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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am going to try and do some qrafting this coming spring. I have a colony that I liked last year and they seem to be doing very well so far this winter. Built up nicely, gentle, had great stores going into fall haven't had to feed them (a big plus for me) and mite counts were consistently low during the season with alcohol wash (highest was 2 that was in July, October and November had 0). So I am wanting to try my hand at grafting some new queens from her. So I have been reading and watching videos and trying to learn as much as I can. I am wondering if I am missing any steps or anything really.

I am wanting to try and do it with 5 frame nuc boxes. So I was thinking of setting up a queenless 5 frame nuc box full of nurse bees with 2 frames of pollen 1 frame of honey 1 empty frame and then the cell builder frame in the middle of the 2 pollen frames. Then transfer that box to a 5 frame nuc box queen right hive with a queen excluder. First off can I do this or will the bees fight and kill the existing queen? I was wanting to just take the cell starter and use it to start them, then before the new queens emerge take those cells out and combine both nucs and transfer to a 10 frame and have a new colony. So if that situation will work here is my steps

Step 1 wait until I start seeing drones and the temperatures stay around 65+

Step 2- choose hive to graft from. Grafting day will be in 4 days from this day. Insert a drawn comb frame into this hive in middle of brood nest for queen to hopefully lay in

Step3- Day 3 12 hours before qrafting day (day 4) make up my 5 frame queenless nuc with 2 frames full of pollen and honey. Add as many nurse bees as I can from my resource hives. (Nuc box will have an extra box space 4" or so of screen so the box will have adequate ventilation. Also add a sponge with water to the bottom) close the bees in the hive, leave in a shaded area for 12 hours

Step 4- grafting day. Day 4 (from day queen laid eggs) Select frame from colony I want to graft from. Choose larvae that is 12-24 hours old. Looking for very small comma shaped larvae. Graft into cell cups (I will be using JZBZ equipment if that is of any importance)

Step 5- insert qrafted queen cups into middle of pollen frames into the 12 hour 5 frame queenless nuc box

Step 6- make sure sponge is moist, close up nuc box wait 24 hours. (Should I add some 1:1 to this colony)

Step 7- day 5 add queenless 5 frame nuc box to the top of a queen right 5 frame nuc box with a queen excluder in between to finish the cells. Add some 1:1

Step 8- day 7 check on grafts make sure bees are drawing out cells. If so keep feeding and cull the ones not excepted. If they did not draw any out re graft.

Step 9- day 10 queen cells should be capped/sealed make sure be very careful with cells. Then leave alone for 4 days

Step 10- day 14 make up queenless nucs. Put queen cells into cell protector caps. Wait a couple hours and then add 1 queen cell to each nuc.

Step 11- day 16 queens should emerge.

Step 12- day 20-22? Queen goes on mating flight.

Step 13- day 30 make sure queens are laying.

Step 14- day 50. It should be a full 20 days since the queen started laying. If I wanted to requeen some of my old hives can I go ahead and dispatch the old queens and introduce the new queens. Obviously I would introduce the new queen in a queen cage about an hour or 2 after removal of old queen

Then what do I do with the mating nucs after I use the mated queens in my other colonies. I think this is where I am lost. I am not really wanting to start a lot more hives just wanting to be self sustaining.

My goal is to get to 20 hives. Re queen every year or 2, to help with swarm control. My 2 bee yards are in the city so trying to manage swarms with new queens also. So with this goal in mind I would build 30 3 frame nucs. 20 for my use 10 for extra incase something happens to queens during flights or bees kill her or whatever. 10 for insurance purposes. So I would graft 60 and shoot for 50% acceptance (probably ambitious for a first time but I figured out of a whole summer I could rear 30). Anyways if I have all 30 survive I will re queen my 20 and possibly start up 10 nucs for sale earn some extra money, that's always a bonus in my book. But the 20 I am using for my own personal small scale Apiary what to do with the extra bees. Add them to the other hives when I add their queen to them, introduce them with newspaper (seems like a hassle) dump them and wish them the best.

Hope this makes sense. Any input would be great. Did I miss any steps. Looking forward to trying my hand at grafting. Thanks all
 

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I have never used a queen less starter / queen right finisher ( which is what you are describing), so I can't comment on that. If you don't want to add new cells to the mating colonies, you can remove the old queen from the colony to be requeened and just combine the mating nuc with colony (direct combine or newspaper) depending on necter flow. This way the queen never stops laying and you don't have to cage her.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you Clayton for the link I will go through it. Michael Palmer was one of the first beekeepers I started to follow and have set up like him just small scale. I use alot from him and Michael Bush and combine the 2. My current set up is
4 production hives (2 double deep 10 frame plus 1 medium and 2 4 10 frame mediums)
4 nucs 5x5
2 4 frame double resource hives 4x4
So a total of 12 colonies
This coming spring I plan to set up the other yard the same way and working my way to 20 production hives total and running all medium.

Goal is to graft queens around June then introduce to my colonies sometime in late July early August. That way I have new young queens going into winter and spring. I dont really want to winter mating nucs. Once I expand to 20 I will be pretty much out of room. With my set up having 4 resource hives going and 8 nucs I figured that will cover winter losses and have extra for making up 30 3 frame mating nucs for new queens after the spring flow. 1 pollen frame, 1 honey frame 1 capped brood frame with nurse bees and a queen cell.

With 30 queens I am thinking that will cover all my queens except 6 in both of my yards. I was thinking of dividing up and doing half one year and the other half the following year. 2 year cycles for queens. Both my yards are in populated cities so it is one way for me to help control swarming, I heard that younger queens are less likely to swarm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you KRhodes I was wondering if I could just combine the bees to the colony when I introduce the queen to it. I think that works out perfect that way I can just store the mating nucs over winter then make them up again the following year. Never really expanding more and still being self sufficient.
 

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As a member of the " I really suck at grafting club" add some crop insurance in your plan. I would run a split along side your graft. You do not have to do a major shake up to do a split. Read up on some of Ray Marler's stuff.

It will keep you from getting too far behind on your schedule and nothing says you have to keep the ones you do not like.
 
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