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Author Topic: MultiQueen for Rapid Growth - will this work?  (Read 1111 times)

Offline TheHoneyPump

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MultiQueen for Rapid Growth - will this work?
« on: August 13, 2018, 04:18:19 am »
Not sure which section this question properly belongs in. I think it is a crossover point between queen rearing and rapid bee yard growth, so I am posting it here.

For 2018 we have been aggressively increasing the size of the apiary.  Managed to reach our goals and even getting the bees to fill supers so we will also get some honey off.  There is still a very good flow on, however knowing it will be tapering off soon and fall/winter is imminent I am thinking forward as I like to try to stay at least a month ahead of the bees.

For 2018/2019 fall/winter there will be some losses and are preparing for 2019 by getting a group of the better looking nuc colonies built up with intention to winter them indoors.  The preps have generally all gone very well.  We are down to our last few to deal with and have been blessed with the dilemma of running short on equipment.

I have a question of experience/experiment on multi-queening to get colonies sharing bees to support the queens and expand the nests rapidly.  I am familiar with combining two queens with the excluder divider above them - horizontal style.  I have done this successfully short term with the divided 10 frame box nucs as well as full 10frame colonies with a tower of supers above them in the middle.  That covers running two queens.  What about three queens?

The situation is this: 
Bottom box is a divided 10frame that has a queen in each side, each on 5 frames.  Queens 1 and 2.  These originated from 2 frame mating nuts.  The best queens (the keepers) have been moved into these larger 5 frame setups so they have room to grow out. One side was bit weaker on bees and resources when initially setup but the queen is a bomber, the bees cannot keep up to her.  A queen excluder is put on top of them and added a super for shared space.  The expectation is the bees to mix and mingle and equalize between the two queens.  It is mainly the nurse bees that move to care for developing brood in each nest.

For the third queen, Q3 is in a stand alone 5 frame nuc box.  She is packed out with bees and frames full of honey and pollen as well as having a good foraging force.  She is more than ready to move into a full hive, but we are out of equipment to setup any more full hives.

What is being considered is to put Q3 into the last spare 10 frame brood box.  Then place her on top of a queen excluder that is put on top the super that is on top of the the other two queens way below.  Lotsa toppings there!  Hope that description makes sense.  I have made an attempt at illustrating what the hive would look like, see attached.

The idea here is Q1 and Q2 need more bees to expand more rapidly and Q3 needs more space immediately. This gives everybody, Q1 Q2 Q3, a boost in nurse and field bees and space. The super is space for bees to move between nests and a place for them to put the resources that are coming in without overpacking the 5frames nests the queens are on. Our end goal is more frames of brood and bees out of this, not honey.

In late September we will be culling out anything subpar from all the hives in the apiary and supplanting them with these queen-nucs.  What nucs are left will be reduced to the divided single hive bodies (5Fx5F) which will be wintered indoors.  Until then I want to keep as many queens nucs going as possible. 

I am hoping this could work to give everybody what they need right now and hold them over. This is intended a temporary setup for 4 to 6 weeks.

Any thoughts on this or what problems could develop?
« Last Edit: August 13, 2018, 01:06:59 pm by TheHoneyPump »
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Offline TheHoneyPump

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Re: MultiQueen - will this work
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2018, 04:26:44 am »
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Offline texanbelchers

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Re: MultiQueen for Rapid Growth - will this work?
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2018, 09:13:48 am »
Short term it will absolutely work.  You'll want an entrance up top.  When running stacked multiples I found they preferred one queen or maybe it was nest location in the stack.   I can't say they had more bees because they were stacked,  but it will get you over an equipment shortage.

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: MultiQueen for Rapid Growth - will this work?
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2018, 12:51:12 pm »
I would say it will work for a short duration or during dearth?s/winter. Most of my queens will bee forced to swarm with only 5 frames to lay in.
Jim
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Offline TheHoneyPump

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Re: MultiQueen for Rapid Growth - will this work?
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2018, 02:24:10 pm »
Short term it will absolutely work.  You'll want an entrance up top.  When running stacked multiples I found they preferred one queen or maybe it was nest location in the stack.   I can't say they had more bees because they were stacked,  but it will get you over an equipment shortage.

