View Full Version : Baby Nucs

Michael Bush
02-04-2003, 10:52 AM
There must be some advantages to using baby nucs or they wouldn't be selling them and queen producers wouldn't be using them.

These advanatages, however, are a mystery to me. I can see there is less to look through to find freshly layed eggs to show the queen is fertile, and less bees to run a mating nuc, but it would seem easier to take some frames from a hive with bees on them and put them in a nuc, than to try to shake some into the baby nuc and get them to stay. Also, using standard frames means it easy to have some drawn out already and it's easy to make use of the brood from the mating nuc to help an existing hive, or use it for a new hive in the nuc.

Would someone who uses baby nucs care to explain how you go about dealing with things like getting the bees to draw the combs, getting the bees to stay in the mating nucs and what do you do with the brood the newly mated queen layed in those tiny frames and why you prefer them to a regular nuc?

02-04-2003, 06:58 PM
I would think the people using baby nucs are those that have to mate hundreds and thousands of queens. They just need a home and some nurse bees for a few weeks at a time to get the queens mated. No need for a large amount of brood area or food storage. Less resources, less work, less expense, less space.

02-04-2003, 07:30 PM
I use baby nucs,3 small frames and a beer can feeder.I use an old coffee mug mounted on a 16 inch stick to dip out of a bulk bee bin to stock them.I guess I spent too much of my youth hanging around large scale Cal.queen breeders so have adopted some of their methods.Having said that, I should tell you that one of the Largest most respected breeders here called them "Bee Wasters" because they dont integrate smoothly into an operation like a nuc using standard size frames that can be joined together to make a honey producing or pollinating unit.I think he is right ,but I gottem so I usem.I do like the assembly line way they set up and the fact that only a cup of bees is needed to raise a queen.They are only for spring use,as too hot or cold will do them in.I put my frames in special supers when done.They are tricky to use and experience is needed to get good results.My best advice(did anyone ask?) is go with a medium super divided into 4 compartments with removable dividers.These can be combined and stacked later to make a strong unit.

02-04-2003, 08:47 PM
Hello Everyone,

I think the original concept was to minimize the bee expense/queen and utilize the extra bees that are often available to a package-queen producer early in the year.

The mated queens are faster to locate. They are easy and cheap to build. Easy to fill, but lack the flexibilty and resilency of a larger unit.

The small hive beetle may limit their usefulness in the future unless the work that S. Taber did proves typical.


Michael Bush
02-05-2003, 05:04 AM
Thanks everyone for the advice. I will be using the standard medium frames for now. I just wanted to see if I understood the concept.

01-27-2004, 01:51 PM
I understand the role of baby nucs in raising and getting queens mated for sale. If I am raising queens for my own yard and want to get them started what is the minimum amount of bees I need to give each queen.

I know it is best to give her at least a frame of brood, one of honey and pollen and one with space to lay. What if I don't have enough to go around? Can I raise thirty queens with a cup of bees each and expect there to be enough to raise the brood she lays.

I understand it is also a matter of giving her nurse bees - is it better to limit the number of queens I raise to the number of frames of capped brood I can throw off my hives at any given time? If that is the case should I limit myself to 8 queens a week - as I have 8 hives to donate one frame of brood each per week. Or even fewer.

Trying to understand the limits of splits to support grafting.

My end goal is strong hives at the end of the season - not selling queens or nucs. It would be okay to go into winter with nucs - I am in a mild climate (southern edge of zone 7).

01-27-2004, 03:26 PM

If you run into fatbeeman on the chatroom some evening, ask him about the baby nucs. Pretty sure that is what he mates from.

Michael Bush
01-27-2004, 05:06 PM
I've been using either four frame nucs (that I built) or three frame nucs (that I built) with a frame feeder (two frames and a feeder). They seem to work pretty well for my purposes, but I would like to hear from someone who uses baby nucs

01-28-2004, 08:27 AM
you really need to talk to the fat beeman in lula georgia. He uses alot of baby nucs. I've been to his house and seen his operation. Really neat operation!


01-28-2004, 12:35 PM
At one time some years ago I bought some bee equipment that included about a half dozen little nucs that held 5 frames about a half length. Boxes were almost cubes.

I stocked them and played with them for a few years. Typically in the fall I would put them all together in one stack and let them try to winter. This was in Tulsa, and generally they made the winter. I was not into queen raising, so did not get serious about it but did raise a few queens. In those days there was no mite problem nor serious predation so any queen that hatched generally mated and came home.

I'd like to have some now, but they are a pain to make compared to nucs put together out of medium depth frames, especially if you use a divider board in a regular super.

I prefer to have nucs a few feet apart, so I am building some of plywood and scrap 2x8. I am going to try both top bar and conventional nucs just to see how they work.

