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Nicot Queen Rearing

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Ben Framed:
Anyone here use the Nicot Queen Sysyem?  Advantages and disadvantages?

blackforest beekeeper:
it`s good.

ed/La.:
I have one and it does work but is a pain to use. You have to put queen in contraption. A pain but not that bad. The cups fit loosely. So when opening to retrieve cups you must be careful or the will all fall off. Work over table or towel or they will be scattered around. Hard to find. The queen is locked up in contraption for 3 days so you loose 3 days of her filling frames. Thousands of eggs.  If you have decent eye sight I would learn to graft. Fast easier, not messing with the queen. I used mine once or twice and never again. Easier ways to make queens.

blackforest beekeeper:

--- Quote from: ed/La. on April 06, 2019, 10:06:54 am ---I have one and it does work but is a pain to use. You have to put queen in contraption. A pain but not that bad. The cups fit loosely. So when opening to retrieve cups you must be careful or the will all fall off. Work over table or towel or they will be scattered around. Hard to find. The queen is locked up in contraption for 3 days so you loose 3 days of her filling frames. Thousands of eggs.  If you have decent eye sight I would learn to graft. Fast easier, not messing with the queen. I used mine once or twice and never again. Easier ways to make queens.

--- End quote ---

I misunderstood. THIS "system" with that little cage is c...
Grafting in the Nicot system is fine. Everything fits. perfect for deep frames. i use nothing else, wouldn`t know why.

TheHoneyPump:
Apologies up front for being long winded here.  Plenty of honey spiked coffee this morning and zooming along :)

I use the knock-off system from Amazon.  Price is reasonable there and replacement parts are easy to get in 2 days with Prime.  You can go here to some pictures I just punched up onto my google drive.  To have a look at example of how well it works for me just click here.   
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1BrBcNd-IeteAzmhsqr2LIgab0HvNq77C

As with any queen rearing program and methods. Have an objective (why are you raising queens?) and a program of clear procedure steps, a fixed schedule for each step, and discipline/punctuality. The queen and her bees wait for neither man nor woman.  If you are not clear or not fully committed then do not start. No tool or system is going to rear queens for you. You need to study and understand the bees and queens first. Then pick a system and tools that fit your needs. Raising queens is not hard and it is tons of fun. However there are a lot of variables so study up on it first so when there are failures it will be pretty clear to you what you did wrong.  The bees do not get queens wrong. When something goes wrong, it is you. Queen rearing success is also by the numbers. You will lose some at each stage. Play the odds. Start at least 50% more than you need. On a good batch, help your neighbours by giving or selling them your extras. Their hives and the whole area will benefit from your queens which are clearly far superior to everyone elses.

For the Nicot System. I like it. It serves the purpose very well. I also hand graft. Which method I use depends on why I am queen rearing at the time and how many.

When to use it:
* making 30 - 80 queens in one go.  The box holds 110 cups. The queen will fill most of them. Harvest only number that you need for the cycle.  Release the queen and leave the box out to chill the eggs in the cups not used.  Put the box back into the hive (no queen in it) for the bees to clean out and re-polish the cups.
* re-queening the whole apiary that season.
* you could certainly use the Nicot system for higher numbers. It yields 60 to 100 eggs/larvae overnight. For higher numbers just run multiple breeder queens each in her own box.  For an ongoing constant output, leave the queen(s) in the box full time and harvest the egged cups each day. Be organized, follow your program diligently.

When not to use it:
* making less than 30 queens. For few queens, keep it simple. Graft on the fly, move swarm cell frames, or do any of the back yard hack job methods that are all over youtube.
* making more than 200 queens. If you are making lots of queens then you are into -commercial- level queen rearing. Your program is going to be rather sophisticated and will include a master grafter and a crew of 2 or 3 other people doing certain things every day. The extra steps and piece count of the Nicot system likely will not fit your program. You will be more efficient with the JZBZ system and a graft-master for mass queen rearing.


What I like:  Pros.
* No man or woman or tool physically touches the larvae.  Absolutely no disturbance to the fragile larvae or her pool of jelly.
* You do not need laser sharp microscopic vision nor surgical precision eye-hand coordination.
* Really really REALLY simple to use.

What I do not like: Cons.
Only issues I have had relate to fitment of parts together. Probably because I am using the jobber and not the original genuine which may be more precise in the dimensions and the type of plastic. The issues are minor and easily overcome with a small mash of bees wax as bee-tape.
* the bases for the cup holders on frame bar. It is a press fit and slippery stretchy plastic. The yellow pieces can slowly creep and slip off at changes in temperature between out of hive and inside the hive. Sometimes they fall off the  bar inside the hive and a perfectly good cup and larvae is lost.  Not always lost, many times just put it back on the bar and the cell building continues to yield a beautiful queen.
* same for the fit of the brown cup into the yellow cup holder. Some are looser than I would like. Easy fix for this part is a pin-head size piece of wax pressed on them as bee-tape to hold them together until the bees get on with drawing the cells and really stick it.


Guiding notes to success with the system:
* Do not be use a queen who is heading up a full booming production hive. If you are, your approach and your queen rearing program is seriously flawed from the start. Queen rearing requires you to get to and find the queen (Nicot) or larvae (grafting). In a big hive this is very disruptive to the bees and time consuming for you. Pick your best queen and put her into a single box or a 5 to 6 frame nucleus box. You manage the population in there by pulling brood. The breeder is not to be in a hive where you are relying on her for tens and tens of thousands of eggs and bees. You have picked her to make queens, not honey. Set her up in a place that is manageable.
* Put the framed box loaded with cups into the breeder hive with the front cover off at least 3 days before you want to use it. You could spray it with sugar water or smear a bit of honey on it in the cell area. This is to get the bees to scent the frame with the smell of the hive. The bees will walk it and polish it. Really all that means is putting their scent to it, which by extension and association is their own queen scent. This is so when you do put the queen in she is comfortable with it and gets to laying almost immediately. It should be obvious but will state:  the hive polishing the frame must be the hive the breeder queen resides in. It has to smell like her or she will ignore it. She wont lay it until it smells right.
* The queen does not need to be in the box long. Overnight does it. 2 days before you want the egg cups put her into the box at the end of the day. Example 5pm Monday. Leave her in overnight. Release her anytime after noon the next day, Tuesday. She is in the box for 19 to 20 hours. The following morning Wednesday, harvest the cups with eggs in them. The bees will have removed any eggs in the cups that were non-viable, saving you from wasting time on the ones that were not going any further anyways.  Your success and take rates will go up dramatically by recognizing this step. 
* If your queen rearing is on a daily cycle, you may leave the queen in the box full time and harvest egged cups daily. Bring over a frame of emerging brood from another hive once a week to keep the breeder hive stocked with bees.

Good luck and have fun!
Hope that Helps!

THP

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