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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
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    Bagram, Afghanistan
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    After reading this board for the past few months i have decided to take up beekeeping. i return home from my deployment to afghanistan (NH National Guard) next March so its just in time for the new season. I have already contacted a local beekeeping club to ask general questions. I am pretty excited

    I like MB's concept of starting with a Observation hive, a few 5 frame Nuc's and a few full sized hives in preperation for an expected "Observation hive" growth expansion. I have decided on a universal size of med. sized boxes using permacomb. i plan on using UBM with a focus on learning the first year not on honey production.

    since i am starting off with permacomb i will buy bees in a package of hopes that the bees starting off on small cell will be a benefit in the future. speaking of the future i am starting with all med boxes now, even though i am young, becasue my back hurts already just by thinking about the larger box's weight. i am a beliver in the notion of working smarter not harder.

    All my honey supers will be using starter strips at least for the first year to save on up front startup costs. The money saved from not having to purchase permacomb for the honey supers will be spent on a Golden Bee beekeeper suit.

    Here is what i plan on building for the full sized Hives

    - Ventilated top cover
    - top hive feeder
    - top hive entrance
    - supers of med size with 9 starter strips
    - no queen excluder
    - 4ea brood boxes med sized with 9 frames of permacomb (ubm-my climate is very cold)
    - no bottem entrance only a drone escape
    - varroa mite screen w/ tray
    - 90deg turned base like on a DE Hive
    - no chemicals

    with all that said i do have a few questions

    1) is there anything above that doesnt make sense?

    2) is a landing ramp that important? i have not seen one on top hive entrances.

    3) can bee-o-pac and starter stips be mixed in the same shallow super?

    4) what is the big difference between bee-o-pac and ross rounds outside of cost?

    I really appreciate all the helpful information which is shared on this board. It is really great to see the sincere effort to help out fellow beekeepers.

    Thanks,

    NHBeeker

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    McMinnville, TN, USA
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    716

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    The thing jumped out at me was the permacomb is not small cell. It is a smaller cell than normal foundation. MB does make his PC small cell by coating the PC with wax which takes quite a bit of wax and time. I am now disabled at 32 so I am going all mediums and money is very tight. I make foundationless frames and have natural cell size for my brood chambers. The bees start out at the top of the frame with either a few drone cells or about 5.2mm worker cells and keeps getting smaller as you go down the frame with some being 4.5mm. PC is about 5.1mm. Small cell is 4.9 and down. If you have the tools and time you can make hives for nothing by going to local building sites and asking them to give you a call when they are done so you can pick up the left over lumber. The bigger towns will not let them burn these pieces and must pay to have it hauled off so every peice you haul off is less they have to pay to get rid of.

    PS thanks for your service

    [This message has been edited by Hillbillynursery (edited September 18, 2004).]

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Bagram, Afghanistan
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    7

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    ok so i will have to wax coat the permacomb to get it down in size which i have seen a long thread from MB on how he does it.

    amazing in that .2mm makes a differnce with the mite control?

    just as amazing is that permacomb isnt already small cell?

    hillbilly thanks for your reply

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Utica, NY, USA
    Posts
    50

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    Thanks much for your service. Have a safe trip home!

    NH is a state with several distinct and quite different micro climates, so you made a wise choice in joining a local bee club. While I live in upstate NY, my daughter lives in Amherst, NH. If you are close to there I would be glad to stop in and see you.

    My comments on your note:
    1. Permacomb is 'ok', but why spend all that money? Wood frames and Dadant's Plasticell is, I think, the best. Far better than Permacomb. Second best is wood frames and Permadent. (Hard to find, but the cost difference compared to Plasticell is substantial.)
    2. If you use starter strips in supers you will not be able to extract the combs. Assume you know that. A very big disadvantage. Save money by using wood frames and Permadent in brood nest and then use the same in supers!
    3. Buy your nucs/queens from a source with gentle bees and forget the Golden Bee suit! Jeans, cotton gloves, a long sleeve shirt, and a veil should be plenty. If you are REALLY uncomfortable with that, buy Kelley's Coveralls with attached zipper veil...about $60. Wear those over the jeans, etc.
    4. Again, please don't spend a lot of money on a ventilated top cover. The top entrance plus a screened bottom entrance is plenty of ventilation for NH!
    5. Don't need a drone escape on the bottom if you are using a top entrance with no queen excluder. (Drones will exit and enter from the top entrance.)
    6. Please, please don't use a DE hive. Not clear if you were planning on doing so. Stick with standard dimensions. No need for a 90 degree turned base as you are not going to use a lower entrance.
    7. Landing ramps make beekeepers feel good, and do nothing for the bees.
    8. Bee-o-pacs are a novelty, IMHO, and won't be around in 10 years. Differences from Ross Rounds are:
    a. incomplete individual rr's can be put back on to be finished. incomplete individual pacs are throw-aways.
    b. rr's can be taken out of container and consumed 'normally', with a spoon, knife, etc. pacs CANNOT be taken out of the plastic container and must be scrapped out to be eaten.
    c. yields on rr's are regularily 85%-90% of available sections. with pacs one would do well to get 70%.
    d. if one takes the cost of the annual reload and divides it by the number of completed units, rr's are considerably less expensive than pacs...based on the first year I have used them.
    e. pacs are a ***** to separate and put tops on without cracking them. if they crack they can't be sold as they will leak. no similar problem with rr.

