February 2018
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Making Nucs & Splits and Queen Rearing
for the Hobby Beekeeper

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To download the PowerPoint file click here.
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Why rear your own queens?
•      Self Sustainability
•      Make up for Winter Losses
•       Increase in hive numbers
•      Genetic Diversity – within apiary and general area
•      Club Cohesion –
•      Increased Funding (aka – Making Money)
•      Cost. A typical queen costs about $20 plus shipping.
•      Time & Availability. In an emergency you order a queen and it takes several days to make arrangements and get the queen. A queen may not be available.  Often you need a queen yesterday. If you have some in mating nucs, on hand, then you already have a queen and availability is not a problem.
•      AHB. Southern raised queens are more and more from Africanized Honey Bee areas. In order to keep AHB out of our area we should stop importing queens from those areas.
•      Acclimatized bees. It's unreasonable to expect bees bred in the deep South to winter well here. Local feral stock is acclimatized to our local climate. Even breeding from commercial stock, you can breed from the ones that winter well here.
Books and References
Queen Rearing and Bee Breeding (1997) by Harry LaidlawJr. and Robert Page Jr., Wicwas Press, Cheshire, Connecticut.(link)
Successful Queen Rearing by Dr. Marla Spivak and Gary Reuter
Contemporary Queen Rearing (1979) by Harry Laidlaw Jr., Dadant and Sons, Hamilton, Illinois.(link)
Breeding Queens (1997) by Gilles Fert, O.P.I.D.A., Argentan, France.
Rearing Queen Honey Bees by Roger Morse
Fifty Years Among the Bees - by C.C. Miller
BushBees – Michael Bush http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm

  Beekeeping Math(link)
Caste          Hatch            Cap              Emerge
Queen        3½ days       8 days +-1       16 days +-1          Laying 28 days +-5
Worker        3½ days       9 days +-1       20 days +-1         Foraging 42 days +-7 
Drone          3½ days     10 days +-1      24 days +-1   Flying to DCA 38 days +-5

    What to look for or judging a colony Queen Mother Hive
•      Calm – Gentle bees
•      Good Honey Production
•      Resistance to pests and Diseases
•      Good laying pattern
•      Hygienic behavior

  What you need
• Regular Equipment 
•      No Special Equipment Required
•      You could use…
•      Follower Boards
•      Nuc Boxes

  Queen rearing supplies
•      Mann Lake Ltd.- Plastic cell cups, cages, grafting tools, kits, nuc boxes.
•      Dadant & Sons Inc. - Books, supplies
•      A. I. Root Co.- Books, videos
•      Brushy Mountain Bee Farm - Jenter system, supplies.
•      Betterbee Inc. (800) 632-3379 - Supplies and kits
•      Walter T. Kelley Co. (502) 242-2012,- Wood cages, wax cups, grafting tools
What the bees Want!
•      Lots of bees – Large Population compared to the size of the hive/nuc box.  Put in extra workers from other frames.
•      Young Bees – Make up starter with at least two frames of capped brood with all the workers.
•      New comb – Use of new comb for queen cells makes it easier for the workers to construct cells.
•      Fresh Eggs/Larva – Give the workers what they need gives the beekeeper a better end resulting Queen.
Queen Rearing Calendar:
•      0 - Place queen cell frame in brood chamber of Queen mother hive.
•      3 - Setup cell starter, make them queenless and make sure there is a VERY high density of bees. Make sure they have plenty of pollen and nectar. Feed the starter for better acceptance.
•      3 ½ - Eggs hatch
•      4 - Transfer the frame to the starter hive. Feed the starter for better acceptance.
•      8 - Queen cells capped
•      13 - Setup mating nucs Make up mating nucs, or hives to be requeened so they will be queenless and wanting a queen cell. Feed the mating nucs for better acceptance.
•      14 - Transfer queen cells to mating nucs. On day 14 the cells are at their toughest and in hot weather they may emerge on day 15 so we need them in the mating nucs or the hives to be requeened if you prefer, so the first queen out doesn't kill the rest.
•      15-17 Queens emerge (In hot weather, 15 is more likely. In cold weather, 17 is more likely. Typically, 16 is most likely.)
•      17-21 Queens harden
•      21-24 Orientation flights
•      21-28 Mating flights
•      25-35 Queen starts laying

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To download this image file click here.
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Nucs and Splits
•      Taking frames off of a strong hive
•      Splitting a hive up into multiple Nucs
•      Set up Nuc yard away from mother hive apiary.
•      Before you Start Remember….
•      You will need  -  Queens

Take a Split off a Hive
•      Take 5 frames off of a strong hive
•      2 frames of Honey with Pollen
•      3 frames of Brood
•      Queen from Queen cell or Starter nuc.

Split a hive into nucs
•      Take 3 - 4 nucs off of a hive
•      2 frames of Honey with Pollen
•      3 frames of Brood
•      Queen from Queen cell or Starter nuc.
•      Feed nucs depending on need and Season
•      Build nucs for winter storage or selling



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February Meetings
and Events

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February 3rd
Queen Rearing Class


February 20th
Monthly Meeting


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March Meetings
and Events

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March 3rd
Horticultural Extravaganza


March 8th
HR Horticultural Society


March 20th
Monthly Meeting


March 24th
CNU Gardening Symposium




Follow the "Upcoming Events" or "Latest News" link under the Main Menu for more information.




