Earliest time to rear queens

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specialkayme
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Earliest time to rear queens

Post by specialkayme » Tue Nov 07, 2017 2:23 pm

What's the earliest in the year you graft for your queens?

Trying to do some planning for next season, and I usually don't graft until I see purple eye drones. Depending on how much I feed, I can see purple eye drones in mid February some years. Just looking for some comparisons.

Jacobs
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Re: Earliest time to rear queens

Post by Jacobs » Tue Nov 07, 2017 6:26 pm

I haven't been grafting, but the mid-February seems right for the early appearance of purple eyed drone larvae. Based on the 2013 post on this board, we were seeing drones flying in some hives just before February 15th. I am more cautious and do not want to put mated queens in nucs and let the larger origin hives make queen cells until I see at least a few drones flying. I am not producing queens for commercial purposes and am not under any pressure to maximize production. If we get a bad week or 10 days as or just after purple eyed drones appear, I don't want to risk getting poorly mated queens or queens that could not go up on mating flights because of an extended early period of cool/cold weather. If a break in cold weather allows for mating flights, I would feel better knowing there are likely a good number of mature drones flying.

specialkayme
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Re: Earliest time to rear queens

Post by specialkayme » Wed Nov 08, 2017 1:44 pm

Thanks. That sounds fairly consistent with what I remember. Based on my memory, I'd sometimes see some drones flying in the second week in February, but usually not many. Most purple eyed drones I remembered seeing were in the first or second week in February.

My current plan is to do my first round of grafting February 15th, which should make for mating flights around the first week in March. It's sooner than I usually push for the first mating flights, but I'm planning on doing my first set of multiple rounds of queens, where you plant the new cell as you pluck the old queen from the mating nuc. I want to pull my last set of queens around the end of June, which would make for a first round of grafting either March 12th or February 15th. March 12th was a little too late, and February 15th might be pushing it a little too early. But we'll see.

Because I'm planning on doing 5 rounds of queens (maybe 6, if the dearth doesn't hit me hard), if the first set doesn't come out well I haven't lost much. And gained some experience for 2019.

In any event, thanks for the response.

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