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What is the optimum number of days between when a ripe cell is placed in a mating nuc and when the laying queen is caught and removed, and another ripe cell introduced? And, is it best at that time to put a new ripe cell in mating nucs that do not have a laying queen?
 

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A lot needs to happen between those events. The queen needs to finish development when she emerges, feed and harden, and whatnot, then she has to go on mating flights until she is ready to lay. The rule of thumb is two weeks after she emerges you should see the first eggs, but depending on conditions, it can be as much as 24 days (in my experience) or as little as 5 days after emergence when first eggs are seen. I would leave it alone for two weeks and check.
 

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In this video,Bob Binnie presents some research evidence that shows better acceptance of queens harvested at 3-4 wks than queens harvested at 2 wks.

Starts at about 1:00 min:



Queen issues in pkgs and and recently introduced queens could be explained by quick turn around (2 wk cycle) in harvesting newly mated queens.
Queen/pkg producers are under a lot of pressure these days to get bees
"out the door", especially in early spring when mating conditions are not the greatest.
 

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What is the optimum number of days between when a ripe cell is placed in a mating nuc and when the laying queen is caught and removed, and another ripe cell introduced? And, is it best at that time to put a new ripe cell in mating nucs that do not have a laying queen?
Depends on the weather.
I put ripe cells in already operating mating nucs on day 10 after grafting ( virgins on initial setup of the mating nuc ). During good mating weather conditions I can see eggs 13 days later or as late as 18 days or so later. Then a few days to let her lay it up and to judge the laying before I pull the queen- works out more times than not to day 26/27 after grafting. Usually the next day I place a ripe cell to start the process over.
I make a few hundred a year for my use, to make late summer nucs and to sell. None go in packages as far as I know.
 

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It all depends on how you read the results of the study....people often see what they want... I see 14 days is the same 3 out of 4 years

There was no significant difference between survival rates 14 days after introduction for each age group for queen bees supplied to Apiary A and Apiary B for 1999, 2000 and 2001. For 1999 there was a significant difference, P<0.05, between survival rates of queen bees introduced at 7 and 14 days compared to 21, 28 and 35 days.
There was no significant difference between queen bee performance success 15 weeks after introduction for each age group for queens supplied to Apiary A and Apiary B for 1999, 2000 and 2001.

For 1999, there was a significant difference, P<0.05, for satisfactory performance by queen bees introduced at 21, 28 and 35 days of age compared to queens introduced at 7 and 14 days of age.

For 2000, there was a significant difference, P<0.05, between the number of queen bees displaying satisfactory performance for queens introduced at 7 days and those introduced at 14, 21, 28 and 35 days of age, and no significant difference between queens introduced at 14 and 21 days of age. For 2001, there was no significant difference in the number of queen bees displaying satisfactory performance for those introduced at 17, 24 or 31 days of age and introduced from mating nuclei or a queen bank.
Many of the slight and non significant differences can be explained by being selective.. The key to raising good queens.. IE I cull about 10% of my virgins after they emerge in the incubator... malformed wing or leg, small size, etc they get pinched.. I get very high return rates (in the 90%s) as I don't have dud cells and poor queens in the nuc, for comparison on walk aways where they raised their own queen I see a steady 75% mate out

What the study does not track is the in nuc survival so the slight edge in survival in production hives of older queens can be attributed to dead queens don't ship... ie the "poorer" ones of the older group died off in the nucs not the production hives... like wize I can't imaging they shipped any queens that were drone layers or had poor brood patterns in the older groups(as you could see it) so pre shipment selection, not time in the box seems to play the big factor

This is important to the little guy.. I don't ship, I don't wholesale ( heck demand was so high this summer I wasn't even mating 1/2 of them out.. The virgins were sold before they hit my nucs) so I catch at 2 weeks.. boosts my production by 50% and I handle any drone layer issues with a hand shake, a replacement , and a free virgin for their troubles (often with one of my mating nuc kits 😉)

Point is for you own use, it matters little . Place the queen, reload the mating nuc. In the rare case you have an issue with the queen, by the time you know, her replacement is ready in the mating nuc
 

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Queen/pkg producers are under a lot of pressure these days to get bees
"out the door", especially in early spring when mating conditions are not the greatest.
Yeah, I've noticed a difference between queens in packages that are made available the first week of April vs the queens from May. Among my own queens the ones that I raise to emerge around the first of September seem to do really well.
 

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How does this apply to mini mating nucs? I am going to start using them this spring. Sorry if I'm hijacking your thread.
 

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Jim, I do not see much of a problem if you are keeping the queens in your own yard and transferring them into a larger nuc. Otherwise, wait for the newly mated queen to lay up the mini frames and then remove her before before they swarm. Or, rotate empty frames in and use the drawn and capped frames to populate other mating nucs or put into the grow box to join another hive.
 
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