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  1. #1
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    Default Advice on the number of nucs I can make up.

    My goal is to build these nucs into double boxes to overwinter. I am in Central Indiana. My only survivors wintered this way last year.

    I would like to turn 3 packages into as many nucs as possible.

    I plan to use the queens in the packages in 3 of the nucs, and will be installing queen cells in the others.

    My resources are as follows:
    queen cells- ?

    laying queens- 3

    nuc hive setups(2 deep boxes 5 frames each)- 32

    deep frames with comb- 140

    deep frames with pollen- 10 in addition to what are currently in package hives.

    deep frames with honey- 8 in addition to what are currently in packages.

    package bees installed on drawn comb May 8, 2014- 3 packages total, 30 deep frames total (22 frames brood and 8 frames food).

    Thanks ahead for any help. Matt.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Advice on the number of nucs I can make up.

    It all depends on how much comb you will have come fall, but having enough colonies to selectively cull and combine at that time is a good thing. So if you are over ambitious now you still get to correct then.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Advice on the number of nucs I can make up.

    Here are my numbers from this spring.

    12 full size colonies that built up to a min of 40 and many had 50 fraems of bees. on average 14 frames of brood at their peak. In addition 10 nucs that where 5 over 5 for 10 fraems each minimum all in some level of expansion to a deep and medium 10 frame set up. I total well over 500 fraems of honey, brood pollen nectar and bees.

    From this I either grafted or allowed the bees to make queen cells. in total 283 cells where produced.

    Do to poor emergence rate of cells nearly half where lost without emerging. of the remainder nearly 40 queens where sold as virgins. in all we had right at 100 queens we attempted to get mated with the above resources and 24 four compartment queen castles. Final results was a decimated bee population loosing over 50 frames of bees. Corrections to our methods should help reduce this. And due to poor return on mated queens we ended up with about 40 mated queens in all.

    Now I can give specific details as to those results. but the final analysis is this. if it can go wrong it will go wrong at the worst possible moment.

    Keep in mind that this was a first small production level attempt at queen rearing. so much to tweak and improve. many mistakes made and discovered to late to correct. On a smaller scale it is far easier to manage. i know I did that last year with a 50% success rate on virgins gettign mated. No huge loss of bees.

    We made up 10 nucs last year from 4 production colonies. It was late in the season which added some challenges but no real bad consequences.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Advice on the number of nucs I can make up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Y View Post
    Here are my numbers from this spring.

    12 full size colonies that built up to a min of 40 and many had 50 fraems of bees. on average 14 frames of brood at their peak. In addition 10 nucs that where 5 over 5 for 10 fraems each minimum all in some level of expansion to a deep and medium 10 frame set up. I total well over 500 fraems of honey, brood pollen nectar and bees.

    From this I either grafted or allowed the bees to make queen cells. in total 283 cells where produced.

    Do to poor emergence rate of cells nearly half where lost without emerging. of the remainder nearly 40 queens where sold as virgins. in all we had right at 100 queens we attempted to get mated with the above resources and 24 four compartment queen castles. Final results was a decimated bee population loosing over 50 frames of bees. Corrections to our methods should help reduce this. And due to poor return on mated queens we ended up with about 40 mated queens in all.

    Now I can give specific details as to those results. but the final analysis is this. if it can go wrong it will go wrong at the worst possible moment.

    Keep in mind that this was a first small production level attempt at queen rearing. so much to tweak and improve. many mistakes made and discovered to late to correct. On a smaller scale it is far easier to manage. i know I did that last year with a 50% success rate on virgins gettign mated. No huge loss of bees.

    We made up 10 nucs last year from 4 production colonies. It was late in the season which added some challenges but no real bad consequences.
    What were the causes of loss of 50 frames of bees?
    Janne....first hives April 2013, 19 hives, treat, plant zone 8b, at sea level, latitude 49.13, longitude 123.06

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Advice on the number of nucs I can make up.

