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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have 2 hives that have produced multiple capped queen cells. One was from a cutout where I guess I didn't get the queen. The other was from a swarm trap where cattle knocked the hive over and I guess the queen died or fled.

My questions: Can I carefully remove all but 1 cell from the combs and put them in queen clips to emerge to prevent fights to the death, then set them up in mating nucs or queenless hives?

Or would it be better to create mating nucs first, and move the capped cells? Since I am not sure how soon they will hatch, and I will have to build the top bar nucs, they may emerge before I can get them built. Hence the queen clip idea.

Can someone point me to info on what is needed to set up a mating nuc as far as bees and resources go using a top bar hive, since that is what i have and can build?

Thanks in advance for your replies.
 

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In May we intentionally made all of our hives queenless. from 13 hives and 10 nucs hives we got almost 290 queen cells.

Our results are from various reasons including weather. But we have had better results in the past.

We removed all the queen cells and placed them in an incubator. only 60% survived to emerge. I suspect these losses where primarily due to cold weather setting in at the time we where removing cells. Overall cells must be handled carefully or the Larva will be killed. We have constantly had near 100% emergence of cells so something made a big difference this time.

We use 10 frame deeps divided into 4 compartments with two full frames in each compartment to release the virgins and let them make their mating flights. For the first couple of weeks we had nearly 100% losses of virgins. Some of the comments posted here when I asked about this is that virgins are more problematic to introduce. possible poor conditions and possibly a bad location. We have typically ran a 50% success rate at getting virgins mated and returned from this same location and method. After two weeks our mated queen rate returned to that typical 50% rate. I still have no definite idea why we lost those queens in the beginning.

In all we ended up with something in the area of 60 mated queens. half of them being sold as mated queens the other half given 5 frame nucs to begin building colonies. We lost 5 or 6 of them to robbing which brings up another important issue.

To get queens mated and then add them to existing colonies sell them or some other purpose other than building a colony. Mating compartments work fine. but a Queen you want to make increase from needs more of a colony to start with. More like a well populated 5 frame nuc. Two fraems of bees and a queen simply are to weak to defend themselves. Care must be taken to protect such small colonies at the very least.

In the past weak we sold quite a few of the mated queens form our nucs. Others where found queenless as a result of robbing. in all we had 18 nucs or so that where queenless and produced queen cells. This time 82. once again we have removed all these cells set up the queen castles and are waiting for the results.

Some things we are doing differently. bees where moved to the mating compartments and given a cell. No virgin introductions. We expect only half of these queens to survive to be mated. this will mean we can give every mated queen 4 frames of bees when they are moved to a 5 frame nuc. We will also take more measures to prevent robing. smaller entrances to nucs as well as robber screens. we will also monitor far more often for signs of robbing.

So far our resutls have been.
Started the year with 12 production colonies and 10 nucs.

We now have 24 production size colonies and 9 nucs. in addition 5 nucs where produced and sold. 49 additional queens where also produced and sold.
We also have 82 cells in 82 mating compartments that where made up from 18 other nucs we had made from the previous queen rearing attempt.

Of our original 22 colonies 17 have been moved to an outyard and are not being used for further queen rearing attempts. 2 are still in our home yard and are being used only to a limited degree. Two where lost due to swarming. One lost to robbing.

So our original bees in the spring produced close to 40 nucs in all and over 40 queens that where sold. Those bees have now been allowed to recover and are back up to honey producing strength. Not sure this will be a good year for honey though. What we have left of those 40 nucs are now making the next possibly 40 nucs.

It is my plan after the flow to once again use our production colonies to make another 300 or more queen cells. These cells will be produced in cell builders and grafted Larva. I also hope to give them far more support in building up. If we end up with the colonies i hope to get we will have 80 or more producing queens to produce the bees necessary to help these later colonies get started.

In all it is a learning process. mistakes are costly but most are clearly correctable.

We have had queens successfully get mated with only a couple hundred bees to attend them. i don't recommend that and it was not intentional on our part. but it can happen.

1. you need abundant bees to get queen cells made and capped. if weather permits capped cells do not need nearly as many bees to tend to them and an emerged virgin needs far fewer still. The main problem with fewer bees is vulnerability to being robbed. Keep entrances very small. one bee size so that very weak colonies can still defend it.
 

