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I would like to get some insight on how others are selling their Nucs in a Northern climate. Do you mostly sell over wintered nucs ? Or do you raise new queens and have nucs ready in June? If you are selling over wintered Nucs, do you just make it up and deliver it the same day ? When making the nuc from the overwintered hive what is your procedure, break it into several nucs with one having a Queen ?

Would like to see if what I do matches up with others.

Thanks
 

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We make nucs from our 'just back from California almonds' bees in early to mid April with a couple frames of brood, couple frames honey and pollen and a division feeder. We introduce a new queen purchased from California, Florida or Texas and let them be a few weeks to grow and evaluate the queen. A couple days before pickup we pull the feeder and substitute a frame of bees or honey, whichever they need.
Sheri
 

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I've read where "Allen Dick" refers to 'Lifting Down Splits' - I'm wondering if anyone is familiar with this method? I'm guessing that it has to do with the use of a queen excluder above a hive and might be used for nucs.... Just wondering what the advantages are for doing it this way. (I PMed AD for comment)
 

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I'm guessing that it has to do with the use of a queen excluder above a hive and might be used for nucs.... Just wondering what the advantages are for doing it this way. (I PMed AD for comment)
This is a fast way to produce splits. You don't have to look for the queen. Shake the bees off the comb(brood or honey). Place them in your split box. place excluder on top of your hive then the split on top of that. The bees will move up through the excluder and cover the brood. To help them along you can smoke them up or just come back a day or 2 later. If you are making nucs then you transfer the frames with bees to nuc and then move to another yard.

As for the OP? I do it the same way as J&S except for the feeder. I put a feeder on top of the nuc. 2 frames brood with attached bees, 2-3 shakes of bees off open brood, 2 frames honey/pollen and 1 empty frame.
 

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Strange you should ask today.

I just did four yesterday and have sixteen to do today, and I contemplated many splitting methods before going back to my old favourite.

My goal this year is to make as many splits as I can and winter them all without significant loss. That means starting early and making the best use of bees and queens as possible. This method is conservative in terms of heat and bees and other methods might give more splits, but since it is early and we can still get severe weather, doing things this way hedges my bets.

This method can be done with either ripe or six-day queen cells or allowing the bees to raise their own queen, but I had the chance to get some mated queens yesterday and although it is a little earlier than I like, I decided to go ahead. This method is very flexible and conserves heat, so should minimize stress on the bees, and that is always my goal.

I am less than comfortable that the hives were wrapped right up to now, since I think it is good to unwrap and let the bees get used to that before splitting, but I have a limited time window since I am scheduled to be away quite a bit and the weather is spotty. I saw a chance and took it.

The method is simple. The hive being split has to have at least four frames with a decent amount of brood and lots of bees. If the hives are in two or three boxes, the job is easier. I like to use warm frames that have been occupied by bees right up to the time of splitting instead of frames from dead-outs or storage since the bees accept them much better.

The job entails examining the parent hive to determine that it is up to standard and then removing two frames with brood and a two frames of honey and pollen from the top box and placing it into either an empty box or one of the lower boxes that will be used to house the split.

Most of the bees on every frame must be shaken into what will be the lower (original) hive without looking for the queen. If she is on one of the frames, she will be one of the first to shake off. Don't shake too hard, or larvae can be displaced in their cells. A "quivering' shake is best for brood frames.

Next the top box (the split) is completed with frames and a feeder if desired and it is ready to place on top. I always include a frame of foundation in an outside position in every brood box so it is handy later and so it acquires bee scent, plus it will buy me a few days grace if the hive gets crowded later.

I reassemble the lower hive making sure the brood frames are grouped so that covering the brood is easy for the bees and also watching for bowed frames which might trap emerging bees if crowded together. Next, I place an excluder on top of the parent hive and this is the one time a wood-bound excluder is superior to steel-bound since the former have a bit of lift on each side I can squash a pollen patty under it whereas a steel-bound one will leave cracks around the edge of the hive. We want the bees to be as warm as possible after the disruption. Consider taping the cracks between boxes, if any.

