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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Approximately 600 bees. Enough for a mini mating nuc.
 

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If I graft 20-30 cells (give or take acceptance) do you think four hives would be able to help support 20-30 mating nucs?
Yes, BUT you’ll need to let the MN build up some. Let the newly mated queens lay in some brood prior to catching the q’s out. Then the MN should stand on their own w/o adding additional bees.
 

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Moderator - In Memorium
Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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I do not think taking 18,000 nurse bees from your existing hives would be a good idea. Secondly, after they are mated, how do you plan to populate the nucs they need to go in? I have 25 hives at the moment and think I am stretching it with 15 cells in the incubator right now. Of course, I am also trying to get honey this year since last year was a bust. Try grafting around 12 at a time every two weeks. A mating nuc can support at least two rounds before needing bees again. If you let the first queen lay up the comb, you might not need additional bees at all. The nucs on the other hand will need around 3000 bees each to make a go of it. Even a booming hive can barely support a 7 way split without turning the donor hive into a nuc again, in my opinion.
 

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I run mini nucs and 5 frame mini nucs using Mann Lake size frames..Start season with Mini Nucs - about 10- shaking bees from supers (no drones). Let queen lay up each mini nuc and only then remove her -In mid season set up larger mini nucs - which require more bees- and feed so they fill up quickly and can overwinter..
So May mini nucs
June 5 frame mini nucs.
July/August full size 5 frame nucs..

I have 8 hives and overwinter 5 frame full size nucs and find that is stretching resources to teh limit - about 30 queens .
All weather dependent.. a bad summer will ruin it
 
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