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Poly Hive 

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How to raise a few queens.

Considered by many to be very difficult and in the realms of the expert beekeeper the raising of queens is in fact not that tricky.

There are many many ways of doing all that follows but I am going to suggest as simple a way as I can.

One matter that cannot be over looked is selection and redundancy. If you are looking for say four queens, then I would suggest you try at least 6 to allow for failure.

To achieve that 6, I am going to suggest you aim at offering the starter unit 18.

From this you can see that one has to accept losses in this process.

The process really breaks down into three stages.

1. Getting very young larvae accepted as potential queens.
2. Finishing off the cells.
3. Getting the virgins mated.

To get larvae accepted takes a large number of nursing bees. Yes the figure is some 150, but the more the merrier and I have always found that the stronger the starter box the better the acceptance rate.

Personally I use a shook starter box. For this exercise though I am avoiding finding queens as that always seems such a psychological barrier to so many.

The starter colony should be on a double brood box with as many as possible of the frames full of brood and the colony bursting with bees.

Put in an excluder, on top of that two supers, then another excluder and the crown board. The queen can now be in only two places, all being well.

As soon as you feel competent to look, identify in which brood box the queen is, and if in the top then switch the bodies around. Wait 9 days. The queen will evidence herself by laying eggs, so the box with no eggs in it is where the queen is NOT!

After 9 days ALL the open brood in the top Brood Box will be sealed and no material will be available to the bees to use for Queens. The queen will be in the bottom box working away normally.

Move the hive to one side. On the original site place a new floor and your top brood box. Take from it one frame of brood to leave a gap. Run through the combs to check for “wild” queen cells, if any and the parentage is not one you want then kill them. Make sure the parent hive is well off to one side so all the flying bees will cram your starter box.

From the best queen you have or have access to take a frame of young larvae. Cut a strip of them out and shave with a very sharp knife a strip of them. You can usefully cut the cells back by a good third so the bees can flare the cells out easily.

Cut your selected cells into units of one, and using bees wax stick them to a flat piece of wood so that there is a good inch between them. To offer 18 to a colony depending on your frame, modify a brood frame to support this strip at each end, and consider you may need 2 or even three strips.

The following day you will see if your offerings have been accepted. This will be clear by reason of fresh wax building on the cell, and in fact by occupancy of the same. Rejects at this point are literally out the door. The bees cull quite heavily at this point.

You have two options now. One is to do the same again. The other is to use the starter box as the finisher, and in five days time you can use the cells. Or you can put the started cells in to the supers of strong colonies to be finished and incubated, whilst another batch is offered to the starter box. Please note if you offer cells to supers to be finished/ incubated when they are finished I cage them. Imagine 20 virgins running around a super.... not really ideal is it, so keep a close eye on your timings. Preferably have your cells into your nucs just after they are sealed so you can relax.

With your cells now sealed, the starter box can be used to provide sealed brood to your mating nucs.

If queen rearing on this small scale then using mini nucs is an added layer of work which can be avoided by having to hand a number of empty Nuc boxes or Brood bodies provided sufficient dummy boards are available to cosy up a nuc in a Brood Box.

Place your sealed cell carefully into (press gently) into a frame of brood, and add some bees to it.

If using the same apiary then plug the entrance with grass and they will be fine. Let them out after three days and they will settle nicely.

Your virgins will fly and mate in due time so leave them alone for three weeks at least before you look.

With luck you should achieve with some ease success with this method. And you haven’t' had to find the queen or graft. :)

I hope this simplified method will encourage you to have a go.


PH
 

Black Comb 

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Thanks PH
Good advice, well written.
I will use this this coming season.
 

admin 

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Stickied,thanks PH :cheers2:
 
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Nice one PH, interesting read and spurring me on to have a go, if not next year the one after.
 

mbc 

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Nicely put PH, but I hope you don't think I'm a shit if I point a couple of things out.
- with the initial separation of the brood boxes they could quite easily have swarmed by the time 9 days have passed
- If putting started cells to be finished in a queen right cell finishers top box its common practice to entice plenty of nurse bees up to the top box by lifting a couple of frames of unsealed brood up prior to getting them to finish off cells
 

Poly Hive 

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Swarming.

I have to assume a competent beekeeper will see such signs as they prepare the colony.

"If putting started cells to be finished in a queen right cell finishers top box its common practice to entice plenty of nurse bees up to the top box by lifting a couple of frames of unsealed brood up prior to getting them to finish off cells"

It may well be. I have never done it.

