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  1. #1
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    Dec 2012
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    Default Running 5-frame medium nucs year-round instead of 8 or 10 frame

    Is this a viable option? And how tall might the supers stack up by the end of the heaviest flow?

    We are buying two nucs to get started - these are our first hives. Eventually want to run all 8-frame Illinois-style, but after pricing the cost of unassembled frames and foundation, the cost starts to add up fast. We planned on moving the bees into the 8-frame, with 3 making up the hive body/winter store and have two more supers for each hive for harvest. Looked at building a total of 10 boxes/supers to get started. As I said, 80 frames and corresponding foundation adds up.

    Do others use nucs exclusively and still get a good harvest from them? How many supers high can they be "safely" stacked? Is this a good way to limit initial investment (especially when still looking at getting clothing, smoker, tools, etc...)?

    Thanks for helping a beginner.

    Daniel

  2. #2
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    Feb 2012
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    Hartford, CT
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    Default Re: Running 5-frame medium nucs year-round instead of 8 or 10 frame

    An 10 frame box is cheaper then 2, 5 frame nucs?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
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    Sullivan, MO
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    885

    Default Re: Running 5-frame medium nucs year-round instead of 8 or 10 frame

    Quote Originally Posted by BeeSmart View Post
    Is this a viable option? And how tall might the supers stack up by the end of the heaviest flow?

    We are buying two nucs to get started - these are our first hives. Eventually want to run all 8-frame Illinois-style, but after pricing the cost of unassembled frames and foundation, the cost starts to add up fast. We planned on moving the bees into the 8-frame, with 3 making up the hive body/winter store and have two more supers for each hive for harvest. Looked at building a total of 10 boxes/supers to get started. As I said, 80 frames and corresponding foundation adds up.

    Do others use nucs exclusively and still get a good harvest from them? How many supers high can they be "safely" stacked? Is this a good way to limit initial investment (especially when still looking at getting clothing, smoker, tools, etc...)?

    Thanks for helping a beginner.

    Daniel
    Ditch the foundation and save over 80$. Yeah I know, I know, a beginner shouldn't go foundationless. My opinion on that is with that atitude a beginner shouldn't start beekeeping. LOL It's all about following proper principals no matter what technique you choose. You also might consider a different supplier for your frames and boxes. Mannlake's free shipping sometimes doesn't end up being so free. I get my boxes and frames from westernbee supply. If you order enough they will even ship truck and save you money over UPS. I get all budget stuff from them and it's just fine. You don't need picture perfect frames and boxes to be successful, the bees don't care and neither should we as long as it's solid. PM if you have any questions on foundationless.
    ROd

  4. #4
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    May 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: Running 5-frame medium nucs year-round instead of 8 or 10 frame

    It's not a good way to limit investment. 2 5 frames boxes cost more than an 8 or 10 frame box. You can raise bees in 5 frame boxes though, might have to go 6 boxes high if you have strong colonies and good flows. Weakly has a good point but I wouldn't be confident in someone with no experience to go foundationless and get good results with a package of bees. I would get 20 sheets to start and then u can start moving combs around and putting foundationless frames between drawn comb.

  5. #5
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    Dec 2012
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    Laurens, SC, USA
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    25

    Default Re: Running 5-frame medium nucs year-round instead of 8 or 10 frame

    Didn't really think it would work out, but nice to see input and suggestions. Western Bee Supply seems much cheaper than others for unassembled frames. We will probably make the boxes, tho.

  6. #6
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    May 2011
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    Default Re: Running 5-frame medium nucs year-round instead of 8 or 10 frame

    Im with Rod, go foundationless and enjoy the cost savings!!!

    As for using the nucs instead of regular equipment.........I probably wouldnt based on the fact that you would really need to be on top of things or you will have constant swarming!! It doesnt take the bees long to build out 5 frames and an even shorter time to decide to swarm!! Just seems like a lot of work.

