Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
145 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have 8 hives full hives, but would like to make 2-3 nucs for emergency situations. I get how to make the nucs, but my questions are how to maintain them as actual nucs. The goal would be for these to provide a queen or frames of brood to struggling hives if they need it.

How often should you circulate the frames from the nucs into the main hives to keep the nucs from outgrowing their space? Do beeks run double deep nuc boxes to give them room? I've read about overwintering them, but is it really successful? It would be nice to have that extra queen/brood for early spring queen problems. And finally, for hives that have swarmed, are you successful in combining one of these emergency nucs with the swarmed hive for an immediate queen and bee boost in numbers before the flow to still get honey production out of it? Or can you just forget any honey production from a swarmed hive?

Thanks

msBehaven
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,794 Posts
I know many will argue this point. But I have gotten honey from every swarm I have ever captured. In their first year. so the idea that swarms end honey production I do not find true. that it reduces honey production is.

I use 5 frame nucs. they are heavily management intensive. Think about this. One frame of brood emerging produces enough bees to cover 2 to three frames in a hive. In my nucs I only have 5 frames and two of them are supposed to be honey frames.

Suppose I start a nuc with only enough bees to cover a single frame. it will take them at least 21 days to rear a frame of brood. but when that brood emerges the nuc will suddenly and almost over night be 80% full. This then gives the colony enough bees to cover 4 fraems. increasing the brood nest and in three weeks this will be a colony with enough brood ready to emerge to cover 16 frames.

Now nothing works by the numbers btu it does give you some idea of what a single frame of capped brood means for your management of a 5 frame colony.

The first thing I do to eleveate some of this rapid changes that can happen is I keep 5 over 5 or even 5 frame nucs stacked 3 boxes tall. This way I simply remove whole 5 frame boxes as needed and give them new empty ones.

So here is sort of a break down of how I manage 5 frame nucs. I start them with two fraems of bees and a queen. this queen can then lay about a frame of brood. I let these emerge and fill the nuc to near full. This results in the queen being able to lay 3 to 4 frames full of brood. It is then I take all but one frame of brood from them. knowing them back to about two frames of bees and a frame of brood. let them build up and the queen will again produce that 3 to 4 frames of brood.

Since I let a nuc have at least 10 fraems and in some cases 15. I let that second round of brood emerge. this allows the queen to lay in ten fraems. it is then I start removing entire boxes. It has the same overall effect. a colony that is made weak allowed to rebuild only to be made weak again.

I do not consider this the most productive method of managing a nuc but for me it is the mot doable. Otherwise managing a nuc so that the queen can always lay at her maximum capacity would be the most productive. My queens consistently show me they can lay 12 to 14 frames of brood. I am not going to try and manage nucs with 15 frames of brood in a continual basis. might as well just make full size hives out of them and do the same sort of robbing them regularly sort of thing.

I have seen many claims that the same number of bees in a single hive in comparison to that number in two hives. the single hive will produce more honey per bee. At the very least this causes me to think that stronger hives are of greater benefit per bee than weaker ones. making up strong hives is the very reason I even consider keeping nucs. nucs absorb the unproductive aspect of an apiary. Leaving production hives to be more productive. For example say something goes wrong in a production colony and it's population declines. this weakness is then made up by nucs. they suffer the ill effects of reduced population and the production colony returns to productivity. The nuc can then take all the time necessary to recover with no consequence to the production of the apiary.

If it becomes a case where the nucs produce more than is necessary. they sell readily and new ones can be made as needed. I do not find the same is true for full size hives.
 
