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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
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    2,178

    Default Nuc management tips

    I am enjoying the current threads on nucs, and I thought I'd start another one. After watching Mike Palmers nuc vimeos and going into my third year of overwinter in nucs. First year survival 1 out of 2. Second year 9 out of 9, Third year (this year) I am going into winter with 18. Clearly I am a relative novice, but I have learned a few things. Here are some tips/observations from my experiences feel free to add more.
    1. You can't have enough nuc boxes, and spare frames in the spring. Unless you are planning to sell them you will need to have boxes on hand to super them up quickly.
    http://s1110.beta.photobucket.com/us...tml?sort=6&o=0

    2. If you keep your nucs on stands it is useful to make the stand twice as wide as the number of nucs you might keep on it. This allows you pretty good access to the middle ones. This one is a pain to work on. I made it to high, and it is an ergonomic nightmare trying to access the center nucs.
    http://s1110.beta.photobucket.com/us...ml?sort=6&o=17

    This one is better, it is knee high, and I can reach the center boxes quite easily.
    http://s1110.beta.photobucket.com/us...ml?sort=6&o=13

    3. Od Frank cleats - his contribution to my beekeeping - they are cleats cut with a 20 degree angle to them; The beauty of them is that as you lift them gravity pulls them into you fingertips and you don't feel as though they are going to fall. The green boxes have them. All the new nucs I am make from now on will have them.
    http://s1110.beta.photobucket.com/us...ml?sort=6&o=14

    4. I have given up on wooden lids. A 2 inch piece of styroam, and a feed bag inner cover is all that's needed.
    http://s1110.beta.photobucket.com/us...ml?sort=6&o=10

    5. I use 2 pieces of wood at the bottom of the nucs, and leave a gap of about 3/8 inch for them to drag the dead out. This can easily be closed off. I also reduce the hole in the side of the nuc for winter with a piece of plastic wine cork. A frost ring on the sub zero days is confirmation of life. This reduction is also useful when you initiate the nuc and don't want it robbed out.
    http://s1110.beta.photobucket.com/us...ml?sort=6&o=48

    6. My method to establish a nuc is to place a 2 frames of brood with a cell, usually either a swarm cell or a Mel Disselkoen OTS cell in a 5 frame box with a frame of honey and a drawn or new frame in a 5 frame box. I let it mate, and start laying. When it is established I add another 5 frame box and raise up a frame of brood into the second box. My goal is to get he cell in the box by the first or second week of June. By fall successfully mated queens are leading colonies that have filled both boxes. I give one gallon of Fumigillan to knock down the nosema and don't have to add much more unless the colonies have been started much later.

    Last year I was overwhelmed by bees. This year, if winter is kind and I am lucky, I plan on selling half of the nucs or the tail will be wagging the dog again.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,833

    Default Re: Nuc management tips

    Just to comment on #4, I built telescoping covers for all my 5 frame nucs which I like, except when it comes to wintering them if you shove the nucs together tight in a group then the covers prevent the nucs from touching each other which is what I want to do. So, now I'm thinking about either going with migratory covers(which are not as waterproof)but allow the nucs to shove together tight, or just not use an outer cover(I have inner covers)and go with a long piece of 2" foamboard to extend the whole width of the nuc grouping. The only problem with that is if you want to do a quick inspection of one of the nucs during cold weather then you have to take the whole cover off of all the nucs at once, which I don't like. Separate foam covers like you are doing now makes more sense except water can still get down between the nucs, unless of course I use a piece of plastic or tarp to cover the foam tops with. So many decisions. John

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Kenosha,WI
    Posts
    190

    Default Re: Nuc management tips

    Adrian, great practical thread.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Livermore, CA
    Posts
    1,384

    Default Re: Nuc management tips

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with nucs Adrian! I love nucs, they come in handy for all sorts of things, swarm traps, swarm catching, queen rearing, splitting and my favorite, moving that weak hive into a double five frame nuc for winter, it really seems that if you put a weak hive into a nuc they bounce right back and become very strong very fast!
    Coyote Creek Bees

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Millbury, MA, USA
    Posts
    1,812

    Default Re: Nuc management tips

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian Quiney WI View Post
    2. If you keep your nucs on stands it is useful to make the stand twice as wide as the number of nucs you might keep on it. This allows you pretty good access to the middle ones. This one is a pain to work on. I made it to high, and it is an ergonomic nightmare trying to access the center nucs.
    I stack 3 pallets and put the nucs on top. It makes them handy to work and also keeps them off the ground.

    I also now cover all my hives [nucs and production hives] with a cheap tarp from Harbor Freight on three sides with just the sunny side open. It worked great last year so I'm doing it again. Much quicker that wrapping and seems as effective.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    Posts
    29

    Default Re: Nuc management tips

    Thanks for this post. It's very helpful! Can you speak to mite treatment? Have you found that you don't need to treat as much? How do you select the hive to make nucs from? How has this approach affected honey production in your production hives?
    Thanks
    Q

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Millbury, MA, USA
    Posts
    1,812

    Default Re: Nuc management tips

    I don't treat my nucs at all. I sell some in the spring and untreated, survivor hives are in demand. I used oxalic vapor this fall. It worked last year, we'll see how it does this year. Had my best honey year this year.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Salem, Oregon
    Posts
    948

    Default Re: Nuc management tips

    Quote Originally Posted by camero7 View Post
    I don't treat my nucs at all..... I used oxalic vapor this fall. It worked last year.

