Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner
1 - 20 of 36 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
10 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi

We currently breed with a combination of full-sized frame nucs and polystyrene mini nucs. Although we generally run at around 82-85% from cell to queen for our full sized nucs our percentage for the mini nucs is more like 60%. We basically treat them like our full sized ones in terms of mating yard location, when we make them up ety etc..

I was wondering if there are any tricks to getting the percentage up on them... any ideas on site location, site size, strength of nucs when made up etc etc would be much appreciated.

Thanks
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,288 Posts
I was wondering if there are any tricks to getting the percentage up on them... any ideas on site location, site size, strength of nucs when made up etc etc would be much appreciated.

Thanks
I've found that if the mini-nucs are too strong, the % goes down. 75% seems to be about the average, even for large producers. I was at about 60% or even less until I stopped making them up too strong. Had a couple high 80s this summer. Also, remove bees and/or brood after catching the queen...if you think they are getting too strong.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,288 Posts
>>What reason for a lower % when too strong? Absconding?

Mostly they will raise their own cell and kill my virgin when she emerges.

A standard box divided into 3 nucs of 3 frames each, with removable division boards. Quite simple they can be united for the winter then split up again, no more hassling around with tins of bees and trying to keep lots of baby nucs just right.[/QUOTE]

I do the same, but my minis are 4 way with 4 mini combs. I unite in August and winter in doubles with 8 mini combs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Cheers for the responses guys.. We find that the mini's are good for matings early in the season as they use less resources and we have no problems with finding enough bees, I can accept the lower percentage but 60% just seems to low to rely on.. How big are the yards that you guys are running them in? How many drone supply hives and other hives in near proximity?

Our full depth nucs are 1 box halved with a removable division though we are thinking of setting up some that run smaller frames divided evenly into quarters aswell.

Thanks again
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,373 Posts
I made up ten mini-nucs. They were not strong. They had four little frames and a fifth frame was a feeder. When I first made them up I cut sections of comb honey to fit in a frame, the remaining frames I inserted one inch wide starter strips of beeswax foundation. I installed ripe queen cells, then added about one and a half cups of nurse bees. The queens emerged, the bees built some comb, then when the queens went on their mating flights all the bees in the mini-nucs would go with them, none of them ever returned.

I thought, "this couldn't happen again". I was wrong, I tried it two more times, and never got a single mated queen to return to a mini-nuc. [I suppose I seeded my local area with Cordovan Italian queens. I hope that is true. It would be nice if they are out there producing Cordovan drones.] I had plans to make a hundred more mini-nucs. I outfitted a super to hold mini-nuc frames to grow them in a full-size hive.

I gave up on mini-nucs and stuck with 5-frame medium nucs. All my hives and nucs use medium frames, so it is easier to locate frames with resources to build nucs with. I have many more queens mate and return to my 5-frame medium nucs, than did in my mini-nucs. Bye bye mini-nucs.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,563 Posts
We run 5,000 duplex minis per mating yard and provide 50 drone hives and 62 cell builders on each location.

We use feeders for the first 2 cycles each year, after that we place a frame of honey inplace of the feeder.

Our percentages stay in the mid 90s, its all about timing so that once the queens have mated they only lay a small amount before you catch and re-plant. Temp has a lot to do with absconding as well, hotter areas that place these little nuks in full sun have lower rates because there are so few bees to control temp and humidity... a little afternoon shade goes a long way.

Of course we are in an area that hits the low 100s in summer and 10s in winter.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
970 Posts
if you stocked your mini nuc with just frame of honey and foundation strips and a queen cell you will not get hardly any to stay but if you will place them in a dark cool room after placing in q-cell and keep them shut up until the end of the 3rd day after hatch they will mostly all stay put.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,563 Posts
part 1

Please tell a little about how you raise your cells. :)
Well first and foremost our cell builders have been selectively bred for nearly 100 years. Those are our heaviest laying genetics and keep a steady population of around 100k per hive. With 8-10 deep frames of nurse bees hatching at any given time.

This is a Huge benefit to producing mass numbers of cells at once.

Our grafting is all done dry, by members of our family who start learning and practicing very early (my father was 9, I was 7, my daughters were 6. lol), and a few select bee keepers from Russia and the Ukraine that are learning our practices in order to teach bee keepers of their countries when they return home.

See next post...
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,563 Posts
Part 2

We use primer nuks (one frame of honey "either uncapped or scored with a hive tool to make it runny", and one frame of solid pollen, and about 3 lbs of young nurse bees in a 5 frame swarm box with a screened bottom) like most others do, however, we do not have to wait 24 hrs before we can place a frame of cells in them (the younger the bees the less this is a concern).

We prep our cell builders by pulling 4 good frames of uncapped brood to the upper brood chamber and moving loose honey and pollen closer to the area right above where the cell frame will be placed.

24 hrs after the cells were placed in the nuk, we place the cell frame into the cell builder and return the other frames and poor the bulk of nurse bees directly on top of the cell frame.

See next post...
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,563 Posts
Part 3

9 days after the graft was made, we pull the cells and plant them in the mating nuks of that same location. 15 days later, we catch and re-plant.

From Feb-Oct we follow an extremely strict schedule, one good rain on the wrong day can hurt us greatly.

At the end of our queen season we stop grafting and begin allowing the mini nuks to pull their own cells...those that do not get shaken into the air and their frames put into special supers and placed on hives to be protected for the next year... Those that do, we will catch the queens and use them to requeen our "package producing" hives.

