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I see references to 'brood cycle' or to first or second brood cycle. What is a brood cycle, how long is it, and why does it happen? I thought once the queen started laying she did so continuously, only varying the number of eggs in response to the time of year or availability of resources (nectar, pollen, comb, etc.).
 

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Well, it seems to me that bees' brood cycle is somewhat like a human life cycle. Conception can occur at any time, but there is a relatively fixed timeline for the various development stages and birth of the fetus.

It works that way for bees also, as you can see from Michael Bush's BeeMath page:

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesmath.htm
 

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marant,

In simple terms a "brood cycle" is generally considered 3 weeks. That's the approximate number of days for a worker bee to develop, from the egg being laid to emerging from their cell. After emerging they are no longer considered brood, but adults, who then go through different phases and duties as they mature.

For example, when a queen is released into a package and begins laying eggs, the 1st brood cycle will end 3 weeks later. As you mentioned the queen keeps laying eggs and the brood cycles will continue to overlap thereafter.

Let's say in the Fall I want to have 2 good brood cycles before the queen starts shutting down her egg laying in early November. I'll plan to stimulate brood rearing six weeks earlier - about the middle of September.
 

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marant,

In simple terms a "brood cycle" is generally considered 3 weeks. That's the approximate number of days for a worker bee to develop, from the egg being laid to emerging from their cell. After emerging they are no longer considered brood, but adults, who then go through different phases and duties as they mature.

For example, when a queen is released into a package and begins laying eggs, the 1st brood cycle will end 3 weeks later. As you mentioned the queen keeps laying eggs and the brood cycles will continue to overlap thereafter.

Let's say in the Fall I want to have 2 good brood cycles before the queen starts shutting down her egg laying in early November. I'll plan to stimulate brood rearing six weeks earlier - about the middle of September.
!!! Mike G - Awesome answer. As you have stated and I see it the same way, Most people treat a brood cycle as 21 days - The time that it takes for a worker bee to go from egg to adult.

Some people also refer to a "complete brood cycle" This means a time span of 42 days - The time that it takes for all the eggs in a brood cycle to emerge as adults.

When doing splits to build up bee colonies some beeks will allow for a complete brood cycle to make sure they have healthy and plentiful amounts of nurse bees.
 
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