    1) If you want lots of bee come fall/winter, don't split them too thin. This changes the division of labor in the hive away from the activities that build up a colony rapidly. Mini mating colonies are mainly for the production open-mating of queens that will be sold the same season. If you intend to make increase colonies out of them, mate them in 5-frame nucs and bring them up to a 10-frame box as soon as they have 4 frames of bees, and add a second box when they have 8 to 9 frames of bees.

    There's a reason that package bees come with 3 to 5 lbs. of workers - let them build up, then split them. Not the other way around.

    2) Don't start from package bees! These almost always take longer to start that over-wintered nucleus colonies, or splitting up a large, healthy colony and introducing queens in Laidlaw cages. This slower start can cause them to miss several critical weeks of the main nectar flow, leaving them smaller in population when the nectar flow shuts off.

    3) Be prepared to feed them high-quality foods. Pure cane sugar + purified water + HBH, thin 1:1 in the warm season, thick 2:1 in the cold season, and the best pollen substitute patties you can find. Try every recipe you can find, evaluate the results every year. I've had good results with the Tucson diet, but there is probably room for improvement in feeds. My home-made patties have Brewer's yeast, essential oils, mineral salts (horse lick), and vitamin pills added in.

    4) Buy and breed the best queens you can get, mate them with locally-adapted drones, cull the losers and breed from the best - % depends on your quantity of bees. If you have few, breed from them all, if you have, say 20 to 30 colonies, breed from half of them, if you have 50 colonies, breed from 25% of them, if you have 800 colonies, breed from a smaller percent. Testing for hygenic traits (the cylinder of liquid nitrogen over the brood pattern, then look for dead brood removal 24 hours later) helps pick out winners, as does weighing the colonies on a scale regularly and recording the weights and build-up rates.

    5) Read Dr. Lawrence John Connor's book, Increase Essentials! It explains the mathematics of build-up very clearly.

    With your resources, if it was early spring and rainfall was good, I might try 10 increase colonies (giving them each 1 frame of pollen and 1 of honey), and hope to split them if they fill 2 boxes each before the nectar flow is over. This would be optimistic in optimal conditions, and I would buy top-notch mated hygenic queens to go with them, introducing them in Laidlaw cages. If spring has already half-sprung in your area (ie., the nectar flow has been going a while), you might go with 5 colonies, and keep them a little stronger. Try to make them all up as equal as possible in any case, loaning a frame of capped brood from the strong colonies to the weaker ones as you go.

    Keeping stronger colonies and waiting until next year to split often ends up with more bees than splitting them up into 1- or 2-framers and hoping for the best. This approach lends toward splitting much earlier next year, and the possibility of making more than one split on the year. As you gain experience reading the rainfall and the nectar flows by the year, you can get aggressive when the signs all read, "Wet year with lots of flowers!" Meanwhile, grow conservatively until you have enough bees to make up both thick and thin splits, and knowing how many colonies each bee yard can support.

    The opposite approach - split into many tiny nucs and re-combine in the fall - can severely cut into your honey and pollen resources, making wintering rather traumatic. Good luck!
    Last edited by kilocharlie; 06-08-2014 at 02:26 PM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Advice on the number of nucs I can make up.

    I also have 2 full size colonies, one is my breeder and another with 2 10 frame deeps and a 10 frame medium super as resources. I am managing these colonies for honey production. It is not my intention to make full size colonies out of the 3 packages. My goal is to make as many 2 deep nuc setups as i can to overwinter.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Advice on the number of nucs I can make up.

    Quote Originally Posted by WBVC View Post
    What were the causes of loss of 50 frames of bees?
    Multiple causes. First I suspect many of the foragers attempted to return to their original location did not find their hive and many failed to beg their way into new colonies. evidenced by the number of dead bees at entrances to all hives. Some compartments died completely. the dead bees still in the compartment. another situation I have no idea why it happened. I also suspect some robbing of compartment was goign on. with losses of population brood was lost. Failure to get mated queens for an extended period of time resulted in some laying workers. Then there are the random things we did that simply got bees killed. Handling so many frames so frequently alone took it share. It may also just be a perception thing as well. We took 12 strong colonies and broke it all up into 54 small colonies. now all I see is small colonies. I have lost track of how many frames we have in hives now. in all I know we are building up. So although we lost 50 fraems of bees. 4 queens have replaced that and then some in that same period of time. I have to remind myself we have 150 frames just in nucs alone.

