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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am one that feels that if the bees need to "switch jobs" they will do so but I want to get some feedback from those with more experience about this. I'd like to rear maybe 20 or so queens and I am wondering if I could use bees that are in the honey supers I am about to extract? I figure they will be mostly bees that are 1-2 weeks old. I am thinking of trying to use them to both start and finish the grafted cells. I would pack a 5 frame nuc with bees and a mix of frames containing honey/pollen plus feed them for three days. Then I'd place a frame of open brood in with them to get them motivated. I'd remove this after a day and install the grafted cells.
Any ideas about this? I know I could just make this starter/finisher out of nurse bees but I wanted info on this specific idea.
Thanks
 

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If you have enough bees and food it should work fine for 20 cells. I think I would graft 30 some wont make it and if you get more than 20 you have some to play with. Give it a go.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
If you have enough bees and food it should work fine for 20 cells. I think I would graft 30 some wont make it and if you get more than 20 you have some to play with. Give it a go.
Thanks. I was planning on starting at least 40 maybe using 2 small starters then culling the turds, unaccepted and small cells and combining the ones I feel are good into one 2 story starter.
I'll give it a try and report back.
I am glad I didn't get 25 posts asking why I wanted to do this and/or why don't I do it this way or that way :).
These bees will be super easy to get and I'm hoping they will combine easily. I'll spray them with a little syrup before Jamming them into a box. The theory is that feeding them, making them queenless etc should make them want to produce wax and raise queens. Sort of like bees in a swarm that will make wax like mad. People say only young bees make wax and I suppose a lot of bees in a swarm are young but not as young as house bees from honey supers. Obviously the foragers will fly back but the transport house bees won't.
 

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What I do is use nurse bees if possible. But sometimes for whatever reason all I have to hand is packages of older bees. So what I do in that case is to leave them queenless for at least 24 hours (rather than 2 hours for nurse bees). Giving them some extra queenless time seems to do the trick of making them desperate to raise some queen cells & they do a better job. They are not left queenless in a package they are left in the starter box, along with pollen & nectar stores for them to start using. Another thing to do that helps is in the middle where the frame of queen cells is going to go, is leave a frame with a very small number of eggs / just hatched larvae. This gets the bees started on jelly production, this frame is removed & bees shaken back in at the same time they are given the queen cells. I don't do this with nurse bees.

Another thing to bear in mind is that very young bees are not much use at cell raising. According to Jay Smith they should be older than 10 days, not saying that's gospel though.
 

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Oldtimer- I would say yes, that is gospel. Jay Smith was one of the best queen breeders ever. Thanks again Oldtimer
for the pics and explanation of his method here on beesource.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
What I do is use nurse bees if possible. But sometimes for whatever reason all I have to hand is packages of older bees. So what I do in that case is to leave them queenless for at least 24 hours (rather than 2 hours for nurse bees). Giving them some extra queenless time seems to do the trick of making them desperate to raise some queen cells & they do a better job. They are not left queenless in a package they are left in the starter box, along with pollen & nectar stores for them to start using. Another thing to do that helps is in the middle where the frame of queen cells is going to go, is leave a frame with a very small number of eggs / just hatched larvae. This gets the bees started on jelly production, this frame is removed & bees shaken back in at the same time they are given the queen cells. I don't do this with nurse bees.

Another thing to bear in mind is that very young bees are not much use at cell raising. According to Jay Smith they should be older than 10 days, not saying that's gospel though.
Well the more I thought about it the more I thought it should be OK. It is good to hear you think it will work as well. I am thinking the bees that don't fly back are transport bees so they have been eating honey. I don't know if this automatically means they will easily produce wax but it's better than a bunch of guard bees I imagine. I mentioned the frame of larvae in my first post too. Again I don't know if this helps because I've only messed with raising queens a couple of times and have had the last go around be my first success. The mating nucs were a complete bomb so that I why I need to go at it again after extracting.
 

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Bees from 5 to 15 days old make the best queen cells, according to Laidlaw and Page.

Taking nurse bees out of supers in the middle of the day, when older bees are mostly out on field flights is exactly how Gilbert M. Doolittle used to do it, so yes, that would work.

