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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Huntsville, Alabama
    Posts
    677

    Default Splits: 2 or 3 frames??

    I am wanting to make selling nucs a viable little side income. I've got a 5 year plan of growing it to 50+ nucs a year. I am in year 2 with 18 last year and 30 this year. I've always made splits/nucs both for selling and personal use by using 3 frames of bees then growing them into 5. Anyone ever start with 2 frames? I'm committed to 5 frame nucs this year and got to thinking that I could get a real jump start on next year if I started with 2 frames. This also impacts my plan of going to selling 4 frame nucs instead of 5 frame nucs.

    Yes, I know it will take longer to grow from 2 to 5. I'm ok with that. Just wondered if 2 frames left them a little too weak.

    Thoughts or experiences?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Fayetteville, WV
    Posts
    59

    Default Re: Splits: 2 or 3 frames??

    When I first started beekeeping I did all my research on everything, except when to buy bees. I was shocked in April when I called to order bees and everyone was out. Later that year in June I saw in the paper that someone had two frame nucs for sale. Like you I was a little skeptical about the small size but didn't want to wait another year, so I bought one, actually on June 15th. They did well and built up to fill a standard deep and medium, and had plenty of stores for the winter. That was four years ago, and I still have them. I have a friend who has had bees for fifty years, and he showed my how to do splits, and to my surprise, he used just two frames. The last three springs I have split all my hives using just two frames and have never had any trouble, and they fill two standard size boxes, not nucs. I am going to try my hand at queen rearing and selling two frame nucs, and plan on starting them with just one frame of brood and a new frame, we will have to see how that works.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,872

    Default Re: Splits: 2 or 3 frames??

    Using the 2 frames will put your schedule a bit behind compare to using a 3 to 5 frames nuc. Using a 1 frame nuc is
    even slower because the queen will lay according to how the workers are able to cover their larvae and broods. All can
    be done but you have to watch them constantly so they will not die out. Like give them new bees if their population
    went down. It is a lot of works for this slow process. That is why the more bees you have the faster the hive can build up quickly. Many more workers will be bringing in pollens and nectar on a strong hive compare to a 2 frames nuc hive.
    Maybe you can try for some nucs # first and later on compare them which method is better to use. Try, monitor and feedback is very important dealing with a small nuc. I can see this will work in the tropical environment like Hawaii all
    year long.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Warrior, Alabama
    Posts
    1,069

    Default Re: Splits: 2 or 3 frames??

    a larger number split can often be spilt again in the same year.
    It will grow faster than a small numbered split.
    Everything become relative to the number of nurse bees and resources.
    Old Guy in Alabama

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,872

    Default Re: Splits: 2 or 3 frames??

    I agree. A larger hive can be split again sometimes 3 times in a season into nucs if it grows too fast under the ideal conditions, of course. A strong population will grow faster too from all the foragers bringing in extra resources for the
    hive. We can only help them to grow faster by providing extra frames and space as needed.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Montgomery County, NY
    Posts
    1,879

    Default Re: Splits: 2 or 3 frames??

    I make all my splits 2 frames. I even made 1 frame splits. I can tell you from personal experience my 2 frame splits make me a honey crop every year.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,902

    Default Re: Splits: 2 or 3 frames??

    When doing a two frame split I would use a couple brood frames with nice solid capped and emerging brood on both sides of the comb. I assume you are adding mated queens to the nucs, that would certainly give them uninterrupted brood rearing so they can build up faster, all the capped and emerging brood will provide lots of new space for the new queen to lay, and you will have plenty of young nurse bees to keep the brood warm and to feed it. John

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Indianapolis IN 46227
    Posts
    285

    Default Re: Splits: 2 or 3 frames??

    Quote Originally Posted by BMAC View Post
    I make all my splits 2 frames. I even made 1 frame splits. I can tell you from personal experience my 2 frame splits make me a honey crop every year.
    Are these April splits with mated queens?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Montgomery County, NY
    Posts
    1,879

    Default Re: Splits: 2 or 3 frames??

    Early March splits with cells. They go thru an entire flow prior to coming home however for our flow here. I would safely say 95% of them are ready to run Honey in mid May.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,902

    Default Re: Splits: 2 or 3 frames??

    BMAC, what would you say is your success rate of getting mated queens on the first try doing it that way? John

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Montgomery County, NY
    Posts
    1,879

    Default Re: Splits: 2 or 3 frames??

    I have been using cell protectors and been seeing a 85-90% take on the cells. There are lots of variables that go into this though. Current flow has alot to do with it as does strength of splits trying to rid your split of foragers. I try to make sure my splits I am putting cells into has only nurse bees in it. It seems like the takes are much lower if there are alot of foragers in the split. Those girls are mad after tearing their world apart.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,902

    Default Re: Splits: 2 or 3 frames??

    BMAC, that's a good take but what is the percentage of queens that end up mated? Do you keep a feeder on them after you make the splits? Thanks, John.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Montgomery County, NY
    Posts
    1,879

    Default Re: Splits: 2 or 3 frames??

    I don't consider a take on the queen cell is she isn't laying worker brood. I also don't feed them. I do make sure every split has 1 frame of honey and pollen in it however. They are also on an excellent flow when I make my splits. They are generally booming when I check on them 5 weeks later.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,902

    Default Re: Splits: 2 or 3 frames??

    BMAC, ok I got you, sounds like a good plan. Thanks, John

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    West Bath, Maine, United States
    Posts
    1,143

    Default Re: Splits: 2 or 3 frames??

    BMAC, where are you splitting and what is the season at that local. I'm thinking that small split success is all about temps and the resources needed to keep the brood warm. My early 3s take but just fade away slowly. I am going to use foam nucs to see if that helps.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Montgomery County, NY
    Posts
    1,879

    Default Re: Splits: 2 or 3 frames??

    Anytime. I have noticed in the past that some queens are late bloomers. I know alot of guys out there check them right at 21 days. They find virgins or rather queens that are not laying yet. I noticed giving them longer before checking back to see progress or regress usually results in better percentages of takes on cells. Unknown to me a beekeeper friend in Ok started doing similar check backs and noticed similar results. I'm sold on 5 week check backs on the NUCs.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Montgomery County, NY
    Posts
    1,879

    Default Re: Splits: 2 or 3 frames??

    Quote Originally Posted by Saltybee View Post
    BMAC, where are you splitting and what is the season at that local.
    Ga. The season when I get there in early March is swarm season. Lots of nectar and pollen coming in.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,471

    Default Re: Splits: 2 or 3 frames??

    Later tells you a lot more, no doubt about that. I have a bit different take. We check back at 3 weeks and yeah there can be a lot of question marks but we just drop in a frame of open brood and another cell anywhere there is a doubt (unless we have a visual on a nice looking virgin or freshly mated queen) and then just ignore them until they are on location up north about a month later. We expect to see in the 90% range at that point. The other advantage to the 21 day checkback is its an ideal time to analyze mite loads and do an oxalic or Hopguard treatment. I wouldn't do that, though, unless you truly determine a need for it.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Montgomery County, NY
    Posts
    1,879

    Default Re: Splits: 2 or 3 frames??

    Jim I was thinking about using a strip of Hopguard in all the NUCs on checkback this spring to get ahead of treatments. I can understand Oxalic on the NUCs but why not Hopguard? Is it that hard on the bees?

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,471

    Default Re: Splits: 2 or 3 frames??

    Haven't tried it but to me it seems perfectly suited for such a scenario. I have heard of a few successful reports of its usage in this manner.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

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