    good luck. my advice is to not buy much if anything before talking to experienced guys in your club. pick out those with 100 or more hives and stick to them like a leech!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
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    Bagram, Afghanistan
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    7

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    hmmmmm good points olddrone.

    a. i am pretty much set on using permacomb in that i like the idea of only purchasing it once and not dealing with wooden frames.
    however you have perked my interest in plasticell. you like it that much? is it small cell?

    b. the drone escape was in their by accident becasue i was intially going to use a queen excluder but decided to add another med for the brood chamber.

    c. yup i plan on crushing the comb by hand the 1st year.

    d. why would'nt it be a benefit to turn the hive 90deg if you have an upper entrance? and no i dont plan on purchasing a DE hive i can build the base easily and only plan on drilling holes in a top cover.

    e. small world in that i live in merrimack which is 5 minutes away from amherst. i would love to have you over for a cup of coffee when i get back


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Wakefield, MA, USA
    Posts
    224

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    I have kept bees near Alton and in NE MA, and have generally found New England nectar flows somewhat light and unpredictable for consistent round sections. IMO it would be best to you avoid sections and just produce cut comb honey (as you are, with starter strips). The yields will be higher, swarming less, overhead much lower and you won't have to worry about unfinished sections. Also, going the cut-comb route, you have the option of extracting the unfinished or less attractive combs in an extractor. Later you can convert to extracting exclusively, if you like. I have had hundreds of medium super combs built from starter strips and the breakage in the extractor was a very rare occurence if spinning was done carefully the first time around (brand new combs).

    Your goal of going without chemicals is admirable but don't be surprised if you must resort to synthetic varroacides after a couple years. Otherwise you could be "without" bees. Unfortunately. Best of luck and keep posting. Hope you are back home soon.

    JG

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,288

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    >i return home from my deployment to afghanistan (NH National Guard) next March so its just in time for the new season.

    Yes, but you will need to order your bees before then or they may not be available. You will want to contact some places before February for sure. January would be better or earlier if they will take orders earlier.

    >I have already contacted a local beekeeping club to ask general questions.

    A lot of local bee clubs get a truckload of bees together or know where someone does. It's usually much better than shipping them through the mail. I'd ask them about it.

    >I like MB's concept of starting with a Observation hive, a few 5 frame Nuc's and a few full sized hives in preperation for an expected "Observation hive" growth expansion.

    The other side of the argument is that it takes more skill to manage an observation hive. But then I figure the main thing is you want to learn and you can't beat an observation hive for that.

    >I have decided on a universal size of med. sized boxes

    That's pretty much my decision too. Although I'm experimenting with long hives using both mediums and Dadant deeps (11 1/4" frames)

    > using permacomb.

    PermaComb will give you a nice head start. It will also PARTIALLY regress them to 5.1mm but it takes a bit more than that to handle the mites. I do love a lot of things about PermaComb. I find that I do have to adjust how I do a lot of things though.

    > i plan on using UBM with a focus on learning the first year not on honey production.

    ULBN maybe? Unlimited Brood Nest? I guess there are a couple of definitions for this, but mine would be that I don't use an excluder so the queen can use as much space as she likes. Another is having a "food chamber" or an extra box going into winter. I guess I do that depending on the strength of the hive, but I'm leaning towards (in my climate) pulling more stores off and giving them back in March.

    >since i am starting off with permacomb i will buy bees in a package of hopes that the bees starting off on small cell will be a benefit in the future.

    As I said, PermaComb is only 5.1mm. You really need to reach 4.9mm before you get all the benefits of small cell.

