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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,

After several success with the Larry Connor method I tried the Cloake Board method for the first time. I had 21 out of 24 nice queen cells grafted for a 87% success rate. All looked well at day 6 but when I opened the hive on day ten I found all 21 queen cells destroyed. I am pretty careful to make sure I do no select larvae that's too old. The biggest queens are from the youngest larvae you can find. This is the first time this has happened to me.

Since most people learn by their mistakes I am trying to figure out the exact cause.

Possible causes

I did have robbing issue on many of my hives in the middle of this queen rearing. A friend asked me to make him a package for his TBH and I did. It set off a robbing frenzy in the bee yard. I had to put a robbing screens on the hives to protect them once I saw the problem. With the Cloake Board method the robber bees would have direct access to the upper box with the queen cells. In the Larry Conner method robbers would have to go through a bottom box and a queen excluder to get to the upper box where the queen cells reside, so there is a difference. I am not sure if robber bees would kill queen cells? I know robber bees will kill a live queen, I had that happen on a nuc a few years ago but would robber bees kill capped queen cells too?

It could be a stray virgin queen entered the hive and destroyed the cells?
or
It could be that I selected a larvae that was too old and it hatched early and killed the other cells but she would have to be very busy to kill 20 cells in one day.

I also made sure the Original marked queen was below the queen excluder in the hive and she was indeed. The marked queen was nice and plump, so it is unlikely she killed the cells. Plus in the Cloake Board method there is no brood at all in the upper box.

I guess my main question to the more experienced Beeks is .....
Will Robber bees kill Queen cells too?

Thanks,
Bee Happy!
Phil
 

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Check around the honey in the queen starter/finisher hive...does it appear torn up with little or no honey? If so, robbers got in and won the fight. They may have torn down the QC's, but the colony may have done so themselves if they lost.

Another possibility is a rogue queen cell that was well-hidden back in the comb.

Also, queens sometimes get through old excluders.

Use robber screens on each of your colonies. The starter/finisher can have a queen excluder entry "blocker" that will keep out unwanted queens, but excluder must be removed before mating occurs.

Feed all your bees in the queen yard, especially the starter/finisher. This will reduce robbing greatly. Open only one hive at a time. In robbing season, I move honey to the top of the hive, as far from the entrance as I can. I move the brood closer to the entrance, and use a robber screen.

I hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Check around the honey in the queen starter/finisher hive...does it appear torn up with little or no honey? If so, robbers got in and won the fight. They may have torn down the QC's, but the colony may have done so themselves if they lost.

Another possibility is a rogue queen cell that was well-hidden back in the comb.

Also, queens sometimes get through old excluders.

Use robber screens on each of your colonies. The starter/finisher can have a queen excluder entry "blocker" that will keep out unwanted queens, but excluder must be removed before mating occurs.

Feed all your bees in the queen yard, especially the starter/finisher. This will reduce robbing greatly. Open only one hive at a time. In robbing season, I move honey to the top of the hive, as far from the entrance as I can. I move the brood closer to the entrance, and use a robber screen.

I hope this helps.
Thanks for the tips. Since I already put the hive with the Cloake board back to normal I can't check the honey for signs of robber bees.

A stray rogue queen cell may be a possibility. In the Cloake board method you're not suppose to have any brood is in the upper hive body. There may have been a stray queen cell on a frame that I never saw.

I kinda like the Cloake Board method but what started out well ended in a disaster. I may try the Cloake board method again but do daily inspections so I can make sure I don't have the same problem. Attention to details is paramount in queen rearing.

Thanks,
Bee Happy!
Phil
 

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You can check the cells to see if you had one emerge early. it will be open on the end even if the side it torn out. any cell that is still capped but chewed through the side did not emerge.

I suspect a rouge cell that emerged myself. I cannot say that robbers would not destroy the cells or that being robbed would not cause the colony itself to destroy them. I do know for a fact that a colony will destroy cells even after they are capped. I cannot say why.
 

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Yes, A incubator sure would have helped out in this situation but I'm a small backyard beek doing a small number of queen cells.

Thanks,
Bee Happy!
Phil


An incubator is very simple and can be inexpensive to make.