    Here is a bit of good news though. I got a call yesterday about a swarm of bees at the Ryder truck rental yard. I thought it strange becasue it is a bit late for a swarm. I sent my daughter over to capture it and after about two hours she calls me. she said the bees where really aggressive and not acting like a swarm. it turns out a trailer full of hives had been parked their the day before. this was a huge cluster of abandoned bees. We managed to catch two deeps full of them. So we got lucky and have recovered some 20 frames of lost bees. We found a mated queen in one of our compartments and placed her in a cage. we released her late last night. It will be interesting to see how this huge population of orphans will fair.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Advice on the number of nucs I can make up.

    Quote Originally Posted by kilocharlie View Post
    1) If you want lots of bee come fall/winter, don't split them too thin. This changes the division of labor in the hive away from the activities that build up a colony rapidly.

    There's a reason that package bees come with 3 to 5 lbs. of workers - let them build up, then split them. Not the other way around.

    2) Don't start from package bees! These almost always take longer to start that over-wintered nucleus colonies, or splitting up a large, healthy colony and introducing queens in Laidlaw cages. This slower start can cause them to miss several critical weeks of the main nectar flow, leaving them smaller in population when the nectar flow shuts off.

    5) Read Dr. Lawrence John Connor's book, Increase Essentials! It explains the mathematics of build-up very clearly.

    Keeping stronger colonies and waiting until next year to split often ends up with more bees than splitting them up into 1- or 2-framers and hoping for the best. This approach lends toward splitting much earlier next year, and the possibility of making more than one split on the year. As you gain experience reading the rainfall and the nectar flows by the year, you can get aggressive when the signs all read, "Wet year with lots of flowers!" Meanwhile, grow conservatively until you have enough bees to make up both thick and thin splits, and knowing how many colonies each bee yard can support.

    The opposite approach - split into many tiny nucs and re-combine in the fall - can severely cut into your honey and pollen resources, making wintering rather traumatic. Good luck!
    Our spring nuc production was intended to make nucs and queens to sell. My original projected numbers based upon last years actual results where. 250 queen cells from 12 production colonies and 10 over wintered nucs. Actual number was 283 cells from those hives plus an attempt at grafting. The actual number of cells produced without the grafting was 249. not a bad estimate given it was based on one hives swarm attempt the year before.

    From 250 cells I expected 125 mated queens. We did not even get 125 emerged queens. We have removed cells from hives in the past with nearly 100% emergence rates. The only thing I can think of that is different is that we had some pretty cold days during this time. Otherwise no idea why we lost so many queens in their cells.

    Of the expected 125 queens I intended to sell 85 of them and make the remaining 40 into nucs. In this same period of time the 10 overwintered nucs where to be expanded into full size colonies.

    This giving us 22 production size colonies and 40 nucs.

    Actual results.
    283 queen cells
    roughly 140 virgin queens emerged from those cells
    Approx 37 of those virgin queens where sold as virgins.
    Of the remaining 103 or so virgins we got 32 or so mated queens.

    I am putting down numbers from memory and did not take the time to actually look it up in my records.

    Mainly what was lost was the 85 or so mated queens I expected to be able to sell.

    Even with that I am seeing much of the effect Charlie speaks of with colonies that are two small being slow to build up.

    I am attempting to get 16 of these 40 nucs to increase rapidly so I have been noticing even if not with clarity some of the issues with rapid build up. I would not be concerned with how fast they build up except these nucs I need to sell. They are not progressing fast enough to be sold this year.

    My original goal was to build up from 22 colonies to 207 this year. So far we are at 54. And none of what I have done so far was intended to be part of our build up.