  • Like
Reactions: farmer9989

·
Registered
Joined
·
47 Posts
First let me thank you Daniel for the info super helpful
Second one question
I've heard the reason a swarmed hive doesn't make excess honey is that it's left with a virgin queen whereas the swarm leaves with a laying queen
Am I right in thinking this?
I'm pretty new with only a few hives and have always split before they swarmed...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,486 Posts
Daniel has some good key points, very convenient to remove a queen from a multiple 5 stack "nuc", rearrange cells in a week then just put each box on a bottom board and slap a top on. They are a little more time consuming to manage, especially in a flow as you might have to slap on a new box or remove honey frames weekly.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
145 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
First, thank you Daniel. The math was great to know. I can see keeping a nuc as a double deep would mean less work. The swarm question was really for the swarmed hive, not the captured swarm. I was thinking that adding a queen and nuc bees would help the onesin the hive make up the numbers since swarms seem to happen before the main flow. I wanted to see if it would build the hive numbers up enough for that hive not to miss the spring flow.

I understand the concept of the triple deep, but it's always been preached to me to keep 1 nuc per 2 hives to have that emergency queen or brood if something happens to the production hive. Is that more of a saying or wishful hope, or do experienced beek always have those nucs on hand to rob from? The goal for me with those nucs is not to sell them or increase my hive numbers. Theyre more as an insurance policy for the hive I have.

Last year I had a hive that killed it's packaged queen, killed 3 "bought" queens, then superseded itself twice before it found a queen it liked. I was robbing frames out of my stronger, but still new packages, to keep that hive going. Funny enough, once they found a queen they liked, it's been a strong hive this year. But now I got a captured swarm hive that the queen is struggling. Numbers are low. I hated to rob brood out of production hives during the flow; I think that's why my honey production was down. If I had had an emergency nuc or three, I would have pinched the swarm queen and let the numbers come up from the nuc frames.

Wishfully thinking for next year...

MsBeHaven
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,064 Posts
Why not do it this way. Pinch the Swarm queen, take the frames that has eggs/young larva from that hive, knock the bees off. Go to production hive, pull frames with young larva/eggs, knock those bees off. Take frames to Swarm box, place into hive. Since the queen is dead, they will produce you a new queen using your production queen's offspring and should be ready within 30 days laying again on her own.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,794 Posts
Primary swarms should have a mated queen, After swarms will have virgins. With that the virgin will mate in the first two weeks and begin to lay. But they do not start right out and top production. it takes a couple more weeks for them to get up to speed.

So the issue of whether a swarmed hive left with a virgin will then produce honey is a little complicated. First what time of the season did the hive swarm? In our area swarm period wil last 4 to 6 weeks. a hive swarming at the beginning of this period will have a new mated queen long before swarm season is even over. Not only that but in the hives I have had swarm just a single primary swarm the population is not really all that seriously reduced. What they did was rid themselves of an overpopulation to some degree. Of course lost bees are lost production.

Second between the swarm period and the honey production there is a period of time that a colony regroups as I call it. The queen will go through a second period of brood production in preparation for foraging and honey making. Now although this pause is recognized widely among beekeepers. the reason for it is not necessarily agreed on. the important thing is it makes an additional 2 weeks prior to foraging that a virgin queen can get up to speed and produce a foraging population.

Just how much population a newly mated queen can produce in this period of time is dependent on many factors. how well mated is she. how quickly will she get up to speed. how much of a population does she have to tend to a brood nest. is there adequate pollen and nectar to support brood rearing and much more.

Can a virgin queen get it together and produce a colony in time to make honey? Absolutely no question. I have seen it many times. In fact I have a swarm I captured only about a month ago that already has a deep full of honey. and our flow has barley started. I have 32 queens that started out in early to mid May as virgins all are building up and I expect they will all produce at least a small honey crop. I then also have queens that are struggling to even get started.

I do not expect to see 100 lbs of honey off any of these. but a medium box in excess of what they need to winter on is not unusual.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34,542 Posts
I have 8 hives full hives, but would like to make 2-3 nucs for emergency situations. I get how to make the nucs, but my questions are how to maintain them as actual nucs. The goal would be for these to provide a queen or frames of brood to struggling hives if they need it.

