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I'm in my 4th year of beekeeping and I am a small operation with 6 production hives and various nucs through out the year. In this early phase of my beekeeping I don't plan on growing more than around 10 hives plus nucs.
I try to set a goal each year of starting to learn a new aspect of beekeeping. My first years have been focused on keeping the bees alive and nucs, with the specific goal of not purchasing packaged bees.
I think I have become reasonably competent with making spring nucs from swarm cells and helping my bees survive. But the issue I tend to run into is that when I need a queen I don't have one or suppliers are out, and It is a pretty long process (and a little pricey) to get one.
Also I have a few hives that have good traits and a few hives that have not so good traits (propolize the fool out of everything).
So I have decided my project for this year is to start learning queen rearing on a small scale.
My Primary focus on beekeeping is the production of Honey for sale and a fun learning experience for myself and my children.
What methods would you more experience beeks recommend for a beek with a small operation on a learning level?
I don't think I want to tackle grafting yet.
I have done some reading on general queen rearing and I may be looking at this wrong, but I figured I would determine which method of raising queens first and focus my reading and research on that method.

Thanks For your help.

David
 

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I am also a small operation beek. I would try the Miller Method. Beekeeping for Dummies tells you how to do it. But you might be able to find something online as well. But the Miller Method is the easiest way to raise a few queens.
 

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I am another hobbyist with about a dozen hives hoping to raise my own queens this year. In other words, after doing some research I think the following should work for a small-timer like me, but haven't implemented anything, yet . . .

I don't think grafting is hard to learn, and once you learn the technique, you have the best flexibility for choosing which queens you propagate from. In other words the benefits of grafting are well worth the small effort to learn it.

Grafting tools are cheap. Buy a couple of different styles, then practice by selecting and moving the proper aged larvae from one cell to another. Don't take any steps to make queens from these grafts, just successfully moving them to a nearby cell is the goal. There will be lots of larvae to practice on and no big deal if you make mistakes. There are two skills being learned, here: 1) choosing the correct-aged larvae to transfer; and then 2) the actual manipulations to do the transfer. You will know you got it when the bees start accepting a high percentage of those transferred larvae. At that point, moving on to working with larvae for actual queen rearing will be easy.

After doing some research, I plan on using a Cloake board for my small queen rearing operation:

http://www.thebeeyard.org/rearing-queens-via-the-cloake-board-method/






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mdasplitter.com or mel disselkoens book will teach you everything you need to know. It is perfect for what you are wanting to do and it works.
 

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Grafting is the easy part, learn how to make up a good cell builder and good mating nucs. Here is a very good system by Joseph Clemens for raising queens, but it does use grafting, but can be modified to be non-grafting system.

http://www.beesource.com/forums/sho...ing-using-the-Joseph-Clemens-Starter-Finisher

Just one of the many ways to raise queens without grafting...
Raising queen cells without grafting - Cut cell method
By OldTimer...

http://www.beesource.com/resources/...queen-cells-without-grafting-cut-cell-method/
 

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I don't think I want to tackle grafting yet.
I was at the same stage as you are, last summer. I was somewhat intimidated by the idea of grafting, and the need to build special frames etc. Then when I walked into local bee supply store, there it was, ready to go, complete, frame with bars etc. So I grabbed it 'for future use'.

As I discovered on my first attempt last summer, the grafting is the easy part. For my first attempt, I grafted 15 cups on a single bar, then put it into a queenless colony that was hopelessly queenless (or so I thought). They went to work on 8 of the 15, so for my first attempt, I thought that was pretty good, better than I expected. Here is what my bar looked like only 20 hours after putting it into the hive.



I wasn't really prepared to place 8 cells, so, I made up 4 nucs of 2 frames, then placed a couple cells into each. I did end up with 4 virgin queens in 4 nucs, and that's where I started to learn a few more of the 'not so obvious' issues of queen rearing, that apply no matter what method you use. My lessons were :-

a) We call them 'mating nucs', but if it's a dearth, the big colonies have a different name, they call them 'feeders'. Mating nuc can be robbed empty in an hour.

b) Grafting with the chinese tool was not at all difficult.

c) If you haven't thought it thru and planned in advance, making up mating nucs on the fly will burn up a LOT of resources, hence I only made 4. I actually tore down the queenless colony after they got the cells built, and used it to make up the mating nucs.

In this case, the whole exercise was essentially unplanned. I ended up with one split that didn't requeen themselves, totally broodless and hopelessly queenless, or so I thought, so I decided to experiment with a bar of grafts rather than shake out or combine. It was intended to be a learning experience more than a serious attempt at raising queens, just an experiment. When I got to the phase of tearing it down, I found eggs on one frame, but still couldn't find a queen in that colony.