    Originally I intended that the 40 queens form the nucs would build up and return all the lost work force to there parent colonies. this has not happened as of yet.

    We started with 12 production size colonies and are now at 25. Nearly all I woudl evaluate at a moderate population. it is my intent to let these colonies build up through the flow. and then once again split them up into nucleus colonies to over winter. We need and additional 150 or so nucs from all of these hives. The build up on the honey flow is not so far looking that good but we are still early in the flow for our area.

    I am looking to boost all 40 nucs with brood from other colonies in an attempt to get them to expand faster.

    The failure to get queens to sell as well as not having sold the nucs has also caused a cash flow problem. In order to make our increase I still need to purchase the equipment.

    In all I am very interested in this Increase Essential sort of information. I am not as concerned about slow build up in nucs we will over winter. Small nucs do fine here given we have mild winters. But for nucs to sell I need them to increase at a much faster rate. Or make them up in the previous fall.

    You touch on a lot of things for me to think about and look into Charlie. Much of it my mind is already resistant to. I am attempting massive increase. On that note I have already had fairly dismal results. I got a little over 75% of the nucs I was looking to get but none of the additional mated queens. I suspect the loss of those queens was due to unrelated factors such as weather. some is related to factors we need to improve on.

    I was not prepared for the heavy losses of bee population in the queen rearing attempt. Again something I think can be improved on.

    I will be a while sorting it all out. right now I am a bit disoriented with the mad scramble spring always seems to be. We have done a good job of keepign records on it all. and as fall approaches I will have the time to slow down and look it all over. Hopefully by next spring I will have found some answers and developed some better strategies for next year.

    I still see ti can be done. By it I mean a 20 fold increase in an apiary in a single year. Call it my wild and crazy project. I will have to tone it down after this year given I cannot possibly increase a 50 hive yard in a single year. just to much work for me. But I am determined to figure out how to increase a yard say of 10 colonies by that much.

    Some improvement may lie in the idea of less increase earlier in the season allowing more queens to produce at maximum ability. More queens being more productive increases bee population more rapidly. this allowing additional increase sooner.

    One problem is that the 20 fold increase in queen production happens in the swarming season.

    I am thinking out loud now so will drop it for now.

    I will say this take away our heavy losses of both queen cells and virgin queens. Give me the equipment to have housed all of them. I very well could have made half that 20 fold increase during the swarm season alone. Given a mated queen rate of better than 50% and that would have been even higher. In a good year of 80% of all virgins gettign mated and I would have had over 100% of that increase.

    It is not easy. but I still see most of what is needed to do it has already been proven it can be done. Bees will consistently and predictably produce the queen cells. Near 100% Emergence of queen cells is not unusual. If I cannot get it but cutting out queen cells I will get it by grafting cells. I have seen mated queen rates as high as 80%. I am looking for our actual 50%. So am not even asking for a bulls eye on virgins getting mated.

    I can reliably build up colonies to 40 frames of bees in the spring. they then consistently produce 19 queen cells each. with the original queen this allows me to split those 40 frames into 20 compartments and keep all 20 queens. 19 of them to get mated. At a 50% mating rate this allows me to then move the bees to 5 frame nucs each queen getting 4 frames of bees. I am at 50% of my 20 fold increase.

    In reality it is much different. cells did not produce virgin queens. Virgin queens did not get mated. and those that did there was barely enough frames of bees remaining to get them started. Our actual final result was slightly over 25% of my target increase.

    I need better emergence rates on cells. better return on mated queens. and to improve the survival of the bees through it all.

    Other than that it is easy
    I don't think I would have any interest if it was easy.
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Advice on the number of nucs I can make up.

    I don't want to offer my opinion on the posts in this thread. My hope is that the replies contained in this thread result in a good read for those trying to push their hive numbers to the practical limit. This could end up as a great "how to" or it could become a "how to not".
    Daniel-check your numbers please. I'm not being critical I'm just looking to make sure anyone reading gets accurate information. Original reply said 10 double 5 frame nucs and the recent post States 150 frames in nucs. Original post said expanded into 40 full and 10 nucs for 900 frames but later in the same post had conflicting numbers. Just want to clarify because it gets confusing reading numbers in paragraph format. Perhaps a two column "before and after" expression would be easier to understand. When I read the posts my head spins trying to place numbers as intended because they don't seem to jive.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Advice on the number of nucs I can make up.

