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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Asotin County, WA
    Posts
    13

    Default Size of mating nucs

    I am in SE Washington state, just noticed some capped drone brood this last week and I would like to start raising some queens. How many frames should I use in my mating nucs? My concern is temperature this time of year, highs have been 50-60's with lows in the mid 30's and I am sure we will have a few under 32. I was planning on using 2-3 frames with 1 being a brood frame, but I am afraid the brood will get chilled. Any suggestions? This will be my first year raising queens.
    Thanks, Ben

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Litchfield, CT, USA
    Posts
    430

    Default Re: Size of mating nucs

    Have you seen drones leaving hive and flying? I would be a little concerned with the temps in the 30's. Can you wait a bit? You can run mating nucs with 2 and 3 frames but I would go with a four framer if it was me especially with the cooler temps.
    "Someday we will look back and realize someone was right...and conveniently forget we were the ones that were wrong."

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Roy, Wa
    Posts
    1,598

    Default Re: Size of mating nucs

    I am in Western Wa and too have seen cappped drone brood. I'm going to do a test graft in a week or two...a full month earlier than usual. The problem is if the virgins are not mated well, the mating nuc will dwindle. So any resources you put into the nuc may be basically lost by the time a well mated queen is produced. It is tempting though.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Posts
    1,640

    Default Re: Size of mating nucs

    I'm in the South and I have trouble getting anything less than two frames established. I have done it a few times with just one frame and a couple extra shakes but, have better luck with two frames. I just placed my first round of cells yesterday. I'm trying out the mini nucs this year.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    2,553

    Default Re: Size of mating nucs

    Quote Originally Posted by Lauri View Post
    ...a full month earlier than usual...
    We're at least a full month LATER than usual!!
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,644

    Default Re: Size of mating nucs

    All the comercial guys I know of use at least 2 frames, 6 5/8 deep. half length. Some use larger, but thats the smallest.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,833

    Default Re: Size of mating nucs

    I think to get good queen mating the temperature needs to be around 70 or above, so it might be a bit early. John

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Asotin County, WA
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Size of mating nucs

    Thanks for your replies, I am chomping at the bit to start producing some queens. Last year I waited until July and didn't have much success with a dearth going on. I think I will do some grafting now to get some practice, but won't place any cells for a few more weeks depending on the weather. Ben

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    3,996

    Default Re: Size of mating nucs

    I say go for it - you might waste some mating nuc resources, but you don't learn if you don't do. If when it's time for mating flights the conditions are rough mark any resulting queens with an odd color so you know not to overwinter them, but they can still pump up your mating nucs for subsequent tries.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    932

    Default Re: Size of mating nucs

    I use 10-frame medium Langstroth boxes, and I find it very easy to build my hives with 3 slots down the insides of the short ends of the boxes. These slots are just a bit wider than quarter inch ply, half as deep as the frame hanging shelf is wide, and run vertically from the frame hanging shelf down to the bottom of the box.

    These slots are 17/64ths inch wide, and 3/16ths inch deep. They are spaced so that one hive partition made of 1/4" plywood can go in the middle, making a double 5-frame nuc box, or that two hive partitions can be placed such that there are 3 chambers of three frames each for open mating (the center slot is not used for the 3 x 3 arrangement).

    An additional advantage is that a partition made with queen excluder wire can be used to isolate a queen onto 3 frames of comb to lay eggs for breeding, making them easy to find. The workers can pass through freely. I call this my 7/3 arrangement, and I make up top-bar type sticks for the bees to draw out so the queens have new comb to lay eggs in.

    Mating boxes have been made and used successfully with much less volume than 3 medium frames, but not without problems. The small colonies tend to swarm or abscond. To some, the use of bee resources in open mating is important to raise as many queens as you can in a short time, so they use the mini- or baby mating nucs, which go 30 to a super for drawing out the wax, and 3 frames and a mini-feeder are used in a mini-mating nuc. This allows a super crowded with worker bees to care for 10 queens for about 2 to 3 weeks during mating.

    I don't use the mini mating boxes & frames. All my boxes are made with these slots, which are easiest to dado-cut before assembly, but can be routed with a small trimming router. I can use any box for 3 x 3-frame open mating, for 2 x 5-frame nuc increase colonies, for a breeder queen to lay in, or for a full 10-frame box. All my frames will soon be all mediums, so any frame for any purpose.

    At present, my VQ's are open-mated 3 to a box with 3 frames each and two partitions. I prefer to put a lot of bees in the mating colonies, this encourages the newly-mated queen to lay like crazy, and her colony will shrink a bit for 3 weeks, then take off and increase on the fourth week, when I move them into the 2 x 5-frame double nuc arrangement. I'm in California where I don't need double screen boards for my nucs very much, but you may elect to make 3 x 3 and 2 x 5 double-screen boards if cold weather is a worry, mating your VQ's over a strong colony so they can benefit from it's heat.

    My floor boards are flipable - one side is a screeened bottom board, the other side is either a double 5-frame nuc or a triple 3-frame mating nuc, with 1/4" square cross-section wood strips providing a slot for the bottom of the partition.
    I tried to extend the slots down into the rims of the floors, but alignment from hive-to-hive didn't quite work out, so I just narrowed the partitions down in the area of the floors. There are no floor exits for the 3-frame and 5-frame arrangements - I just use cork holes (six to a box!) and I keep a bucket of corks handy.

    I have 3 types of inner covers...3-frame mating nuc covers, 5-frame double nuc covers, and 10-frame inner covers. It is some saw work, but a very flexible system.

    The partitions are made of 1/4" plywood and have "ears" that block the area where the frame hangar tabs go on the shelves, and they go all the way to the floor and extend up to just touch the top of the inner cover. Each chamber is sealed from the others, and I can add a piece of burlap, if necessary, to keep bees from fighting while the hives are open, but it is rarely necessary.

    One last advantage to the slotted 10-frame hives over mini-mating nucs is that I don't have to wait for the bees to draw out the wax in the mini-frames, setting my queen rearing efforts about 10 days earlier in the year, or more, depending on weather.
    Last edited by kilocharlie; 03-31-2013 at 05:49 PM.

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