requeening many queen right hives using queen cells

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I will be re-queening half of my apiary (about 20 hives) with queens of known genetics as my bees are mostly Africanized in Florida (I did a bee venation study and these will likely be confirmed after the samples are analyzed using genetic markers). Because of the large number of hives I have, I will be getting queen cells. I do understand that only my drones will get the queen's genetics and that the rest will be based on luck depending on the genetics in the DCAs around me. But, that is a first step. I do not have the cash to replace so many queens with mated queens.

What is the best way to proceed? I know when I will be getting those queen cells (two weeks from today). Should I use one or two cells per colony? When do I need to kill the queen... actually, I was thinking caging the queen with s 3-4 attendants and make sure they are fed and hydrated especially until I am sure that I have a new laying queen in my hives. Or, should I incubate the queen cells (I can make a queen incubator as I have all the parts needed.

Thanks for your help!

Some thoughts.  Take what you like.  Leave what you dont. 

If your goal is to change-out genetics.  Particularly aggressive africanized genetics. Then you MUST use mated queens from a known source.  Reason they must come mated is because the aggressive genes are traced to be transmitted by the drones. If you use cells, then you are adding in the likelihood that the emerged virgin queens may mate with africanized drones in your area. You will have gained nothing by way of genetical improvement, while having lost time and effort and hive production doing so.
Therefore, please revisit your budget and spread out the spend so you can get those replacements as mated queens. For example Break up the cost by replacing fewer at a time. Pick a number to do each month and go month to month until they are all done.
Before getting started go through the hives and rank them on a 1 to 5 scale on how aggressive each hive is. The scale is entirely subjective to you so no need to go looking for a standard.  This is so you can plan out which queens to replace first and so on from nastiest to tolerable.
After a queen is established it will take about 6 weeks for the transformation in the behaviour of the hive. Though you will start noticing real improvements at 3 to 4 weeks.
For near 100% acceptance of new queen introductions look into the press-in cage method.  For a really nasty hive, what I would do is leave her on the cage with cork plug. Do not allow mean bees access to a candy release.  Kill the mean queen and drop the carcass in the hive. Do not keep her as backup. Your whole point in doing this is to get rid of her traits. So off her. Mush her good. Place the new queen caged in the centre of the hive. Leave her caged in the hive for 4 days. On the 5th day go through the hive thoroughly search and destroy all queen e-cells, AND looking for eggs so you can find and kill that second rogue queen too. Yes, you read that right, it happens. While doing that select a decent comb of newly emerging brood. Setup the new queen under a push cage on that frame then put the hive back together.  On the 8th again go through the hive thoroughly to seek and destroy queen e-cells.  Check that the new queen is ok under the push cage and she may even have some new eggs laid.  On day 12 and every 3 days beyond continue checking and destroying cells while also checking for signs of acceptance to decide when it is safe to remove the push cage and let her roam.

I hope that helps.  In some way.

If you are insistent on using cells, then the advice would be to:
1. break up the hives, starting with the meanest, into nucs and move the nucs to a different beeyard at least 2 miles away. Make up 40% more nucs than the number of queens you need at the end of it, as there will be losses and failures that need to be accounted for.
2. Place one cell in each nuc, with a cell protector.  Place the cells within the time window of 2 hours to 24 hours from when the nuc was made. 
3. Leave the nucs alone, completely undisturbed, for 18 to 20 days. Then go check them.  Look for a) did the cell emerge properly.  b) are there fresh eggs.  If there are eggs but the cell did not emerge properly then kill the queen you find because she was raised from the original mean hive brood that was put into the nuc.
4. Collect and cage the queens you are happy with. Leave the others in their nucs or bank them as backups.  Recombine the now queenless nucs bees and resources into the main hives.
5. Go requeen the meanest hives with the new queens using the push-in method outlined above.
6. Sell the leftovers as nucs or as caged queens.
It will take 8 weeks after introduction of the new mated queen to the main hive to fully know if she got bopped by mean drones or gentle drones when she mated. Kill the mean ones and do it all over again.

The main point being is: cells may seem cheap but they present alot of extra work, require sacrificing some hives to get bees and resources to make nucs, takes an extended timeline, and introduce the risk of not accomplishing your goal of changing the genetics.
Unless you are already setup at raising your own queens and have a selection program in place; there is no advantage to cells and going with mated queens is the right decision path to success for the case you described. 

Hope that helps!

I've got a curiosity question, HP.

--- Quote from: TheHoneyPump on March 22, 2022, 05:54:58 pm ---Kill the mean queen and drop the carcass in the hive.

--- End quote ---
Why do you specify to leave the dead queen in the hive?   

That is just what we do, always done. Kill and move on. What else would we do with 10-100-1000 dead queens? Pockets soon get pretty gross if keeping them all.
When she is dropped in the hive, the bees soon know within minutes that shes dead and a ball of bees will reconstitute (cannibalise) what they can from her carcass. I have no observation evidence to support if new queen acceptance is better, though some folks claim so.
If she is tossed in the grass, pretty much the same thing happens. A ball of bees soon pile on and do the same out there. Takes the hive a bit longer (hour or two) to realize they are queen-less.
If one wants to save the carcass for the dead animal farm collection, go for it.


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