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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had a couple of hives building swarm cells so I split them up and made a dozen nucs with four medium frames each. They now have laying queens. Would twelve four frame nucs draw out more foundation by October than six eight frame nucs would if I combined my twelve nucs into six and used the extra queens to re-queen other hives? Also, our main flow is still on with lots of Alsike, Sweet Clover and Jewelweed close by and I would like your opinions on whether feeding the nucs now would build comb faster than just letting them forage.
 

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My immediate reply is no they will not. The why is a bit longer in explaining.

First is the general idea that 100,000 bees in one colony will produce more than 50,000 bees each in two colonies and their production in total. I have seen this reported from studies but cannot recall exactly where now.

Second which may or may not apply to your situation is that there seems to be minimal population of any colony to do well at all. Look at it as not all the jobs can get done if the population is to small. Any particular job not being done well then limits how much can be done in every other job.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Daniel. So, bigger is better? Would you recommend combining the twelve into four nucs? My main goal is to get maximum amount of foundation drawn.
 

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I recently made nucs too. 4 frame nucs.
i also made two half width boxes to sit on a full size deep that contains a splitter board. Apparently the guru Mr Palmer suggests the bees will produce more comb this way as upwards rather than sideways growth of a colony is more natural for the bees.
 

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Four frame nucs have 50% outside frames which usually dont get near as much attention as center frames. As the days shorten it is hard to get frames drawn and the bees wont draw wax where they cannot maintain about 35 C. temperature. I would go with fewer and larger colonies, especially if you can put the extra queens to good use. I am quite a few hundred miles north and west of you but I am finding wax building is slowing. Exception being a swarm on the fifth that has drawn 8 full frames on wax foundation in the last 9 days.
 

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To further complicate things, four frames of bees in a four frame nuc box will draw more comb than 4 frames of bees in an 8 frame or 10 frame box. It is easier for a higher density of bees to draw comb. I have made up some double nuc's a la Michael Palmer and I am hoping/expecting them to draw out 5 frames of foundation. I can't see this being a problem. The double nucs have the advantage of sharing some warmth and may draw a little more than two individual nucs.

As far as feeding goes, I generally wouldn't feed on a flow, but they probably would draw comb faster if you fed them. They'll use it at night and on rainy days, etc. Just watch that they don't swarm.
 

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To further complicate things, four frames of bees in a four frame nuc box will draw more comb than 4 frames of bees in an 8 frame or 10 frame box. It is easier for a higher density of bees to draw comb. I have made up some double nuc's a la Michael Palmer and I am hoping/expecting them to draw out 5 frames of foundation. I can't see this being a problem. The double nucs have the advantage of sharing some warmth and may draw a little more than two individual nucs.

As far as feeding goes, I generally wouldn't feed on a flow, but they probably would draw comb faster if you fed them. They'll use it at night and on rainy days, etc. Just watch that they don't swarm.
I am very impressed with the performance of the a la Michael Palmer nucs. I am also experimenting with feeding some of the nucs, just as a comparison.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Good information from all, thank you. I just went out and checked the parent colony from which I took the swarm cells. I got two stings on my eye and it is completely swollen shut! Otherwise, they have drawn a lot of foundation in the past two weeks. I think I will try the Michael Palmer split boxes and like Garusher, I will feed a couple for comparison.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Crofter, regarding your point about wax building slowing down, it has been cool here even though there is still lots of clover and milkweed blooming so I hope there is still some wax left in them. Last September, we had two steady weeks of 70 F sunny weather and I barrel-fed my bees with thick sugar syrup. They took in almost 60 pounds each and ended up drawing comb and capping over the sugar syrup in September. I was surprised to see this, I did not know they would cap sugar syrup.
 

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Thanks Daniel. So, bigger is better? Would you recommend combining the twelve into four nucs? My main goal is to get maximum amount of foundation drawn.
My goal to see any colony do very well is 10 frames of bees. Notice that is bees not brood. This would be consistent with the 4 over 4 or 5 over 5 recommendations in this thread. a 4 frame nuc can easily hold exactly the same number of bees as a 5 frame. the density just gets higher. I paid more attention to how full any space looks and what I see the bees doing in accordance with that. I simply look at it as. A colony does best when it looks full. Add fraems to a full looking hive and they work them better. they also seem to work them better depending on where they are placed in the hive. empty frames near the brood nest are more likely to get attention than outside frames or frames in an upper box in the middle of honey frames.
 

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First is the general idea that 100,000 bees in one colony will produce more than 50,000 bees each in two colonies and their production in total. I have seen this reported from studies but cannot recall exactly where now.
I've read in some old circa 1900 books this fact, so it's been known for a long time...just not sure who first discovered it. I've also seen it noted that a single hive of 60,000 bees would produce 1-1/2 times the amount of honey that two hives with a population each of 30,000 bees would produce.

