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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I imagine this has been asked many times but I searched with no results. I am raising some Queens for my own use. I have book that I followed and am using a queen right double deep colony with the Queen on the bottom below an excluder and most brood above. I also shook a couple of additional frames off open brood from another hive into the top box. I am using this as both a starter and finisher as per this book. My question is why is it almost every other method uses starter colonies used in all the other methods? I have not been able to find the reason specifically for starter colony uses. I did my first graft two days ago and got 12 cups accepted out of 30.this is poor but I'm sure it was due to my inexperience and not the colony setup. I advice is appreciated.
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It helps if the starter is queenless. I'm thinking you did pretty well to get 12 cups accepted with a queen in the bottom. They will finish within a queenright colony but the starter is usually queenless. Good luck with them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks. I believe the book I read where the author states that bees above the excluder think they are queenless was either "Keeping bees and making honey" by Kelley or, "Honey on the Comb". I forget which one.
I know this is an unpopular method but it seems like a very easy one. I can easily take the frames from below that the queen has been laying in and move them up and take the ones on top, which will be sealed in a week or so, and move them down with the queen. Once they emerge there will be open comb for eggs. I suspect I am missing the reason for the popularity for the starter/finisher setup. Maybe once it is alls said and done it works out to be the same amount of work???
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Personally, I use, what I call, "queen cell builder colonies". My cell builders are queenless, smaller than usual supers, packed with nurse bees, so they all can hardly fit inside. I restock them every few weeks with combs of sealed and week-old worker brood, and remove combs of nectar/honey, which contained worker brood a few weeks earlier. Much easier for me to keep track of, than starter/finisher colonies, even if they were the same colony. Besides regular stocking with fresh worker brood, all I need to remember is to thoroughly check for rogue queen cells, regularly, without fail, or lots of very nice queen cells will be wasted.
 

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Personally, I use, what I call, "queen cell builder colonies". My cell builders are queenless, smaller than usual supers, packed with nurse bees, so they all can hardly fit inside. I restock them every few weeks with combs of sealed and week-old worker brood, and remove combs of nectar/honey, which contained worker brood a few weeks earlier. Much easier for me to keep track of, than starter/finisher colonies, even if they were the same colony. Besides regular stocking with fresh worker brood, all I need to remember is to thoroughly check for rogue queen cells, regularly, without fail, or lots of very nice queen cells will be wasted.
What size are your starter colonies.? How long do you leave the Queen cells in it? When you move them can you then put them in a Queen right hive and move each cell separately to the hive you want them to be in when they emerge.
Do you first put them in small mating nucs or do you put them directly in the hive they will remain in as the Queen?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Can you say, "highjack?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Personally, I use, what I call, "queen cell builder colonies". My cell builders are queenless, smaller than usual supers, packed with nurse bees, so they all can hardly fit inside. I restock them every few weeks with combs of sealed and week-old worker brood, and remove combs of nectar/honey, which contained worker brood a few weeks earlier. Much easier for me to keep track of, than starter/finisher colonies, even if they were the same colony. Besides regular stocking with fresh worker brood, all I need to remember is to thoroughly check for rogue queen cells, regularly, without fail, or lots of very nice queen cells will be wasted.
Thanks. Good information.
Checking for queen cells is going to be a chore no matter what if I'm not mistaken???
Do you pick the best of those that they start? I'm wondering if it is common for queen breeders to use these? Seems like it would be easier to kill these and rely solely on the grafted cells? I killed about 12 after the first 24 then 48 hours. I just "went by the book".
Oh, and and YouTube too.
 

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Hi, guys.

The reason that Cell Starter colonies are queenless is that many (up to ~60, maybe even more depending on colony strength and food stores) queen cells can be started when invoking the bees' emergency response. They get quite bummed out without a queen after about 2 hours, and enthusiastically start a whole bunch of QC's, when suddenly given the grafts on the queen cell frame. Problem is, a Cell Starter colony often will not finish all those QC's, just a couple of them, under the emergency response. However, a 2- or 3-deep tall, well-fed, and super-charged Cell Starter Colony with 7 to 10 frames of capped brood added from other support colonies may well finish all the QC's that they started. Making tons of royal jelly is no problem. Anything less can give disappointing results. Schemes utilizing only a nuc, or very few added nurse bees the right age probably won't finish that many cells.