How often should you circulate the frames from the nucs into the main hives to keep the nucs from outgrowing their space? Do beeks run double deep nuc boxes to give them room? I've read about overwintering them, but is it really successful? It would be nice to have that extra queen/brood for early spring queen problems. And finally, for hives that have swarmed, are you successful in combining one of these emergency nucs with the swarmed hive for an immediate queen and bee boost in numbers before the flow to still get honey production out of it? Or can you just forget any honey production from a swarmed hive?

Thanks

msBehaven
Why bother? Managing nucs can take a lot of attention to keep them from swarming or becoming full sized hives. Why don't you just swap frames around amongst your hives when need arises rather than getting them from a nuc?

Nucs aren't really sustainable. Not as nuc size all of the time throughout the season. They are going to grow and you will have to super them and then they go from being a 5 frame nuc to being a 10 frame/2 story nuc to being a 15 frame/3 story nuc, aka a hive. In reality, a nuc is a box 4 or 5 frames wide (sometimes 2 or 3). Anything taller than that is basically a hive, something beyond a nuc. A tall narrow hive. But no longer a nuc. Not in the true sense of the word as it meant.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,794 Posts
Mark, You are getting tag teamed on this one. My daughter is setting here and giving me her observations as well. It is also coming from my particular view point and how nucs meet our specific needs.

First and foremost a nuc is intended to be a support to any production colony. It is not intended to grow and be expanded although this can and does happen. It can be expanded to produce increase. but if you do not desire expansion then it is managed to remain a nuc.

Yes a nuc requires more management. but that management is not nearly as much work or require nearly as much time to perform. The main thing I am thinking of here woudl be the situation in which a production colony has become queenless and a replacement needs to be found. I seldom am not able to find the queen in a nuc in a very short time. while a full size hive I am often not able to find her at all. So I will just call this one "Function" that the colony functions in a reasonable manner to serve it's purpose. readily available resources for the purpose of support of production colonies.

Another primary purpose for keeping nucs rather than full size colonies for us specifically is ability to handle and transport colonies where needed as needed. I am sure you can easily imagine moving nucs is far easier than moving full size much less production size colonies.

Also is the idea that more bees in a single colony produces more honey per bee. A nuc with the majority of it's brood being moved to a production colony creates just such a heavily populated hive. Two production size colonies will net less honey for the same population. Take that one or leave it as you see fit.

As a new learning beekeeper the requirement to manage nucs on a weekly basis becomes a plus. a big one in fact. The more frequently we need to be in hives the faster we learn and the more we are subjected to details to observe. It is advantageous to our development as better beekeepers.

I do agree that under certain circumstances it is required that a nuc be allowed to expand to a full size hive. the solution to this if you do not want the increase is to sell the nuc. so far I have not found this difficult to accomplish at least not on a small scale. In fact in my particular situation where I am trying to produce increase. produce strong productive colonies and produce nucs to sell for necessary cash flow. I find it impossible to produce enough nucs. That is part is true due to less than stellar management and in part to attempting a huge increase in one year. We are attempting to go from 23 to 207 hives in one year. in addition produce some 125 additional mated queens to sell in order to cover the costs of this increase.

I believe you have kept up to some degree on the misadventures of that attempt. Not a total success and not a total failure at this point. We are starting to run low on bees though. TI seems as the smoke has cleared from round one that our virgin queens where not the only thing that took a big hit.

In all I see nucs as a tool. a tool that provides options in the ever changing and unpredictable environment of beekeeping. In order to have that advantage nucs do need to be maintained as nucs. I guess for me it comes down to this. do i want the work of maintaining nucs or struggling with the wide variety of problems that full size colonies can present? nucs provide a far easier answer in my opinion. Although nucs require effort. it is less then the effort to manage inspect, search through and treat full size hives. got a problem in a full size hive. dump in a nuc make a new nuc and move on.

Possibly this will change as my management of full size colonies improves.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
145 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you again Daniel. Yes that's exactly the kind of nucs I want - to support production hives only. There's lots of advice on making them and having them, but little practical advice on maintaining them as nucs. Most info is how to grow them to sell. It seems odd that the books mostly reccommend to have them, but I find very few people that keep them for that purpose. I think I'll take your advice and run them as double deeps space-wise. If I run them that way and assuming 3 frames of brood per deep, how many frames can I rob from them without weakening it too much?