NewBees Corner


Information listed here is for the new beekeepers looking for new information and guidance on beekeeping and beekeeping chores:




Now is the time to be watching the 10 day weather forecasts! Plan on making up some fresh, warm, syrup to feed to your survivors this next week. You need to feed in winter but winter feeding is different. Mix your syrup 2:1 (2 sugars to 1 water). Best to feed liquid on the warm days and then have sugar feed on for the colder days. You can put sugar feed on and then feed liquid when the weatherman calls for a warm spell. Take the liquid off once the temperature drops again as the bees might not take it and a leaking container would be the end of the colony.

Did you know an inner cover has two sides? A shallow summer side that mainatins bee space and a deeper winter side that allows for fondant or sugar candy to be placed on the top bars available to the cluster. Here are some links to follow for making winter feed for your colonies. This first method requires cooking and I have used it with great success. To use it, follow this link. Something I've read is that the vinegar is essential to add in the heating process as it aids in breaking down the cane sugar into the sugars that are in honey, fructose and glucose as well as raising the acidity level closer to natural honey.

A second method requires no cooking. I have not used this recipe as yet but plan to this winter. To use it, follow this link. There is also information on this site for using the "Mountain Camp" method of feeding dry sugar. I prefer to make my feed in advance and then apply it to the hive but that's beekeeping, each of us has our own preference.




So you were able to harvest some honey but now what do you do with those frames? There are three things that can be done. 1-you could just leave the frames as they are and store them in a freezer or refrigerator. Not very practical for most folks and storing them wet in the garage or house is an invitation to disaster, don't do it! 2-you can let the bees dry them out outside of the hive. This works very well but you must take precautions to prevent a robbing frenzy in your apiary. Put the frames some distance from the hives, the farther the better, and additionally have some objects between, like trees or a building. This also pertains to letting the bees clean up your extracting equipment. There will be some damage to the comb but nothing too drastic. 3-lastly you can put the frames back into the hive they were harvested from or on another colony that may need the stores. If you just want the bees to dry the frames and move the residual honey down into the colony you can place the frames in a super above the inner cover. To keep the bees from moving up add a spacer or an empty super between the inner cover and the frames. Adding the frames back into or on top of a colony may also create a robbing situation if there are any gaps, cracks or openings. Take precautions!

Once dry these frames are a valuable resource and you HAVE to protect them until freezing weather arrives and wax moth activity ceases for the year. There are some choices that can be made here as well. Hanging under a eave allowing plenty of air and light can usually prevent wax moth damage if the combs never held brood or pollen. Follow this link to see some examples. Another way is to protect your frames with Para Dichlorobenzene, Moth crystals. Supers are stacked and sealed with a spacer at the top. Place the moth crystals on a paper plate on top in the space as the fumes will go down. Follow this link to read an article about wax moths and their control. Lastly combs can be protected with a natural microbial bacteria Bacillus thuringenisis (Certan®). It was once available for sale by bee supply companies but is no longer manufactured in the US but is available from Canada. Some beeks use alternative products that contain the same bacteria but are sold under a different name for the similar purpose of larva control. Here is a lnk to a video about the use of Certan.

Have you done your check for varroa mites? Now is a great time to do a sugar roll or alcohol wash to determine the percentage of mites within your colonies. Doesn't matter if you treat or not but to know your colonies health, it is important to monitor the varroa mite infestation level. Follow this link to learn how to do a sugar roll or this link to learn how to do an alcohol wash. Once you have your numbers then you can follow this link to determine a course of action. Just looking at your bees is not enough to know how they are coping with varroa. I just recently, with the help of a club member, did an alcohol wash on a colony that appeared to be in good shape. Weren't we both surprised when there were so many mites we had to dump them out on a rag to make an accurate count. 158 mites in 1/2 cup (300) of bees! Do I have a colony that is surviving with varroa or a colony that is on the brink of collapse? Without monitoring I wouldn't know why they perished or the importance of breeding this queen.




The summer dirth has started and foraging bees are all looking for stores to bring back to their home hive. Don't let your hive become a source of stores for a neighboring colony! Use a robbing screen if you have a small colony or are feeding to grow your colony. Products like Honey B Healthy or added essential oils can drive foraging bees wild. They want that stuff! Know that a honey bee colony's worst enemy is a stronger honey bee colony, fact.

For information on Robbing Screens check out these links:
1. Robbing Screen article on the CBA website
2. Images for different varieties of robbing screens
A few video links on making robbing screens. (Something to remember is if you use an entrance reducer the width doesn't need to exactly match the bottom board, example: an 8 frame robbing screen will work on a ten frame hive with an entrance reducer!).
1. Northwest New Jersey Beekeepers(NWNJBA)
2. Country Rubes Beekeeping Supplies
3. Another Country Rubes Video
A Google search brings up plenty more videos!
Robbing Screen Videos