Re: Advice on the number of nucs I can make up.
If you can get them built up that large it could be the answer to nucs having enough stores to make it through winter with no feeding. I am not certain about that though and woudl want to see it actually happen before I got to comfortable.
Originally Posted by mbevanz
Charlie is speaking on some issues I have sen other information on. I have been mulling over his comments for a few days. Observing my bees in everything form mating compartments to full size hives and pretty much everything in between. And stating to set some further limits on what it what.
Mating compartment. I use two frames sparsly moderately populated with bees. I get the impression far fewer bees could be used. Weather my need to be considered in determining how many bees is enough. but virgins can mate with a very small population of bees. So for now I am considering 100 bees a minimum to get a virgin mated and a comparable size compartment. Comments and experiences much welcome on this one.
Nuc. I am starting to consider that a minimal size nuc. or the number of bees that will allow the queen to increase the population of the colony toward a minimal hive is 4 moderate to well populated frames of bees. This would be between 4000 and 8000 bees. Quite a difference and reflects on Charlies work load balance comments. So regardless of the number. make sure that all work is able to be performed. I also want to see the queen always have some space to lay in. To do so may require even more space than 4 frames. Keep in mind a full size colony has nearly half it's space that is storage and does not necessarily need bees covering it. A nuc on the other hand I find needs bees everywhere.
Full size colony. I consider that 20 frames (16 for 8 frames equipment) minimum moderately to heavily populated. If the upper ten frames are primarily storage then it can be weakly populated as long as the lower box has a strong population.
In addition a full size colony has a complete cross section of population from newly emerged brood to an adequate population of foragers. And the ability to provide for and tend to a minimum of 7 frames of brood.
Anything above 20 frames and a hive becomes a production colony.
Increase space any time the current space is 80% full. Full means not only comb drawn in height and width but in depth as well and filled with something. brood, nectar or pollen. So an egg in the bottom of a cell is considered full.
SO for me the entire progression goes.
Mating on two frames of weak population. Move a mated queen to a minimum of 4 moderately populated frames. Inspecting for indication that the brood volume will insure growth of the colony.
Expansion to a 4 over 4 or 5 over hive nuc. again inspecting for moderate to heavy population and that hive tending is adequate in all regards. At this point hive tending may suffer at specific points. Foraging for example take adequate measures to alleviate such deficiencies (feed). Lack of guarding make entrances small and install robber screens. In other words help the bees out with any jobs not getting done adequately.
For me when the 5 over 5 is 80% full and heavily populated it is time to move them to a 10 frame deep box and add a medium super. This is when I typically see a hive be able to hodl it's own. but Charlies comments gave me some additional insight as to why I may be seeing this. I think it has as much to do with the population reaching that sustainable threshold. They are for the first time getting a population that can cover the entire work load and achieving some state of balance.
Given some factors are fixed to some degree. For example a queen is capable of laying a fairly set amount of brood. Then other numbers must relate to that and tend to become fixed as well. So although a 5 frame nuc can be overwintered. Is it a well managed colony?
Anyway those are my guide posts for now. pending further information that may alter them.
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