Now that I'm over the 'fear of grafting', I have a completely different plan for the upcoming season. We are going to split all of our colonies as we come into the swarmy season, and all of those splits will get cells I've raised myself. It's much easier than I thought it would be, and just 'makes sense'. Using my own cells to queen the splits means I wont have to deal with the resource issues of making up mating nucs, and I can split on my schedule, not based on 'availability of queens'.
 

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Vance G hit on it!! I just purchased and read Mels book over the WE and the Dolittle system with an excluder will be the way I go from here on. Just gotta get the timing down for my area. His way is great too and probably preferred but I always have a hard time finding the queen in a well built up colony. My 60 something year old eyes don't cut it. So the Dolittle system it is for me. A small time hobbiest or beginner with 1 good hive that wants increases cost free on bee purchases or queen purchases the OTS system is the way to go.
 

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I grumbled about the price of the book after I had already been using the method and the book seemed just a copy of the free on line material. I changed my mind on that. The book makes everything crystal clear for an old guy like me who likes paper books.

Vance G hit on it!! I just purchased and read Mels book over the WE and the Dolittle system with an excluder will be the way I go from here on. Just gotta get the timing down for my area. His way is great too and probably preferred but I always have a hard time finding the queen in a well built up colony. My 60 something year old eyes don't cut it. So the Dolittle system it is for me. A small time hobbiest or beginner with 1 good hive that wants increases cost free on bee purchases or queen purchases the OTS system is the way to go.
 

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I grumbled about the price of the book after I had already been using the method and the book seemed just a copy of the free on line material. I changed my mind on that. The book makes everything crystal clear for an old guy like me who likes paper books.
I hear that!! The price after I read the book and took massive notes is way underpriced now. Lots of material and details with the OTS method. I picked my strongest hives this am and now gotta go back and study the timing for my parallel which is 29 and not 43 like Mels. The nectar flows are all different also as is the swarming timeline.
Now also, eyesight and finding the queen is no longer a hinder to produce queens so that alone to me paid for the book with lost time and aggravation.
PLUS, the brood breaks will eliminate the mites building up and wrecking the winter colonies. That's a plus that was kinda hidden in the real reason I bought the book which was to raise all the queens I needed for increases.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for all the Help and links! I figured the best thing to do for starters is order Mel's Book, so I Did. Regardless of what I do it looks like a wealth of good information.
Thanks also to Michael Bush, the actual 'First' thing I did was read your website.

David
 

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Thanks Joe, (both for the correction and for the kind words).

I've been thinking specifically about this thread, and here is what I would do....

1. Setup a few (maybe 3) Cloake Board hives in the most convenient yard, and rotate comb and check for cells appropriately.

2. Practice grafting and using the CB properly....you could graft one hive each day or all at once...there is little to lose here if you get off schedule.

3. Eventually you will have queen cells...any that aren't needed can be harvested for royal jelly.

4. For each split, I would move the parent colony (keep in the same yard), and put the queenless split at the old location . I would put 2 48 hour old cells in each split.

5. When cells should be ripe, check each split....use the second cell to place in a split with a failed cell, or place on a newly made up split.

You could have 48 hour cells (that travel well) every day, a constant supply of royal jelly, and the extra forgers in the splits will keep them fed.
 

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The On The Spot (OTS) method is appealing to me as a newbie and I'll likely try it.
Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't get what the advantage of the OTS method is. It basically involves forcing e-cells, which are generally the lowest quality of queens available. All at the expense of sacrificing a frame of brood. I can see how it would be appealing to the beginner, in theory, but if you can select the right age larvae on the OTS method (and destroy the rest of the brood on the frame), you can select the right age larvae and graft from it. If you take a frame of 3 day old larvae and the first time you try grafting you kill 80% of the larvae you try to graft, you're still shooting better than the OTS method. I don't know, just don't get it.

The rest of the MDA Splitter method may work well for others, but the timing of my flows are way off for it to work down here. Maples start blooming around Feb. 1. First grafts usually start around March 15 (at the earliest). Honey flow starts April 1. Dearth hits June 1. I can't take a hive, split it 3, 4 or 5 ways, get queens reared and colonies booming, then recombine them into one hive and take advantage of the honey flow in a 3 week (at best) time frame. But hey, maybe it works better elsewhere.
 

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Are they the same person ...what is the book called? Thanks

mdasplitter.com or mel disselkoens book will teach you everything you need to know. It is perfect for what you are wanting to do and it works.
 
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