01-28-2004, 12:52 PM
On the question of how many bees to put into the nuc I went back to Laidlaw's Queen Rearing & Bee Breeding. For a sustainable colony recommends a deep nuc with a ripe queen cell, an internal feeder, one frame of empty comb, one frame of honey and pollen, one frame brood, and the nurse bees shaken off of another frame of brood. He estimates this is approximately a pound of bees. He also recommends relocating the nuc to a different yard to avoid workers returning to their original hive.

This would suggest that a strong hive could contribute almost enough brood and honey to throw off one nuc per week when there is a strong pollen/nectar supply. Only question is could a strong hive contribute a full pound of bees a week without being weakened? I think it is a given that this much pressure on a hive would mean no honey but 8-12 Nucs off a strong hive in one season isn't too shabby. Is this at all realistic? I know MB said he has thrown off 5 from a single hive anyone else approached the theoretical limit?

Do you think the maximum number of splits possible in one year in the most perfect place in the univers would be 47? http://www.beesource.com/ubb/smile.gif

Michael Bush
01-28-2004, 01:52 PM
>This would suggest that a strong hive could contribute almost enough brood and honey to throw off one nuc per week when there is a strong pollen/nectar supply. Only question is could a strong hive contribute a full pound of bees a week without being weakened?

I think that's about the break even point for a really prolific queen.

>I think it is a given that this much pressure on a hive would mean no honey but 8-12 Nucs off a strong hive in one season isn't too shabby. Is this at all realistic?

Probably not, but it would depend on the climate and how much the nuc needs to build up to overwinter.

>I know MB said he has thrown off 5 from a single hive anyone else approached the theoretical limit?

That's the most I've done, but I don't know of all those will make it to spring yet. so far there are still bees in all of them.

The main hive is now a booming four medium box hive. But I didn't take any honey.

01-29-2004, 08:56 AM
hi MB
as you know I raise queens and the main reason for baby nuc's are to mate queens.
you could use a 5 frame nuc for it too but the concept in that you only use 1 cup of bees for mateing your queens.
if your queen don't come back you only lost 1 cup of bees====it happens
now if you use a 5 frame nuc you could loose as much as 2=3 lbs of bees.
I have ran baby nuc's as long as mid nov. but require a lot of hand feeding all the time.
so if one wanted to make lot of queens from his own hive he could make as many as 50 nuc's from it instead of maybe only 3-4 and still have a good solid hive remaning.
it little hard to express all my thought and yrs of experence in one post.
thanks == Don

01-29-2004, 11:27 AM
MB that 5 from one was a package and not a full hive right? And the use of permacomb giving them drawn frames was most likely a big boost. For my uses I am making a couple of 3 frame nucs out of plywood. These will be to small to make a late split. I plan on giving each nuc a frame of pollen and honey and a frame of brood with another frame shaken/brushed in. I will be making 2 tops for each nuc, one with a hole for a jar on top and a solid on. I am going to make some 5 frame nucs to put the 3 frame nucs in once they are going. From there though it will be straight into a 10 frame super. I will remind everyone that everything I make or buy from now on will be mediums. A 3 frame medium nuc will not be much bigger than a 5 1/2 frame nuc in comb surface.

Michael Bush
01-29-2004, 03:00 PM
>MB that 5 from one was a package and not a full hive right?

That was from a 2 pound package.

>And the use of permacomb giving them drawn frames was most likely a big boost.

That is my guess.

01-29-2004, 10:31 PM
So MB with a strong hive coming out of winter it should be easy to double that many splits since you were able to split splits. I have been wondering if raising nucs would not be more proffitable than keeping bees for honey. At 5 from one at just $25(customer providing box) would be $125. Around here I was told on average you get about 75 pounds of honey per colony. At $4 a pint that would be $200 after buying jars and extracting equipment your time ect. selling nucs may be much more profittable. With the idea of a frame from each colony to make the nucs 10 hives could easily make 5 a week for a month and still get a honey crop. Just looking to place a few eggs in a different basket incase of a bad honey year more than doing just nucs. I would probly let the nuc raise their own queen. I found a person tonight that wants a couple of hives(up to 10) at their farm. She does not know wether she wants a couple of here own or let some one like me run hives on her place. Her husband was a cabnet maker before he got hurt and is down in his back. I am taking a frame up to them next thursday(my father goes to their house every Thursday to get pork rinds to sell at the fleamarket). So I now know what ever I need made I can get it done.

Michael Bush
01-30-2004, 05:32 AM
>I have been wondering if raising nucs would not be more proffitable than keeping bees for honey. At 5 from one at just $25(customer providing box) would be $125.

