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Thread: Why use nucs?

  1. #1
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    Default Why use nucs?

    I was having a look at my supplier's price list to decide on what to buy to complement my equipment for this year. It struck me how uneconomical nucs are. I can get a full hive with two 10 frame medium boxes and frames for 43 and a 5 frame nuc with the exact same construction for 28. That makes the full hive 4 times larger and only 50% more expensive.

    Given the economics is there any reason I should consider using nucs at all? I'm planning on doing a split soon and am just going to use my existing stuff to build a 10-frame single-story medium hive. In what situation should I consider buying a nuc instead? Is there any real difference between having a 5 frame nuc or a 10 frame box with the center 5 frames filled and the rest empty?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Why use nucs?

    Full size equipment is fine. Use a follower board if you want to reduce the hive space.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Why use nucs?

    I found out the nuc is smaller and lighter to carry around. And can be use for a swarm trap instead of a standard
    hive box. Standard box is too large to fit up a tree compare to a nuc. But I think you can improvise if you want to use the standard box instead. I use them without any problem.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Why use nucs?

    Convenience. If you are a woodworker they are very economical to make. But i'd say you can use full size equipment for anything you would do with a nuc, it just might be more cumbersome.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Why use nucs?

    Nucleus hives have many uses, but if the cost is a big problem, you can use full sized equipment.

    I make my own, so it's not an issue.

    Nucs are very handy for catching swarms, doing splits, and I plan to try overwintering some to make up for losses since they need far less in the way of care and feeding compared to a full hive to overwinter. That way I can replace a hive quickly without losing so much honey crop.

    Peter

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Why use nucs?

    Quote Originally Posted by JD's Bees View Post
    Full size equipment is fine. Use a follower board if you want to reduce the hive space.
    That's the core of the question. Is there any reason I'd want to reduce the hive space? I've gone foundationless. Is there any downside to having 2+3 empty frames on the sides of the hive vs having a full 5 frame nuc?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Why use nucs?

    There are many reasons you would want to reduce the space:

    The bees will have trouble staying warm in a vast, empty hive compared to a nice snug nuc box they nearly fill.

    They cannot control wax moths and hive beetles in a large box of empty comb when there are few bees.

    They cannot defend the hive against robbers if there is large amount of space and few bees.

    I'm sure there are more.

    I could probably have saved the hive I lost last year if I'd have put them into a nuc when I found out how small the cluster was in the spring (or had fed them up to weight in the fall, eh?) but I didn't have one. I now have seven, I think I'll be OK!

    Peter

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Why use nucs?

    Peter gave a few good reasons to reduce the space.
    I don't have hive beetles or wax moth problems so if using full size equipment I don't worry about reducing the space. I make nucs/splits with full deeps and let the bees build up.
    You don't have to reduce the space but "if" you want to for whatever reason then a simple follower board and entrance reducer could be used with your standard boxes and accomplish the same thing as using a nuc.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Why use nucs?

    Quote Originally Posted by JD's Bees View Post
    Peter gave a few good reasons to reduce the space.
    I don't have hive beetles or wax moth problems so if using full size equipment I don't worry about reducing the space. I make nucs/splits with full deeps and let the bees build up.
    That's pretty much my situation. There are no hive beetles in Portugal and I haven't had wax moth problems. Being foundationless probably also helps with any wax moth issues as the extra frames won't have any wax to be attacked.

    Quote Originally Posted by JD's Bees View Post
    You don't have to reduce the space but "if" you want to for whatever reason then a simple follower board and entrance reducer could be used with your standard boxes and accomplish the same thing as using a nuc.
    I need to check what kind of follower boards can be used with our box models. The entrance reducer isn't really a problem. The local hive style includes a mouse guard with two positions, one of which only has openings for 5 or 6 bees, so I should be all set there.

    Here's the kind of equipment that is usually used around here:

    http://www.apimel.pt/equipamento.htm

    PS: I don't seem to be allowed to upload pictures to the forum. Is this normal or is there something wrong with my account?

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Why use nucs?

    Here's a list of eleven good reasons to have a nuc box:
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnucs.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Why use nucs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    Here's a list of eleven good reasons to have a nuc box:
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnucs.htm
    Thanks Michael, I think I had seen that before, I've read most of your site. It was a good recap of things discussed here.

    I'm going to try standardizing on 10 frame mediums for simplicity and see how far that gets me. Thanks everyone for the input.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Why use nucs?

    Pedro, the easiest way I have found to get a photo here is to open a photobucket account and make a link to it. Here are some of my nucs.
    http://s1110.beta.photobucket.com/us...ml?sort=6&o=65

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Why use nucs?

    Adding photos to this site can be a pain -- I cannot use some browsers nor some software versions (Mac OS 10.4 won't work, OS 10.5 does, but I can't use my version of Photoshop in 10.5, so have to bounce between startup volumes, a big pain).

    Peter

  14. #14
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    St Catherine, Jamaica
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    Default Re: Why use nucs?

    This is wonderful Mike! Thanks!
    To Bee or not to Bee...That's the question!

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Why use nucs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian Quiney WI View Post
    Pedro, the easiest way I have found to get a photo here is to open a photobucket account and make a link to it. Here are some of my nucs.
    http://s1110.beta.photobucket.com/us...ml?sort=6&o=65
    Yep, I've used imgur for the same thing. I've just seen people add them to the posts directly and that seemed like a good experience so I was hoping to be able to do the same.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Why use nucs?

    Quote Originally Posted by psfred View Post
    Adding photos to this site can be a pain -- I cannot use some browsers nor some software versions (Mac OS 10.4 won't work, OS 10.5 does, but I can't use my version of Photoshop in 10.5, so have to bounce between startup volumes, a big pain).

    Peter
    I guess Google Chrome on Windows 7 is another one that doesn't work.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Why use nucs?

    Most of beekeeping is about managing space. Too much space causes SHB, wax moth, ant and robbing issues. Too little space causes swarming. A nuc lets you manage very small spaces for very small nucleus colonies. The most common uses are for mating queens or banking a queen for a while rather than getting rid of her altogether. Also for starting a small split until it's strong enough to handle more room.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Why use nucs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    Most of beekeeping is about managing space. Too much space causes SHB, wax moth, ant and robbing issues.
    Here's what I'm thinking on those three:

    • SHB: It doesn't exist in Portugal
    • Wax Moths: On the recommendation of your website I've gone foundationless so any extra frames in a 10 frame vs 5 frame wouldn't have wax anyway. I also haven't had any wax moth yet, but it's still early days.
    • Robbing: Why does more interior space make a difference here? Wouldn't reducing the entrance be enough?

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