    Quote Originally Posted by challenger View Post
    1. Original reply said 10 double 5 frame nucs and the recent post States 150 frames in nucs.

    2. Original post said expanded into 40 full and 10 nucs for 900 frames but later in the same post had conflicting numbers. Just want to clarify because it gets confusing reading numbers in paragraph format. Perhaps a two column "before and after" expression would be easier to understand. When I read the posts my head spins trying to place numbers as intended because they don't seem to jive.
    1. I started with 10 5 over 5 nucs for a total of 100 fraems in nucs. we also had a lot more frames in 12 full size colonies. We had in total over 500 frames of bees. Probably more my memory is getting fuzzy.

    2. May be due to me thinking and typing at the same time. at this moment we have 25 full size hives and 32 nucs. I realize that totals 57. I am not counting 3 of them in my colony count because 3 of them are not confirmed to have mated queens. a colony has a mated queen. until then it is just a box of bees. But even a box of bees does have frames. The number changes constantly so that may be part of the discrepancy. Nucs increased to full size hives. some of them dramatically. in one case a nuc went form 5 over 5 to a deep and 3 medium 10 frame boxes. so this increase as the project progressed is also confusing.

    In all we did have a large increase in number of frames throughout this process. from some 340 to right around 800 at this time. We got some swarms in there this spring also.

    3. in total we stocked 2 frame compartments for a total of just over 100 virgin queens. In some cases we where able to introduce a new virgin to a compartment that had lost it's previous one. so we did not use 2 frames for every virgin necessarily. I know we did not use more than 96 compartments in all.

    So you have to imagine a process that over time has additional resources being added to it.
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Advice on the number of nucs I can make up.

    Thanks. Are you using converted 10 frame deep for the 2 frame compartments? Compartment = mating nuc yes? So you would use a single 10 frame deep decided into a 4X2 mating nuc?

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Advice on the number of nucs I can make up.

    Thanks for the information so far.
    I have 7 capped cells so here is my current plan.

    Today(Tuesday) after dark take 3 package hives to bee yard 5 miles away.

    Saturday make 10 nucs from 3 packages.
    Nuc = 2 frames brood. 1 frame honey. 1 frame open with pollen stores. 1 frame drawn. Equal amounts of bees.

    3 nucs with laying queens stay in out yard.

    7 nucs returned to original yard Saturday. (This will only be 5 days removed. Not sure about this.)

    Sunday install queen cells to 7 queenless nucs.

    I could be more ambitious as I have access to more queen cells and also locally produced queens? Or maybe this plan is too ambitious?

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Advice on the number of nucs I can make up.

    I am using 10 frame equipment that is cut in in half, a 1.5 in divider installed and then gusseted back together. Also boxes that are cut and remade to 8.125 inches as deep supers. 5 frames over 5 frames in a quad setup. 1 large outer cover protects 4 of these setups. I will try to post a pic.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Advice on the number of nucs I can make up.

    I agree that calling 10 frames of bees a nuc is misleading. Not just in this thread, but many on Beesource it seems. To me a nuc is 4-5 frames in a nuc box and 10 frames is a single. It would be nice if people at least called 10 frames of bees in two nuc boxes a "double nuc".
    Bruce

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Advice on the number of nucs I can make up.

    Quote Originally Posted by beedeetee View Post
    I agree that calling 10 frames of bees a nuc is misleading. Not just in this thread, but many on Beesource it seems. To me a nuc is 4-5 frames in a nuc box and 10 frames is a single. It would be nice if people at least called 10 frames of bees in two nuc boxes a "double nuc".
    Agreed. Certainly there is no intentional misleading information being fed. This is just a matter of clarification and clarity. Personally I always call two nucs "double nucs" and two deeps "double deeps".