Now the split goes on top of the excluder and I place the queen in her cage with corks on both ends immediately above the brood in the split with screen down and partly exposed in the gap between the frames. Ob top of that goes an insulating plastic quilt (pillow) and a telescoping lid which has a 1" rim around the inside edge. That lid allows room for the queen cage and presses down the outer edges. Two four-pound bricks go on top of the lid.

What makes all this work is that I have a one inch auger hole in every brood box, so the bees can fly from all two or three boxes and I don't need to provide an entrance at top or bottom. (Some people don't like auger holes, but they are easily blocked when not wanted with a pipe plug, some burr comb wax, or grass and are very handy for many beekeeper tricks).

I then leave the hive overnight or longer and let them settle down. The nurse bees come up into the top through the excluder and care for the brood and repair the damage. The old queen is trapped below with the remaining brood.

After a day or so, I slip in a sheet of 4-mill plastic cut to about 21 x 17 inches above the excluder to isolate the split.

In another day or two, when the weather is good and the bees are happy, I will return and release the queen, after watching to see how the bees seem to like her or if I will be away, I'll have put a marshmallow or queen candy in place of one cork so the bees will release her.

The split can stay on top for as long as we like. After the top queen is laying, the plastic can be removed to make a two-queen hive, the excluder removed to allow the bees to replace the lower queen, or the split can be removed to another location. If a rainy spell of three days happens along, the splits can be lifted down in this same yard to fill gaps, since their mental fix on on their current location will have faded sufficiently that they will not drift back.

Another note about auger holes: bees like them and will preferentially go to holes with bee activity. Any split can maintain some entrance activity, so will not lose bees the way weak hives with bottom entrances can. There is also a tendency for bees to drift up to the top holes and this augments the splits even after they are isolated from the lower, stronger hive.

When doing all this, the weather should be expected to stay above freezing for a few days at least and the process should be done early enough in the day that the bees can get back in and settle down before the nighttime chill.

Splits done this way and this early will be full-strength producing colonies. These splits put packages to shame. My intent is to split them again several times.

As for selling nucs, these splits are in standard boxes. They could be done in two-ways or transferred, but I have not sold nucs.

In my opinion nucs should settle for at least a week before being sold. They look much better and the queens will not be as likely to be rejected in transport. Also any duds can be detected and dealt with, preserving your reputation for quality.
 

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When we can raise our own queens for the season, we take a frame of brood and a frame of honey with all adhering bees and transfer them into a four frame nuc. Put empty comb, or a frame with comb and one with foundation on either side. Add either a queen cell or a newly raised laying queen.

The nucs have enough time to build up sufficient strength to overwinter. In fact, they become strong enough so that two nucs can be put together side-by side with a queen excluder and honey supers on top. Last year, some of my four frame nuc "doubles" filled three deep supers with honey.

The nucs overwinter well, and can be sold in spring. Care should be taken to not allow them to run out of food in the spring.

JH
 

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We make them by pulling frames of brood from the mother hives. We'll shake 3 frames of bees per frame or brood. We like to put this frame of brood with a frame of pollen and a frame of honey. Best if they can go directly into the buyers box. We feed a little bit of patty and Caspian solution. Best if they can get a queen that evening after moving out of the yard. Best if the new yard has no other colonies. If oyu have queens in hand then capped brood is best, if you don't then you need some open brood to keep the bees. We'll feed Capian asecond time. On day 5 we poke a hole in te queen cage. Later in the season mid -April on we use 2 frames of brood with 2-3 shakes of bees. The rest isd the same.

Jean-Marc
 

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... This method is very flexible and conserves heat, so should minimize stress on the bees, and that is always my goal........What makes all this work is that I have a one inch auger hole in every brood box, so the bees can fly from all two or three boxes and I don't need to provide an entrance at top or bottom.
I get similar results with a double screen board when making splits. The pivot entrances work well and the rising heat keeps the brood you add to the split warm. For early spring splits this matters. Summer splits doesn't matter so much.

That said I use Allen's approach with the excluder as well. It all comes down to (having) to find the queen easily and moving quickly.
 
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