I think there is probably more money in rasing bees. The problem is it's easy to ship honey. It's not easy to ship bees. Most people want them shipped.

>I would probly let the nuc raise their own queen.

You could do that. But if you're trying to maximize the number of nucs from a hive, it would be better to raise some queens and then make up the nucs and introduce the capped queen cell. It will give them about a two week head start.

[This message has been edited by Michael Bush (edited January 30, 2004).]

01-30-2004, 09:23 PM

I think I've got the same idea in mind as you do. I want to get as many new colonies this year as will be possible, even if it costs me my honey crop. I'm going to start raising queens April 1st, and hopefully get to split my 50 hives mid-April, then split again mid-May. Maybe even sneak another split in there somewhere. I've had a bee supplier ask to provide nucs but I want all I can get for myself. If I was more confident that I could make mini-nucs, I might have thought about it.

01-31-2004, 02:28 AM

I have given this a lot of thought as well. I am planning on buying queens at the start of the season, just to get as much of a jump as possible. There is some question on how much of a jump you get. Last year I experienced some failure on splits requeening and in delayed having a productive queen by a month. There is debate on just how much of a jump a queen provides - we will see.

The local ferals are mean as snakes so I am also trying to pump some better behavior into the area and see if I can get more of my drones out there to compete with the feral drones before I do my own mating.

Michael Bush
01-31-2004, 07:30 AM
>There is debate on just how much of a jump a queen provides - we will see.

It may take a caged queen two or three days to get up to laying well, but other than that it's pretty much simple math. If a split has to raise a queen from an larvae it will take 16 days from the laying of the egg for the queen to emerge, subtract three days for the bees to start with one that is already hatched. So that's 13 days. Six more before she will fly. (depending on the weather) That's 19 days. Three more before she will mate. (depending on the weather) That's 22 days. Three more before we will see any eggs, that's 25 days and another three before she will be laying well, that's 28 days. So compare 28 days to 3 days (giving the benifit of the doubt about the caged queen getting up to speed also) and you have a difference of 25 days. That's a lot of time from queenlessness to a good laying queen for a struggling split. Not that I'm against just doing the walk away split. I often have done it and will again. But if you want to MAXIMIZE the number of your splits, I think I would raise some queens and give each split a queen cell that is close to emergence.

01-31-2004, 07:08 PM
hi all, ive been reading the post youall wrote. myself ive already ordered 30 minnasota hygenic queens for spring. planning on making three frame nuks around april 15th. then on may 5th doing 15 more with carnies, ive also ordered 10 49ers from buck eye bee. im also planning on trying to make some pollen an market it , ived looked at the sundance pollen trap an like what i see but any advice would be good.. raybo 1331

Michael Bush
02-01-2004, 10:29 AM
From what everyone says the Sundance is the Cadillac. I have used pollen traps occasionally and they do resemble the Sundance in some ways, but I don't consider myself an expert at collecting pollen. I will say that when you put it on be prepared for a major traffic jam for a few days. I takes the bees a while to adjust to the trap. Be sure to empty it often. Rain and sometimes dew will ruin pollen. I would plan on emptying it everyday just to be safe. Also open it up for free access every few days so pollen can get into the hive for brood.

02-15-2004, 06:17 PM
I used baby nuc's to raise queens for a few years but am now leaning toward standard size nuc's.My baby nuc's were about 1/4 the size of a med. super and I used about 2-4 ozs of bees 1 12oz cup of bees and a queen cell.By late june early july these baby nuc's needed divided or they would swarm.You could easily get 50 or more baby nuc's from one healthy hive but its better to mix bees from several hives together when filling them is what I found.The only problem is they won't over winter here even if put in standard equipment the season is just too short.Where as a divide in a standard nuc has a good enough start to be able to over winter.

02-17-2004, 06:29 PM
I made six baby nucs. I have not really had a chance to really use them yet. I made mine, with frames, that can "snap" together, and become one standard size frame. That way, comb building is taken care of in a strong hive, and then unsnapped into the baby. I guess, the are half frames at that point. I made mine, 4 frames, or two regular size frames. I think it is probably overkill, and may reduce them to one frame only. I had figured, as the queen got semi established, It would mot get out grown quite so fast. Further, the frames can then be placed into a regular nuc, and faded out of the regular nuc over time, and back into the baby one. I like to watch my queens for some things before I make the decision to keep them or not. As always, I am studying the effects of combos I make. According to brother Adam, the first cross will be swarm happy. This is something I have seen already, and I want to get get a cross, and graft right away, to get the second generation and see how that goes.

Happy queen breeding!

