NICOT queen rearing system

Hello All,

I am currently researching using the NICOT queen rearing system. I am reading the NICOT Queen rearing book right now but thought I would ask those on this forum for their input? My plan is to use it to expand my current apiary from two to possibly five hives. I also have a local mentor who has expanded his from around 8 to 15 hives this past summer and he is looking to expand further and not buy queens if he can help it. Does anyone have any advice or lessons learned using this system?

Are you going to cage the queen or graft larvae ?

You don’t need this system to expand your Apiary: You’ll probably wind up expanding it naturally by collecting swarms.

Next Spring, look for swarm cells. Each week, check for cells and make spits off of those cells. I’ve also taken the queen and 3 frames out of the hive (honey/pollen and a frame to lay eggs) and place her and the frames in a nuc box. She will keep laying and that will be the start of a new hive. The main hive will make many new queen cells and then you can use those to make splits the same way you made the split with the old queen.

This works really well also:
Just put a frame of eggs/nurse bees on sealed brood/food into each compartment and they will draw queen cells. The queens will hatch, mate, and start laying in each compartment. it’s a lot of fun too.

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@John_Yeager I got some famous Jenter Kit.

I had success this year rearing through artificial swarm/splits and did well (Until some nasty person nicked 4 Queens I had carefully raised and were breeding well) 1 went missing and I replaced her.

Several weeks later all 3 of my hives in the out apiary were shaken of Queens and most of the bees.

For each hive - I raised more Queen cells using the egg or day old larva method but the Queen cells were chilled through not enough bees to keep them warm.

The Queens I planned and raised worked well - Emerald was a better provider for getting Queens to emerge than Sapphire.

From Emerald - I lost one Queen to a squashed leg (Faulty Screen BB) so Diamond is really Diamond’s Daughter and Zircon, but I’m happy that using eggs or day old larvae is a good method some say it is hit and miss.

I will try the Jenter Kit putting about 10 - 20 cups in the cage and seeing if I can get my best Queen ( probably Diamond) to lay some eggs in the Cage and see how it goes but only after I do splits first.

Celia told me if you are doing the cup kits - make sure the eggs do not dry out when taking out the egg cups and putting them on a rack into the host nucleus hive.

She recommends doing the transfer in the kitchen or bathroom where it is moist

I plan on caging the queen. I like how this system allows you to control the timeline and know for sure how old the eggs/larvae are. The biggest thing I have read from the book so far is setting it up and putting it in the hive so the bees can prep it for the queen to lay eggs. This seems to be the long pole and where most fail with the device.

Best of luck. Tell us how it goes.
I prefer inducing supersedure cells or using emergency cells in a Demarree. That way you get lots of young bees to bring on the new queens in a large colony

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I like the idea of the mating box. I will probably make one of those over the winter. Had already planned on making a few NUC boxes too. I am sure it will be fun.

I would love to catch swarms but the issue I have is I work two hours away from my home. So during the majority of the week I am gone. My son still has another year before he can drive so I would have to get lucky while at home on the weekend or vacation. He definitely would need help to collect a swarm.

The Jenter Kit relys on the Queen being caged and can only lay in the available cups. Transferring the Larvae in the Nicot system could damage the larvae from my point of view.

The NICOT queen rearing book uses similar tactics with removing the open brood from the queen into a starter box. Then the young eggs are placed in the starter hive for the house bees to build the queen cells.

When you say transfer are you talking about the transfer of moving them out of the NICOT frame into the cell bar frame? I don’t see much difference between the Jenter kit and NICOT kit.

I thought Nicot relied on moving larvae with a Chinese grafting tool - with my kit you put the cup with the egg into the holding cup on the bar being transferred into the starter bees - no grafting tool needed, just assembling the cup set onto the holding bar

Some people do that
It’s more usual to cage the queen so she lays in the nicot cups

You can bait some of those nucs that you build with some swarm lure. At this years EAS it was proven to work and they actually caught a swarm from one of the over-populated demonstration hives.

You can also make your own by taking some failing queens or any queens that you want to get rid of and drop them into a small bottle of alcohol, mash them up and you’ll have some swarm lure. Use a Q-tip and spread some in the nuc boxes and leave the Q-tip inside and you’re all set.

I have had success with commercial swarm lures from vita and actually sent a couple down to @Kirsten_Redlich who I believe also had success with them catching a feral swarm, first I’ve heard of people mashing up queens for the purpose.

More generally, the area that is often overlooked in queen rearing is the quality of the drone. It’s one thing to make queens, but controlling the quality and availability of drones is really the step up… this is where commercial breeders (if selected correctly) really excel and add value.

Anyone can breed redneck bees.

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And if you have good bees raise a frame of drones

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The best part about this particular mating box is it takes regular deep frames and not those half mini frames. This way transferring from box to box is easy.

Interesting you mention the standard height frames, that’s what I like about the Technoset 8 queen rearing configuration

It uses a collapsable 3 piece frame that can then be unfolded and moved into a standard Langstroth hive


Those look really neat.

I’m in the US so I was referring to the length. We have compartmentalized (sp?) queen castles that come in standard deep or medium frame sizes.

@Valli The NICOT system does the same thing. Once the queen lays the eggs in the cups you pull them out and put them in the cups that allow them to hang from the bar frame.

I’m not aware of the NICOT system. I have a few video uploads on how to increase hive numbers & make new queens. Here’s one.

Here is another one.

Here is a recent video we made.

If I can fill in any gaps, feel free to ask. cheers

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