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I would say separate the questions and thereby get a bit more and broader based experience on using the double screens for overwintering.
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Quick update, I went to check on my mating nucs about 20 days after installing the cells.

I'm happy to say each had a queen, which I marked (first time for that, too). I believe I saw some eggs in all but one of the nucs.

I'm a little suspicious that one w/ no eggs contained a queen (virgin?) from an emergency cell started in the nuc, rather than from the cell I introduced. Don't know if I'll ever know for sure; there were remnants of Q cells on a frame in that hive; not sure if they were already there when it was put together. Oh well.

One observation- they don't seem to be taking hardly any of the 1:1 I've given them. Not sure if that's just because of the flow, or the low population, or the setup of the feeders. I have inverted jars over an inner cover of sorts with #8 hardware cloth. I wonder if the small gap (a couple millimeters?) between the screen and holes in the jar lid is making it tough for them. Perhaps I'll remove a couple screens and see how they do.

-Dan
 

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I have inverted jars over an inner cover of sorts with #8 hardware cloth. I wonder if the small gap (a couple millimeters?) between the screen and holes in the jar lid is making it tough for them. Perhaps I'll remove a couple screens and see how they do.
No, they can eat through the gaps in #8 hardware cloth.....I have modified feeder ring things and I just invert plastic butter tubs with holes in the lid over the #8. Also, my observation hive has a feeder hole where an inverted quart jar goes, and the hole has #8 hardware cloth on it to keep the bees in the hive....
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
Second round of grafting

I tried grafting again last weekend, and had to go take a peek. I had 27 out of 31 take this time around! I don't really know what I did differently; I guess
I was just a little more comfortable with the whole procedure this time.
Pollinator Apiary Beehive Insect Wood

I think being well into the nectar flow helps. No pic, but the box above the Cloake board was really bearding at the time I introduced the cell bar frame.

I also put several frames of foundation in the box w/ the cells to avoid the excessive comb building that I had last time. In hindsight, I should have removed the feeder when the cells were sealed, but this yard is away from home so that is a detail I'll just have to remember next time.

If you look at the picture, you can see that the 4 cells that didn't take are all grouped together. This made me wonder if it wasn't a grafting issue, but something else going on. If the empty area was more central, I would suspect the feeder dripping. Oh well, another bee mystery.

Another thing, I'm not sure if these cells are a little on the small side. It's a little deceiving, because you have to consider the plastic cup as part of the cell.

-Dan
 

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a snip..
I was just a little more comfortable with the whole procedure this time.

tecumseh:
nice looking picture of the complete queen cells. don't that make you feel good?

as to success or lack there of I find it is usually several things. population, time of year and certainly having some confidence in what you are doing helps.

to me the finished cells started in plastic cups always look smaller <I prefer the pure wax kind of cups which are normally set on a bit larger base which just makes setting them into queen rearing nucs easier for me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Plant Plant community Wood Tree Groundcover

I set up 19 queenless mating nucs today, and plan to install cells tomorrow. That's all the equipment I've got, and it feels good to put it all to use. I want more! But I need to take a breather- I'm getting there quickly enough.

A beekeeping friend helped out by providing some frames of nurse bees/brood in exchange for a "credit" for some queens in the future. I think we're both happy and excited about the collaboration. Hopefully he'll get some great queens, and now that I've got my nucs full I'll try to keep them that way to have resources for subsequent batches, and keep them through the winter.

I really like using the plywood nucs based on the plans I found here. With having some extra bottomless nuc "supers" around, it makes it easy to combine two nucs w/ newspaper in case I pull a queen from one (or if one is just queenless on it's own). Then when I raise another batch, I just split again. We'll see how they hold up.

I'll give two cells to as many of these nucs as possible, but some will have to get just one cell. I made up a 3-way divided box consisting of 3 frame nucs; they will certainly just get one cell. I'm learning to be frugal with my resources.

I have to say, I really love working with queens and nucs. It makes my full-size hives seem like such a bother to work. Ha! The upside of a full hive though, is that it can operate on auto-pilot a lot longer than a nuc, of course.

-Dan
 

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Great pics and cells d.magnitude, deffinately keep us updated on how the queens turn out, and the growing bee yards!!
 

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a snip..
I set up 19 queenless mating nucs today

tecumseh:
this is an entirely different process which comes with it's own unique set of problem that (imho) you can only come to understanding by doing it again and again. the process is essential if you wish to utilize the cells for yourself but you will encounter a set of problems here also. generally I find that nucs can be made up too strong or too weak and discovering the magical middle ground is alway difficult.

ps... as always good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
Thanks, Tec.

When making up the 5-frame nucs, I shoot for 1.5-2 frames of brood (mostly capped), 1 frame of food, and 2 frames of comb or foundation. It varies of course, and those amounts might actually be totals found on multiple combs.