Why the top entrance?  I would prefer them all to go down out the bottom entrances.  Particularly with the wasps pestering them at this time of the season.  More bees at the door to keep the wasps at bay.

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Offline texanbelchers

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Re: MultiQueen for Rapid Growth - will this work?
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2018, 05:54:27 pm »
Drone escape.  They will plug up the QX if there are many trapped in the box.  It can be really small and could even be an escape cone to prevent re-entry.

Offline TheHoneyPump

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Re: MultiQueen for Rapid Growth - will this work?
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2018, 10:15:24 pm »
OK thanks.

I made the move and change today.  Hope it all works out!  Placed some thin paper between the excluder and the top box, with just a 1" open slot for bees to go up/down along each wall.  The bees in the top box will have to move out to the walls to go down in the super and beyond.  That should slow them for assimilating to all the queen smells, I hope.  I did not provide a top entrance.  I expect to be back in there within a week, at that time while I work the rest of the bee yard I will lift an edge of the cover at the start leaving a good gap for drones to escape.  Will close it when I am done in the yard. They will have at least an hour to get out and fly.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2018, 12:24:13 pm by TheHoneyPump »
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Offline beepro

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Re: MultiQueen for Rapid Growth - will this work?
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2018, 10:33:06 pm »
In winter mode the bees tend to cluster together.  The strongest scent queen will cluster with most of the worker bees.  They will choose the strongest queen to survive the winter with.  I've experimented with single and multiple queens over the winter here for the last 2 seasons.  Some will drift to the strong scent queen's hive leaving the weaker queen to die.  Workers are very choosy with the arrival of winter.

I can see that if your bees are aggressive then they will kill off 2 queens while leaving the strongest one to survive the winter.  If they are not the aggressive bees then the majority will cluster with the strongest queen on top.  The 2 queens in the bottom nuc may not have enough bees to cluster in because the QE prevent them from going up the top where it is the warmest place during the winter.  Bees prefer the warmer spot to cluster in.

If the honey ran out then all 3 hives will starve.  This arrangement doesn't work for me. I rather group them together in their individual bee box.  Inside the building you still have to lower the temp. so that they will not burn through all their honey before Spring arrives. 

Offline TheHoneyPump

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Re: MultiQueen for Rapid Growth - will this work?
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2018, 11:09:26 pm »
They will not be wintered in three like this.  The arrangement is intended just to hold them and keep them busy building population for the rest of the summer while there remains a strong flow on.  This will be 2 to 5 weeks, depending when the first frost hits which could be as early as Aug 20 or as late as Oct 10.

The third queen on the top will be pulled off the top as a whole box to replace/combine with a weak main hive in September. Already decided where she may be going as in the same yard inspected today there is one hive there trying to supercede their cripple queen. That one is just. a sad situation.  She is a beautiful queen, her bees are super productive and very gentle, and she is an egg laying machine!  She's been heading that colony for 8 weeks.  Her problem is absolutely my fault as she was injured during her introduction to the colony where she was balled for a bit before I got them off her.  A few days later they accepted her.  As a result her back legs do not work well, if at all and her wings are chipped.  Because of this they want to replace her.  I've delayed the supercedure for a few weeks (by destroying QC's) in anticipation of the pending flow, timing of her brood cycles, and her downright prolific egg laying.  Now I am letting them go ahead and do it, using her offspring.  If her supercedure fails, Q3's box (her twin sister) will be newspaper combined to take over.

