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Discussion Starter #1
I'm going to have a go at raising some of my own queens this year, probably using the Joseph Clemens method described below. This year I'm going to shoot for six cells a week. I have a Mann Lake double mating nuc and a couple of three section queen castles already made (hive body with two partitions). I'd like to use more of the mini frames so I was thinking of dividing a medium super into four sections, which is my first question. Has anybody done this? Any tips or good pictures of how it was done?
The second section relates to helping the virgins make it back to their own entrance. I will use robbing screens. Is there a particular color of paint or pattern that works better for helping them recognize their entrance?
thanks
 

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I have used mini's, but we are using a deep divided 4 ways with 20 half size frames. We have a divider that splits the box in half and acts as the frame rest, then follower boards that I use to split each side. It works well for us, I've got 3 set up that way and our current system puts new cells in one box each week, then leave them for 3 weeks before we harvest queens. We didn't bother with foundation in the mini frames, just let the bees draw out the comb freehand with popsicle sticks for starter strips. For me, the biggest hassle was getting comb drawn into the first batch of frames, set the box on top of a fairly strong colony and they just didn't move up and start drawing comb on the mini frames, they probably would have gone up and started drawing comb if I had foundation in the frames. After 10 days I took a more drastic route, caged the queen in that colony, shook all of the bees into one side of the divided deep and moved the frames from the deep below into other colonies. that worked well, and within a few days we had a bunch of frames well on the way to being drawn out, looked like this:-



After they had 8 frames drawn on one side, I moved a bunch to the other side and started another colony there. A couple weeks later both sides had 6 or 8 frames drawn out, I put in the followers and split it into 4. By fall all 4 quadrants were fully combed. We used a 1 inch shim packed with damp sugar and wintered queens that way. Worked well. In the following year I decided this worked well so I wanted more. Once the mini's were well populated in the spring, I made 6 quadrants out of 4 by moving brood etc into another box, then a couple weeks later made 8 out of 6 and so in till I had bees in all 12 quadrants of 3 boxes.

For us, the biggest hassle of going this route was getting frames made at this size. I've been considering trying out a smaller box where I can just order mini-frames from Mann Lake and use those in a divided medium.

For dealing with entrances on the 4 ways, I have them on a solid bottom, simply a piece of plywood. The box has a hole drilled on each side providing access to one compartment, so all 4 entrances face in a different direction. This has worked well, I am not worried about bees finding the wrong entrances and we dont have the different sides painted different colors. In fact, it can be helpful at times. When one quadrant fails raising the new queen and the population starts to drop off, just rotate the box 90 degrees and that quadrant will get all the foragers coming back to that entrance after setting new cells in place.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the info Grozzie. The frames that go in a Mann Lake double mini are medium in depth. That's why I'm converting a medium super. I'll probably cut down frames (in length) since I have a box of unassembled medium frames, but I could order them from Mann Lake if i got real lazy. I'm trying to get out of mediums and move to intermediate/western depth. If this works out I may splurge on some more of their styrofoam nucs. The main concern I have is that the queens I raise will be too aggressive.

Kevin. I'm trying to not have to use a lot of resources from my hives in the form of frames/bees for getting these queens mated. I do have a couple of three section castles made up that hold three frames (western depth) per section if I want to use some cells for increase
 

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Kevin. I'm trying to not have to use a lot of resources from my hives in the form of frames/bees for getting these queens mated. I do have a couple of three section castles made up that hold three frames (western depth) per section if I want to use some cells for increase
Two frames per colony is NOT a lot of resources. It's one frame of brood/bees and an empty undrawn frame. Beauty is these frames are interchangable with your other equipment. But...to each their own.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well that is a point, but the truth is I think the little frames are kind of cute, lol. I'll see which way I like better. My main worry is that the queens will be too aggressive
 

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Two frames per colony is NOT a lot of resources. It's one frame of brood/bees and an empty undrawn frame.
I would argue it is... the OP needs at least 12 mating nucs to handle their goal of 6 cells a week.
Using a single frame of brood that has been 60% layed out, and covering bees that's a spit ball 6,000 bees per nuc, vs 600-900 bees to start a mini nuc