    Soooo, you treated your bees this year and last, but you don't treat at all?!!
    I have exactly ONE hive more than you.
    That makes my opinion beyond question.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Millbury, MA, USA
    Posts
    1,812

    Default Re: Nuc management tips

    No I treated my production hives, not my nucs.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
    Posts
    2,178

    Default Re: Nuc management tips

    Thanks for the positive comments. Beesource is a great place for show and tell. Queenie, part of the whole point of this is for me is to avoid mite treatments. The following three beekeepers, all innovators, report that they don't treat their nucs for mites. I confess I don't look for mites, and counting mites would turn a pleasurable activity into a chore.
    Mel Disselkoen http://www.mdasplitter.com/
    Michael Palmer, http://vimeo.com/23178333
    Kirk Webster, http://www.kirkwebster.com/index.php...ct-information
    I believe that it is the way forward. I have heard it called "Faith Based Beekeeping" in a pejorative way. I'm a believer.
    This year I started the year with 12 hives in a variety of configurations, and 9 nucs. I sold 2 nucs, 28 frames of brood, made 1900 pounds of honey from 18 hives I ran for production. The bees also drew 18 medium boxes worth of comb. I am ending the year with 18 nucs, and 12 hives. I bought 1 queen, and no packages.
    I am quite confident that if I live until I'm 80 I'll never have another season like that because of the weather. The winter was mild and I had 0 losses - that is unlikely to be repeated. While the rest of the country was experiencing a drought we had rain spaced out at exactly the right intervals. It was a season for the ages.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,833

    Default Re: Nuc management tips

    It is so true what Michael Palmer preaches about how nucs are the foundation of successful beekeeping. Nucleus hives have always been used to some extent by beekeepers, but I think incorporating a significant number of nucs into your operation may hold the key to staying treatment free going forward. The mite is here to stay sorry to say, and even with the current treatments available they can still bring down a hive. Remaining treatment free and still keeping your bees alive and productive is going to require a fundamental change in the way we manage our resources (the bees) in my opinion, and I think that the increased use of nucs will play a big role in that change. John

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Weeki Wachee, Florida,USA
    Posts
    1,955

    Default Re: Nuc management tips

    My climate is different than those of you in the North.
    Can some of you comment on the following?

    Supplemental feeding? I do as needed with 1:1 and experimenting with Pollen Sub suspended in 2:1. Still working on most efficient use. I'm pouring it on a few now.

    Do you give blank foundation or Comb? I tend to start with three frames strong with brood and two blanks,built out frames aren't my strongest resource and I find Nucs to be good comb factories for me.

    I rarely super 5 frame Nucs but rather drop into 10 frame equipment with blanks or maybe a couple with comb if I feel like being frivolous! I will on occasion stack a dud on a good one to save comb.......SHB.

    I split full hives down more often maintaining brood frame order roughly and use cells, less often split doubles with a cell, and least often "farm" brood from Nucs and requeen with mated queen. I think splitting down full hives gives the best return for my effort. What does this have to do with managing Nucs? I'm getting the impression that Nucs of medium strength but off balance produce the most. By off balance I don't mean weak but, queen less, lack of stores or in some cases low on brood heavy on bees with a laying Queen.

    Beetles?
    Drift?
    Robbing?

    I watch that Nucs don't get weak with drawn comb that they can't cover combine or replace comb with blank foundation as needed. Beetles aren't a huge problem if I keep an eye on things.
    Drift, I split in the same yard rarely move when I split and switch hive position to equalize.
    Robbing is an issue mostly if I feed with EO, I reduce entrances to less than an inch on the smaller ones and let them sort it out. I did have an issue with spilled syrup that required the stronger hives to get there lids pulled and boxes split. My fault.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
    Posts
    2,178

    Default Re: Nuc management tips

    M, it is so very different up here. I gave each nuc a pollen patty in September. I don't have to feed much syrup, my method is to just grow a nuc on from when it is mated. I am still beetle free at the moment. I like to have all the comb I have taken care of by bees in the summer, and so that gets shared among the nucs as it comes available.
    So far I have been able to keep the robbing away by reducing entrances and ensuring that the splits I make are of reasonable strength; This has come from luck and a lot of educated guesswork.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Myrtle Beach, SC, USA
    Posts
    874

    Default Re: Nuc management tips

    Is anyone beside me having trouble getting Adrain's photos to load. Im signrd into photobucket put nothing happens.
    https://www.facebook.com/stevesbees99
    Please visit my page, Thanks

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Tulsa OK. USA
    Posts
    846

    Default Re: Nuc management tips

    Yep, no pics for me either. Jim
    Stop and smell the flowers, 50,000 ladies can't be wrong
    Bsweetapiary@aol.com

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    South Jordan, Utah, USA
    Posts
    127

    Default Re: Nuc management tips

    I went to photobucket and tried to sign in. Ended up going to their help page where it indicated they have been having issues for the past several days, it appears.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Kenosha,WI
    Posts
    190

    Default Re: Nuc management tips

    No problem with the photos and do not have to sign in to see them. It takes a while before each photo loads.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,833

    Default Re: Nuc management tips

    Mbeck, I don't use foundation at all so I like to give nucs an empty frame at a time to draw comb, they always make beautiful worker comb with no drone cell. John

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Garland County, AR
    Posts
    1,076

    Default Re: Nuc management tips

    Quote Originally Posted by RogerCrum View Post
    No problem with the photos and do not have to sign in to see them. It takes a while before each photo loads.
    Same here...

    Good thread. My first year focussing on nucs. Created 2, lost a queen so combined the nuc with it - Yay, it works!!

    The reason for my focus is as was mentioned - I am TF and I see nucs as the best answer. Hope to have more to contribute next year. I plan on at least having 4, if all goes well. I'm a hobbyist - I take it slow.
    Zone 7b ~ Central Arkansas
    8fr medium equipment

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