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Advice on the number of nucs I can make up.

    Quote Originally Posted by challenger View Post
    Agreed. Certainly there is no intentional misleading information being fed. This is just a matter of clarification and clarity. Personally I always call two nucs "double nucs" and two deeps "double deeps".
    Apologies. Double or even triple "nucs" is my end goal for this season, but what I am making are 5 frame nucs, and that was my question. How many nucs?

    Thanks for the responses so far, it is helpful to hear others experiences.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Advice on the number of nucs I can make up.

    Don't feel bad, Daniel, we've all had the thought (and many of us have tried) to quadruple our colony numbers (make 2 splits on the year) on a bad year or too late in a good year and split our bee resources too thin to make significant increase on the remainder of the nectar flow.

    Bees' work is a fascinating division of labor. How exactly they decide to stay home and heat a few more larva or send out the troops and gather pollen and nectar has a HELLO of a lot to do with how many bees they have in the colony. THERE IS VERY LITTLE EFFICIENCY AT ANYTHING WHEN COLONY POPULATION IS LOW (=> Don't split too thin!!!).

    Not only this, there are all these stressors: mites; wax moths; viruses; bacteria; temperature fluctuations; invading bees, ants, and other insects; pesticides (as if carbaryls and pyrethryns weren't bad enough, small traces of neonicitinoids can stress them, too), fungicides (they need fungi in their digestive tract to digest the proteins in pollens); radio frequency interference (possibly confuses communications); robbing; hive boxes tilted back or too level so as to accumulate moisture and grow mildew; and probably a bunch of other stressors that us beek's aren't even considering.

    How these poor critters survive at all is a testament to their intelligence, persistence, and adaptability. As we beekeepers gain experience, they tend to do better. Largely, I think it's US learning to NOT screw up. I have been humbled 7 ways to January, and I did three things right - 1) I kept very good records. Not just records of the bees, but of the nectar flows that the bees were on, the rainfall to date on the year, and it's effect on the flowers locally. 2) I started reading what others have learned on Beesource and applying it to my apiary. That little search box is a good friend - I read some old conversations and have followed a lot of the website links to YouTube videos and postings around the country and in other countries. 3) I read lots of books about beekeeping and I read the footnotes and bibliographies. Sending emails off to professors at universities with agricultural programs gets me downloads that are very hard to find otherwise. My mentor says most beekeeping literature has a considerable East Coast bias, so everything is taken with the attitude, "How does that effect my bees?"

    My first piece of solid advice to you, Daniel, is go make up some hive entrance blockers - 0, 1 bee-at-a-time (about 5/16"), and 4 bees-at-a-time (1 1/4" wide) size entrances. This will help prevent further bee losses due to robbing when the nectar flow shuts down. My next would be, don't expect more than 2.5 X colony number growth (not including nucs) on an average year, and that is after you have several things going right. If you start the season with 50, then 125 might be a reasonable goal in a good year if you focus on increase colonies and make them accordingly. 20X increase is probably splitting not only too thin, but probably critically too thin such that not enough of anything is being done efficiently enough for sufficient winter stores to be made. Larger colonies, say twice the size, are not just twice as efficient - they may be much more efficient. A better plan may be to split a 2-deep tall colony into 2 colonies while the Spring nectar flow is still strong, saving your best 3 colonies for queen rearing duty. Nucs can be made and fed for overwintering, the weaker ones boosted by newpapering in some queenless package bees in the summer or loaned some brood from your stronger colonies, and the survivors should perform pretty well next year. If the year goes well, you may get a second split from your earliest, strongest colonies. The last one I had like that was in 2010, from which I got 8 strong 5-frame increasers that all made it through the next winter, all from a single, strong colony.

    mbevanz -

    Remember that 10 is a fairly ambitious number of colonies for 3 packages, if they are 3-pounders, more reasonable if they are 5-lbs packages - that is assuming you have had good local rainfall and there are plenty of seeds from last year's wildflower crop. It also assumes you will be feeding them through much of the buildup, and into the nectar dearth. They really need at least 3 frames of bees to keep brood warm at night, and 4 frames builds up faster than 3 frames, and so on...