I like brother Adam's approach, adding frames of capped brood 10 days before starting, which Michael Palmer has modified into a sustainable apiary by taking the capped brood frames from overwintered nucleus colonies. This way, he does not to remove the donor colonies from honey production during queen rearing (his queen yard made 4,400 lbs of honey last year). He adds 7 to 10 frames of capped brood to his starter/finisher colonies 10 days before grafting, giving the population density that a queen rearing hive needs to raise huge queen cells.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well so far I have not removed any supers that have had enough bees in them to make it worth the effort. All the honey in the 6 supers I've pulled has been capped so maybe that's why there aren't huge numbers of bees in them?
Anyway I've got several more hives to take honey off of and I will use those bees most likely. It is tough thinking about raising queens AND extracting honey at the same time. The SHB here are bad enough that I don't want to wait to extract once I remove the supers. I've never had a honey super slimed but if there is even a little patch of brood in a honey super you know the SHB will be all over it given the chance.
This is the time of year that I feel the SHB are more of a challenge than varroa. I really don't believe that but sometimes it seems that way.
 

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It seems simpler to me to just take bees that are in the process of being nurse bees to do a starter. Field bees can become nurse bees, but it takes them a few days to start producing royal jelly and for a well fed queen she need to be fed well from the beginning. Yes, you could take some field bees, give them brood to care for, wait until they are feeding those and then use them as nurse bees, but that seems more complicated and it probably takes more field bees as they probably are not as efficient at production of royal jelly as a younger, proper aged bee.

"Indeed, it is probably possible for bees of almost any age to perform a particular task if the occasion demands it, as has been recently discussed in detail by Robinson (1992)."--Wisdom of the hive, Tom Seeley (page 31)

"Again some have told me that old bees cannot nurse as their milk glands dry up. I maintain such a statement erroneous. Many have observed that bees returning from the fields could not nurse. Of course not, for they were acting as fielders and not prepared to nurse. I will wager (a dime is my limit) that if these same bees were given several frames of unsealed brood, they would soon change from fielders and become nurses...I have taken queenless and broodless colonies that had been in that condition so long that I was afraid laying workers would develop, and have introduced a laying queen. The presence of this laying queen served notice on them that they must take a course in nursing. This they did by eating pollen as has been stated and in three days, when the eggs began to hatch, they fairly flooded the cells with bee milk to such an extent that one might believe they were going to make queens out of the whole lot!

Probably in a normal colony the bees do the work best fitted to their age but, as stated, they can do any work required after they are ten days old. In the far North in the spring many bees would be six months old and all would be at least four months old. These old bees do a better job of nursing than the young ones that come latter, for European Foul Brood seldom attacks the first cycle of brood, while later, after the old bees are gone and the young nurses take over, European Foul Brood develops. This would prove that the old bees are better nurses. "--Better Queens, Jay Smith

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesbetterqueens.htm#Old Bees Good Nurses
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
It seems simpler to me to just take bees that are in the process of being nurse bees to do a starter. Field bees can become nurse bees, but it takes them a few days to start producing royal jelly and for a well fed queen she need to be fed well from the beginning. Yes, you could take some field bees, give them brood to care for, wait until they are feeding those and then use them as nurse bees, but that seems more complicated and it probably takes more field bees as they probably are not as efficient at production of royal jelly as a younger, proper aged bee.

"Indeed, it is probably possible for bees of almost any age to perform a particular task if the occasion demands it, as has been recently discussed in detail by Robinson (1992)."--Wisdom of the hive, Tom Seeley (page 31)

"Again some have told me that old bees cannot nurse as their milk glands dry up. I maintain such a statement erroneous. Many have observed that bees returning from the fields could not nurse. Of course not, for they were acting as fielders and not prepared to nurse. I will wager (a dime is my limit) that if these same bees were given several frames of unsealed brood, they would soon change from fielders and become nurses...I have taken queenless and broodless colonies that had been in that condition so long that I was afraid laying workers would develop, and have introduced a laying queen. The presence of this laying queen served notice on them that they must take a course in nursing. This they did by eating pollen as has been stated and in three days, when the eggs began to hatch, they fairly flooded the cells with bee milk to such an extent that one might believe they were going to make queens out of the whole lot!

Probably in a normal colony the bees do the work best fitted to their age but, as stated, they can do any work required after they are ten days old. In the far North in the spring many bees would be six months old and all would be at least four months old. These old bees do a better job of nursing than the young ones that come latter, for European Foul Brood seldom attacks the first cycle of brood, while later, after the old bees are gone and the young nurses take over, European Foul Brood develops. This would prove that the old bees are better nurses. "--Better Queens, Jay Smith

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesbetterqueens.htm#Old Bees Good Nurses
I believe this is good advice. I had enough trouble getting my first successful queen hatching (only to have one out of 38 survive due to poor mating nuc planning) to mess with some trial/short cut.
Thanks
 

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Michael- Well stated!!!!

challenger- I had close to 100% acceptance, all cells accepted without protectors in mating nucs, and close to 100%
mating. You might want to check out Michael's website and read up, especially on Jay Smith.
 
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