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Discussion Starter #1
A couple of dumb questions from a new beek.......

I haven't attempted splitting a colony yet but am considering it. It seems that most beeks make nucs when they split. Why put a split into a 5 frame nuc instead of a full size deep with those 5 frames plus 5 empty frames to grow on? And, are the cardboard nuc boxes used only for temperary living quarters or can a colony be wintered in them?
 

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Unoccupied space in a hive, or frames gives beetles and moths a better chance of getting a foothold in your hive. A nuc will be easier for your bees to control. As far as cardboard nucs are concerned...never owned one. Seems temporary to me...its cardboard. Besides, there will be no insulation at all for overwintering.
 

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Tim I had the same thought as you. I had never done splits before and did one a few weeks ago. What I did was take a deep and put the frames needed in the nuc and put an empty division board feeder in to act like a wall. As the move over to the empty frames I will eventually remove it and put frames in.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
When I got my first bees in early May, they were in nuc boxes. I took them out of the cardboard nuc and placed them into the center of a 10 frame deep without a problem with beetles or moths. What is different about that move and making a similar sized split? Is it the time of year or does an establish nuc have something that a split doesn't?
 

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I like to be sure I don't move the queen with the split, hence the use of a QE..... some care about this... some don't.

I like to move the old hive out and place the new split in it's place in hopes of building field bees.... some say this matters.... some say it doesn't.

You've got to start your own queen in a split... or purchase one.

These are the primary differences I can think of... they both work..... they both fail....
 

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Tim
When I make a split with the old queen I often put them in a full sized box as long as I give them a couple frames of capped brood.
If I do the split with 3 frames and the old queen I use a nuc until a round of brood hatches out and the nuc gets really full. Usually about 3 weeks.

When raising a queen in a nuc I pack the nuc with young larva and nurse bees but since there's a brood break the population won't grow much until the new queens brood starts hatching in about 7 weeks.

If I put two frames of capped brood in the nuc they may have to go in a full size about the time the queen starts laying.

This is one case that it's better if their a little crowded. Just not overcrowded.

I've raised queens in cardboard nucs in the summer but I wouldent try to overwinter in one.
 

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I have only made three splits this year but all three were successful. I find a queen cell and place that frame in a new box, trying to be sure to not get the existing queen. ( I shake all the bees off this frame if I can.) I will take a frame or two of capped larvae, and a frame of honey and place in the box. I will shake in some worker bees from the same hive that the other frames came from. I then sit back and observe. If in three weeks I find eggs or larvae, I know the queen hatched from the queen cell, made her mating flight, and returned to the hive to start her egg laying life.
 

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Follow the advice of experienced beeks on this form and stay out of the split..especially the one that is to make a Queen. I stayed out for 3 weeks and was horrified when one young Queen ran right off a frame and launched into long grass around the hive never to be seen again. Then thinking I had learned my lesson I simply cracked open the top to get an idea of bee strength..the new Queen must have been on the top of a frame and she simply flew off! I left the top off,the bees were fanning like mad. When I came back 15 min later the bees were again quiet and between the frames. Fingers crossed the Queen returned. I certainly am not opening it up to look for her:)
 

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Regarding moving the split to full sized deep rather than a nuc, you might consider what I have done when I have an under-strength colony for one reason or another: I position however many frames I plan on using in the center of the box and then add solid follower boards outboard of that and fill any remaining space with foam insulation boards cut to fit. (I put little T-shape "ears" on them so they sit on the frame rest, but sooner or later they break off from the foam, not, of course, from the solid wood follower boards.) When the colony or split grows out of the space, it's simple enough to remove the foam, move the follower boards outward and add in some empty frames or foundaton, etc. Eventually all that is left are one or two follower boards, which are then removed and you're done.

I tried this late last fall and wound up overwintering a colony on a scant 7 frames divided between two deeps. The bees did really well in their cozy, custom-sized space. I was worried it would be complicated to reverse in the spring as I planned on adding foundation-less frames on the sides of the brood nest as an anti-swarm technique. In fact, it was easy as pie to re-arrange when I needed more room for the expanding brood area and the colony grew steadily outward (and upward it's now in four deeps and going gangbusters.)

When I had a chance to make some splits/nucs this spring I re-installed the follower boards (both wood and foam) in some regular deeps to exactly fit what the colony needed and I had available. They have grown out nicely and all I have left in the last deep are two wooden follower boards which I will probably pull in another week or so.

The bees seem to me to benefit from having constantly right-sized cavities and not having the upheaval of being moved from one box to another. The fewer times you have to do that, the fewer chances you have to accidentally damage the queen or create some other kind of a problem.

The follower boards (and the foam panels) are cut to be the full-depth of what-ever size box I'm using, with no shortening to allow for bee space between boxes to keep the bees from having much access to the foam. I have read here of report of bees chewing the foam material, but so far in both cold and warm weather I have not seen that. I have used both Dow (pale blue) and Owens-Corning (pink, and now ozone-safe, light purple) foam boards.

Enj.
 

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The purpose of a split is to make more hives from. Having a mated queen will help to speed up this process.
I use them to keep the exceptional queens without weakening the parent hive too much.
I do all my splits in a full size deep. No need to put
boards inside just the 5 frames with bees attached and the
new queen. You can make a strong nuc or a weak nuc. The
strong one will swarm if there is a Fall flow before the winter.
The cardboard box cannot be use to overwinter with since
it is too thin. Imagine the rains will get in too. Just too
weak to do that. But a nuc is more secure and durable to overwinter with. Since the broods need bees to cover them, putting too many empty frames will not have enough concentrated bees for that. The reason a nuc works is to concentrate the bees for a warm and comfortable spot to grow and overwinter in. Does this makes any sense?
 

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Done splits both ways, nucs and 10 frame boxes. 10 frames when early enough to grow out to full hives and nucs when late in the season for overwintering as mentioned.

Never had to deal with wax moths or hive beetles in Maine and haven't seen signs of either yet here in my first PA season, so the 6 splits I made went into 10 frame mediums, with 5 frames with brood, pollen & honey and 5 frames of drawn comb. Any later splits this season will likely go into a 5 frame nuc with a 4 frame upper box.

Not sure who is making the distinction of what constitutes the "proper" size space, the beekeeper or the bee. I've seen swarms move into mail-box size nucs and cavernous-sized cavities in buildings and then set to filling those spaces.

Wayne
 

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As long as you are filling the box with frames of foundation and not comb you can house a nuc in any size box. It does SEEM like they do better in a nuc sized box, but I'm not sure that is really very much of a factor. What is true is that they will do a better job of fully drawing out frames of comb in a small box. In a large box they may only partially fill them out until they start to run out of space.

I have started hives in my 8 frame medium boxes with just a frame of brood, one of stores and a queen cell, and 6 foundation frames to fill. They do just fine. Actually, once they are queenright they expand rapidly if the conditions are good.
 
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