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Author Topic: ez-queen systems  (Read 2455 times)
jxbeeman
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« on: November 17, 2005, 01:53:39 PM »

when using the ez-queen systems like from dadant or mann lake do you have to place them in a queenless hive or can you have the queens raised in a hive with a queen.  later like day 14 take the queen cells out so you don't lose the free queen.  any ideas or people who have used this system.  thanks
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2005, 11:15:37 PM »

>when using the ez-queen systems like from dadant or mann lake do you have to place them in a queenless hive or can you have the queens raised in a hive with a queen. later like day 14 take the queen cells out so you don't lose the free queen. any ideas or people who have used this system. thanks

I have used the Jenter.  But grafting is the exact same process to get the cell starter and cell finisher and mating nucs.  The only difference is the Jenter (or EZ) gives you a way to confine the queen so you know the age of the larvae and a way to transfer the larvae without having good eyesight or a steady hand.

The rest is the same either way.

I have the best luck with a queenless cell starter.  You can leave it queenless and let them finish it or you can make it queenright.

The hard issues, in my opinion, are:

1)  Timing.  We need everything at the right time.

2)  The starter requires LOTS of bees.  Overflowing with bees.  Packed with bees.  Did I say lots of bees?

Here's my calander:

Make sure you have a minimum four medium box strong colony or equivalent.
Make sure you have chosen a queen mother.
Make sure you have cell bars set up with cups etc.
Make sure you have a cell cup system of some kind. (Jenter, grafting, etc)
Make sure you have a "Floor without floor" box.  Make one with a 3/4" by 3/4" piece of wood with a 3/8" x 3/8" groove in it.  Hang it out 3/4" in front and put a piece across the front under the sides to make a landing board.  Cut a piece of 3/16" laun to slide in for a removable bottom.  Coat edges with Vaseline to keep from connecting.  Maybe make it with the landing board on both ends and make a 3/4” x 3/8” (7/156”?) x  15 ½” entrance block for one end.  That way you can make it open either directions by just moving the entrance block.  You can do it without the FWOF but this simplifies converting to and from a queenless cell starter and a queenright finisher.
Make sure you have enough mating nucs.  (I like two frame medium nucs) unless you want to introduce the queens to the hives as virgins.
Another setup is to make a three box wide bottom board facing “normal” direction (the entrance is perpendicular to the frames) so that you have three medium boxes side by side with all the entrances for those facing the same direction.  Have  entrance blocks/reducers for the boxes.  Put excluders/includers on the bottom of outside boxes.  Arrange cell starter in middle and put two queenright colonies on the sides.  Block entrances on sides to force bees into the middle box..  Or build a single “three box wide” box with queen excluder and solid dividers.  This you can manipulate similarly to the FWOF by opening and closing entrances and adding a ¾” x ¾” block under the sides of the boxes to separate them when you need to.

Days are counted from the day the egg is layed.

This is all done in one strong hive that already has the breeder queen.

Day   Action
-1   Set up top box with:  Nectar- Brood- Brood- Pollen- Eggs- Cell Bar- Eggs- Pollen- Brood- Nectar.  Put breeder queen in top box with Jenter box and cell cups brood, division board feeder, pollen and honey, over an excluder.  Put all remaining brood and pollen in the bottom box.  Put everything else in the middle.  CONCEPT: This is so that we have some open brood and lot’s of food for the cell raisers in the top box.  Also the cell cups and the Jenter box will get the smell of the hive and be polished by the bees.

0   Close breeder queen in Jenter box. Feed. CONCEPT:  This is so that the queen will lay in the cell cups and we will know the age of the eggs/larvae.

1   Release queen from Jenter box.  Feed  CONCEPT:  We are done with the queen laying and she is not excluded from the cell plugs in the box so that we know the age.

3    Set up Cell Starter/Cell Builder:  Take the queen out of the top box and cage her.  Put the top box on top of the inner cover (with a screen over the hole).  Shake all bees from all the other boxes into the top box.  If you don’t think they will all fit, start with the brood frames and then add the rest until you can’t get the lid on for all the bees piled up on the box.  Put bottom box (as set up above) on the bottom board and release the queen there.  Add an excluder on top of this and the middle boxes on top of that.  Put a cover on that and a bottom board for the Cell starter.  Put top box (with all shaken bees) on top of the bottom board and the inner cover on top of that.  Feed.  The field bees will fly out and return to the bottom part of the hive.  The nurse bees will remain in the top, cell building box.  CONCEPT:  The object here is to make the top box into a queenless cell builder.  Since they are queenless they will want to build queen cells.  The bees are shaken into it to make both an overcrowded condition, which is a stimulus to swarm, and so that there will be an excess of nurse bees that can feed the queens.  The queen is in the bottom box, so the top is queenless and we will be able to remove it without disturbing the bees much.   This is the step that has failed most often for me.  It is REALLY critical that the cell builder box be queenless AND overcrowded with nurse bees.

4   Transfer larvae from Jenter to cell cups with preference to those that are already started as queen cells and place in Cell starter.  Feed nuc and cell starter.  CONCEPT:  The larvae are now the right age to transfer and the bees are now queenless enough to raise queens.  We put them in the cups to convert them to queen cells.  We feed so that the queens will be fed well.

6   See if queen cups are started.  Feed.  CONCEPT:  By now the bees should have started all of the cells they intend to.  If you want a queenright cell finisher, then remove the cover to the bottom box and the bottom board of the top box to reunite the hive.  (You could also do this with a Cloake board or a FWOF, Floor With Out a Floor.  The theory is that a queenright colony does a better job raising queens than when they are raising emergency queens.)

8   Cells capped.    Check to make sure they didn't start other queen cells on the brood frames that might emerge sooner than yours.  You can put these frames in another box with some bees or you can destroy it so the queen won't kill your other queens.

9   Start another batch of queen cells in this box if you want.

12   Make a shaken swarm box from other hives from brood comb (nurse bees) and divvy out bees to mating nucs and close up in the shade for the night. (Maybe use some QMP to hold them).  Feed mating nucs.  I use two frame mediums usually, so I skip that and just use a frame of open brood and a frame of honey and a few extra bees shaken in.  CONCEPT:  We need some queenless bees to accept the queen cells, and care for the virgin queen while she mates and starts to lay.  We want to mix up a lot of bees and then redivide them to make them more accepting of each other and of the queen.  Or, with the two frame nucs, we put some open brood in to anchor them in the nuc.  We have honey so they can feed themselves without a field force and the queen and any brood she lays and the brood that is already in the nuc.


13   Transfer the queen cells the mating nucs.  Open up the entrances for the nucs if you had them closed.  CONCEPT:  The bees in the nucs have had time to organize and hopefully they won’t all drift back to their old hive.  But they need to fly and the queen needs to be able to mate, so we open up the nucs.  

15-16   Queens emerge.  Note:  small cell queens may emerge earlier or not.  “Enlarged” queens may be on time or a day or two late.

22   First possible day to fly

25   First possible day to mate

27   Still mating

28   First day we may find eggs.  Look for eggs.  Don’t panic if there aren’t any.  Weather can set things back.  Check again every couple of days.  Also don’t panic if there are two eggs in a cell for a couple of days.  It should straighten out after a couple of days.  If it doesn’t then you can panic.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen
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