    >speaking of the future i am starting with all med boxes now, even though i am young, because my back hurts already just by thinking about the larger box's weight. i am a beliver in the notion of working smarter not harder.

    I wish I'd done it years ago. I am enjoying the long hives though too.

    >All my honey supers will be using starter strips at least for the first year to save on up front startup costs.

    I will give you the standard warnings for starter strips. They work best when you have at least one drawn comb in the middle of the box. It tends to get the bees on the right track, keep them from crosscombing as much and keep them from building from the bottom up. Of course if you have PermaComb you HAVE drawn comb to put in the middle.

    >The money saved from not having to purchase permacomb for the honey supers will be spent on a Golden Bee beekeeper suit.

    Wow. I do think you'll like that. But then if it's the only beesuit you've had, you won't appreciate just how AWESOME it is to feel a breeze when you're wearing a bee suit.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,288

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    >Here is what i plan on building for the full sized Hives
    >- Ventilated top cover

    Since you're doing a top hive entrance, it will act as a top vent. You may not need to do both.

    >- top hive feeder

    Again, if you have a top entrance you'll have to figure out how you're going to do a hive top feeder. One simple solution to all of it is to just build your own inner cover with a 1/4" spacer on the bottom on three sides and the front open for the entrance. and a 3/8" spacer on the top on all four sides and a hole in the center. You can put a rapid feeder or a miller feeder on top, or if you make the hole the size of a mason jar lid (which is what I always do) and put 1/4" hardware cloth on the bottom you can put a jar in there for a top feeder. Then you add an empty box to make room for the jar or the rapid feeder or you just put the miller feeder on top.

    >- top hive entrance

    I've been enjoying mine. The skunks weren't a problem this year at all.

    >- supers of med size with 9 starter strips

    If you put 9 frames with just starter strips in a super the bees will probably make a mess. I would put 10 frames in and a drawn comb (or a PermaComb) in the center. Even better is to put every other comb a PermaComb and then when they start drawing the combs in between you can move these up to the next box and put frames with starter strips in their place. If you do every other frame with permacomb (and space them correctly) you could even put bare frames in with NO starter strips.

    >- no queen excluder

    It's nice to keep one around for a queen includer or for help when regressing or trying to find a queen. But I like not using one.

    >- 4ea brood boxes med sized with 9 frames of permacomb (ubm-my climate is very cold)

    In an ULBN configuration, there really isn't a differentiation between a brood box and a super, other than maybe the spacing of the combs. Personally I'd use 10 in the brood nest. I'd use 9 in the supers AFTER they are drawn comb, but not before.

    >- no bottem entrance only a drone escape

    I have no escape on the bottom at all now. But I suppose a 1/4" hole would let the drones out and keep out the mice. But if you have no excluder the drones can get out anyway.

    >- varroa mite screen w/ tray

    Good for monitoring and gives you control over ventilation.

    >- 90deg turned base like on a DE Hive

    I run a lot of them this way, but I also have a lot the other way. It doesn't seem to make much difference. It is a little more convenient to work from the back that way. It might make more difference in the winter.

    >- no chemicals

    I like that.

    >2) is a landing ramp that important? i have not seen one on top hive entrances.

    I don't think it matters at all.

    >3) can bee-o-pac and starter stips be mixed in the same shallow super?

    Not really. You should either have all Bee-o-pac or all starter strips (with at least one fully drawn comb or more)

    >4) what is the big difference between bee-o-pac and ross rounds outside of cost?

    There are a lot of differences. The ross rounds are a more proven design. The ross rounds take a super that is not good for anything else but ross rounds. The ross rounds are larger pieces of comb (8 oz vs 4 oz) and are a full comb instead of a half comb. In other words with a bee-o-pac (and a hogg half comb) the "mid rib" of the comb is the back of the container. With a ross round the mid rib is in the center of the container. So a ross round has both halves of the comb.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,288

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    >The thing jumped out at me was the permacomb is not small cell. It is a smaller cell than normal foundation. MB does make his PC small cell by coating the PC with wax which takes quite a bit of wax and time.

    He is correct. I wax coat mine. Otherwise it's only a first step toward regressing, not the full regression. It is a lot of work, but I think less work than doing multiple shakedowns.

    >I am now disabled at 32 so I am going all mediums and money is very tight. I make foundationless frames and have natural cell size for my brood chambers. The bees start out at the top of the frame with either a few drone cells or about 5.2mm worker cells and keeps getting smaller as you go down the frame with some being 4.5mm. PC is about 5.1mm. Small cell is 4.9 and down.