Dale Richards
Dal-Col Apiaries
Drums, PA

02-18-2004, 04:02 PM
Hi,Hook I tried converting the baby nuc's to standard equipment and thats actually no problem.The problem is after the queens mated she fills up the baby nuc's with brood really fast and then theres that 21 day wait until the brood hatches.The big advantage to a baby nuc is they require a tiny amount of bees to get going and after that 1st brood cycle they are pretty self substaining.Its that 21 day wait where if you used a standard nuc and a couple frames of brood and bees you maybe able to get a nuc that have a chance of over wintering.I would think father south a baby nuc could be put in standard equipment and over wintered but not here the 21 days after mating makes a baby nuc good for only a couple of queens.

02-29-2004, 07:21 PM
I use 5 frame baby nuc. They are the shallow frame size. About half of a full size frame. 5 frames will be a little less than 2 1/2 full length 5 3/8 frames. I build these with a tight fit at the seams, dip them in paraffin

I put wire in the frames, also the foundation has the wire. I want good combs.

to get the combs built on the first go around. I collected the bees from several hives shook into a screened deep hive body after they have been run through a excluder nailed to a deep hive body making sure I don't get the parent queen from the hive. I have the baby nuc all screened with hardware screen 1/8 inch squares.I use a styrafom 22 oz cut, fill to about 3/4 full of bees into each nuc shut the lids keep in a full shade. prop up the front of the nuc and put about a pint of sugar water in the front, remember these have been dipped in paraffin so it will hold the sugar water in.

If you have make the nuc to have tight seams.now the nucs have 5 frames of foundation to build. next evening I place a virgian queen in them that is a day old not over two days.fix queen cage so she is in the center of the frames off the bottom. because you may need to feed again.

Leave the nuc plugged until the queen is about 3 or 4 days old. Because at the end of the 3rd day she will have her own queen smell or pheromones. If you unpluge before the end of her 3rd day they all leave the nuc.

You can also use a ripe queen cell but you have to leave them closed up a lot longer.They
will need a real good shadded area for this.

Once you have combs built and brood in the comb all you need to do is take out the laying Queen. leave queenless for 24 hours put in another ripe queen cell. if you leave queenless for to long of a time they start EM queen cells,Two things can happen #1 the queen in you ripe cell may swarm or #2 they may kill the queen you put in.

Here in oklahoma I have wintered the baby nuc's You have to keep close watch on their honey stores.

These little nuc get strong I usally take a good amount of bees from several and can use them for cell starters or even make a shook swarm hive.


Michael Bush
02-29-2004, 09:19 PM
I'm intrigued by the idea of the bottom of the box being the feeder. It sure simplyfies things. Where is the entrance? I suppose a hole in the side would do and still let you use the bottom as a feeder.

02-29-2004, 11:10 PM
this sounds like what Betterbee says about their nucs. http://www.betterbee.com/products.asp?dept=304

Michael Bush
03-01-2004, 05:51 AM
I remember these nucs, but hadn't considerd doing it for a mating nuc and hadn't considered doing it in a homade box. I think I will make some mating nucs this way.

03-01-2004, 01:59 PM
How do you keep the bees from drowning in the syrup?

Michael Bush
03-01-2004, 02:25 PM
I'm thinking I might cut a piece of 1/4" plywood and cut some slits in it and put it on the bottom for a "raft".

But without the raft, if it's not too deep not many who fall in won't be able to get out and if it's a baby nuc it won't be far to swim to the wall.

03-01-2004, 06:34 PM
Michael I want to thank you on the info you gave me

I have the entrance at the bottom it is 3/4 inch all the way across the bottom just like a full size hive.

You wont need a raft type floater at the bottom in just a few hours most of it will be eaten. very few bees get drowned (bd) if you pour it in kind of slow giving the bees time to climb out of the way.One word of caution dont tilt to fare and try and put to much sugar water in it. I got them setting on blocks and I place about a 1 1/2 chunk or rock under it in the front.

when the virgian has gotten 3 days old pull the screen out. I do this about dark time or about daylight so they dont all rush out. and get all lost and mixed up. also if you feed after the screen has been taken out only feed about dark time to prevent robbing.
some times I keep up to 25 to 50 in a yard with full strength colonies. and dont have any problem with robbing if you watch how you feed.What i like about the baby nuc's

#1 i don't mind pulling a queen. to requeen but with a big nuc i allways really didn't want to because usally they will make a full size hive and lots of time the full size nuc was stronger and doing better than the one that needed the queen.

#2 I have only about 10 bucks in one of them.

#3 lot easer to find queens, got of work one evening in 2 hours i caged 25 queens with about 5 workers in each cage for a quy to pick up the next morning.

#4 they are light weight and can carry 2 or 3 with you as you make your round checking your yards need a replacement you have her.

more later.