The "condos" will be wintered in two like this illustration attached. Before winter they will be completely packed out with feed. The box will weigh 80+lbs.  The indoor wintering building is climate controlled at 4 deg C constant from mid October all way to end of March when they come out in spring.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2018, 02:29:02 am by TheHoneyPump »
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Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: MultiQueen for Rapid Growth - will this work?
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2018, 08:29:07 am »
THP,
Why did you add the paper above the excluder? 
If you do not have a top entrance, how are the bees going to cool and oxygenate the upper box with a piece of paper blocking the flow of air?  Hopefully the bees removed most of it over night before it got too hot.
Jim
"If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed.  If you do read the newspaper you are misinformed."--Mark Twain

Offline TheHoneyPump

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Re: MultiQueen for Rapid Growth - will this work?
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2018, 12:19:02 pm »
Great question!
The paper wasn't really a paper. Burger King napkin. Unfolded and opened into single layer, very thin material.  Also covered only the centre, left 1" open uncovered all way round the perimeter.  Plenty of air through the napkin and from around the edges by the wall.  Reason I put the paper over the centre core of the nest area was just to slow them down for an hour or two. The Q3 colony moved into that top box is much more populous than Q1 and Q2 below.  My thinking was I didn't want them running straight down into the super and the others below, all at once.  Hence the napkin.
Daytime highs currently are 22 - 26 deg C.  Temperature shouldn't be a problem.  The super is also an old pos box. Good frames in it but the box itself has plenty of cracks and edge chips around it for air flow too.
Thanks!
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Offline beepro

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Re: MultiQueen for Rapid Growth - will this work?
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2018, 09:41:48 pm »
Last year I tried to configure the hives using a 2 -3 queens set up.  Because the bees are so aggressive some
queens got killed.   This season I tried something different.   I got the gentle type local bees.   After the sister
queens got mated, I combine them in a single hive 3 boxes deep.   In each box there is a new laying queen separated by a
plastic QE.   I also tried and separated these queens in their individual box without the QE.   After 2 months reunited them in the previous hive
arrangement.  This is to see if they are still gentle type bees or they might kill off one of the weaker queen.

You can do this when the flow is on plus you have the gentle type bees that don't mind having another laying queen in a
separate box.    Gentleness is the key!

 

Offline TheHoneyPump

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Re: MultiQueen for Rapid Growth - will this work?
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2018, 01:51:32 am »
Fortunately, my bees are all my own select raised stock.  They are very calm and super productive.  My veil is my Berkley fishing sunglasses and my bee suit is tan jeans and a brown T-shirt.
The three queens are also sisters, all been grafted from the same mother queen.
There is also a really heavy flow on.  Mid-August the red clover is out in full and the last growth of alfalfa is allowed to flower.  This will persist until the first frost (1 to 3 weeks).
So based on the experiment and experience that you said there beepro, this should be a very good situation for the time being.

I will be going to that yard tomorrow to do a round.  I am anxious to see how well the three are rooming together.  Hoping for no surprises and that it is all well as the original concept!

I will be sure to come back here and let y'all know what I seen.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2018, 02:37:03 am by TheHoneyPump »
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Offline beepro

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Re: MultiQueen for Rapid Growth - will this work?
« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2018, 04:37:57 pm »
When the flow is on you can also make lots of QCs too.   With a hive arrangement like that you can
certainly make some beautiful late season queens to sell or keep.  After the queens consolidation you can even
expand some more to sell bees or nucs when the new queens are mated using the extra brood frames.  In a small
operation I can use this method to make many 5 frame nucs here.   Every year the weather is different.  And especially this
year our bee season might even be extended into Nov. before it gets cold.   You will learn a lot this way.   Enjoy your new bee experiment!   

Offline TheHoneyPump

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Re: MultiQueen for Rapid Growth - will this work?
« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2018, 01:39:28 am »
Apologies for not posting back sooner.  Been busy making final round of pulling honey and extracting.
I am very pleased to report back that all is well, very very well, with the three queen arrangement.  The bees are happily mingling in the hive and depositing nectar/honey in the super.  Q3 on top is booming away, lots of brood.  They have not top entrance.  All bees must go down and out through either Q1 or Q2 side.  Plenty of bees and to-fro flight activity from both Q1 and Q2 entrances, which are on opposing sides (front/back) of the hive.  I will post a picture when next I am there over this weekend.