    As for height: two five frame deep nucs is 20" tall (equal to one ten frame deep), another 20" equals 40" tall (equal to two ten frame deeps, space wise what most run for the bees), now add another 13" worth of five frame mediums for your honey super, and possibly another 13" when that one fills. You have a grand total of around a 66" tall beehive!! Almost 6' tall!! Even taller if you go all deeps!

    Sounds easy enough.........now imagine having to manipulate all those boxes to get to the brood nest to make sure everything is going good! How about treating if your so inclined to do so!!

    The cheapest nuc you can buy is around $8.50 a piece. So your looking at around $68 for the set up described above. The same set-up in a regular 10 frame is around $40. In an eight frame set-up its around $51 to have the same amount of frames as a 10 frame set-up.

    Oh ya, this is just the boxes...........no frames and no foundation!!

    Just saying!!!
    Coyote Creek Bees

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Running 5-frame medium nucs year-round instead of 8 or 10 frame

    Oh, I see you're getting nucs... my bad. You can probably try foundationless right away but you will need to make sure the hives are level side to side and they may build wonky comb. Personally, I like foundation as you get expected results and limits drone comb, not that it's a bad thing but they do tend to make a lot of it when given the choice. Honestly, I don't even look at the $$ involved but if it's important to you then you gotta do what you gotta do.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    boxford, mass.
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    Default Re: Running 5-frame medium nucs year-round instead of 8 or 10 frame

    this last summer we had a swarm that we stuck in a nuc and did well. but on the other hand they didn't get a lot of time to put up stores so it didn't get over four boxes high. the big problem with it is that its light weight and you shouldn't use a frame hanger on it, lesson learned. I agree with beeghost, the four boxes we had stacked up were almost completely brood chamber and with the hive on cement blocks it was chest high. ended up switching them into a 10 frame hive before it got cold.

  9. #9
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    Jan 2009
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    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    Default Re: Running 5-frame medium nucs year-round instead of 8 or 10 frame

    I agree with a couple others who said to go foundationless, it's not only cheaper but lets the bees build what they want like they would naturally anyway. Everyone is a beginner when trying something new, after using foundation for 30 years and trying out foundationless, you are a beginner again in some respects, I don't believe in delaying a knowledge of new things or methods, just jump in and learn right now. Foundationless is not difficult for the beginner, just prepare the frames with comb guide strips, put them in the hive and keep a close eye on them to make sure the bees are drawing them straight on the guides.

  10. #10
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    Nov 2007
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    Chesterfield, NH
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    490

    Default Re: Running 5-frame medium nucs year-round instead of 8 or 10 frame

    Quote Originally Posted by BeeSmart View Post
    Is this a viable option? And how tall might the supers stack up by the end of the heaviest flow?

    We are buying two nucs to get started - these are our first hives. Eventually want to run all 8-frame Illinois-style, but after pricing the cost of unassembled frames and foundation, the cost starts to add up fast. We planned on moving the bees into the 8-frame, with 3 making up the hive body/winter store and have two more supers for each hive for harvest. Looked at building a total of 10 boxes/supers to get started. As I said, 80 frames and corresponding foundation adds up.

    Do others use nucs exclusively and still get a good harvest from them? How many supers high can they be "safely" stacked? Is this a good way to limit initial investment (especially when still looking at getting clothing, smoker, tools, etc...)?

    Thanks for helping a beginner.

    Daniel
    Are the nucs you buying on med frames for (6 5/8'') boxes

    If you have all 8-frame boxes (6 5/8") IMHO you do not need and 5 frame nuc boxes (6 5/8") at ALL IMHO it just add to the cost $$$$
    You may not know this but 8 8 frame boxes (6 5/8") boxes (6 5/8") and a 5 Deeps nuc boxes (9 5/8) are the same size in area

    This one of reason why Michael Bush has ALL 8 frame boxes (6 5/8")
    And I hope this helps you out.
    http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm


    BEE HAPPY Jim 134
    Franklin County Beekeepers Association MA.
    http://www.franklinmabeekeepers.org/

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Running 5-frame medium nucs year-round instead of 8 or 10 frame

