Some Queen Rearing calculations.
I am offering for sale in late June some Nucs. I neither have the nucs nor the queens at this date, 10th April so how do I go about it?
I took the 21st of June as my starting point and worked back that I would need ideally mated queens by the 1st of June. From that date I then went back two weeks (mating period), then a further 12 days which is the 27th of April. Why 12 days? I will be grafting larvae which are newly hatched so they are 4 days old and the total days for queens from laying the egg to emergence is 16 days. Give or take 12 hours so..
What else do I need?
Drones! The Laddies with out whom no queen is going to be worth having. Now Drones take 24 days from egg to emergence and a further three weeks or so to be useful. Thus from the 15th of May (start of mating period for the queens) I need to go back 45 days. Which takes me to Thursday 3d April… ooops missed that one.
This is where hard reality hits the theory. I already have drones on the wing, and have a reasonable amount of them in sealed cells so I am not that worried about the technical timing but to bolster matters I added in 6 sheets of drone foundation today the 10th April. Some may well come in useful for a 2nd round of mating, but two weeks ago the colonies were not strong enough to cope with a whole frame of drones and it will be interesting to see if they do draw it out and allow her to lay it up even on some 15+ frames of brood as they are.
I am going to start grafting round about the 24th of April by which time I will have enough bees to shave a few combs in to a nuc box and use a broodless unit to do the work. I give them a comb of stores, a frame feeder with weak syrup and a frame of pollen and after a night when they get to know they are in dire straits they are very keen indeed to start cells off. I put the started cells in a super for the bees to finish off, and give the starter unit another batch of grafts. With some kind weather that usually gives me enough cells but it is VERY weather dependent.