    Personally if it was me, I'd probably use a frame or two of PermaComb in the brood nest to get them started on their way regressing and to give them a quick start because the queen has somewhere to lay. But if you aren't going to wax coat I'd do as Hillbillynursery is doing and let them build their own comb after that. If you want to use PermaComb it's really more useful in the supers, if you're extracting. If you don't have an extractor or have access to one, I think you'd be just as happy making comb honey or pressing it for strained honey.

    >PS thanks for your service

    Ditto. My prayers and those of my family have been and continue to be with you and your comrades.

    Michael

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,288

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    >amazing in that .2mm makes a differnce with the mite control?

    When you take into account that if natural size is 4.9mm or smaller then .2mm in DIAMETER and LENGTH (3 dimensions instead of one dimension) is more difference than you think. A sphere of 4.9mm has a volume of 46 cubic mm . A sphere of 5.1mm has a volume of 52mm cubic mm. A sphere of 5.4mm has a volume of 62 cubic mm. Granted a cell is not spherical, but the change happens in three dimensions and it makes that much difference.

    >just as amazing is that permacomb isnt already small cell?

    Since everyone else makes their foundation 5.4 to 5.5mm, I think it's amazing it's 5.1mm. My guess is they arrived at the size by experimenting with acceptatnce.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,288

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    >1. Permacomb is 'ok', but why spend all that money? Wood frames and Dadant's Plasticell is, I think, the best. Far better than Permacomb. Second best is wood frames and Permadent. (Hard to find, but the cost difference compared to Plasticell is substantial.)

    PermaComb is very expensive. It's also virtually permanant. Most comb certainly isn't.

    >2. If you use starter strips in supers you will not be able to extract the combs. Assume you know that. A very big disadvantage.

    I use foundationless and starter strips and I extract.

    >Save money by using wood frames and Permadent in brood nest and then use the same in supers!

    It will definitetly save money. But I think he also wants to regress back to natural sized cells.

    >3. Buy your nucs/queens from a source with gentle bees and forget the Golden Bee suit! Jeans, cotton gloves, a long sleeve shirt, and a veil should be plenty. If you are REALLY uncomfortable with that, buy Kelley's Coveralls with attached zipper veil...about $60. Wear those over the jeans, etc.

    It would certainly be cheaper. But it is a real confidence builder to have a good bee suit and it's certainly wonderful to have one that remains cool.

    >4. Again, please don't spend a lot of money on a ventilated top cover. The top entrance plus a screened bottom entrance is plenty of ventilation for NH!

    I agree that a top entrance plus a SBB will provide plenty of ventilation. Without the top entrance I might want some other top vent.

    >5. Don't need a drone escape on the bottom if you are using a top entrance with no queen excluder. (Drones will exit and enter from the top entrance.)

    I agree.

    >6. Please, please don't use a DE hive. Not clear if you were planning on doing so. Stick with standard dimensions. No need for a 90 degree turned base as you are not going to use a lower entrance.

    I agree that standard sizes are a much bigger advantage than any advantages the DE hive has. But I don't think he was planning on a DE hive.

    I think the 90 degree turn is unimportant one way or the other really. I have both and don't notice much difference, but all in all I think it's a bit nicer to work with the frames running that way. But it is certainly not a significant difference.

    >7. Landing ramps make beekeepers feel good, and do nothing for the bees.

    I agree.

    >8. Bee-o-pacs are a novelty, IMHO, and won't be around in 10 years. Differences from Ross Rounds are:
    a. incomplete individual rr's can be put back on to be finished. incomplete individual pacs are throw-aways.
    b. rr's can be taken out of container and consumed 'normally', with a spoon, knife, etc. pacs CANNOT be taken out of the plastic container and must be scrapped out to be eaten.

    I am experimenting with them, but they are definitely not a proven system yet.

    >good luck. my advice is to not buy much if anything before talking to experienced guys in your club. pick out those with 100 or more hives and stick to them like a leech!

    I agree. Don't get too carried away buying too much of anything. You may decide you don't like it at all and you'll be wishing you had something else.

    >a. i am pretty much set on using permacomb in that i like the idea of only purchasing it once and not dealing with wooden frames.
    however you have perked my interest in plasticell. you like it that much? is it small cell?

    The only small cell plastic is from Dadant. I would NOT recommend using it until your bees are FULLY regressed. The large bees HATE it and refuse to correctly draw it. In fact they won't draw it at all. They will go to great lengths to draw combs anywhere but on the plastic. Once they are regressed it will work, but it's very expensive.