    There isn’t anything more frustrating for the novice than having the bees build messed up comb and you having to tear it all out with dead bees and dripping honey trying to tie comb into frames good chance of killing your queen. If ya can’t afford 10 sheets of foundation don’t start beekeeping
    I’m really not that serious

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Running 5-frame medium nucs year-round instead of 8 or 10 frame

    Quote Originally Posted by mac View Post
    There isn’t anything more frustrating for the novice than having the bees build messed up comb and you having to tear it all out with dead bees and dripping honey trying to tie comb into frames good chance of killing your queen. If ya can’t afford 10 sheets of foundation don’t start beekeeping
    You really should stop trying to scare people with horror stories. You act as though foundation is the great savior and there can't be any problems with it. Every heard of foundation (wax) buckling and collapsing in the heat? How about bees that totally ignore the foundation (wax coated plastic) and build the comb off to the side of the foundation. Bad things (for us, bees don't care) can happen in beekeeping no matter what you do. If the beekeeper follows good guidelines on going foundationless they will be fine. The person who started the thread said they were going to be starting with NUCS which means they will have already drawn comb. Explain to me how they are going to have this "MESS" you are worried about if they introduce foundationless frames (with comb guide) in between 2 drawn combs (preferably between 2 with emerging brood) and have their hive level side to side. As long as the beekeeper doesn't take newly drawn comb and turn it from vertical to horizontal causing the soft new comb to fall out they have no worries.

    And again just because I can, here is a video I made on some basic foundationless principles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38SPvuWvVkc

    Good luck
    Rod

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Running 5-frame medium nucs year-round instead of 8 or 10 frame

    One of your questions was, (if I read correctly) Is it an option to run bees in all 5 frafme nucs. The answer is YES.

    These type hives are normally referred to as Garden Hives, (Google Search, Garden Hives and read about them) and can be very successfully used for minimum number of bees, and those who don't want to handle a lot of weight. These are normally run as 2 deep nucs, and two shallow nucs. You harvest the honey as it is ready, most who use this system do not use mechanized equipment, and harvest manually by cutting crush and straining the comb through a filter, or sell as cut comb. It is more labor intensive, but can be managed.

    Perhaps the biggest problem with this system is height and stability. Most who use this system drive a steel post, or set a normal post on each side of the Nuc Hive to keep it from being blown over. Obviously it is very narrow.

    Bees do very well in this set up. Lots of people use a double nuc strickly for pollination of their gardens. They have two hives rather than just one to work with. As the two deeps build up, you can split and keep from swarming. One advantage is when working the bees, you are only opening 5 frames of bees at a time, rather than 10 frames.

    Will this system work, of course. Is it a good system, well, not for me, but, if someone wants to just play, it will work.

    While it it not a system that I like, you might also look into Top Bar Beekeeping. Another alternative to 10 frame beekeeping.

    cchoganjr

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    Westchester NY
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    Smile Re: Running 5-frame medium nucs year-round instead of 8 or 10 frame

    Beesmart Just some thoughts on you overall plan for the spring:

    Before you get into choosing nucs I just wanted to clarify your regular hive equipment. You are getting 8 frame medium hives but I just am curious as to why. On this forum it seems the trend is to go all medium, which I would question as it is not always the best for everyone. With all mediums, you will need to purchase 30 percent more of everything as each hive will need at least 3 bodies, perhaps 4 because you are thinking 8 frame hives.

    If I had to choose I would either get all mediums, or all 8 frame deeps==I would not get the combination of both as I dont think you are getting any major benefit--the hives will still be lighter if you choose one or the other and easy to maneuver and split. 8 frame while I think it is more efficient,(as bees don't usually fill the outer two frames in 10 framers anyway) They can get annoying as they are not the same dimensions as a standard hive body and you will be locked in to buying all 8 frame items so it would be hard to get any second hand equipment down the road.

    I would consider a second option rather than this though, which is to just use 2 10 frame deeps for each hive. Splits are still easy to do with them--you can always use a piece of cardboard as a follower board to shrink the hive down while it is expanding.-- Also in my experience I do not know of any beekeepers who extract honey from brood chamber frames it is usually darker and the bees need it there anyway. As a result honey supers don't usually get exchanged with brood frames so for honey supers you could use shallows or mediums to cut back on honey weight.