Not sure what the overall end result is going to be yet.  That other hive that is superseding has a gorgeous virgin that as of 2 days ago was not laying yet.  I am giving her until Monday to get performing.  It is getting really late in my climate for queens, I expect the first killing frost within a week.  If she isn't laying by then she will be pulled and popped into a 2 frame nuc to do her thing there or to expire.  If I have to do that then Q3 will be moved over to take over the colony - kinda what I was thinking from the beginning of this setup.
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Offline beepro

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Re: MultiQueen for Rapid Growth - will this work?
« Reply #15 on: September 04, 2018, 01:54:47 am »
If you combine them into an individual hive then the worker bees will favor the strongest hive to be with.  This will
leave the weaker queens without many bees with her this winter.   You can either even out the hive or allow the
queen to die while saving the strongest queen.   I already even out the hives 2 times and it is not even the winter yet. 

Offline TheHoneyPump

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MultiQueen for Rapid Growth - will this work?
« Reply #16 on: September 04, 2018, 03:40:29 am »
There is NO intention of wintering them this way.  Temporary setup only.

I went through them all today, checking.  All the queens are still there and they are happy.  The bees are quite equally distributed.  Exactly what I was hoping for. 

In the end I ultimately exercised the backup plan today.  I did use Q3 putting her onto that other main production hive to take over.  The supercedure of that hive is timed out.  I saw no eggs and the bees and I have no time left to muck around.  It was cool today and we will likely have a frost tonight. A mere +2 deg C this evening.  So no queen mating happening until next year. 2018 Season is done here.  Today was her deadline and she missed it.  She?s done.  I looked for the supercedure virgin but could not find her.  She could have been lost in one of the flash thunderstorms last week.  I removed all frames from the hive looking for her. No VQ seen.  I placed a fresh bottom brood box completely stocked with frames of resources onto the bottom board. I shook all the hive bees through a queen excluder into the new box but still could not find the virgin.  So I shook the rest of the sprawling bees off the  qe and put it onto the bottom brood box.  Put a newspaper on the qe then put Q3 and her box, bees and all on top.  I will go back saturday to look in the bottom again and will remove the qe to complete the merge once I am absolutely sure that virgin is gone.

The other two queens Q1 and Q2 are fine and set ready to final stages for wintering.  Q3 is removed, the super is removed, and a shared hivetop feeder is placed to top them off with syrup.


Am pleased this experiment was a success and worked as hoped.  The young bees distributed fairly evenly between the three queens.  All queens were well looked after, didn?t lose any.  Was able to hold them with minimal equipment until needed.   I can foresee doing this again in future with less hesitation.  I may use this technique in the spring to power boost weak nests that otherwise have great queens - for more rapid spring buildup leading to making splits and sale nucs.    The queen just lays the eggs.  It is the bees who make the bees.  The nest growth is limited by the number of bees looking after it. 
« Last Edit: September 05, 2018, 11:09:19 am by TheHoneyPump »
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Offline Ben Framed

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Re: MultiQueen for Rapid Growth - will this work?
« Reply #17 on: September 18, 2018, 10:56:49 pm »
This is very interesting, I wish I had seen this topic earlier! Thanks for sharing your results and keep up the good work!  Phillip Hall

Offline TheHoneyPump

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Re: MultiQueen for Rapid Growth - will this work?
« Reply #18 on: October 22, 2018, 06:25:59 pm »
This is very interesting, I wish I had seen this topic earlier! Thanks for sharing your results and keep up the good work!  Phillip Hall

Glad you checked it out and had a read through!  It was an interesting experiment and am happy that it was successful.
Here is a fuzzy picture of them during that interim period.  There are 5 queens/colonies in this picture. Q3 is in the brown box on top. Q1 + Q2 are in the bottom most box under her, with one honey super box between them all.  Q4 + Q5 are in the bottom most box beside, with a common super on them.

The system worked wonderfully for the 4 weeks that I needed to bridge due to equipment shortage.  Looking forward to using this type of arrangement again in the spring!

In the second picture, all brown boxes. In that picture there are 2 colonies, each of 2 deep brood boxes. This is my standard two hive pack system. Q3 is shown happily moved in and heading up the colony on the right, she is in the bottom box on the right.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2018, 06:37:48 pm by TheHoneyPump »
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