Hi. For hive defense/robbing prevention, it isn’t as much of a timeline as it is hive strength. With a month old nuc, keep the entrance small. It shouldn’t hinder a nuc to keep it reduced, on the other hand, it can easily save them from disaster. You can easily grow a nuc into a full grown hive through an entrance reducer. If you have one of the typical reducers with the very small opening (about 1”) that will rotate to a medium opening (about 2 or 3 inches), and the bees are having to take a number to go though the small opening, you can go ahead and change to the medium opening.
Just remember, there are a LOT of successful feral colonies out there, and most of them have a pretty small entrance.
hmm, good to know. I took the reducer off when i was trying to attract a swarm in my hive, i guess i need to put it back now that they are in there. Might explain why they are clustering near the entrance in the evenings as well.
If you are using the equipment as a swarm trap, bees typically like to see and entrance that is about 2 square inches or something like that, any larger and they don't like it very much as it is hard to defend. But I know people who keep the entrance reducer on all year on their production colonies.
I put BeeSmart robbing screens on every hive (no matter how strong) and leave them on until late fall when mouseguards go on. Nucs are especially vulnerable so I wouldn't be in a rush. You could also fashion a robbing screen with #8 hardware cloth. Gives you ventilation but choices about reducing when needed.
I pull mine when there starts to be a traffic jam bigger than the entrance and I know there is a good flow going on. I am not sure a first year hive will get past the bigger opening on the entrance reducer most years before you need to be concerned about robbing.
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