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I want to here your guys thoughts I have been using standard frames with hive body split into 4 compartments aka queen castle, but the mini nucs look like fun but more equipment but a lot less bees to start.. What are you guys using and why?
 

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I use 2 frame deep castles. I like them because after they build up a little, if I do not need the queen, I just slap them in a five frame nuc and then I have a new hive.
 

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I have both but limited experience with it all. Mini nucs where a total failure last year due to lack of drawn frames. almost impossible to keep bees in them. plus the shaking thing does not work for squat. shake and watch all the bees wonder around lost or fly back to the parent colony. Got so frustrating it had my daughter in tears trying to fill those things with bees only to watch them empty out again. I nearly burned them. The only way I will use them now is to get the fraems drawn and filled with brood and then move those into the nucs. If frames are not filled with brood then the nuc is useless to me.

Queen castle. I have heard they may lead to more lost queens due to them returning to the wrong compartment. Pretty simple to fix. just don't let all compartments fly on the same day. Plus some lost queens is better than no nucs to put queens in. Getting bees in a queen castle is as simple as moving a frame to the castle. Solving the whole frame of brood thing.

amount of bees is exactly the same my mini nuc is 4 half fraems my queen castles are 2 frame compartments. I expect my mini nucs to finally hit the fire this year. Only way I will keep them is if they demonstrate a much higher rate of successful mating.

Queen castles may have their drawbacks, but they are compact and easy.
 

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If you place on top of a strong hive to build your getting combs a lot of the time that are to thick for brooding cause they will start puting honey in them.

I can stock the nuc on foundation with bees and a RIPE queen cell and will have combs built and a laying queen in 10 to 12 days if the weather is good for mating. If you will follow my methods on my Box link above

But if you place on a strong hive you will be waiting about 3 weeks or so.
 

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The queen castle or similar setup is easy to establish a nuc. A frame of honey and a frame of brood with adhearing bees and the bees shaken in from one more frame of brood and you have a nuc. At the end of the season you just combine all the two frame nucs into a colony with one of the queens.
 

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I want to here your guys thoughts I have been using standard frames with hive body split into 4 compartments aka queen castle, but the mini nucs look like fun but more equipment but a lot less bees to start.. What are you guys using and why?
Fun is good! And those minis are super cute too. I tried some and they worked- I raised the half size frames in a nuc with a bar in the middle for the minis to rest on - that way I could just plop it on top of another nuc. Later realized I could have gotten brood on frames if I had excluded the queen in the mini frame part. But after trying the minis part of one season I found that if you are raising queens for a short time on a backyard scale, and not a regimented schedule there is more flexibility using 2 or 3 full size frame mating nucs. We are partial to the 3 frame ones. You can leave the queens in the mating nucs longer and it is easier to move them in to a nuc or colony and back again as you need them. Another factor is summer heat- which we have in Virginia- although I have heard in HI they mating nucs are spam can size.
 

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I started out using 5 frame deep nucs and still will use a few hundred for overwintering nucs. After testing 1/2 frame mediums last year I am moving more towards those. They are easier to stock and finding the queen takes 1/2 the time. I have a few castles but I have a lower return rate then a 5 frame nuc or a 1/2 frame medium.
 

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I like half frame mediums in a nuc box split in half. Two matting nucs per nuc box with each matting nuc having 5 half frames. I also have some two frame queen castles ( 10 frame box split into 4 sections) but the bees dont seem to do as good with only two frames but they are easier to set up.
 

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I use 2 frame deep castles. I like them because after they build up a little, if I do not need the queen, I just slap them in a five frame nuc and then I have a new hive.
Joe, I assume your frames are deeps. If so couldn't you use a partitioned 5-fr nuc with entrances on opposite ends, and essentially have a duplex mating hive,?

Phil
 

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Joe, I assume your frames are deeps. If so couldn't you use a partitioned 5-fr nuc with entrances on opposite ends, and essentially have a duplex mating hive,?

Phil
sure...that would work just fine, I actually use and eight frame deep split into thirds (two frames each) and a 10 frame deep split into 4 sections
 

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I built 10.. 3 half deep frame nucs. I just cut plastic deep frames in half. to help draw them out i built 2 long boxes that hold about 12 of these half frames. 1 end of the mini has a slot for a boardman feeder, the other end has a 3/4 hole. I take 2 frames out of the long box and a shake of bees and put in a queencell. If I don't need the queen after a few weeks i can slow it down by taking a frame of brood out and make another mini or put it back in the long box, works great , with very little bee resources. super easy to find the queen on 3 little frames.
 

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Being a hobby beekeeper that sells a few nucs, I prefer the 5 frame deep box. Deeps are the size preferred in this area. I graft, make the required number of nucs, and after the queen has been laying for 3 to 4 weeks, have the customer come with his equipment and pickup the 5 frames of bees/queen.

If the nucs are not sold, I stack them 3 5 frame boxes high to overwinter. They can overwinter with fewer frames, but I sleep better in Feb/March when they have 3 boxes.
 

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If you are just starting and want to try to raise a few queens just for the trying can you not just put a frame of honey, a couple of frames of brood, a frame with a Queen cell and and empty frame for growth in a nuc box?
 

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If you are just starting and want to try to raise a few queens just for the trying can you not just put a frame of honey, a couple of frames of brood, a frame with a Queen cell and and empty frame for growth in a nuc box?
Sure you can. I would recommend 5 frame nucs in your case, only wanting to raise a few queens. The mini nucs and small two frame nucs are for people who need to raise the most queens they can with the least amount of resources.
 
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