When making 3-frame nucs, I used 1 frame brood, 1 frame food, and 1 frame empty comb. If this works out OK, I'll try more of these. I should also try 2-frame nucs, to test the limit. Mini-nucs don't really appeal to me, but I won't get into that yet. Though they take more resources, I still like the 5-framers for their versatility and stability. Does all that sound reasonable?

I'm not the most diligent inspector, but I haven't had any nucs swarm from being too strong, or fizzle out from being too weak yet Like I said, I want to test my limits a bit, so I can use smaller nucs in the early spring when I have less brood to spread around.

-Dan
 

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just speaking from my own experience... standard sized frames (shallows, mediums or deeps) used to make up queen rearing nucs in the combinations you speak of (2 to 4 frames total) I have much better success than in trying to utilize baby nucs. on occasions the baby nucs work fine and at other times they are a total disaster. I still will attempt from time to time to utilize baby nuc but how I make these up will in the future change somewhat based on seeing how my good neighbors just to the south baby nucs are made up. and yes even they can have serious problems with baby nuc boxes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
update on round two

Today was the deadline for the queens from my last batch to prove that they were present and laying in the nucs.

Out of 19 mating nucs (made up on June 4 w/ cells), I found 16 laying queens today and marked 'em all. I'm getting better at grabbing the queens with my bare fingers, but I still need to drop them into a marking tube to safely mark them. The one that I tried to mark while holding her got a bit of paint on her head. I immediately dropped her back in the nuc, and hoped the paint was still wet enough for the bees to clean off. I'll keep an eye on that one.

All of the queens were real beauties, except one. There were developing supercedure cells present in one nuc. The queen I found in there was smallish, and eating honey out of a cell herself. The other bees were completely ignoring her; I'd never seen behavior quite like that. There was a good amount of brood in there from capped cells to eggs, so I have to assume she'd been laying all along. I'll let them work it out.

The few nucs that were queenless seemed to be getting some attention from robbers. I opted not to do a newspaper combine with these on a queen-right hive. I just shook them out entirely, and stacked the five (mostly) empty frames on another 5-frame queen-right nuc. I didn't want to chance transferring laying workers (though I didn't see any evidence), or moving robbers directly onto a nice nuc. I'm not sure if that was the best move I could make, but it was quick and got the job done.

I'm getting there, but I've got a lot to learn.

-Dan
 

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a Dan snip..
I'm getting there

tecumseh:
yes you most definitely are and no matter what the level of expertise and experience 'we' all have a lot to learn.

hats off to you in you efforts and in the information provided by this thread.
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
update

We'll this is far from my first attempt anymore, but I'll keep this thread going...

I finally had my first real flop. I had set up my Cloake board set-up a few days before grafting, but for the life of me I could not find the queen in there. Eggs/larvae- yes, queen- no. So I shook all the frames into the lower part of the hive, put on the Cloake board, and filled the top box w/ brood, etc. as usual.

I grafted on a Saturday, but the population in the top "starter" part of the hive was not what I expected. Lots of bees were still using the lower reversed entrance after inserting the divider (they were supposed to reorient to the top entrance). I never had this problem before, and I wonder if it had to do with my handling of the bees earlier (though I don't see how).

I grafted 32 cups (in my truck in 100 degree heat), and when I checked a couple days later, only 5 took. That's a pitiful percentage, but I had a bad feeling all along.

So, I decided to try something new. I prepared a starter "swarm" box by shaking bees from about 10 brood frames into a nuc w/ the entrance screened, along w/ a couple frames of nectar and pollen. 1.5 hours later I added a newly grafted batch of cups (which I did in the comfort of my dining room, and I do have a good feeling about), and I shut the whole thing up again and put it in my basement.

Early tomorrow, I'll go put this cell bar frame in the top of my Cloake-board hive (which now contains 5 capped queen cells). I really hope a high percentage of cells are started when I get a look at it; I'm a little behind because of that last failure.

I do like that this separate starter/finisher system takes less time to set up, so I don't have to prepare my cell builder hive so far in advance. Also, it makes it easier to start a new batch of cells, and place them in a finisher that is still "finishing" a previous batch. I don't foresee producing so many that I need to do overlapping batches all the time, but this time it worked out well for me.

-Dan
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
Just got in from the beeyard. 6:30am and drizzling, but hey; time and weather wait for no queen producer.

I'm pleased to say, it looks like I got at least a 75% take using the "swarm box" starter. I didn't get a good count w/ all the clinging bees, and I just wanted to get the frame in that finisher, and get out of there.

When I do it again, I may add even more bees and I will add an extra wet sponge to the closed box (I only had one, and it was barely damp when I took it out).

-Dan
 
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