Larry Connor, in the January 2009 American Bee Journal, page 53, writes about French beekeepers using two day old queen cells, instead of sealed cells. They modified this technique which is used by eastern European beekeepers.
Two day old cells are:
- easier/cheaper to produce
- more robust
- quickly accepted or rejected
Before leaving my queen business in 2000, I did a little testing along this same line of thought. Using an observation hive and a few queen right and queenless nucs:
- I grafted larva
- put them in a starter finisher
- then removed them at various times
- put them in the ob hive and nucs
- watched how the bees reacted
- and what kind of cells/queens they raised
The youngest larva were almost always readily accepted. Acceptance dropped off when the transferred larva were older and the nucs queen right.
And the younger larva were incredibly robust. They could withstand transportation shock, initial neglect by the nuc bees, temperature variations, etc. much better than older larva or sealed cells. I think temperatures cooler than broodnest temps actually enhanced and extended the use of the youngest larva.
The only drawback, and it’s common for all grafted larva, is their sensitivity to dry air. To offset problems caused by drying, I built a carrier out of blue construction foam insulation. Drilled holes halfway through it. This allowed a wide based JZ BZ cup to set inside it. While the cup’s wide base supported and sealed the opening.
I’d fill the holes with water. Give it a shake so they is half full. And then insert the grafted cups into it.
There are some timing losses using young larva, for short season areas. But when larger mating nucs are used, a two day old cell could get more attention than it would in a conventional queen/cell rearing setup.
But it’s my favorite way of requeening many nucs. And it works especially well when used with a Cloake board.