YMMV :)
Ed
 

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Would twelve four frame nucs draw out more foundation by October than six eight frame nucs would if I combined my twelve nucs into six and used the extra queens to re-queen other hives?
This reminds me of those word puzzles we use to have to solve in grade school, back in the 1950's. Actually, small to medium sized colonies do an excellent job building comb. I would stay with the nucs. They build up surprisingly fast in summer. Now that you have them it would be a waste to pile them together.

John Harbo showed years ago that small to medium sized colonies were better for almost everything except honey production. On the other hand there is nothing intrinsically "better" about producing a ton of honey with ten hives or twenty. Whatever is easiest for you. In many ways its easier to manage more average colonies than the busters.
 

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You know, I'm inexperienced and hate to contribute things "I've read" or things "I've heard". But still feel inclined to post something that might be helpful.<sigh> I truly hope I don't insult people doing so.

In regards to your post, Peter, I've read where it is believed by some that the smaller colonies or nucs feel an urgency to build-up so that they have a better chance at colony (and probably species) survival. Thus the small colony builds comb when the larger, more populated colonies are at a point where they are comfortable with their size and their ability to survive a dearth or winter or whatever.

Take a swarm for example. Though most swarms issue during a flow they are still known for their comb building frenzy....they know that the queen has to have comb to lay in and they know she needs *lots* of it to get the brood cycle up to a level to sustain the population of the new hive. A small colony whether swarm, split, new nuc, or whatever still feels that urgency....to survive,...I think. :eek:

Ed
 

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This reminds me of those word puzzles we use to have to solve in grade school, back in the 1950's. Actually, small to medium sized colonies do an excellent job building comb. I would stay with the nucs. They build up surprisingly fast in summer. Now that you have them it would be a waste to pile them together.

John Harbo showed years ago that small to medium sized colonies were better for almost everything except honey production. On the other hand there is nothing intrinsically "better" about producing a ton of honey with ten hives or twenty. Whatever is easiest for you. In many ways its easier to manage more average colonies than the busters.
I totally agree. Last year I did very big, very strong colonies and made about 120 lbs of honey per each - this year I made twice as much total honey with 5 times as many colonies which were much smaller. Twice as much honey with half the work. Everything about it is easier.

Who knows which configuration will draw the most comb before fall, but I just about guarantee you will make the most production next spring with twice as many overwintered hives even if they are half as large.
 

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I agree that swarms draw comb better than anything I have seen. What I am not convinced of is that swarm conditions are recreated by splitting. I do not see the same comb drawing in splits as I do swarms.

Splitting hairs in this way I find important when it comes to bees. Be careful about doing things like splitting and then considering it a swarm. it is no such thing. I have a lot of splits setting right next to swarms. the swarm is pushing 30 frames in size. the splits are struggling to make 10. What I cannot tell you to much about yet is why.

I am also finding that bees even made queenl3ss at this time of year will not tend to make new queens very well. Such drastic differences from such small factors is starting to become overwhelming.

My best advice is give the bees room to make comb. you may find that bees draw comb better if the space is closer to the brood nest. maybe not. maybe nothing will get them to draw it. I find it hard to get bees to make comb this time of year.

Some thing I find effect bees willingness to draw comb or store honey.

Availability of forage. It seems to me that bees set their goal of honey production earlier in the season.a dn once reached they are reluctant to change their minds. they got what was needed to survive and are willing to wait it out.

Population of the colony possibly sets the goal for stores.

How effected is the colony by queen losses or diseases.

Bees will draw comb when they have something to store. or brood to build such as in the spring. I actually find they tend to build comb in the spring. build abundant brood and then fill the vacated space with honey. but they do little to expand the hive once they have reared brood. It is almost like the brood rearing they manage to accomplish then sets the goal for the remainder of the year.

Manipulations of the population after this basic set is demoralizing and devastating to the colony. I am not sure any of them work well. Make splits prior to swarming is what I am seeing. TI is then that a colony will reset it's brood raring efforts and possible produce any excess honey at all.

So far I have seen the various efforts o the bees to fall into these general categories

1`. brood rearing which under correct condition they will expand the colony.
2. swarming. basic act of reporduciton.
3. secondary brood rearing for the intent of restoring population after reproduction or for swarms to build a minimal colony. Again hive expansion takes place. Most notably in the smallest of colonies.

4. continues building of population and preparations for winter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Bernard: do you know of anyone that has tried this comb? Do you know the cost? I tried PermaComb this year and although some colonies used it, I found the acceptance rate was below that of wax-coated foundation.
 

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Some beekeepers I personally know, tried those combs with great success. Bees take them immediately.

Some combs broke during transportation, but this has been solvednow, as I heared.

Prices vary, it all depends on standard frame size (Langstroth or not), without frames or with frames (comb comes in frames). I am about to order some in a non-standard sized combs, about 2.5 USD each. You ask the producers for prices, he can give you the real prices. Better than estimates.

The guy bought/constructed the machine for a lot of money, he had to invest in it. As long as the numbers of produced combs are low, the prices are high. One the combs are more widespread available and the machines have been paid, the prices will go down for sure.

I really like the idea of having a lot of fresh drawn comb ready by springtime.
 
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