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  1. #1
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    Default Two frame or three frame mating nucs?

    Which is more preferred? I am making one or the other by dividing 10 frame boxes, so I would like some input from you experienced guys. Thanks.
    Purveyor of almost organic honey and treatment free bees.

  2. #2
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    Jan 2009
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    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    Default Re: Two frame or three frame mating nucs?

    I'm not really all that experienced - but I have better success with bigger, stronger nucs than I do with really small ones. Bigger nucs are also easier to manage once they are established.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  3. #3
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    Mar 2014
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    Talladega County, Alabama, USA
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    32

    Default Re: Two frame or three frame mating nucs?

    Thought I would jump in and ask why would you want to. I realize a nuke uses a few more frames and a little more bench space. Giving them a little room and resources means I have a little more time before they outgrow their space.

  4. #4
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    Apr 2014
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    Fort Gay, WV, USA
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    955

    Default Re: Two frame or three frame mating nucs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brad Bee View Post
    Which is more preferred? I am making one or the other by dividing 10 frame boxes, so I would like some input from you experienced guys. Thanks.
    I run 3 frame mating nuc's. The extra bees and space gives the new queen a real area to get started in. Not to mention if i'm planning on turning into a standard 5 frame NUC, all I have to do is put them into it and give a couple extra frames at that time. So far mine turn out pretty good.
    Thomas Bartram - Since 2013, 43 - 8 F langs, 22 Italian & 21 Russian

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    1,841

    Default Re: Two frame or three frame mating nucs?

    I use 5 frame nucs because of the cooler temp. at night here.
    Though 3 frames is doable if you have a fairly strong nuc. How many frames do not matter that much
    as long as they can cover the broods without them getting chill at the night time.
    I luv bee source!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    Marshall county, AL
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    792

    Default Re: Two frame or three frame mating nucs?

    Thanks for the replies, keep 'em coming. To clear up questions, they would only stay in the mating boxes until the queen started laying. I would then move them to a 5 frame box. It would allow me to get queens started with less donor frames of bees. Night time temps here are not a limiting factor for me. 65-75 degree nights from now until early September are the norm.
    Purveyor of almost organic honey and treatment free bees.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
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    Battle Ground, WA
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    100

    Default Re: Two frame or three frame mating nucs?

    I'm not overly experienced but talked to several very experienced beeks before deciding what to do. I opted for three frame for the following reasons.
    - I use foundationless frames, I could add an empty frame as one of my three and occupy the bees time building new comb. If not for this extra frame I think my bees would have packed the two frames full of stores long before the queen layed an egg.
    - graduating from two frames to a five frame Nuc is a 150% increase in space whereas as three to five frame move is just a 66% jump. I felt a young colony could more easily heat and defend the smaller increase in space.

    At the end of the day I'm donating just two frames per chamber, same as a two frame setup but I end up at the same five Nuc place with less risk of chilling or robbing.

    Btw- one mistake I nearly made that would be an easy oops when using boxes like you are planning and as I did. Since you are not likely using a regular bottom board, you will probably be using some type of sheet good. You need to make sure to add a bee space shim to the bottom of your box before mounting it to the bottom base. I did this on top too to give them better access to feed but it's probably not as critical. The dark line around the lower perimeter is what I'm talking about, I also used it for my closeable entrances.

    image.jpg

    Good luck.

  8. #8
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    Apr 2013
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    Default Re: Two frame or three frame mating nucs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Thershey View Post
    Btw- one mistake I nearly made that would be an easy oops when using boxes like you are planning and as I did. Since you are not likely using a regular bottom board, you will probably be using some type of sheet good. You need to make sure to add a bee space shim to the bottom of your box before mounting it to the bottom base. I did this on top too to give them better access to feed but it's probably not as critical. The dark line around the lower perimeter is what I'm talking about, I also used it for my closeable entrances.

    Good luck.
    Thanks for the response because I would likely not have added any depth to the sides. I had not thought about it, but you're correct. I'm not going to use a normal bottom board. I will use plywood and attach the bottom directly to the sides. I guess I will go with 3 frame nucs. I will drill a hole in 3 sides of the box to give entrances to the 3 chambers. The boxes will be dedicated mating nucs so I won't be putting them to use in a hive at a later date.

