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  Monday, 13 February 2017
  7 Replies
  240 Visits
With the couple of warmish days we had in January I was able to briefly look in my four hives and one nuc to look for any signs of life and it looks like I'm five for five, at least so far, though I know its early. So I fed them a little candy and crossed my fingers.
But soon it will be time to start thinking about rearing some queens to put in any nucs I'm able to split out as things start ramping up. This is something I've never done and I've been trying to wrap my brain around the process and have read a number of explanations as to how to do this. No doubt the best way to get a bunch of queens, short of buying them, is to graft them from newly hatched larva into cups and put them in a queenless starter with lots of nurse bees. Ok, I get that. But the whole process of grafting seems a little intimidating to me and really seems geared toward rearing more queens than I need. So I thought I'd try the Miller method first to see if I could get the four or eight queens I might need. For the more experienced here, Is this a sensible approach or am I wasting my time with this method and should I just bite the bullet and dive right into grafting? I'm also a little vague on when I should start this process. Should I wait till there's a natural flow or should I push it along by feeding syrup and pollen to stimulate egg laying? Maybe I should just do my splits and let the bees raise their own queens? My long term goal is to maintain about 15 hives and be able to provide my own replacement stock.
5 years ago
Steve, just jump in, experiment. I've done a Doolittle rearing of queens and found it very satisfying. The grafting is probably the most fun of all! I've done the splits the Miller, the plug etc... it's experimenting. I like having 8-10 hives to play with but you could do it with fewer. Just read read read and then just jump in and try it.
It's really not hard, and the best way to learn is do it on your own.
I do at times move my Nucs to a different yard ,but I also start them in the same yard a few bees
Will go back to the patient hive but I have not had any issues.
I will confuses the ones moved to a different yard do build faster.
Getting Mike Palmer Queens you need to get on a list somewhat early as the demand for
Mikes Queens is very high. The weather can also play a part.
I was able last year to get some Queens on his last harvest I think it was Aug 15 th.
Thanks to Mike Palmer I now keep Nucs going all the time ,having extra queens on hand
or a spare mini hive ready to go . Having a back up to me just the way to go.
Plus I won't need to spend $165 to $200 to replace a dead out.
Maybe we can one day talk Mike into doing a Queen raring class ,hands on type
But I do know his time is very limited so that could be a challenge.
Queen raring takes a lot of skill,practice and knowledge. However on a small scale I think
Any good bee keeper can raise a few Queens.
I have daughters of Mike Palmer s # 56 Queen now you talk about Queens they make
A colony that any Beekeeper would love .
We can soon start having some fun with our bees spring is around the corner.
5 years ago
That's good to know.
I thought I remembered you saying all were spoken for.
Good to have a local source of great quality queens.
5 years ago
Late in the season? I sold 250+ queens in August.
5 years ago
Thanks Ron
That OTS method seems to make a lot of sense. Kind of a simplified update to the Miller method. And I like the brood break for Varroa control.
I think I'll try it. Unfortunately the guy's book cost $75 now. A bit steep for me. I think I can figure it out though from the videos. When you took your Queen out of the original hive did you move her to another distant location? How about when you installed the new queens in your nucs. Were they at a different location?
I guess purchasing queens is always an option except last year I seem to remember Queens were in short supply late in the year so I figured I might try this and hope I don't get stuck not having a way to get a queen.
I raised a few Queens last year I used swarm cells I also used the OTS method ,I used my
4 frame Nucs as mating Nucs. This year I will build some two frame divided boxes as mating
I also buy Mike Palmer's Queens to be very honest I don't think my queens are as good
As I buy from Mike.
Just so many things that can go wrong , plus with some one like Mike Palmer he has put so much time and money into his Queen raring program , I know every Queen I have purchased from
Mike have just been great .
I don't think grafting is for me. Maybe this year I'll buy a few Queen Cells try that approach.
Good luck with your Queens
5 years ago
As a small time beekeeper, interested in maintaining about a dozen hives, I have found myself in a similar situation. After a bad winter last year I started off the Spring with two survivors. I added two packages, I caught several swarms, made a couple of splits and somehow went into this winter with twelve colonies - two of them in 5 over five nucs and one in a single five frame nuc. Like you, I have been interested in queen rearing but I don't have the capacity to use more than a few. In the past I have stumbled upon swarm cells in my hive and used them to make a split but that is always a matter of chance not planning. I have also done an intentional split where the queenless portion had to build their own queen cells but it does take a long time in a short summer. I did find a local supplier that sells ripe queen cells. Two of the nucs that I have right now were made by putting a couple of frames of brood and a couple of frames of honey along with a ready to hatch queen in a box and letting the bees take it from there. Of course the queen still has to get mated but it is still more predictable than waiting for a queen cell to be built and hatched on its own. So, there are some ideas that I have tried. This year I hope to make up more nucs and develop my skill at overwintering them. For a small beekeeper, building nucs and overwintering them seems like the best way to retain a constant level of colonies..
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