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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have an Ulster Hive I'd like to populate still this season via a split to keep through the winter. How late can I take some brood/eggs and still give them enough time to raise a queen? My plan is to keep them indoors through the winter and I'll be able to feed them what they don't collect before winter.
 

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Even in the best season, raising a queen in a half-populated nuc is tricky proposition, the little cluster simple doesn't have the resources to devote to raising a quality queen. The "give-them-an-egg" strategy works best in the height of the season with an overflowing single.

You could take the existing queen and some frames, and let the residual hive struggle with the raising-mating-restarting brood lottery.

This is a lesson I must learn myself every year. In April and May (the height of my season), queenless splits to 2x stacked 5 frame Medium nucs **all** take and boom quickly. I decide I have the magic touch and extend the queenless splits to nucs made up in July. My take is perhaps 50%. My July (a dearth) is like well watered area's September. The half of the July nucs that do take often struggle as dinks and go through supersedure cycles, as if the queen is an incompetent layer.

I have an Ulster style nuc top (can be strapped to any of my standard nucs). Just this week I put a frame on young larvae in the observation portion, and watched as the hungry bees devoured the brood for nutrition.
 

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Think about it this way. It takes about 12 days after the split for the queen to emerge from a cell. Then another 4 or 5 for her to harden and kill off any other cells. Then she will fly out possibly several times to mate up. Once she is done with that it takes up to two or three weeks at times to get her laying good.

Now what you need to remember is at some point the main hives are going to evict the drones. If you have been beekeeping in your area for a while you should know when that normally happens. If you haven't then ask a local beek that does know and judge everything from there. If you DON'T have drones when the queen emerges for a while, then your queen and hive will fail completely..
 

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From split to laying about 28 days if things go right and I say if. Your first frost I believe is some time in September. Not enough time to recover if mating fails. Best bet is to split with a mated queen. If you had capped cells already I'd say go for it but if it fails be prepared to combine with another hive for winter.
 

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While I am not an expert I humbly disagree with the first post. I have raise many queens using basically a hand full of BEES and eggs and larva.

45 plus years beekeeper.
 

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>Even in the best season, raising a queen in a half-populated nuc is tricky proposition, the little cluster simple doesn't have the resources to devote to raising a quality queen.

As JWC says, it takes resources to raise a queen, and a small nuc when the flow is over or about over, isn't the way to get those resources. Of course, an observation hive doesn't always need that great of a queen as they probably can't raise as much brood as she can lay anyway. I don't understand exactly what configuration of an Ulster you plan to winter them in. Wintering a nuc in MI is a tricky enough proposition. Is this indoors? Outdoors? With the "observation part" on the hive for winter or off with a regular lid?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
>Even in the best season, raising a queen in a half-populated nuc is tricky proposition, the little cluster simple doesn't have the resources to devote to raising a quality queen.

As JWC says, it takes resources to raise a queen, and a small nuc when the flow is over or about over, isn't the way to get those resources. Of course, an observation hive doesn't always need that great of a queen as they probably can't raise as much brood as she can lay anyway. I don't understand exactly what configuration of an Ulster you plan to winter them in. Wintering a nuc in MI is a tricky enough proposition. Is this indoors? Outdoors? With the "observation part" on the hive for winter or off with a regular lid?
The thought was to get a nuc established yet this fall in the Ulster (if wise)to do some talks at my daughter's school before winter hits. I was planning to winter it indoors with exterior access much like a larger observation hive and then move them to a standard hive when spring hit. Obviously I could just pull some frames for a day or two from another hive and achieve the same attraction for a class talk but if I could make a split I figured that might be a nice option.
 

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If they are indoors with outdoor access (free flying) they should do fine. You could monitor them better if you could see more than just the frame the queen is on, though. It's nice to able to see wax moths, and if they are out of honey and if they are out of pollen etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
If they are indoors with outdoor access (free flying) they should do fine. You could monitor them better if you could see more than just the frame the queen is on, though. It's nice to able to see wax moths, and if they are out of honey and if they are out of pollen etc.
So with that in mind would you try it this late?
 

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My experience with indoor free-flying OH in cold climates is more than 35 years ago. Then (the dark ages) we had real difficulty getting the bees to acclimatize to the winter cluster. The indoor (human comfort) heat drove the bees to fly on stormy snowy days. They worked better when the ambient was moderately chilly, but not heated, such as a root cellar.

Perhaps bees (and OH tech) have changed since the dinosaurs roamed the earth, but I wonder if bees by the parlor room window don't suffer from the temp gradient.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
If I try the split and they fail to produce a queen or she fails to mate I can always just re-combine them before winter without any harm done correct?
 
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