    You might do well to go only 5 or maybe 7, or even less and split them again later. That way you'll probably have a lot more drawn wax to deal with. Watch you flowering plants - try to get a "read" on how much nectar they are bringing in, and DO CHECK POLLEN STORES.
    Last edited by kilocharlie; 06-11-2014 at 12:01 AM.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Advice on the number of nucs I can make up.

    Quote Originally Posted by kilocharlie View Post
    Don't feel bad, Daniel, we've all had the thought (and many of us have tried) to quadruple our colony numbers (make 2 splits on the year) on a bad year or too late in a good year and split our bee resources too thin to make significant increase on the remainder of the nectar flow.

    Bees' work is a fascinating division of labor. How exactly they decide to stay home and heat a few more larva or send out the troops and gather pollen and nectar has a HELLO of a lot to do with how many bees they have in the colony. THERE IS VERY LITTLE EFFICIENCY AT ANYTHING WHEN COLONY POPULATION IS LOW (=> Don't split too thin!!!).

    Not only this, there are all these stressors: mites; wax moths; viruses; bacteria; temperature fluctuations; invading bees, ants, and other insects; pesticides (as if carbaryls and pyrethryns weren't bad enough, small traces of neonicitinoids can stress them, too), fungicides (they need fungi in their digestive tract to digest the proteins in pollens); radio frequency interference (possibly confuses communications); robbing; hive boxes tilted back or too level so as to accumulate moisture and grow mildew; and probably a bunch of other stressors that us beek's aren't even considering.

    How these poor critters survive at all is a testament to their intelligence, persistence, and adaptability. As we beekeepers gain experience, they tend to do better. Largely, I think it's US learning to NOT screw up. I have been humbled 7 ways to January, and I did three things right - 1) I kept very good records. Not just records of the bees, but of the nectar flows that the bees were on, the rainfall to date on the year, and it's effect on the flowers locally. 2) I started reading what others have learned on Beesource and applying it to my apiary. That little search box is a good friend - I read some old conversations and have followed a lot of the website links to YouTube videos and postings around the country and in other countries. 3) I read lots of books about beekeeping and I read the footnotes and bibliographies. Sending emails off to professors at universities with agricultural programs gets me downloads that are very hard to find otherwise. My mentor says most beekeeping literature has a considerable East Coast bias, so everything is taken with the attitude, "How does that effect my bees?"

    My first piece of solid advice to you, Daniel, is go make up some hive entrance blockers - 0, 1 bee-at-a-time (about 5/16"), and 4 bees-at-a-time (1 1/4" wide) size entrances. This will help prevent further bee losses due to robbing when the nectar flow shuts down. My next would be, don't expect more than 2.5 X colony number growth (not including nucs) on an average year, and that is after you have several things going right. If you start the season with 50, then 125 might be a reasonable goal in a good year if you focus on increase colonies and make them accordingly. 20X increase is probably splitting not only too thin, but probably critically too thin such that not enough of anything is being done efficiently enough for sufficient winter stores to be made. Larger colonies, say twice the size, are not just twice as efficient - they may be much more efficient. A better plan may be to split a 2-deep tall colony into 2 colonies while the Spring nectar flow is still strong, saving your best 3 colonies for queen rearing duty. Nucs can be made and fed for overwintering, the weaker ones boosted by newpapering in some queenless package bees in the summer or loaned some brood from your stronger colonies, and the survivors should perform pretty well next year. If the year goes well, you may get a second split from your earliest, strongest colonies. The last one I had like that was in 2010, from which I got 8 strong 5-frame increasers that all made it through the next winter, all from a single, strong colony.

    mbevanz -

    Remember that 10 is a fairly ambitious number of colonies for 3 packages, if they are 3-pounders, more reasonable if they are 5-lbs packages - that is assuming you have had good local rainfall and there are plenty of seeds from last year's wildflower crop. It also assumes you will be feeding them through much of the buildup, and into the nectar dearth. They really need at least 3 frames of bees to keep brood warm at night, and 4 frames builds up faster than 3 frames, and so on...