    Just my two cents, or maybe more like 2 dollars
    http://www.peekskillnurseries.com
    Specialists in Ground Cover plants since 1937. Talk to me about ground-covers!

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Running 5-frame medium nucs year-round instead of 8 or 10 frame

    foundationless it fairly simple and as a newbee I wouldn't worry about it. My next 5 hives are gonna be foundationless and this is my 2nd yr.

  16. #16
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    Laurens, SC, USA
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    Default Re: Running 5-frame medium nucs year-round instead of 8 or 10 frame

    Thanks to all for the advice. Went out and began purchasing lumber this afternoon. As we will be making our own boxes, we are going with all 8-frame mediums. One reason being it will save my back a bit and also because my wife is in on this project and I want her to be able to lift them too.
    As to the advice of not starting beekeeping because we can't afford ten sheets of foundation, that's not the point. I simply want to reduce our investment, especially this first year until finances get better. I also want better pollination in the garden, as well as ensure the continuity of honeybees in whatever way I can.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Running 5-frame medium nucs year-round instead of 8 or 10 frame

    [QUOTE=BeeSmart;879886]
    We are going with all 8-frame mediums. One reason being it will save my back a bit and also because my wife is in on this project and I want her to be able to lift them too.
    If this is the case, go with 10 frame mediums, you can always open the hive when its time to harvest and remove frame by frame of honey into an empty nuc or hive body. That way you can control the weight you can carry. An 8 frame medium packed with honey might weigh 30+ pounds, if you only take half the frames and place them into an empty box, it will only weigh about 12 pounds, easily managed! Just remember, you can manipulate a complete hive one frame at a time, no need to lug a heavy box off if you dont need to!! When I took the honey off my town hives I did it a frame at a time, I could check the frame to see how much is filled, if the bees packed a frame, in another box it would go and a new frame put in its place, if it was only a bit drawn out or not over 80% capped, I would leave it.
    I simply want to reduce our investment, especially this first year until finances get better.
    Understood, beekeeping isnt cheap, and keeping finances down is important, especially for new beekeepers who may or may not like what they are about to get into. The only things I make are my two hive solid bottom pallets, nucs and my covers. I have also made my own SBB but will be going away from them and will try to sell them soon. I also make my own swarm traps which also double as a swarm catcher when I go out on swarm calls. I buy all my frames and hive bodies through Mann Lake to take and take advantage of their free shipping over $100.

    I also want better pollination in the garden, as well as ensure the continuity of honeybees in whatever way I can.
    Very good, but I also would atleast have two hives incase something happens to one!! If you dont want more than two, let them swarm or split them and offer it to someone who wants bees!

    Goodluck with what ever you decide to do, and remember, this beekeeping stuff is addicting!
    Coyote Creek Bees

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Running 5-frame medium nucs year-round instead of 8 or 10 frame

    I started going to foundationless last year, and I think the mediums work out a little better than deeps for foundationless beekeeping, for the strength of the combs.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Running 5-frame medium nucs year-round instead of 8 or 10 frame

    I have heard a med of honey is 60 lbs a deep 90 and a shallow is around 40. Not sure where 30 came from.

    3, 4,5 ,8 or 10 frame boxes. you are still going to need the frames. you can go 30 fraems in 3-10 frame boxes or 6-5frame boxes. But you are still going to buy those frames. Foundation more than doubles the cost of a frame. Place fraems between already drawn fraems and it will cause a lot less problem and save you over a dollar frame. You will have to put more attention into getting foundations frames drawn. Btu there is not magic in doing it. I put a foundationless frame in one of my hive last year as a temporary thing. the bees drew comb in half of it no problem at all. Read up on how to give them some sort of guide to start with. not a perfect answer but it helps. and remember new comb without foundation is fragile.
    At times it is difficult to get bees to draw foundation. at those times I found they will not build comb at all. I didn't tinker with it much though. You might find a way to get them to do it even in the slow periods.
    Just one more way to skin the cat to me.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

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