I was wondering if it is alright using queen cells instead of mated queens to start a nuc. What is the success rate of queen cells? If I take drones from an already established hive and place them in the nuc will they breed with the virgin queen? Thanks
Queen cells work fine in nucs but we always leave them queenless over night before adding cells. Your queen cell nucs will be 9-15 days behind mated queen nucs due to the time for the cell to hatch, the queen to mate and start laying. A mated queen which will be on the loose and laying in 24-48 hrs.
Don't place drones in the nuc, the queen will leave the nuc and mate with drones from other hives in the area who kind of agree on a mating area. If you are doing more than 5 or 10 nucs you will need to have some serious drone populations available to guarentee good mating.
if your on a budget cells is the way to go.success will depend on weather temp and available drones. that said you could expect 90% or better.but if your stock is not the best buy a few queens for there genetics.
I agree with all of the above advice. We start all our nucs with cells. I usually make my splits (nucs) on Monday, and place cells Tuesday morning. Dont worry about placing drones in the nucs as explained the virgin will go find her suitors abroad. It is way cheaper than mated queens and I usually run about 90-95% success rate.
You should probably check out a good book about queen rearing. Michael Bush has some good, vintage ones available on his website. One thing that comes to mind when I read your posts in this thread and see your location -> How often and what time of the season are you going to have weather that will be conducive to proper queen matings? You may want to check with other local beekeepers to see how queen mating works in your local climate.
In my current location, Tucson, Arizona, U.S.A. I've been able to raise small batches of queens continuously, and I probably won't have a "down" time from the 2009 season, until now, the 2010 season. I know this probably won't always be possible, but, for now, it is. From what I've read from the experts, I believe, that matings work best when the temperatures are near or above 70F (21C), the winds are calm, and the sun is out. Conditions that all bees prefer when flying, especially queens and drones on mating flights. Once the virgin queens are about ten days old, they are old enough to mate, but if conditions aren't good during the next two weeks, they will likely not get mated, after which they become drone-laying queens (they will never be mated, so can only, ever and always after, lay only drone eggs).
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