Styrofoam cooler. Wal mart 30 quart $2.27

Lamp kit from Home depot $11.97
http://www.homedepot.com/s/lamp%20kit?NCNI-5

Hot water heater thermostat $8.98
http://www.homedepot.com/s/water%20heater%20thermostat?NCNI-5 Model 15417

A thermometer of your choice. You can get aquarium thermometers for a couple of bucks.

and you can put one together for about $25.

You do not need a high power bulb for the lamp. do make up a foil shield so the heat form the bulb does not melt the foam of the cooler. The thermostat is nothing more than a temperature controlled switch and is wired accordingly. The cord that comes with the lamp kit has two wires that are molded together. seperate them. you will find one side the wire coating is smooth the other has ribs on it. wire the stat into the ribbed part of the cord.

I find the best temperature control is when the stat is close to the bulb. adjust the stat as necessary until the temperature yo want is reached.

I have made many incubators with these components. I have since graduated to temperature controllers and much fancier containers. But in a pinch and if you have the time to make the adjustments. these are cheap and effective. I have consistently successfully incubated chicken eggs in them. I can incubate queen cells on a shelf under a desk lamp. All you have to do for a queen cell is keep it at 92 degrees.
 

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Yes, A incubator sure would have helped out in this situation but I'm a small backyard beek doing a small number of queen cells.

Thanks,
Bee Happy!
Phil
Same here. That is why i use a queenless starter finisher. It's easy and for a dozen or so cells it works great.
 

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I use both queenless and queenright colonies to raise cells.
A queen from a grafted cell is unlikely to emerge 2 days early assuming the timings given are correct. One day early is quite possible.
The problem could be a rogue cell produced on a comb, assuming there were any brood combs in the box containing eggs/small larvae.
I have had a couple of frames of cells torn down due to a virgin emerging from a cell I missed on the face of a comb.
 

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Cheaper and the right temp, use a hive as your incubator. Drill holes in the top of a top bar the size of your cells but smaller than the diameter of the cup base ( so it dosn`t fall through ) and bend a 3" piece of #8 wire into a U, staple the U under the top bar. With the top of the U stapled to the sides of the top bar you close off the ends of the U and you have a cage. put that in any hive for 10 days. Put the cells in this cage on day 5 if they are all capped, give the Cloake another round of cells,,,,,,,Pete
 

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I have found really bad luck in moving cells on day 5 this year. last year not so much. We have actually had really bad results at just about everything queen rearing as well. It is like bees will barely make a cell in the first place and those they do make do not survive. In the past few days we have had as many as 47 cells placed in our incubator. of those 10 have so far emerged. That is typical of our entire year. Last year we had nearly 100% emergence of all cells.

Add to that, from nearly 500 grafts our bees have only made around 20 cells or so. They will make rouge cells far more readily. Still those do not survive. It is like queen rearing has become a complete impossibility all of a sudden. If this had been my first year attempting to rear queens I don't think I would ever attempt it again.
 

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Daniel, what you are describing sounds like a larger problem. Look closely at the brood in both your breeders and cell raisers for any signs of brood diseases no matter how subtle it may appear as diseases are magnified in cell raising. TM may be called for.
 

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Add to that, from nearly 500 grafts our bees have only made around 20 cells or so. They will make rouge cells far more readily. Still those do not survive. It is like queen rearing has become a complete impossibility all of a sudden. If this had been my first year attempting to rear queens I don't think I would ever attempt it again.
Wow - sorry to hear that. There seems to be fundamental issues with either your methods, equipment, or bees. Perhaps you should start a dedicated thread and clearly and concisely layout all aspects of your process.
 

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I will have to look more closely. but the only brood disease I have been aware of this year was chalk brood in the spring. and then only for a short period. I will check it out though.

Astrobee. the very same methods and equipment produced over 75% graft acceptance. over 95% cell emergence rates and emerged virgin queens successfully mating at about a 50% rate. This leads me to believe that something has changed. possible disease as Jim suggests. If the bees themselves have changed enough to make that sort of difference I do not know how that could happen. climate is also significantly different this year that is why I have been considering it.

In the spring of this year we had one grafting that produced nearly 75% take. it was the only good one we had.

For me it is simply to many things going wrong at once leaving me simply baffled.
 
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