A Cell Finisher Colony is better off queenright under some circumstances. With the queen present and giving off her queen substances (especially pheromones), the workers change modes - now interpreting the situation as supercedure impulse, in which few QC's are started, but all are taken VERY GOOD CARE of.

We beekeepers have learned to trick the bees by combining the swarming impulse with the emergency response to start many queen cells, then changing over to combining the swarming impulse with the supercedure impulse to finish them, resulting in many well-cared-for queen cells.

An issue comes up - WHEN to make this change from queenless Cell Starter to queenright Cell Finisher?
In the Cloake Board method, it is done at 24 hours after the queen cell frame is added to the queenless Cell Starter Colony. On the other hand, Michael Palmer get excellent results keeping the Cell Starter/Finisher queenless for 5 1/2 days - until the queen cells are capped.

The difference is that Michael really powers up his Cell Starter/Finisher colonies with at least 8 frames of brood (both open and capped brood) and also adds 7 MORE frames of capped brood 10 days before grafting. These super-charged Cell Starter/Finisher colonies are so populous that he calls them "Bee Bombs", and bees pour out over the sides of the box like foam out of a shaken soda can when opened.

The Cloake Board method can also be employed with frames of capped brood imported from other hives, rendering excellent results.

Any method you use, consider that the production of royal jelly is the focus, with attention given to time of year, colony strength, nectar flow, pollen stores as reasons to diminish numbers of cells started (late in the season - start only one bar of cells, etc.). Done during a strong nectar flow with an increasing colony, lots of 5- to 10-day-old nurse bees, well-fed with honey, thin syrup, and FRESH pollen, NOTHING ELSE TO DO BUT RAISE QUEEN CELLS are all conditions that lead to many, healthy queen cells.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Definitely sounds like the best method for highest yield queen rearing.
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>My question is why is it almost every other method uses starter colonies used in all the other methods?

Nothing wrong with those answers but I'll take a stab.

Think of it this way, the criteria for a good starter and a good finisher, while not mutually exclusive, are different. A crowded, free flying queenless hive will start queen cells and finish them. A confined queenless "swarm box" or "starter hive" with a lot of shaken in nurse bees and no brood whatsoever will start even more queen cells for the number of bees involved and insure they are well fed. But it is not sustainable for more than a couple of days. After that you have to make a change. Then you choose between a queenless finisher (that same free flying queenless hive mentioned before will do) or a queenright finisher. The advantage of the queen right finisher, from my point of view, is you don't burn out a hive by leaving it queenless.

Bottom line is, for a few queens, you can keep it simple and just do a starter/finisher. For a lot of queens you will use less resources with the separate starter and queenright finisher.
 

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kilocharlie touched on it, but my stab is queens finished in a "content" queenright unit are on average heavier than those left to finish in a slightly "panicky" queenless unit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
kilocharlie touched on it, but my stab is queens finished in a "content" queenright unit are on average heavier than those left to finish in a slightly "panicky" queenless unit.
This somehow seems logical to me in that the bees tending the queen cells in a queenright colony would "behave" the way a colony that is going to swarm would behave toward swarm cells. In the queenless finisher the bees would tend to the queen cells more like a colony needing an emergency queen would tend to an emergency queen cell. I don't know if there is actually science to back this up but it would bolster the argument for using swarm cells for splits as opposed to walk away splits. Needless to say those that practice the "walk away split" as a way to increase their number of colonies will never agree to this statement nor would I expect them to. In fact I am not claiming a walk away split can/will not provide a great queen because I have no data to support this. I am only saying that the potential difference between a queen raised in a queenright hive and a queen raised in a hive that suddenly found themselves without a queen make logical sense to me.

