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Thread: How many frames

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Eatonville WA USA

    Default How many frames

    Ok here we go . How many of you guys use a five frame nuc , four frame, three frame, two frame, and finally the half frames for a mini nuc
    for your mating nucs?
    I would like to know why you did it and if there are any benifits from one frame count to another and also dose the size of the frame matter from deep to medium size to the half frames.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    North Tazewell, Virginia

    Default Re: How many frames

    I use 4 frames and a indoor feeder by the time I sell remove feeder add new frame they will build it out fast. Food as a convenience keep the queen fat and lot of calories they will use building all that comb. Happy nuc is full of bees and capped brood.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Alachua County, FL, USA

    Default Re: How many frames

    medium split into 3 - 3 frames with division boards, you can put a super over this setup with a queen excluder. Just watch for queens running over the boards. 3 individual covers or a feed sack stapled for each section is much safer.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Frankfort, Ohio

    Default Re: How many frames

    Glad you started this thread, I've been wondering the same thing. I have been using 5 frame nucs for a while now, both medium and deeps.

    1. They have plenty of room to build up before they try to swarm
    2. Queen has lots of room to lay and demonstrate her ability to lay a nice brood pattern
    3. Come late summer I can throw another 5 frame nuc on top of them and overwinter them like that very easily. Or if they are strong in summer go ahead and super them to draw out more comb.
    4. Frames are easily moved to and from my production colonies. Which I do seems like constantly.

    1. Takes a lot of bees to stock all my mating nucs.
    2. Takes a lot longer to find the queen on 5 frames.
    3. 75 or 100 5 frame nucs in one yard with a saturation of drone mother colonies is a lot of bees in one area. Given if you were raising queens with a 1/4 of the population in a smaller nuc you could probably keep a lot more in one area. Not a big deal if you have yards with a steady trickling flow or if you have lots of yards to spread them out but driving all over regularly to pull queens and plant cells does burn through the gas.

    I'm sure there is more for both categories that I'm not thinking of right now.

    Joe Latshaw showed me a nuc (4 half frame) that he uses and I've been thinking about adding some to the mating yards just to try them out and try something different. I like to let queens lay for 3 weeks before I ship them and that would be hard to do with the smaller nucs before they would be getting the urge to swarm.

    If I were only doing a few nucs I would highly recommend 5 frames nucs. Either medium of Deeps.

    That's my 2 cents. I look forward to everyone's thoughts and suggestions on this topic.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Roy, Wa

    Default Re: How many frames

    This place was the 2012 mating nuc experimental station. They all worked well-just were different.
    This is the configuration I liked best, divided deep with interior Mann Lake one gallon feeders.

    Here is a slide show showing designs and construction details of these nucs.

    The fence hanging nucs that held five half sized deep frames were really great. I only had a little problem with earwigs congregating on the moist fence side of the nuc. They didn't seem to bother the bees, but they were all around. It was really nice on my back-no bending and they were off the ground away from pr editors, male dogs, etc. Made great use of my small acreage. I never used the window, so skip that unless you want a novelty.

    Here's another one that I made, but did not use. But would work in a pinch. Just divide a cardboard nuc box and make two entrances. DONE!

    The small foam nucs were from the dollar store. I turned them into nucs in about 10 minutes each. Just emergency small nucs if I needed some in a pinch, but they actually take deep half frames and worked perfectly. You just need to secure these from blowing over since they are so light and top heavy. I stuck them in between large pots of plants.

    I made a few out of Dadant deeps. They also worked well. I bought them for overwintering, although when it came right down to it, I did not have the guts to try overwintering four tiny colonies. I removed two dividers and have two colonies with about 10 mini deep frames each.

    I made these out of scrap stuff from a job site, which determined the size. They did not hold enough bees to my cooler spring temps, but worked fine in later in the summer.
    These took the smallest amount of bees to get started.

    I brushed bees from two colonies into a box, let the older foragers fly back to the original hives and scooped up the remaining young bees onto foundationless frames with just a guide:

    screened bottom with slide in foam insert.

    If you want more details, just post a question. It may take me a day or two to get back to you. I am still busy with fall chores.
    Last edited by Lauri; 10-25-2012 at 10:11 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Suffolk, VA

    Default Re: How many frames

    In the past I have used either 5 frame nucs or the queen castle from Brushy. The queen castle has 4 compartment with two deep frames each. Although they worked OK, I'd say that two frames are too difficult to manage. This winter I plan to build 3 compartment deeps as mentioned by
    AmericasBeekeeper. I think this will be a nice trade-off between the 5- and 2-frame stuff I've used in the past. I do like Lauri's top picture, but I'm too cheap to invest in those feeders I generally just use a hole saw to cut into the separate tops and use a mason jar as a feeder. This way you get 3 queens per hive body.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Knox Co, Ohio, USA

    Default Re: How many frames

    I built some 5-frame deep nucs to use as mating nucs. I then built a split division board feeder to divide thenuc into two 2-frame mating nucs. I used a feed bag inner cover. Slits in the inner cover made it easy to fill the feeder without fully opening the hive. When I wanted to combine two sides I just smoked heavily, pulled the feeder, stuck an empty comb in its place and closed it up.

    I have three of these I'm overwintering. Two I put a 5-frame deep super on. The other I'm leaving as a 5-frame nuc.

    I made the nucs out of 15/32 plywood. I had one where the parts warped slightly before I assembled it. There wasn't a problem with the frames fitting. But, the divider feeder had a gap at the bottom on onse that let bees through. I ended up only using one side.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Jacksonville, Florida

    Default Re: How many frames

    I used three frame nucs both deep and medium. I also tried a couple of the mini nucs but had trouble keeping them from getting robbed.
    Five frame nucs take too long to find the queen when its time to cage and replant new cells. So the three frame nucs where my favorite. When it was time to break everything down in fall it was easy to combine them since the frames where standard size.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Clackamas Oregon

    Default Re: How many frames

    5 frame Coates Plywood nucs, Plywood mating Queen Castles. Nucs work for the spring trapping season then off for expanding from the Queen Castles queens. Queen castles allow me to change the amount of space for feeders or as they expand without a bunch of manipulating by moving / removing the divider. All deep frames for brood. I am first to admit I need another yard, I am 5 wide and one section I have two QC deep on top of a standard hive. Just a pain.
    “Why do we fall, sir? So that we might learn to pick ourselves up” Alfred Pennyworth Batman Begins (2005)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Philadelphia, MS, USA

    Default Re: How many frames

    I use a double 3 frame standard medium nuc.

    I use standard frames so when I make them up I pull what I need out of hives I have been stimulating for early buildup.

    I run a 3 week cycle so plenty of room for new queen to lay.

    Since I am in Mississippi it gives me a strong nuc for SHB protection.

    When I get ready to shut them down I combine into 10 frame medium boxes to start new hives.

    In spring they get too strong so I pull out frames of brood or honey and start new colonies.


    The bigger they get the more time it takes to find and cage the queen.

    "Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." - Mark Twain


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