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Hi txbeek,
I'm not sure about the queen clips. It sounds like it will work. Try some both ways and let us know. LOL. Would you place the queen clip in a mating nuc so nurse bees could feed them? Then after the nucs are built you would place them in a nuc and release them?
Hi Daniel,
Even with lower percentages you have still done great. My numbers are much smaller. I removed the top half of a ten frame deep with two frames. It gave me about 9 queen cells a week later. I left two and placed the others into two mating nucs and one queenless hive. That was about three weeks ago. They have all emerged, but I haven't seen a queen yet. :) On Mr. Bushes website he says to give them quite a bit of time before it is ruled unsuccessful. I will check on Saturday. That will be at least three weeks since I placed them into the mating nucs. ( I need to keep better records. LOL)
My next experiment is more like the OTS method. I took the queen out of a strong hive and gave here a frame of brood and a frame of honey. That was last Sunday. Tomorrow, I'm going to see how many queen cells there are on two levels. With a strong hive, they should be better cells. I have about 8 hives ready to place them in. I'm sure there will be more cells than hive boxes, but I guess I can double them up a little for insurance. We will see how it goes.
 

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Without records and a calendar I woudl be completely messed up. All the waiting makes time seem to drag out. a week seems like a month.

Allowing the bees to make their own cells makes it more difficult. Considering form the moment they start to make cells the future queen can be anything form a newly laid egg to a three day old larva. that is nearly a week difference.

As the first cells are capped 2 days later at the soonest not even all the cells that will be started have necessarily been started. But there is only 5 to 6 days to safely get that capped cell from the hive.

So what we do is make a hive queenless. then check back in 5 days. the cells made form the oldest larva have been capped for a couple of days. And we are fairly certain that all cells that will be built are started. We come back again in another 5 days and remove the rest of the cells.

A 3rd day larva is in day 6 5 days later it is in day 11. As we are removing the final cells 5 days after that those first cells have queens emerging from them.

It is easier to have the virgins emerge in an incubator because you know exactly what day and if you watch them like we do pretty much which hour they emerged. With nearly 300 cells you are constantly at the incubator just to keep up.

From there according to bee time it takes 7 days for the virgin to build up strength and complete her orientation flights. she will start mating flights after the first week from emergence and need another week to get laying well enough to be confirmed. THis indicates 2 weeks from emergence to laying. I have found that this may be true on a rare occasion. but it is typical for it to take a queen 3 weeks to get up and running at all. and that will be mainly eggs maybe some young open larva. If after 4 weeks from emergence a queen is not confirmed I will get rid of her. I suspect she will either be a drone layer or poorly mated at best.

Recently we had a nuc returned with the claim it was laying workers and the queen could not be found. The first frame I looked at I was certain they where correct. there where multiple eggs in every cell. My daughter was looking over the remainder of the fraems and found the queen. Now I am wondering how many compartments we judged as queen less or laying workers that in fact had a queen. It is now my rule that any compartment found to have eggs is placed in a nuc long enough for that brood to be capped. If no worker brood is produced then it will be declared queenless or an unmated queen.

We had Customers waiting for nucs and had gotten behind due to the early loss of queens. So we where trying to make up some time with earlier confirmation of mated queens. That combined with preferential treatment of those queens to get them up and running. I consider both a mistake. nucs take time to form and bad things happen. I would neither rush or give special attention to a select few nucs again.
 

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Daniel Y , I appreciate your posts. They are as much about the mind of the beekeeper as the results with the bees. Both are great.

A robbing trick I have not tried, stolen from a homemade foam nuc thread; to keep the bees from chewing the foam the entrances are short sections of tubing. That should make a very defensible entrance. Almost a drawbridge in front of the gate, can't get in without crossing the firing line.
 

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Thanks Daniel Y,
So, I think I have two more weeks on that first batch before I give up. Plus, I think I'll keep better records. LOL
Another thing I've learned from this thread is to reduce the entrance to a mating nuc.
 

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Saltybee, Thanks for the tip on the tube. I suspect we will be needing all the hints we can get.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
A queen cell hatched, but I guess she was small enough to get through the bars. She wasn't in the clip, but a bunch of nurse bees were. Oh well.
 

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Check the clip carefully to see if it was chewed on? I have been surprised before about what bees can chew up.
 
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