Dividing a 3# package between two nucs
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  1. #1
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    Default Dividing a 3# package between two nucs

    I have a three pound package coming the first week of April. I can get an extra local queen. How bad of an idea would it be to split the package between two 5 frame nucs? I have enough drawn comb for both nucs . I’m in North Alabama, temps are in the low to mid 60’s during the day. Lots of pollen coming in to my other hives. Our flow should kick in by the end of April. I could feed syrup to them to get them going.

    Thoughts?

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Dividing a 3# package between two nucs

    my thoughts
    If you have "other hives", why are you ordering a package, and thinking about buying queens?

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Dividing a 3# package between two nucs

    It can be done, and it would work.

    However by splitting to two 1 1/2 lb nucs you are reducing bee numbers to below critical mass for quickly raising maximum brood. The end result in a few months time will be better if you make the package into just one hive, let them raise and hatch at least one cycle of brood, and then get the extra queen and split it.

    If you do follow that route, when you make the split, be sure to move the split with the original queen to a new stand, and leave the other one with the new caged queen, on the old stand.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  5. #4
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    If you have other hives, add a frame of mixed brood to each nuc, with bees.

    I'd dump the bees into the nucs, dividing them equally, then add the frame of brood and bees. (May also consider a follower board. I use foam insulation to make my 5 frame nucs 3 frame nucs giving the bees less space to manage and keeping it warmer)

    A light sugar spray to the frame and bees can keep fighting at bay, or smoke them if you see any fighting.

    Give them a couple minutes and add the queens as usual.

    The extra bees will add to the lost bees, the hatching brood will also help, and the brood frame will increase queen acceptance.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Dividing a 3# package between two nucs

    That would be pretty tough on a package. You'd be better to install in one hive and then divide 4 weeks later (still not a great idea if you are trying to build up a colony to honey collection strength)

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Dividing a 3# package between two nucs

    A 3# package installed on drawn comb in early April should be able to give you a good honey harvest this spring if managed properly. Then you could divide after the main flow is over to get the second hive, to build the apiary.

  8. #7
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    I think I will install and split after the flow. That seems like the better idea.

    The package was ordered as a gift, by a family member for me.

    Thanks!

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Dividing a 3# package between two nucs

    Have a look at David from Barnyard Bees divide a Package into 4 x 2 Frame Nucs, one Drawn Frame in each:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cAHIsYbV9s

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Dividing a 3# package between two nucs

    This could work much better with a frame of open brood and bees from an established hive to boost them and anchor them.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Dividing a 3# package between two nucs

    Crap that Barnyard bees video makes it look so easy. I did notice he has a ton of hives so he could pull resources pretty easily if need be. Hmmm.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Dividing a 3# package between two nucs

    Quote Originally Posted by Haveuseen1? View Post
    Crap that Barnyard bees video makes it look so easy. I did notice he has a ton of hives so he could pull resources pretty easily if need be. Hmmm.
    Don't pull resources to save the hive if needed, add the resources right from the start so you won't need to.

    A lot of suppliers used to sell 2 lb packages that did fine. Later it seemed 4 lb packages were more common and now around me, most of them are 3lb. A 4lb package can certainly be split, along with another queen. But as I posted above, adding a frame of brood will GREATLY increase the hive numbers not only instantly, but through the next couple weeks. This gives you a supply of nurse bees throughout their initial growth without the population drop packages otherwise see.

    Keep a couple things in mind. A package is usually 5-7 days old before you're able to install it. That makes the youngest bees in the colony at least a week old by the time they can get to work. It takes about 3 days for a queen to be released and can take 3 or so days for her to lay, then 21 days for the first nurse bees to again emerge. This makes the youngest bees in your package now 35 days old. But keep in mind that's only the youngest bees, all the older ones would be dead and middle aged ones dead or dying off rapidly.

    On the other end, a full frame of brood is said to cover 3 frames of bees when emerged. If you add the frame with bees you'll already be adding a good half lb of bees to your colony, plus the emerging brood. Having open brood on the frame also increases queen acceptance.

    I've caught a lot of 2-3 lb swarms and have always added a frame of brood. They seem to EXPLODE and have often grown larger than my older hives.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Dividing a 3# package between two nucs

    Quote Originally Posted by Haveuseen1? View Post
    Crap that Barnyard bees video makes it look so easy. I did notice he has a ton of hives so he could pull resources pretty easily if need be. Hmmm.
    Would not try queen cage on the bottom of the frame in the North!
    It is not true that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
    They can learn them, they just can't do them.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Dividing a 3# package between two nucs

    Quote Originally Posted by Saltybee View Post
    Would not try queen cage on the bottom of the frame in the North!
    haha, right!? Not sure I'd even do it in Central CA.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Dividing a 3# package between two nucs

    The packages we are sending to Canada this time around are 2 pounds. A popular practise with these is for the beekeeper to add a frame of brood at around the 2 week mark, this somehow helps the bees to feel normalised and not unnecessarily supersede the queen.

    However if the object is to boost a 1 1/2 lb of bees hive, then a frame of point of hatch brood given at install would be the best way to go.

    Whole thing depends wether the person is wanting to take resources from existing hives, or not.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  16. #15
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    I took two 3# packages, added an extra queen and put together 3 hives with roughly 2# each last year here in Northern IL. They all produced well for me.

  17. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by bjorn View Post
    I took two 3# packages, added an extra queen and put together 3 hives with roughly 2# each last year here in Northern IL. They all produced well for me.
    No issues with mixing bees from packages? I've always wondered how loyal they are as a colony after a few days in a box... Not that they all came from the same hive to begin with...

  18. #17
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    I did not notice any issues, no obvious fighting. I think they were just happy to have a queen and be out of the cage. If there was drift, it never amounted to much.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Dividing a 3# package between two nucs

    Personally, the "fly in the ointment" isn't growth, it's a weak split will be susceptible to shb. If the bee's real estate isn't matched to their population you'll have a problem.
    “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

  20. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eikel View Post
    Personally, the "fly in the ointment" isn't growth, it's a weak split will be susceptible to shb. If the bee's real estate isn't matched to their population you'll have a problem.
    Most people install a package into a 10 frame box. Installing half into a 5 frame nuc is the exact same bee coverage. Yet I would never recommend splitting a package into fill size equipment.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Dividing a 3# package between two nucs

    Quote Originally Posted by mtnmyke View Post
    No issues with mixing bees from packages? I've always wondered how loyal they are as a colony after a few days in a box... Not that they all came from the same hive to begin with...
    I wonder if the packages being side by side in a truck with lots of air flow causes so much confusion the bees do not know which queen is actually theirs. Mix that in with bees from lots of hives, and they probably are so confused they will accept any queen.

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