As I mentioned this is strictly for my own colony increase purposes and for replacing a couple of less than optimal queens. Having said that I still wish to raise at least double the number I think I may need so I can let them lay for as long as I need to so that I can evaluate their ability to lay. Obviously this is just one of many desirable traits but it is also the only one that I can think of that one can evaluate easily. I have had only one queen provider that I've purchased from that produced queens that did not get replace within a few months. This breeder lets the queens they raise lay in a 5 frame nuc and only sells those that lay A+ brood pattern. I'd like to model my modest queen rearing endeavor after this type of quality control. It only makes sense if I'm doing it for my own use (really only makes sense for sale as well but we should not get into this should we). Any "borderline" queens will go out to the fellow beeks if they need to place some sort of queen in a nuc etc.

I read another interesting thing I wanted to drop here. Is a captured swarm (not a take out mind you) good for raising queens? I don't know if they are or not I'm just wondering if I read this right. If so are they used to start, finish or both? Obviously the queen would need to be found and relocated if they are going to be used for a starter or starter/finisher combination.
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I answered my own question about swarms for rearing Queens. This most recent swarm I got on Sunday PM turned out to not have a queen. They were in a big cluster hanging under a bench when I got to the home of the folks that called me. The people said it had been up in a tree when they first saw it on the previous Wednesday. On the following day it was till there and the next day they came out and found it on the ground. Then I was told that they all took off into the air but came right back and clustered on the bench. Several things didn't make sense to me but I went ahead and put a deep with 10 drawn frames and honey drizzled in a few frames. They looked like they were going to go in but didn't. Finally I picked up a corner of the bench and dropped it hard back on the ground and about 80% of the bees landed on the top bars and sort of went in. Generally the Queen quad have fallen out and the bees would pile into the follow. They didn't pile into the hive. Finally I said the heck with it and I soaked the ones hanging outside they box with honey water and shook them into an extra deep I had with me and then put those into the box with the frames and the majority of bees and closed it up. Today I checked it and no queen. Luckily I had placed a frame of capped and open brood in with the swarm as I usually do. The swarm has started about 10 queen cells at the very bottom of the frame and they look good but are in clusters. If I want to harvest them I will but I will also give them a couple of queen cells that I grafted. These will be capped soon and it will give me a whopping 4-5 day advantage over the emergency queen they are making. I suppose the answer is a swarm is indeed a good way to start a few queen cells.
 

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Alright, one more thing...queen quality tends to be best for beekeepers who are just beginning in queen rearing using methods that do not move the larva out of the cell. Cut Cell Methon (Henry Alley / Jay Smith), Punch Cell Method, Jenter Box Method, and OTS (Mel Disselkoen's method) all leave the larva in the original cell.

Grafting (George Doolittle's method), double-grafting, all transfer the cells from the original cell to a queen cell cup, requiring some skill. Few methods can keep up with grafting - it's the fastest when your producing great quantities of queens, but newcomers will usually have queen quality problems at first.

Suggestion - try them all and make lots of queens. Keep accurate records. Increase your skills every year.
 

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Kilo - I build and buy everything I need to graft and now you share this. LOL. :ws: :lookout:
 

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>Cut Cell Methon (Henry Alley / Jay Smith), Punch Cell Method, Jenter Box Method, and OTS (Mel Disselkoen's method) all leave the larva in the original cell.

As does the Hopkins method:
http://www.bushfarms.com/beeshopkinsmethod.htm
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesqueenre...#hopkinsmethod

And the Miller method:
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesmillermethod.htm

Here is Alley's:
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesalleymethod.htm

Smith's Better Queens:
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesbetterqueens.htm

Cell punch:
http://www.dave-cushman.net/bee/cellpunch.html

> Grafting (George Doolittle's method)

Actually it's Gilbert M. Doolittle
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesdoolittle.htm
 

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Bravo Michael! Thank you!

Marshmasterpat - Sorry about that! And your post is a funny one! HINT: graft anyways! Try the hook, the Chinese tool, the #000 artist's sable paint brush. Also read every one of Michael Bush's links and you won't embarrass yourself getting Doolittle's first name wrong like I did! Whoops.:eek:
 
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