50 drone hives per 5,000 queen nuks, with one drone frame per hive and great layers to keep them coming strong...and carefully chose the genetics of your drone hives...we include one ferral drone hive per yard (Our ferral strains are moved to "safe zones" far away from any others when not not in use so we can keep them as un-altered as possible, and have been doing so for 50+ years).

Hope this helps!
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,563 Posts
Part 4...

Thought I might should add that our mini-nuks are medium in depth and only hold 3 frames per side (they are duplexes). My father came up with the design in the 50s after receiving an order for 10,000 queens (that was a TON of queens back then) from the Jordan government who was working to better their native bees.

The frames are about half the length of a standard frame, so medium supers with a center rails work great for storing 20 of these frames per hive for winter.

When we stock these nuks, we shake our bees into 30 lb sized packages with a sliding cover over a large hole in the top, the we give each nuk 2 frames of wax (we take the special supers off early and let the bees rob any honey out of them first), a feeder with 1:1 sugar syrup, and a #2 "soup can" scoop of bees. Then we keep the doors closed for 24 hrs and open them as we plant the cells.

Hope this helps!
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,563 Posts
Hmmm.... Very interesting.:)

There's a few things I'm not understanding:-

Grafting done dry? What does that mean? And, can you tell about the exact grafting process, ie do you use a brush, how do you prep the cells, etc..

Dry grafting simply means that we do not use royal jelly or any other form of of prep for the cells...just a stainless needle and tons of practice beginning at an early age.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,563 Posts
Hmmm.... Very interesting.:)

Then to the cell builders, tell me if I understand this right, the grafted larve are put into a 5 frame swarm box, how many cells? Then, 24 hours later they are put into cell finishers? I'm assuming the finisher is 2 boxes with queen below & cells above? How many cells go into the finisher? You dump the bees from the swarm box into the finisher?

There are 80 cells (wooden cups with plastic cell insterts) on each frame.

Again, our cell builders are extremely heavy layers, 3 deeps of brood chamber and 2 mediums for food. When we prep the cell builders the queen is moved to the lowest deep and a queen excluder is placed on that deep. We try to build only one frame in a cell builder at a time and then rotate for the next cycle, but when pressed by heavy orders we have been able to build 2 frames in each cell builder at once.

The bees that we place in the swarm box are from the cell builder that it is priming for, when we place the cell frame into the cell builder, we return the bees that have spent 24 hrs in the swarm box to the cell builder by pooring them directly on top of the cell frame.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,563 Posts
Hmmm.... Very interesting.:)

15 days after planting the cells in the mating nucs, you catch and re plant, just what does that mean? And if you mean what I think you mean, what is the rational behind doing this?
Our queens hatch from the cells on the 10th day after grafting...we have this process down quite well, calculating weather, temp, and humidity along with the genetics of each individual queen that was used for grafting, we can judge the hatch time within about a half hour. So we plant an hour before hatching, then allow 15 days for breeding and to allow her enough time to lay the inside of two frames.

From graft to laying queen...24-25 days.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,563 Posts
Hmmm.... Very interesting.:)

you catch and re plant, just what does that mean? .
We make waves of grafts each coordinating with the catch dates of the preceeding queens...So when we are catching queens, we are planting cells that will hatch within the hour to replace the queens that we take.

Note: As I said before, Over 125 years of hard work and great devotion has gone into the genetics of these bees. The genetics of our cell builders, drone hives, and grafting queens all play key rolls in our rates and our production cababilities. Scheduling is a key factor, but stock selection and developement over time is the most important part of queen rearing.

Hope this helps!
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,563 Posts
Are the empty cells left in a hive for a time before being grafted into? and what % take would you consider normal?

Your cell builder setup, the queen is in the bottom box under an excluder, there are another two boxes of brood on top, then maybe a couple boxes of honey. Where in the hive do you put the cells? Once the cells are capped will you add more day old cells, and if not why not?
1. We do not prime empty cells. A little tip about using new grafting equipment: smoke is a smell that a well worked colony will be quite accustomed to, when using brand new grafting frames and cells a few light puffs from your smoker before you place the frame in the swarm box will provide a safe cover for and put the nurse bees at ease.

2. 90% is an acceptable take, any less than that and we start looking for the reason and try make adjustments to correct it. If bad weather is a factor, we may be more understanding, but if the hive produces more than 1 "less than 90" take, we will cull it for the rest of the season and only use it for practice grafts (queens from these grafts are donated to universities).

3. The queen is in the bottom deep, bellow the excluder. We usually place the cells in the next deep and place the third deep on top of that. If we are pressed and are pulling 2 cell frames in each builder we will place the 2nd one directly on above the 1st in the third deep.

4. We rotate builders on each cycle. On the ninth day we pull the cell frames to be planted and we remove the excluder and put the hive back in order. This gives the queen a chance to lay the upper two deeps again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
261 Posts
Would someone please explain the difference between a mini-nuc and a full size nuc? I have still got a lot to learn about beekeeping and may never learn it all.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,373 Posts
Full-size nucs use standard frames, usually from two to six and either medium or deep frames; mini-nucs use specialized frames that are smaller than standard frames. Mini-nucs are generally used exclusively to mate and hold queens. Standard nucs are more multi-purpose, they can be used to raise, mate, and hold queens, but they can also be used as starter colonies, and various other purposes.

There are many and various designs of mini-nucs that use a wide variety of frame sizes, none are standard sizes that would fit in a "standard hive". Full-size nuc frames will fit into standard sized supers.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
457 Posts
The frames in a mini-nuc are usually 1/2 to 1/3 the length of a regular frame.

Uses fewer bees when one is mating queens.

Pugs
 
1 - 20 of 36 Posts
Top