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Hi All,

I'm a fourth year beekeeper and I've decided to give the Mann Lake sytrofoam mini mating nucs a try. I grafted some larvae recently and I should have some queen cells ready by the end of this week.

Does anyone have a good procedure for using this style of mating nuc? I've read different variations on procedures, and would be interested to hear from anyone who has actual experience with this style of mating nuc.

I placed 1" wax started strips in each frame, and plan to use 1 to 1.5 cups of bees in each nuc.

Here are some specific questions:

1. Should I add the worker bees a day or two before I add the queen cell, or should I add the bees and queen cell at the same time?

2. I'm new to grafting. Should I add the queen cells on day #9 or day #10 after grafting? I've seen varying opinions, and I've read that the queens can sometimes hatch on day #10 in hot weather.

3. Once I have the workers and queen cell installed, how long should I leave the nuc sealed? I've read that closing the entrance and putting the nuc in a cool, dark place for 3 or 4 days can help convince the workers to stay put.

I'm still new at queen rearing, and any advice or suggestions would be welcomed.

Roger
 

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I learned a lot about the mini nucs by watchinghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rL3HRd1n53g, they have a lot of good videos on queen rearing if you haven't seen them already
That video that inspired me to try the mini nucs. I'm a backyard hobbyist and don't have the space or resources for large quantities of full size mating nucs. I have a number of friends who are beekeepers as well, and my goal is to eventually be able to produce a small but steady supply of mated queens primarily for our own use.

I've had trouble obtaining the pheromone strips used in the video. I have some on order, but I'm not sure when they will actually ship.

If the earliest the queen cell can hatch is day #10 after grafting, I'm leaning towards putting some worker bees and the queen cell into the mating nuc on day #9 and then keeping the entrance closed for 3-4 days until the queen cell hatches. Given that the local temperatures are reaching the mid 90s, I'm considering putting them in my air conditioned basement while the entrance is closed up since they won't be able to leave the nuc box to regulate temperature.

I would be very appreciative of any tips or suggestions that anyone might have for working with this style of nuc.

Roger
 

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the UOG video is a good one
Here is the schedule I use
View attachment 7-11 cells.xlsx

I don't use temp queen like UOG
I keep them dark and cool for 3 days in the basement and let them out after flying has stopped for the day
this way I can place them back in the same yard they came from if I have to, and the cool causes them to cluster on the cell.
 

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the UOG video is a good one
Here is the schedule I use
View attachment 57297

I don't use temp queen like UOG
I keep them dark and cool for 3 days in the basement and let them out after flying has stopped for the day
this way I can place them back in the same yard they came from if I have to, and the cool causes them to cluster on the cell.
MSL, thanks for the spreadsheet.
Useful for me too.

One question - you suggest moving the cells on days 14-15 and advise against moving on days 11-13.

Per LJ's queen rearing schedule,
If moving queen cell, best between days 11 and 13 inclusive.
During my test mini nuc batch I moved my cells on day 11 *nominally* - no problems with the moves, queens hatched fine.
To be sure, my QC move amounts to few careful steps, hive to a nuc.
But I also need to cut them out of the natural comb and then attach to a mini frame (that also amounts to some "shaking" similar to a move).

So, LJ's direction and your direction don't even overlap in terms of best days for the QC moves.
What gives?
 

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Hi All,

I'm a fourth year beekeeper and I've decided to give the Mann Lake sytrofoam mini mating nucs a try. I grafted some larvae recently and I should have some queen cells ready by the end of this week.

Does anyone have a good procedure for using this style of mating nuc? I've read different variations on procedures, and would be interested to hear from anyone who has actual experience with this style of mating nuc.

I placed 1" wax started strips in each frame, and plan to use 1 to 1.5 cups of bees in each nuc.

Here are some specific questions:

1. Should I add the worker bees a day or two before I add the queen cell, or should I add the bees and queen cell at the same time?

2. I'm new to grafting. Should I add the queen cells on day #9 or day #10 after grafting? I've seen varying opinions, and I've read that the queens can sometimes hatch on day #10 in hot weather.

3. Once I have the workers and queen cell installed, how long should I leave the nuc sealed? I've read that closing the entrance and putting the nuc in a cool, dark place for 3 or 4 days can help convince the workers to stay put.

I'm still new at queen rearing, and any advice or suggestions would be welcomed.

Roger
I myself am learning the mini nuc operation too.
Regarding your Q's here are some steps I have done with my test mini batch (in progress as we speak and seems to be working):

1. I shook the bees into the minis and added the QCs at once.
Technically, placed the QC(s) into the nuc first.
Then dumped the bees in.
Then closed the nuc up and called it done.

2. The age of the larva inside the QCs was nominally Day 11 when moved. Worked for me.

3. My minis are placed on a stand just 10 feet away from the QC source hive.
Once I completed the step #1 above I left the nucs in place and made no other moves.
This is where they are now still.
OK - the details - I simply taped the entrances with painter's tape, made two knife slits (see pic) and let them chew their way out (which takes 2-4 days; sometimes needs help).
That's the period of isolation.
I can afford to tape them shut because the nucs have ventilated bottoms and food/water provided inside.
The nucs are in shade and the foam provides excellent micro-climate so I don't bother with the basement storage (extra QC shaking I'd rather avoid).
20200706_080702.jpg 20200713_132000.jpg 20200713_132207.jpg
 

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Why do you guys prefer mini matinging nucs vs quads or 2-3 frame queen castles that can be over wintered at end of season?
My case:

Foam minis are superior in that a cup of bees is all that required to maintain it - so you don't pull much bee-force away from other important things.
I don't plan to winter anything that small - so does not matter.
Equipment (the foam boxes) are free and almost ready to use in the local recycling bin (takes few knife cuts and a little tape and done).
Why buy foam boxes - is kind of a mystery to me.