Thanks again

MsBeHaven
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,208 Posts
I would also like to thank you for this thread.

I have started a handful of nucs as back up but ironically for me the hardest thing has been getting them Queen right.

I would like to get one strong enough to use as a cell builder/finisher in an attempt to make a few Queen cells to get others established. I think one of the likely many things I have done wrong is assuming if given a frame with eggs/early larvae they could make their own Queen with 2 brood frames, a nectar/pollen frame and 2 of undrawn foundation. On the couple with a a Queen cell given them I think I am too impatient and have to accept it is about a full month before I can get an idea if they are going to make it or not. In our short season it is a bit stressful for a newbie:)

How best to create and use a nuc cell starter/finisher?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,794 Posts
Thank you again Daniel. Yes that's exactly the kind of nucs I want - to support production hives only. There's lots of advice on making them and having them, but little practical advice on maintaining them as nucs. Most info is how to grow them to sell. It seems odd that the books mostly reccommend to have them, but I find very few people that keep them for that purpose. I think I'll take your advice and run them as double deeps space-wise. If I run them that way and assuming 3 frames of brood per deep, how many frames can I rob from them without weakening it too much?

Thanks again

MsBeHaven

How much you reduce them to in reality is determined by your need at that time. But for a general management thing I like to reset them. Since I start with two frames of bees and a mated queen that is what I reduce them to since I am usually able to leave them two well filled fraems of brood and can til let them have a good frame of honey and pollen that is what I will do for an actual nuc. That is quite a bit to remove from a 5 over 5 nuc. But if you consider that a queenless hie is goign to eliminate a nuc completely. it is not the worst it can suffer.

I fond that nucs are usually necessary early in the season so it gives a reset nuc all summer to recover. They are not going to snap back real fast.

Another method is to simply remove a frame or two every week to two weeks on a continuous basis. this does not put the nuc under as much stress but does require more attention.

I also use nucs to make up cell builders so they have lots of frames removed continually. For this and other reasons I do not tend to find a problem with what to do with all the brood.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,183 Posts
Why bother? Managing nucs can take a lot of attention to keep them from swarming or becoming full sized hives. Why don't you just swap frames around amongst your hives when need arises rather than getting them from a nuc?

Nucs aren't really sustainable. Not as nuc size all of the time throughout the season. They are going to grow and you will have to super them and then they go from being a 5 frame nuc to being a 10 frame/2 story nuc to being a 15 frame/3 story nuc, aka a hive. In reality, a nuc is a box 4 or 5 frames wide (sometimes 2 or 3). Anything taller than that is basically a hive, something beyond a nuc. A tall narrow hive. But no longer a nuc. Not in the true sense of the word as it meant.
Personally I don't super "nucs" that are smaller than my standard single - if they get too strong for the little box and I don't need to rob them of resources I move them into a standard single. If they get supered then I no longer consider them a nuc.

It is mighty handy to have unsupered colonies of any size that you feel free to rob, and that you also don't have to remove supers from to get down to what you need.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,456 Posts
my first reason for having nucs is to replace overwinter losses in order to keep my number of production hives at around 12. the second reason to sell off surplus bees in the spring.

i placed queen cells in 12 five frame nucs last week containing 3-4 frames of bees each. they won't have any new brood emerging for about another month. that will put us in the middle of our summer dearth.

some of these will stay in the five frame box with no further manipulation. others may get combined and end up in a 5 over 5 or a single deep depending on what happens with them and what equipment i have available.

these 'nucs' that make it to january/february will be allowed to build up and given additional space with frames of empty comb and honey from winter losses. they will be used to replace any losses in my production yard and for nuc sales and splits for queen rearing.

one approach would be to split out the queens from a couple of your strongest hives as we reach the end of the spring flow and let the parent hives make a new queens. you won't lose production and the nucs will stay managable.
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Top