Newbee with plans!
Got a 10-frame nuc and installed it yesterday. So I'm not a wannabee anymore, but a newbee!
I've decided to go with all mediums, foundationless, and to regress the bees to small/natural size cell.
The nuc came from Jeff, about seven miles away, who grafts queens and sells nucs, raising a breed that's locally adapted. Only thing is, he uses standard-size foundation, and from reading and getting advice from the local beekeepers' guild, I had decided to go for small-cell.
So I put a medium super on the first one, and in a few days I'll open up the hive and see how it's going. The weather has been a little rainy but the bees got oriented yesterday and have been busy since. I see lots of packets of pollen going in, and I guess the other inbound bees have nectar. I imagine that they're already building new comb in the second box, and filling it up.
The queen apparently started laying about a week ago, so if I go in a few days from now, I expect to see some newly capped brood. (Because she didn't start laying as soon as we expected, the nuc got an extra frame of capped brood just a few days ago.)
So the big question in mind is how to regress the bees in an orderly and not too stressful way. I've read various sources, and seen mention that it could take as long as three years. With locally adapted bees, I'm hoping to use little or no treatment for varroa mites (maybe powdered sugar?), and with luck they'll survive to next spring.
To regress the bees, Michael Bush on his site says to "cull out the empty brood combs" by moving them outwards (empty frames added one at a time into the middle of the brood nest) and upwards until there's no brood in them, then take them out. I wasn't planning on harvesting much if any honey this year, so I'm not sure exactly the best way to get that old foundation-based brood comb out. But I figure I'll know a bit more in a few months, perhaps enough to pull it off without handicapping the bees too much going into the winter.
Overall, I plan to cull out brood comb in two phases, first the foundation-based frames (all of them) that came with the nuc, then the frames that have new brood comb built by the current and now-emerging generation of bees. I welcome suggestions and any considerations that people want to add. I don't want to make it all too complicated, but it seems I ought to pay attention to what I'm doing in order to improve the odds.
Re: Newbee with plans!
As the bees move up into the upper boxes, you'll be able to remove the lower nuc frames.
Save them for swarm traps, & catching swarms until you have extra of you're own.
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