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Author Topic: New beekeepers with just a few hives... and a queen castle.  (Read 227 times)

Offline Bob Wilson

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New beekeepers with just a few hives... and a queen castle.
« on: March 23, 2020, 11:38:28 am »
Since I am only a second year beekeeper, I worry about my hives dying. I have no resources to help out if something goes wrong. If I lose a hive, it would put a new beek like me with only two hives in a hard place. But I went to the BeeFest 2020 this past weekend, hosted by Jim Altmiller's (sawdstmakr), which was free, and I learned so much about beekeeping. It has made me so much more confident.
I was intriqued by the idea of a queen castle.
I can build a simple box with a board(s) in the middle, and in each compartment I can place some resources and a brood comb (with a queen cell, or grafted queen) and create a small colony of bees in each. Then, as they grow, I just pull resources out of each compartment and add it to my two main hives, which strengthens them. Meanwhile, the little nucs rebuild again. Also, if one of my two main hives fails, I have these other small nuc colonies. I can just move one over into the empty hive. This is a great idea for someone like me, with limited space and just a few hives.
I suppose those of you with larger apiaries just swap out resources from amongst your hives?

Offline The15thMember

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Re: New beekeepers with just a few hives... and a queen castle.
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2020, 01:07:49 pm »
Very interesting.  I actually didn't know what a queen castle was until just now, although I've heard people talk about them.  Sounds like it could be a good resource to make sure your apiary is self-sustaining.  I had one of my 2 founder hives die my first year, and I just continued on with the one hive until the next spring, when it swarmed/I split it into 4 hives. 
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Offline TheHoneyPump

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New beekeepers with just a few hives... and a queen castle.
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2020, 02:05:35 pm »
You are much better off to have those extra -resource- colonies in separate nuc boxes. In separate hives.   Queen castles can be difficult to keep up with timely management, especially for the inexperienced.  A guarantee is to end up with bees in the trees and eaves in short order.   Queen castles are intended as temporary space for mating queens, not housing colonies.

Imho,

Further:

The first lesson I personally have new beekeepers I mentor memorize is what I call the Bees Threes. If he/she cannot recite these on queue, and able to describe what each line means, then they are not ready to go solo with their bees. 
The Bees Threes;
- 3 frames free
- 3 frames of honey to 1 frame of pollen.
- 3 frames of bees to/from 1 frame of brood.
- 3 days from egg to larvae
- 3 weeks from egg to bees in the box
- 3 weeks from bees in the box to bees in the flowers
- 3 days from a capped queen cells to bees in the trees
- 3 weeks from a capped queen cell to eggs.
- 3 months from first eggs to bees in the trees.

Keep a calendered Journal.  Mark each of those mentioned milestones in the journal on the day observed and flip the pages forward to mark down what to expect to see in the 3x future.   Always take action ahead of the bees.  What you see and do today is not about what you see in the hive today, it is about what you want to see or will see in the hive 3x from now.

Hope that helps!
THP
« Last Edit: March 23, 2020, 10:22:42 pm by TheHoneyPump »
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Offline Bob Wilson

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Re: New beekeepers with just a few hives... and a queen castle.
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2020, 03:04:18 pm »
Good advice HoneyPump. Thanks.
Makes me consider two- 5 frame nucs instead of the queen castle. I was thinking of a 9 frame queen castle (one deep hive box) divided in half, which would provide a 5 frame and 4 frame nuc area anyway. I wansn't thinking of trying to keep them in a 2 frame space.

Offline Acebird

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Re: New beekeepers with just a few hives... and a queen castle.
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2020, 03:25:22 pm »
Queen castles are intended as temporary space for mating queens, not housing colonies.

I think Bob was getting confused with all the terms in beekeeping that he was exposed to in a short period of time.  We were in stacks of hives sometimes doing things twice.  Jim bought out an apiary that had every size piece of equipment imaginable which added to the confusion.  Lots of frames with drawn comb below the frame because the frame was smaller then the box.  Then there is the issue of removing comb so it would fit in the right size box.  Do not do this if you are a beginner no matter how good a deal you think you are getting.
We were making queen starters and finishers out of 10 frame mediums.  At least that was the plan.
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Offline minz

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Re: New beekeepers with just a few hives... and a queen castle.
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2020, 05:32:45 pm »
So I build most of my own crap but my Queen castles are a deep with 3 divider boards, 4 screens for ventilation and 4 separate entrances. If I am doing an inspection and find a capped queen cell I pull that frame and put it to the single division with a partial frame of honey and some bees. I put tape across the entry and a date on the front. When I get home the tape gets pulled from the front. If / when the queen mates I pull the first divider board, add a feeder and a drawn frame. If it is full I move the two frames to a nuc same configuration. If I have 4 good queens then I pull the two outside pairs (place nucs facing opposite ends) a day later I pull the dividers and have (4) 5 framers.
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Online van from Arkansas

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Re: New beekeepers with just a few hives... and a queen castle.
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2020, 06:02:27 pm »
I have 2 each queen castles used for mating purposes only.  Each castl is a 10 frame Lang deep, with 3 dividers, thus 4 each sealed compartments of two frames and a 3/4 inch entrance for each.  Simply put, 4 each 2 frame nucs under one roof.