    >d. why would'nt it be a benefit to turn the hive 90deg if you have an upper entrance? and no i dont plan on purchasing a DE hive i can build the base easily and only plan on drilling holes in a top cover.

    I think his point is that the benifit is negligable. I concur, but you have to go some direction and the 90 degree version is a little more convienient to work.


  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    I'm doing open feeding so I don't care about a top feeder. I have a variety of top entrances but most are just a migratory cover with a shingle shim (a strip of a wood shingle that tapers from 3/8" to nothing) one each end. This makes an entrance that is on the long side of the box. It's simple, uses standard hive components and it has worked well for me.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Bagram, Afghanistan
    Posts
    7

    Post

    >I'm doing open feeding so I don't care about a top feeder

    open feeding being that you leave an open container of honey or sugar water out in your yard, correct.

    MB i like the simplicity of the above miller feeder solution.

    >The only small cell plastic is from Dadant. I would NOT recommend using it until your bees are FULLY regressed. The large bees HATE it.

    now the larger cell size in permacomb makes much more sense and seeing the volumes difference above drives it home. I will simply coat the permacomb with wax following MB's directions in a previous thread.

    i was a little fuzzy also on the starter strips and now with everybodies advice this is now much more clear. thank you everybody for all the advice.

    we really do appreciate you support and prayers for us over here too it means alot.

    its funny in that i cope with a lot of the difficulties over here in this warzone by looking forward to reading the new threads and advice from all of you. i find it very relaxing.

    thanks again,

    NHBeekeeper


  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Bagram, Afghanistan
    Posts
    7

    Post

    oops forgot to ask if i wax coat the permacomb right off the bat(with a new package of bees) will i run into issues similar to the dantes small cell reference mentioned above?

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    McMinnville, TN, USA
    Posts
    716

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    No as it is already drawn but some have had problem with large cell queens not wanting to lay in small cell. I have not had this problem and most people do not. Your problem will be getting the clean bees wax to use to coat the PC with. the 5.1mm size is what most people get the first regression. I would use it as a start to small cell. Like MB said it will give the package a boost as it does not have to draw it. I think I would use 2 PC combs side by side then a frame with a starter strip then pc to get them drawn straight. Use 10 frames to a box for the brood as many have found that small cell bees even like their frames closer together. Some say as close as 1 1/4 inches instead of the 1 3/8 inches which is normal spacing in a Langstoth hive. Keep rotating the pc frames out once they fill the whole first box. Another thing but it means you have to make something else is a nuc box as the packages build up faster in the smaller space.

    I am glad we brighten your days.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    As Hillbillynusery says, the bees are very accepting of small cell comb. They just won't draw it correctly until they are regressed. I have had no problems with acceptance of the wax coated permacomb except one really fat queen that wouldn't lay in it. I have it in 40 hives and have been through probably 80 queens on it. Out of 80, 79 of the prefered it, 1 couldn't lay in it.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Hancock, NH
    Posts
    85

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    >>e. small world in that i live in merrimack which is 5 minutes away from amherst. i would love to have you over for a cup of coffee when i get back

    I grew up in Amherst, just left 6 years ago because it was getting to city like. Any way there is a beekeeper in Amherst that provides fantastic nuc's at a great price. He has around 100 hives and has nucs ready in May. I got two from him this year and they did great. I can provide his name and email if you would like. He resides in "Cricket Corner" in my uncles old house.

    In Hudson there is a beekeeper that gets packages from Wilbanks every year, he is another good source if you want to go the package route. He usually has these in the first part of April.

    There is also a beekeeper in Merrimack that handles all kinds of wooden ware, I have never had the pleasure of doing business with him, but others that I know have.

    For what it's worth I think the Nuc's are worth the wait.

    Good luck, thanks for your service, and have a safe trip home.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Bagram, Afghanistan
    Posts
    7

    Post

    NHBees please do provide the amherst gentlman's name and email if you dont mind.

    Do you know if he offers med frame Nucs if there is such a thing?


  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    If all you can get are deep nucs, you could just pull the bottom off of the deep nuc and put the deep nuc on top of a medium box with a board over the gap on the side and let them move down into the medium as the nuc fills up.

    Nucs do make a nice start for a hive.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Hancock, NH
    Posts
    85

    Post

    >>NHBees please do provide the amherst gentlman's name and email if you dont mind.

    I sent it to your email on your profile, if you don't recieve it let me know.

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