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.
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•      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.

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•      3 ½ – Eggs hatch
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•      4 – Transfer the frame to the starter hive. Feed the starter for better acceptance.
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•      8 – Queen cells capped
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•      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.
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•      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.
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•      15-17 Queens emerge (In hot weather, 15 is more likely. In cold weather, 17 is more likely. Typically, 16 is most likely.)
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•      17-21 Queens harden
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•      21-24 Orientation flights
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•      21-28 Mating flights
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•      25-35 Queen starts laying

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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