That's about 20.5 pounds of bees for the 2 framers vs 3 pounds of bees for the minis, you quickly see why minis are often the queen producers 1st choice, especially when they only have a few cycles of time to fill their orders and need to max out their nuc count

To me that 17.5#s of bees is a lot of resources that could be better used, say by seting up 3 brood factory's to provide combs of brood to start nucs using the mated queens and provide brood for the cell builder.

but as Steve points out, to each their own. Every ones goles and situation is different and every system has pros and cons
 

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I would argue it is... the OP needs at least 12 mating nucs to handle their goal of 6 cells a week.
Using a single frame of brood that has been 60% layed out, and covering bees that's a spit ball 6,000 bees per nuc, vs 600-900 bees to start a mini nuc

That's about 20.5 pounds of bees for the 2 framers vs 3 pounds of bees for the minis, you quickly see why minis are often the queen producers 1st choice, especially when they only have a few cycles of time to fill their orders and need to max out their nuc count

To me that 17.5#s of bees is a lot of resources that could be better used, say by seting up 3 brood factory's to provide combs of brood to start nucs using the mated queens and provide brood for the cell builder.

but as Steve points out, to each their own. Every ones goles and situation is different and every system has pros and cons
ah....but you don't see that this nuc gets added back anywhere you want it once the queen is mated and laying...you are out zero bees and gaining a frame of drawn out comb. ...to each their own.
 

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ah....but you don't see that this nuc gets added back anywhere you want it once the queen is mated and laying...you are out zero bees and gaining a frame of drawn out comb. ...to each their own.
That's only if you are doing one, and only one queen round per nuc, and even then, they are unlikely to build that frame of comb until well after the queen is mated and laying unless its started with a significant amount of capped brood. If you are running successive rounds in the mating nuc, then that unit spends half of the time without a laying queen and doesn't grow very much. I also disagree with the above statement of needing 12 nucs to do 6 queens a week. That is indeed the case if everything works out perfectly with respect to timing, but we dont live in a perfect world. 2 days of bad weather at just the wrong time, and the two week mating nuc still has a virgin queen when you go to harvest. I leave them in for 3 weeks after planting the cells, so to do 6 queens a week I'll need 18 nucs running in sets of 6 each staggered by a week from the prior set. That will give 6 a week assuming you have a 100% return rate of mated queens for the cells you plant, again a somewhat unrealistic expectation.
 

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Muenster,
I have been queen rearing using the Clemens method for a few years now. Can’t help you on the question concerning the mini frames. I use all deep frames for the cell builder and mating nucs because they are interchangeable with my other hives. I hate having specialized equipment that I can’t use for other purposes.

On your other question, helping virgins make it back, I have found that nuc placement is the biggest factor. If possible, place your mating nucs in a different yard away from your production hives. If that is not possible at least place the nucs as far from your other hives as you can. Place the mating nucs at different angles so each has a unique orientation. If possible, spread them out so each has shrubs or other objects that the virgins can use to orient. When I did those things, as opposed to putting nucs in my main yard and painting different colors at their entrances, I found my rate of successful mating went up.

Oh, one other thing. I agree you should plan for 18 mating nucs if you plan to produce six cells per week. In an ideal world each virgin could hatch, mate and begin laying in two weeks but that often does not happen, especially when you are first starting out. One of the nice things about the Clemens method is that you can re-use both the cell builder and the mating nucs several times. That really increases the efficiency of this system.
 

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Muenster,
I'm not one for adding specialty equipment such as mini frames. I take a 10 frame deep with 3 dividers and run 4 mating chambers with an entrance for each on one of the four sides. The queens almost always find their way back after mating. I have a separate mating yard and robbing isnt an issue. I pull one frame of brood with the queen after 3 weeks, add a frame of drawn comb or comb with bees (if the chamber is light) and move to a production hive in another yard. A queen cell is added later that day or the day after. Keeping track of feeding and nectar flow is key to this set up. I feed light in June and monitor weekly. I pull the 2 outer dividers at the end of my queen production (late July) and let them build as production hives with robbing screens on till I wrap in December. 4 way mating nuc 2.jpg 4 way mating nuc.jpg
 

