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