A lot of queen rearing operations use the mini mating nucs for mating purpose which works well.  My personal preference is the queen castle as I am a hobbyist.

Van
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Offline cao

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Re: New beekeepers with just a few hives... and a queen castle.
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2020, 10:38:16 pm »
I agree with the honey pump.  Separate nuc boxes are better.  I tried some queen castles/mating nucs that had two compartments in the same box.  The problem I had with them was that if you had an issue with one it usually spilled over to the other.  Shb's or ants attacking one would move to the one beside it.  I use 5 frame nucs for my splits.  When they fill the five frames, I either add another 5 frame box on top or move them into a full hive.  I have a couple that overwintered in 4 boxes tall.

p.s.
Honey pump.   I like the bee threes.

Offline Ben Framed

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Re: New beekeepers with just a few hives... and a queen castle.
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2020, 11:24:06 pm »
I just printed and applied the information form post two , to my queen calendar which I had already printed. Mr HP, I added you name on the bottom so I will always remember who gave this information. This is a lifetime lesson and of great value to a serious beekeeper. Thank you for posting and continuing to share valuable information here.

Phillip Hall

Offline jtcmedic

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Re: New beekeepers with just a few hives... and a queen castle.
« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2020, 05:56:22 pm »
You are much better off to have those extra -resource- colonies in separate nuc boxes. In separate hives.   Queen castles can be difficult to keep up with timely management, especially for the inexperienced.  A guarantee is to end up with bees in the trees and eaves in short order.   Queen castles are intended as temporary space for mating queens, not housing colonies.

Imho,

Further:

The first lesson I personally have new beekeepers I mentor memorize is what I call the Bees Threes. If he/she cannot recite these on queue, and able to describe what each line means, then they are not ready to go solo with their bees. 
The Bees Threes;
- 3 frames free
- 3 frames of honey to 1 frame of pollen.
- 3 frames of bees to/from 1 frame of brood.
- 3 days from egg to larvae
- 3 weeks from egg to bees in the box
- 3 weeks from bees in the box to bees in the flowers
- 3 days from a capped queen cells to bees in the trees
- 3 weeks from a capped queen cell to eggs.
- 3 months from first eggs to bees in the trees.

Keep a calendered Journal.  Mark each of those mentioned milestones in the journal on the day observed and flip the pages forward to mark down what to expect to see in the 3x future.   Always take action ahead of the bees.  What you see and do today is not about what you see in the hive today, it is about what you want to see or will see in the hive 3x from now.

Hope that helps!
THP
Great info. I agree with nucs

Offline sc-bee

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Re: New beekeepers with just a few hives... and a queen castle.
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2020, 02:50:15 am »
What honey pump said.  Queen castle have their use but in an shb area, and I did not check your location, can be an issue and hard to manage.
John 3:16

Offline Barhopper

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Re: New beekeepers with just a few hives... and a queen castle.
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2020, 10:09:53 pm »
I agree. Stick with the Nucs. It?s a lot easier to and another box on a single nuc if you need to.

Offline Bob Wilson

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Re: New beekeepers with just a few hives... and a queen castle.
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2020, 08:53:33 am »
Got it. Thanks HoneyPump for straightening this thread. I misunderstood and confused the purpose of two different tools. 1. The queen castle for queen rearing, and 2. Nucs for resources.
I can see the mess I was about walk into. Thanks. Keep up the good work guys.

Offline Skeggley

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Re: New beekeepers with just a few hives... and a queen castle.
« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2020, 11:29:36 am »
Saved to memory THP, thanks. Your advice is invaluable, one of the reasons I come here. 🙃
Bob, it?s so easy to get carried away with this hobby, I know where you?re coming from. ;) If there was a Bee Fest here I?d have to get there too. Jealous. (Out of interest, (and off topic) did you guys have a tipple? :))
To me, here in the West, Down Under, the term ?queen castles? would only be thrown around in commercial circles, the backyard beek wouldn?t have the need. Having a nucleus colony or two however is a handy resource. Great for learning, teaching and an excellent donor when needed. I like my nucs.


Offline TheHoneyPump

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Re: New beekeepers with just a few hives... and a queen castle.
« Reply #14 on: March 26, 2020, 12:33:22 pm »
Happy to help!
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