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I also disagree with the above statement of needing 12 nucs to do 6 queens a week
agreed, but the OPs stated gole was to place 6 cells a week.
as for the 18 vs 12, as I noted I was talking about minimums to make a point on the resource drain.. Had I sad 3 weeks, 18 mating nucs and 30+ pounds surly some one would have come back with you only need 12...lol
in many miny nucs a 14-17 day catch cycle is common as the queen will quickly out run the space.. "mini" can mean any were from four or five 1/2 deep frames to the 3 tiny 1/8 deep fames in the small foam nucs, so going by minumis seems the best bet

Muenster you mite want to take a look at Liz Huxter's quad system, she is using shallow 4 ways
https://vimeo.com/161651142
as well as https://www.beesource.com/forums/sh...mating-nuc-that-you-use&p=1518441#post1518441
for ideas
 

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That's only if you are doing one, and only one queen round per nuc, and even then, they are unlikely to build that frame of comb until well after the queen is mated and laying unless its started with a significant amount of capped brood. If you are running successive rounds in the mating nuc, then that unit spends half of the time without a laying queen and doesn't grow very much. .
No offense, but your comment is not factual even in the slightest... Quite obvious you are guessing and dogmatic. .but to each their own....I have no more time to spend on a pointless discussion.
 

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No offense, but your comment is not factual even in the slightest... Quite obvious you are guessing and dogmatic.
I am only relating my own experiences from having done these things for some number of years. Feel free to post the photos of your experiences that dictate otherwise. I stand by my comments, every one of them comes from 'been there, tried that, this is how it turned out' perspective, there is no guessing involved, simply experience at having tried various routes. If your experiences show other outcomes, please do show in what way.

Disparaging comments as above really do make one sit back and start asking self, why do we even bother anymore?
 

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Disparaging comments as above really do make one sit back and start asking self, why do we even bother anymore?
yep, a youtube blogger who hasn't kept bees alive for a full year yet, telling us all how it is.
Biting the hand that feeds is likely why there is a shortage of content here from experienced beekeepers, that and the onslaught of chaff that just becomes too tiring to correct

Lets try this another way
Hi, My name is Seth, I have been beekeeping sense 2009
2018 I did 30+ grafted queens in a 4x4 starter finisher and used 2 and 3 F castles, 4F stand alones, wood minis started with a cup of bees, 2 and 4 F KTBH, and Comfort style boxs as mating nucs
2017 I did a similar number using FBS and cut cell strips
I had EFB issues last year and slow build up/lacking resources I am adding foam minis to the mix in the hopes of getting an earlier start and thus an extra round for the season. The big plus is i can start them with out any (possibility infected) drawn comb and a shot of OTC to give them a clean start, and insure they safe to move off the site to a uninfected mateing yard. I feel my past experience is relevant to the topic at hand

Kevin one of your videos made it sound like you may have only mated out 2 queen in 2f nucs last year?, how may grafted queens did you produce?

Grozzie what did last years queen rearing look like for you?;)
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks again all for the answers above. I've been keeping bees for 15 years but have never tried to purposely raise queens. I bought the double mini nuc a few years ago as a way to raise QC's if I found them. Never used it for that but I have "parked" a couple of old Q's in it while I waited to be sure her replacement was accepted in the main hive. I'm building two four chamber queen castles for the medium depth mini frames (they're about 1/3 the area of a full sized medium frame by my guess). And have two castles that hold three chambers of three western depth frames. I'm a little reluctant to use a nuc with less than three frames as I worry about the bees being able to cover all the brood. My three frame western depth nucs are probably about the same comb area as two deeps however. My plan is to use Q's from mini nucs to requeen full size hives and those from the full sized three framers to make up increase. I'm really excited to try my hand at this starting in a few weeks now (elms just opened up today here, 85 degrees).
 

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Muenster, not sure if this is what you are envisioning. A pair of the ML growing boxes, pn IN-165, will fit nicely on a modified 4 way queen castle bottom board. Each section will hold 5 of the half frames although the fit is a little tight once you cut a dado for and install the divider boards. This will be my first year using the double mini mating nucs and your post comes as I am getting ready to put my growing box and 20 frames on a pretty strong hive. I am shooting for about 8-10 queens each week through June. After then, the dragonflies seem to get fat.
 

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not sure if they still sell them but Kelley's did sell something along those line.
 
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