells.

I had read that if you have a hopelessly queenless hive, it works a little better, but I didn't read where it was absolutely necessary. Maybe that is what I need to do....make the hive hopelessly queenless first.

I don't think it was an issue of heat/humidity damage to the larva. On the top side of the frame in the Hopkins jig, there were many larva that turned into grubs. On the bottom side, there were only a few cells being drawn out. If it was an issue of larva being damaged, I would expect both sides to be the same.
 

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I wasn't using the Hopkin's method, but my first try using a Jenter involved making a cell builder up with frames of nurse bees and capped brood (set up 24 hours before inserting frame with Jenter cells). When I checked my frame of cells I found none used but (I think) about 40 cells on the brood frames. I didn't check each cell for eggs but assumed that on capped brood frames that they wouldn't have a way to make a queen and would prefer my frames of larva anyway.

Bad assumption on my part. While they were queenless for 24 hours they chose the cells to use to make queens and they didn't involve any of my Jenter cells.

For emergency cells, I don't find as many cells as swarm hives. Sometimes only 4-5, so maybe that is what you are seeing. Did you look at your other frames for queen cells?
 

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I guess I'm having trouble picturing this. They are storing honey in cells facing straight down? That is the Hopkins method. You lay the frame flat. I would have destroyed two rows and leave one and two cells and leave one to get them spaced far enough for easy division when you get ready to put them in the nucs. Any queenless hive tends to store nectar whereever unitl they need somwhere to lay, then they clear it out.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
They are storing honey in cells facing straight down?

Yep. Both the top and bottom of the frame plugged full of honey.

I would have destroyed two rows and leave one and two cells and leave one to get them spaced far enough for easy division when you get ready to put them in the nucs.

I was destroying every other row of hatching larvae. I just used a 16 penny nail to poke out the bottom of the cell to destroy the larva. The bees repaired the nail holes and filled the cells with honey.

How do you normally destroy the rows of cells? I used a nail because I figured there would be less damage to the comb than if I used my hive tool to rip out rows of cells.

I didn't pull frames in the brood box to inspect. The bees may have simply moved honey from down in the broodnest, and placed it overhead. The Hopkins frame was not dripping nectar. It appeared to be open honey.
 

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MDA Splitter likes to take a bullet or cotton ball and cover up about half a dozen cells. Then shake powdered sugar or flour in all the other cells. That dries up the larvae and kills them. Pull out the bullets or cotton balls and there you go. Alot quicker and easier than poking each cell with a nail (but never tried either way).
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I had read about using shell casings, but I was using foundationless combs, which have a variety of cell sizes.

Hmm...my bottlenecked 17 shells might work. I may have to save my empties and try them sometime.
 

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I've always wondered about just using dimes to cover, not sure if it would let powder into all the adjacent cells though.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Countryboy; you don't use casings, only the bullet; you know, the pointy end!

I hadn't thought of that. I was just thinking he had used empty 22 casings.

I doubt I can use a 22 bullet on small cell cells though...still too big. I'd be leery of using an unfired 17 shell...it might be long enough the tip could damage the larvae. If I use 17's, I think the empties may be the best choice for those.

I've always wondered about just using dimes to cover, not sure if it would let powder into all the adjacent cells though.

A dime would cover more than one cell at a time, and you would end up with a clump of cells that was hard to separate. (but you could just use the whole clump of cells and let the bees sort things out)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I tried raising another batch of queens last week.

I made the hive hopelessly queenless. They had no choice but to use the eggs/larvae I provided.

I used 22 shells and dusted the frame with flour pretty good. I had good flour coverage of all uncovered cells.

Our flow is shutting down, with nectar gathering being spotty. I fed the hive about a half gallon in a frame feeder when I gave them eggs/larvae.

The colony is 5 or 6 frames of younger bees in a 10 frame box with a feeder.

The bees only raised 4 queen cells. There was a little open nectar curing in cells. They are packing away tons of multi-colored pollens.

Why did they only raise 4? Is the colony too weak? Does the flow shutting down reduce the bees desire to raise multiple queens, despite a little feeding?
 

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Reading this thread makes me realize that grafting into JZsBZs plastic queen cell cups primed with a little drop of diluted royal jelly is an extremely easy way to initiate cultured queen cells. It sounds difficult, complicated, and frustrating to hear various tales of difficulties raising queens.

When I first decided to learn to raise queens, I initially removed the queen from one of my strongest hives, then when they had started about a dozen queen cells, I carefully removed the resident larva and replaced them with larva from my own choice of mother queen. This worked amazingly well, but I wanted even more control, so I practiced grafting using beeswax and JZsBZs queen cell cups, using several different grafting tools, priming or not priming, etc. I eventually developed my own style, which works for me.
 

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I have heard many stories about different techniques where only a few cells get started and it seems to me that most of these situations could be remedied by using a swarm box for a starter. The swarm box is utilized to force bees to start the cells in a queenless environment packed with engorged nurse bees with nothing but queen cups to work on. Twenty four hours in one of these boxes gets the job started and then the rest is done in a finishing colony. I think there is a good chance of getting your Hopkins method working better if you started with a swarm box.
 
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