The majority of beekeepers use super frames in supers and brood frames in brood boxes making the addition of brood difficult in a super.

I have found that a very adequate number of cells are finished in Supers which have no adjacent brood.

PH
 

mbc 

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"I have found that a very adequate number of cells are finished in Supers which have no adjacent brood."

Its not about the number of cells they'll finish, but the quality. I seem to remember reading that young nurse bees raise heavier queens
 

Poly Hive 

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Do you really think I would be advocating a method to produce rubbish?

It is a method that has worked for me for many years now.

I put this up for general assistance and to be honest don't want to argue every dot and cross of a t. If one occurs to me be assured I will do it.

PH
 

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After 40 years queen rearing I do not see gloria around rearing. I make it easy to me.

When some hive beging to rear swarm cells, I change larvae in cells from 'best' hive.
When cells are near to emerge I make from those same beeframes mating nucs and move them 2 miles into mating yard.

results are really good.
 

Finman 

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Bees' natural swarming time is best to rear new queens. Hives are big and it is easy to get enough nuc bees. Matings succeed better than in shilly spring. i have enough time to see. Shoud I abort some queen and I have good time to rear new queen when needed. My need per year is about 50 queens.
 

666bees 

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Dont know if this is right but a chap who came to our club said if you take a frame of eggs and place them horizontal above the brood box on wooded blocks to give space for the queen cells and with an eke around it for space then the bees will make alot of queen cells from the eggs because of them facing down.

But you guys with more experience will know if this right or not.
 

Finman 

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Dont know if this is right but a chap who came to our club said if you take a frame of eggs and place them horizontal above the brood box on wooded blocks to give space for the queen cells and with an eke around it for space then the bees will make alot of queen cells from the eggs because of them facing down.

But you guys with more experience will know if this right or not.
that is one well known method, but you need to take other brood frame away.
But you must sacrifice one hive and you may get tens of queen cells. Then again, you need bees to nucs.

What means easy to me: several tens of years I did with mechanical system and my losses before mating were about 50%. Sometimes I moved 15 larvae and got only one queen.

When I used multicell mating nucs, losses were huge compared to solitary one cell nucs.


What mens EASY? To me it means that losses are few. When the whole process takes 4-5 weeks, a lost operation or half of it moves rearing 1 month towards autumn.

In early summer reared queens means that I have opportunity to replace poor queens aand rear more if I need.
 

Finman 

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There are many possibilities to get queen cells. Problems appear when you take off the cells and push them into protecting cages. It will appear many kind of injuries in queens when you touch with fingers the cells or cut them from combs. In spring weathers are cold and cells may catch cold. ..... Antenna, legs, flat abdomen, dark spot in abdomen...

Once I made jig-zag cutting into larva comb and bees made queen cells on the edge. I got good queens but when I extracted the comb in Autumn, I saw 2 queen cells inside the comb. Bees had drawn honey cells over the queen cells and filled cells with honey. So it is a big chance that a free queen emerge and kill all queens in cages.
 

drstitson 

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miller method

I note Finman has mentioned this briefly.

would it not be best for newish beeks to try using the zigzag comb approach for their first go at queen rearing? less control over what the bees do and how many cells you get but equally much less manipulation for those who are unsure of themselves ie you're leaving much more of the process to the bees.
 

Poly Hive 

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"There are many many ways of doing all that follows but I am going to suggest as simple a way as I can."

As above.

Every method has drawbacks. I don't follow Finmans comment about wild virgins attacking caged ones as if the system is followed this is just not possible.

There are so many ways to do it that most find it thoroughly confusing, I have just tried to lay out a straight forward method.

If there is enough interest then by all means start a debating thread on the merits of the Miller against xyz.... My main drive is to be able to handle the cells, a very important issue that most fail to comprehend.

PH
 

Dave /Oscroft 

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double brood and more!

I have and I know its incorrect, two hives that are 14x12 with a standard brood box on top (or below I cant remember, dont ask why, it just happend last year due to swarming problems as some of the hives are Carniolans!) and Im going to have a go at this method with one of them to provide some queens for the others. Any other tips ?

Dave W
 

Poly Hive 

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Can you make your question a bit clearer please? What method are you considering?

PH
 

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Question

P.H, your method. Looked at my hives last night just to top up the fondant, and all are bringing in lots of yellow pollen, so hopefully will soon be building up to bursting point, again, just want to catch them before they attach themselves to next doors hedge again (last year I caught a swarm every night for a week ! in there hedge).
Since then iv'e learnt a lot!

Dave W
 

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