    I wish I had asked the question earlier. Now I have to put a shim on the sides. It would have been real easy to just make the sides 10" deep to start with. LOL Actually I could have made them 10 1/2" deep and put a 1/2" rabbet in each side to allow for the 1/2" plywood bottom. That would have kept the sides of the plywood covered. I guess I can make a 7/8" shim and still put a 1/2" rabbet in it to cover the sides of the plywood.
    Purveyor of almost organic honey and treatment free bees.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
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    972

    Default Re: Two frame or three frame mating nucs?

    3 frames are definitely preferable to 2, and adding brood and two 32-ounce drink cups of bees seems to help. The rest of the possible setups depends on your situation. If you have lots of bees to donate, make full 10-frame splits and put a honey box above it if the flow is still on. Just making increasers? Make up 5 -frame nucs early in the season - a good year they will go up to a full box or 2, a poor year they should still over-winter if fed. Mating the queens and increasing early? Make 3-frame nucs and feed them.

    Yes, you can conserve bee resources and split them real thin like 1- or 2-frame mating colonies, but this makes the division of labor in the hive very stringent - not enough of anything getting done, so the colonies grow very slowly and may miss out on a lot of the nectar flow for the year, making wintering very "iffy".

    I consider 3 a minimum in very good conditions for colony growth, and I feed them. A double nuc box and 4 frames + a feeder frame works out pretty good in 10-frame boxes, as do double nucs in 8-frame box equipment.

    Almost all my 10-frame Langstroth boxes have 3 vertical slots down the inside of the short (16 1/4") ends. I add hive partitions made of 1/4" ply, make up special bottoms and narrow inner covers. I can run 3 x 3-frame mating arrangement, 2 x 5-frame double nuc arrangement, 7 + 3-frame queen isolation arrangement for my breeder queens, or full 10-frame box arrangement. Any box, any use. The drawback - gotta make lots of narrow inner covers (3-frame size and 5-frame size), and you need LOTS of corks!

    I don't like 4-way mini mating nucs because of having to draw out the mini frames. It can delay the start of queen season, plus the results are not as consistent.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by kilocharlie; 06-01-2014 at 09:32 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    Default Re: Two frame or three frame mating nucs?

    I prefer 3 frames over 2. I find 2 harder to manage, particularly once the dearth kicks in. The key is get the nucs established early in the spring flow, so that populations can support themselves once times are leaner. Of course this is a balancing act between swarming and robbing. I still have some of the Brushy queen castles around (4 compartments of 2 frames in deeps) and find them much harder to manage than the 3-framers that I mostly run. In my mind bigger is better, but there is a trade-off on cost (resources required). If your objective to make queens to sell, then you probably want to use fewer resources, but if you're making queens to increase, then more resources are probably better to get the nucs off to a good start. Lots of ways to slice this. If you're just starting out, and doing this on a small scale, then perhaps you should try a couple different configurations and see what works best given your needs and management style.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  11. #11
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    Jan 2009
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    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    Default Re: Two frame or three frame mating nucs?

    Quote Originally Posted by AstroBee View Post
    If your objective to make queens to sell, then you probably want to use fewer resources, but if you're making queens to increase
    A friend of mine - Mike Haney at Ridgetop Apiaries Who apparently works like a dog between his day job and producing several hundred VSH queens a year - uses 5 frame medium mating nucs because they take less management, and they can be overwintered in our area. So that is kind of in the eye of the beholder.

    I still have about 20 or so 3 framers that I built to try out a few years ago, and I still use them along with 4 and 5 frame mating nucs, but they really do take a lot more attention. They do work though - a lot better than a lot of 3 x 1/2 frame nucs that I have experimented with. That just seems to be too small for success at my skill level.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Two frame or three frame mating nucs?

    Yeah, David lots of ways to slice this. My current mating nuc is 3 partitions of 3 deep frames with the option to stack (deep upon deep). It has movable partitions that enable it to be 5x5, or 7x3, which are able to overwinter (Michael Palmer inspired). I overwintered several 5 over 5 of these nucs last winter. The movable partitions can be a pain (getting partitions out can sometimes be a challenge), but are useful for end of season combines.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    Default Re: Two frame or three frame mating nucs?

    Sorry, I wasn't really even thinking of the frame size - three deeps would be pretty close to 5 mediums anyway. That's really a pretty good size.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

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