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  • Nicot system. thoughts?

  • Queen breeding specialism discussion forum.
Queen breeding specialism discussion forum.
 #10770  by Bobbysbees
 06 May 2021, 14:39
I recently watched a you tube video....... yeah yeah I know half of them are pants lol
But the guy seemed convinced that after the queen was put in the laying cage and he had found eggs in the cups that they were vanishing or as he though being moved by the workers.
Now I know this is an area for debate all by its self however the comb that had been drawn on either side of the cage was full of eggs a few with multiple eggs though so my thought is that it may have had a laying worker or possibly a young queen running around .
I have a cheep knock off version of the system and was debating giving it a go.
Would you suggest using the system or just direct grafting into the cups?
Has anyone else found problems with the Nicot set up ?
 #10771  by Patrick
 06 May 2021, 15:45
If multiple eggs then something is going on isn’t it.?

I used the full Nicot experience last year because a) I am a sucker for kit b) I was curious if it gave a viable alternative for those intimidated by grafting and / or struggle to handle or even see larvae of the right age:

Happy to give more detail (or did I already in the queen rearing section last year, can’t remember), but in brief yes it worked fine. Left queen in cage 48 hours and using a random selection of cells deliberately not checked for occupancy or age had 10 out of twenty raised to big finished queen cells using the Ben Harden method (given on the NBU website) on a standard queen right colony (no dedicated cell builder / finishers mullarky). Only issue for some might be finding the donor queen and putting her in the cage in the first place but no more tricky than marking?

Yes it is easier and quicker to graft directly but the point for me was what if that was not an option or a major turn off? I liked the lack of doubt regarding larvae age and total lack of handling / manipulation of delicate teensy weensy larvae. Raising queens is great fun and a great learning experience. Breed from your better and cull your worst and things can only get better😁..
 #10774  by Liam
 06 May 2021, 18:39
Sounds good Patrick. I’m trying some grafting this year and just read the Ben Harden method that you mentioned. This sounds ideal for me to make a few queens from the genetics I want without creating a monster of a hive that is queenless and disrupted to much. Tomorrow I’m making some fat dummy boards ;). I’m wondering if I should try and incorporate a feeder in them but could be problematic.
 #10775  by Patrick
 06 May 2021, 23:47
Let us know how you get on Liam. I have done the Ben Harden thing before and really like it. Basically you plonk the graft frame, a young brood frame, a pollen frame and stores frame with a and few fat dummy blanks to fill up the spare room in a spare brood box above a queen excluder onto top of a strong queenright brodbox colony and put the supers back on top. They draw out the cells and when they are capped you moved that box to the top of the stack for ease of access. Disarmingly straightforward.

Steve on here shared the bright idea of using frame sized cut out blocks of waste Kingspan insulation as fat dummies. He improvised lugs to suspend them by a couple of screws inserted at each end of the top edge. I made some (I ran gorilla tape round the exposed foam edges and just inserted fencing staples as lug hangers as i had some in my pocket at the time. I think they looked great and so quick to knock up.

I had a reasonable flow on so didn't bother with a frame feeder - I don't use them anyway. The cells were plenty large enough and the emerging queens looked great. I agree with you, most of us don't need a method specifically designed to be used to raise commercial quantities of queens in serial batches.
 #10778  by Bobbysbees
 07 May 2021, 00:42
Well it looks like it might be worth a try as i can always over winter a couple of nucs and offer them up at a fair price next year. I might even utilize my quadratic hives as mating hives tucked on top of QE and crown board just to share some heat.
I have to say I am a bit of a sucker for gear too but I make most of my wood work myself and even have about 40 odd frames I made my self when I started. They tend to get thrown in swarm traps or brood boxes when I cycle out old brood frames of honey
 #10782  by AdamD
 07 May 2021, 09:53
I tend to graft, however I use a cupkit occasionally which works OK. as the queen is caged in it, you do need to certain that supercedure queencells are not drawn in her hive however due to loss of her pheromone in the hive. The last thing you want is for your 'favourite' queen to swarm a few days after letting her out.
Grafting can be done with a little less planning. With a cupkit, you do need to plan things a little better.

Here's a cupkit larva from last year. This egg must have just hatched, so the timing for transfer was perfect.
 #10809  by Bobbysbees
 09 May 2021, 00:14
Great pic. I fine that one of the best educational tools out there(a good example of the right grafting age)
So much better than some long winded explanation.
Thanks AdamD
 #12916  by Bobbysbees
 05 Jul 2022, 22:19
Well here's an update all be it a bit of a late one my grafting efforts were a little iffy to say the least i got a score of one in 10 lol but as i only have a few hives one is better than none.
As for the knock off Nicot system some serious errors were made... my best queen manged to get herself wedged in the introduction section on the back of the cage and since this was up against the adjacent comb (ok kinda my fault) . What was more upsetting was the fact that the other bees due to the size of the queen excluder on the opposite side couldnt get to her to feed her and keep her alive. btw there was no candy and the q was placed in the laying side of the cage with room between it and the next comb over.