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I have been doing some research about queen rearing. I have a small yard and I am not looking to go into queen or nuc production. If I experiment with grafting or transfer some cells to mating nucs, what should be done with the extra queens after I use what I need? If I graft and get 15 queens but I don't need 15, are my only options to 1. sell them 2. create a split with them 3. requeen with them 4. Let them... fly away? Haha

This is probably a really simple question but I was just curious how long you could "store" a queen until you need one. Can I keep them around for a few months in case I lose one of my own to a swarm or other reason? Or is there a limited window in which you must put them to use?
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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You can only bank queens for a few weeks at most, and that is only after they have been mated. Best course of action is to count the capped cells against the number of queens that you need and destroy the smaller cells, leaving one or two extras in case a capped pupa dies. Always graft twice as many as you think you need and cull from the ones that are accepted. You can keep mated queens in a nuc and keep the nuc small by removing frames of brood and giving them fresh frames every couple of weeks. The brood frames go into your other hives.
 

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Requeen hives, make up nucs, or offer them to members of your bee club if you belong to one. Package bees sometimes need a new queen and beginners don't need the extra expense when getting started.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
You can only bank queens for a few weeks at most, and that is only after they have been mated. Best course of action is to count the capped cells against the number of queens that you need and destroy the smaller cells, leaving one or two extras in case a capped pupa dies. Always graft twice as many as you think you need and cull from the ones that are accepted. You can keep mated queens in a nuc and keep the nuc small by removing frames of brood and giving them fresh frames every couple of weeks. The brood frames go into your other hives.
Ok, I like this idea. I am not opposed to adding to my yard. If I keep the queens in a nuc, pull frames, and then eventually let them grow into a stand alone hive that would work for me. What happens after a few weeks? Will the nucs just become too full and the queens will swarm? Or is something else in play that will affect their life if not placed in a full colony after that time period?
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Banked queens are kept in cages placed in a hive. The bees will feed them, but they need to have been mated or they will become drone layers. A nuc with a mated queen can be kept small or allowed to expand, your choice. If you choose keep a nuc small and it does expand and run out of room, it will swarm. I have had nucs I made swarm just a few weeks after the queen started to lay. That is why you remove frames of brood. Otherwise, after they cover most of the frames, stick them in a bigger box. Michael Bush has easy to understand instructions for queen rearing on his website.
 

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I know of commercial operations that have ”banked” mated queens for several months. It works, I guess, but there will be some attrition. Frankly, I have a problem with the whole notion of shutting a queen down shortly after she has been mated and just assuming she will resume laying as if nothing has happened. I don’t have data on it but I prefer not to have queens in our operation that have been caged and shipped in such a manner.
 
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You can also swap mated queens with another beekeeper. I swap queens with beekeepers I know that are far enough away that the drones are different. This gets new genetics in our yards without having to order packages or new queens. And having extra NUC's with extra bees and queens is always a plus. Also if you have good luck with your splits early in the spring you can add NUC boxes for extra honey. Last year was a good year for us and we got honey off of three splits we made early in the season.
 

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You can only bank queens for a few weeks at most
I know folks that run queen banks all winter, queens go into the bank in the September timeframe, then come out in April. I dont do it that way because it's a LOT of work to set up a wintering bank, and it takes a LOT of resources, typically uses up the bees from 4 colonies over the winter, and survival rates are on the order of 50%.

I do it differently here, we have experimented for 4 winters now taking surplus queens into the winter in the mating nucs, and have had good success in doing it this way. We are expanding our numbers of mating nucs dramatically over summer 2021 and moving up to 'small commercial' scales in wintering what I call 'spare queens'. Our experience with wintering mating nucs, the losses tend to happen in September during the dearth when wasps weaken them then the larger colonies rob them out. What I have told many locals, in our experience, a mating nuc colony that is alive and well on the Nov 1, will be alive and well on April 1. For us, over the first 3 winters we did this, the survival rates from Nov 1 till April have been 100%.