    You might do well to go only 5 or maybe 7, or even less and split them again later. That way you'll probably have a lot more drawn wax to deal with. Watch you flowering plants - try to get a "read" on how much nectar they are bringing in, and DO CHECK POLLEN STORES.
    Charlie, I have 140 frames of drawn comb, and honey and pollen to give them. The packages were placed on drawn comb and stores almost six weeks ago. They were offered sugar water and megabee in solution. 1 took lees than a pint of megabee, the others took none. None took any sugar water as we have been on a good flow. Feed was removed after the first week. My goal is to build these up to double or even triple nucs and winter them this way. I will combine or requeen my larger colonies in late fall if necessary. These nucs will be my producers next season if things go the way I am hoping. I will be feeding these nucs as necessary during their buildup.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Advice on the number of nucs I can make up.

    Quote Originally Posted by beedeetee View Post
    I agree that calling 10 frames of bees a nuc is misleading. Not just in this thread, but many on Beesource it seems. To me a nuc is 4-5 frames in a nuc box and 10 frames is a single. It would be nice if people at least called 10 frames of bees in two nuc boxes a "double nuc".
    Without any official definition it is al lopinon. here is mine. I start at least at this time. with 2 frames of bees. once the queen is mated they are moved to 5 frames. this would qualify as an nuc for you. I do not believe a newly mated queen adequately develops her laying ability on 5 frames. I could be wrong. so once the first 5 fraems are filled or I fell I need to add a second box to the colony for any purpose I do so. I still consider it a nuc. I call it a 5 over 5 for clarification. If it is to be sold it is reduced to a 5 frame nuc.

    I do nto consider a colony a colony until it is a minimum of a deep and a medium fully drawn. That is 20 fraems with comb, honey pollen nectar or brood. Until then it is still a nuc a 5 over 5 nuc or a developing colony.

    A 5 frame box or less is a nuc. anything more than 5 fraems is a 5 over 5 simply because I have no equipment for it to be anything but. expanded to 10 faem equipment is in a developing colony and still considered a nuc. a deep and medium short of being fully drawn is still a developing colony and not so much considered a nuc but not a colony either.

    My categorizing my hives in such a way has no concern for anyone's clarity on my methods. It has everything to do with my clarity on management. Each of the above has significantly different concerns when it comes to managing them. a two frame compartment or even a weak 5 frame nuc is far more prone to robbing. and needs to be managed in accordance.e while a mid to strong 20 frame colony has little concern of being robbed and needs to be watched for needing more room.

    I agree that such individual defining leads to confusion. any time beekeeping as a whole want to set down any absolute definitions they are perfectly free to do so. the fact they have not I consider one of the major reasons beekeeping is so difficult to teach. I Tend to counter that by giving exact frame counts. For example. a virgin queen is placed on 2 fraems of bees in a mating compartment. you can pick the mating compartment of your choice. Once she is confirmed mated she is moved to 5 fraems. her original two and three new frames. she is allowed to build up to 3 frames of brood at which time she is given 5 more fraems. now you can go to a ten frame box at this point if you prefer. I find it works better to go to a 5 over 5. I only expand to ten frame equipment when this 5 over 5 is well developed.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Crenshaw County, Alabama
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    2,001

    Default Re: Advice on the number of nucs I can make up.

    Quote Originally Posted by kilocharlie View Post
    1) If you want lots of bee come fall/winter, don't split them too thin. This changes the division of labor in the hive away from the activities that build up a colony rapidly. ...<snip>
    Great post!!! Thanks!!! I'm hoping to do a *very* modest attempt at starting four nucs to overwinter. I will be using 8-frame medium boxes but limiting frames to four or five and a follower board. I'll be referring back to this thread.

    Ed

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