I also plan to have a stand-by mini every time I make a regular split - if any extra QC is available - it is trivial to plug it into a mini on-the-spot, dump a handful of bees inside and mate the extra queen for redundancy/spare queen.
No planning/preparation is needed - just a couple of empty and ready mini nucs laying inside a car.
 

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Bee shaking "equipment" I am using - works great.
20200714_121546.jpg
 

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Foam minis are superior in that a cup of bees is all that required to maintain it - so you don't pull much bee-force away from other important things.
I don't plan to winter anything that small - so does not matter.
Equipment (the foam boxes) are free and almost ready to use in the local recycling bin (takes few knife cuts and a little tape and done).
Why buy foam boxes - is kind of a mystery to me.
Greg. Makes sense and free is nice which appeals to my senses. BUT.....the fact that they are not sustainable is where it loses favor for me. Mike Palmer/ Kirk Websters method of over wintering mating nucs just has more of an appeal. Which is the way I do it for years now. Once the nucs are stocked there good to go over and over year after year. Of course you get failed matings and dead outs but thats just beekeeping. I get the concept I'm just not sure I would say its superior.
 

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Greg. Makes sense and free is nice which appeals to my senses. BUT.....the fact that they are not sustainable is where it loses favor for me. Mike Palmer/ Kirk Websters method of over wintering mating nucs just has more of an appeal. Which is the way I do it for years now. Once the nucs are stocked there good to go over and over year after year. Of course you get failed matings and dead outs but thats just beekeeping. I get the concept I'm just not sure I would say its superior.
Superior I meant exactly as in:
superior in that a cup of bees is all that required to maintain it
Takes a cup of bees to properly condition the mini foam hive.
That is all I stated.

I think there is this perception of the bees chewing through foam, cardboard and similar soft materials.
I say - non-sense.
It really depends on a particular usage.
I kept bees in computer boxes in summer - not a problem, as long as you don't let them overgrow the box.
Now foam - I don't see a problem.

Actually, I pretty darn sure my foam nucs will go year after year after year (meaning the foam equipment itself; not the bees).
Contrary to a popular belief, bees will not really chew the foam nucs as long as you keep the population size proper and the bees don't feel tight and there is proper ventilation built-in (rigid, shipping grade foam, to be sure - not soft foam).

Besides I have many more spares (now I might just go and raid the recycling center for more of these).
And btw, minor repair of the foam boxes is trivial too.
The minor holes are plugged with the same foam plugs and taped over (OR just taped over).
The major repair ~ just recycle the box back in and done.

The real project is - one-time construction of the mini-frames.
Now this needs to be strategic so that the frames are reusable and ideally even plug-gable into larger equipment.

Given you want to over-winter - that is a different use case.
Agreed there.

This guy did over-winter his foam minis in zone 5 US just fine for 4 years.
But I have no plans as of yet (well.... it would be a very cheap experiment to do, now this got me thinking.... LOL).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HGt1QsErcA
 

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Why do you guys prefer mini matinging nucs vs quads or 2-3 frame queen castles that can be over wintered at end of season?
I know people in finland who over winter minis in a cellar..:scratch: it can be done I guess..

its just 2 different ways
some people like $10 refillable zippos, some people like $1 disposable lighters

the foam minis are stocked with 1/10 the bees needed to stock a 2 frame deep..
and its all about openturnty cost

some spitball numbers-
3 pound package of bees last year hit $150 -$30 queen= 120…/3 = $40 a pound / 3500 bees gives you 1.14 cents per bee
at spit ball average life span left of 5 weeks (some bees older, some younger, 5 is likly on the high side) that’s 0.228 cents per week per bee for its labor

So a mini is 600X2X0.00228 = $2.73 in bee labor costs to mate a queen

Compare this to the common full deep frame system of a frame of brood and a frame of food to make up a mating nuc. A single frame of 60% brood fully covered with bees is a spit ball 6000 bees once hatched out = $27.30 to mate a queen.

The long and short is with a mini your risking about 1 days’ worth of spring build up for the honey flow(or to overwinter in the case of starting with a package), a 2 frame nuc your risking 10 days of build up

I don't understand the "sustainably" angle all those bees that are alive in sept will be dead before spring, so the advantage is overwintering the queen as she is the only one who will pull threw..
with fall re queening being a thing in most areas now its fairly easy to sell that last queen and take the $$ for a bird in hand

at that point many just shake them out.
cut out the combs and melt them down
set the minis on the shelf for next year.
You got your ROI out of the cup of bees.
Now no feeding, mite treatments or other care is needed. Just need to invest a new cup of bees next year

or you can put them in a hatch out box, but to what end... the bees will die off and the cluster will shrink to about the same size regardless
piture from Ian

The long and short of it is you can mate out many, many more queens in minis then the same rescorces in other systems. So for people like Greg who are rebuilding, or some one pumping out queens it can be a great way to go. IMG_0909_zps5r4ob4mk.jpg
 

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Greg, where are you sourcing your minis? homemade? mann lake?
Our local city dump.
The bin for styrofoam recycling.
I dumpster-dive for them.
:)
This particular brand of foam boxes I am testing out and like so far - DuraTherm.
20200714_220613.jpg
 
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