So far, for us, it's worked well doing on the order of a dozen 'spare queens' this way each winter. For fall 2021 the plan is to have around 70 in mating nucs on Sept 1.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Grozzie, although our climates are different and the "all beekeeping is local" does apply, I find the same thing. Colonies that are alive in Nov. tend to still be alive in March. From there, the biggest risk is starvation as the bees quickly burn through whatever stores they had going into winter. I have not tried overwintering in minis, but small five framers have overwintered quite well.
 

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So to the OP original question, Get a few extra NUCs and place the "good" cells cull the small ones.
Evaluate the laying pattern and temperament of the bees after the first brood cycle. Replace any queen you have with a "better one" Offer a few NUCs for sale. or a few queens for sale. Keep up reving your own hives to the best queens then sell a few.

GG
 

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I do it differently here, we have experimented for 4 winters now taking surplus queens into the winter in the mating nucs, and have had good success in doing it this way. We are expanding our numbers of mating nucs dramatically over summer 2021 and moving up to 'small commercial' scales in wintering what I call 'spare queens'. Our experience with wintering mating nucs, the losses tend to happen in September during the dearth when wasps weaken them then the larger colonies rob them out. What I have told many locals, in our experience, a mating nuc colony that is alive and well on the Nov 1, will be alive and well on April 1. For us, over the first 3 winters we did this, the survival rates from Nov 1 till April have been 100%.

So far, for us, it's worked well doing on the order of a dozen 'spare queens' this way each winter. For fall 2021 the plan is to have around 70 in mating nucs on Sept 1.
Do you over winter the dozen queens in 1 nuc or 12. Are they outside?
I am in Ontario.
 

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Just a few thoughts, to confirm that I am on the right track, I am fairly new to all of this.
So one has a bunch of newly hatched queens. In order for them to mate, they need to be introduced to a nuc, is this correct?
How long does it take for them to mate?
Would one then remove that queen and introduce the next one?
So what happens if one say hatches 10 queens, but only has 8 nucs?
My understanding would be that by the time the 8 new queens in the nucs have mated, the other 2 would be too old to be introduced for mating?
Thanks for clarification!
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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That is why we have mating nucs which only contain a small number of bees. Spread the wealth. But yep the other two would be too old.
 

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Just a few thoughts, to confirm that I am on the right track, I am fairly new to all of this.
So one has a bunch of newly hatched queens. In order for them to mate, they need to be introduced to a nuc, is this correct?
How long does it take for them to mate?
Would one then remove that queen and introduce the next one?
So what happens if one say hatches 10 queens, but only has 8 nucs?
My understanding would be that by the time the 8 new queens in the nucs have mated, the other 2 would be too old to be introduced for mating?
Thanks for clarification!
with 10 cells and 8 NUCS one would either cull by size using the 8 biggest cells or place 2 in 2 of the hives and let the "fittest" take over.
Or put 2 cells into a 2 hives that have old or poor queens to attempt supercedure.
or make 2 more NUCS
or...

GG
 

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We had 10 emerge one year from removed queen cells out of hives. We gave them away within a day of emerging. People were ecstatic. We used a nuc box, with queens in little home make netting cages, sitting on a vegetable germination heating pad. Were surprised when it worked!
 

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If you are going to try grafting some queens, may I suggest you consider making some two or three frame Nucs. Barnyard Bees on YouTube has some videos and descriptions on building the two frame nuc. I like the idea of a three frame, gives a little more space, especially if you decide to use an in-hive feeder, as well as having more stability than the two frame Nucs. Place a cell in with a frame of brood, foundation, let the queen hatch, mate, then sell or do with as you please.
 

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You can keep them in two frame or three frame or five frame nucs. You can bank them. I usually have a queen bank set up for the excess queens so I can free up the mating nucs and keep the mating nucs from swarming.
 
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