Been a while...I hope everyone has lived long and prospered! ..... We are switching to the 4 frames Styrofoam Mini mating nucs (similar to what Ian is using but with plastic frames) next spring at our South Carolina yards. Installing queen cells so they would hatch and start mating flights about March 16. We have nearby drone yards and usually have day temps around 68-70F as an avg. temp Mar. 18 for mating. We have both the solid bottom Mini's and the slide bottom ones. Guelph has a great video on them but they seem to like the slide bottom (for loading bees) and theirs are painted. I don't see much added ventilation or advantage in loading bees from the bottom and with fire ants occasionally building nests under them hestitant to use them. A couple of issues I have questions on?
1) At what temps are bees drawing combs in the mini's if well fed (we are starting with a comb of drawn foundation per nuc) and how long to draw them
2) We are using 200 + so would like to place them on pallets or on the ground vs blocks or raised posts what's anyone else using?
3) Paint....I've used styrafoam nucs and frankly power washed them to perfect but these are likley to get banged and dirtier more....
4) We have about an 80% success rate in our old system from cell to bred queen.....should we expect more? Less?
5) How many rounds of queens before the mini's need restocking (bees)
6) 2:1 or fondant?
7) Planning on using 1/2 strip Queen Mandibular Pheromone on install to hold bees?
8) like to transport these live 700 miles to our NY yards in spring after nucs....anyone transport these?
Appreciate any thoughts!