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Winter nucs made with forced summer cells

3288 Views 10 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Adrian Quiney WI
Hello , I am fairly new at the winter nuc biz and have been reading and listening to everything that I can get ahold of. It looks like there are a lot of options out there and who ever I talk to it seems that there's is the best , but I am a very simple person and are just wanting a few cells for myself {maybe 12}. Here's my question , would it not be just as easy to downsize and crowd one of my larger hives and create a swarm. I am planning on doing this during our sourwood flow which will last close to a month starting mid June. Any suggestions or laughs will be helpful as stated earlier I try to stay simple and easy.
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Why not do walk away splits. Once you force them to swarm, good luck controlling that...:pinch:
Wanting to raise a few myself, I am mid-way thru a process. Michael Bush suggested the method and it was as easy as it gets.

Step 1 - Pull a frame of brood and the queen along with a frame of stores from a parent hive, place in a Nuc box or queen castle if available.

Step 2 - 10 days later your parent hive will have numerous frames with gorgeous 14 day old capped cells ready for harvest. Cut plugs and add to queenless Nucs, pull frames to make your nucs...take your pick.

Step 3 - return the queen and her entourage to the parent hive on the same frame she came out on OR leave her in a Nuc and leave a couple of the new queen cells in the parent hive and let them finish the re queening process.

I did this with a relatively young hive (two mediums) and ended up with 16 big fat QCs. I only wanted three new colonies so I pinched a bunch and put frames with three cells in my 3/3 mating castle. They hatched Wednesday the 14th, just waiting on eggs/larvae in another week or so. I thought they killed my original queen when I returned her to the parent hive but as it turns out I had newly capped brood 9 days after her return. I basically missed 10 days of laying while she was out of the hive, minimal impact to the parent colony.

In your case, I would start this a week or two before your flow and not return the original queen. All those bees with no brood to take care of ought to bring you one heck of a honey crop while the re queening process wraps up.

Good luck to you.
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Thank you Thershey, That does sound very easy and with the short layover in my queen laying sounds like a winner , I'm sure i'll be trying this in the next few weeks. But , what i was trying to do is to get some true swarm cells not emergency cells as I am one of those that believe that swarm cells are the best but i wanted to find a way as simple as you sent me with out all of the lost bees , laying time and of course all of the extra work. I do believe that I will try it this way , use your mythed to get some nucs going and then keep them from expanding so some of the nucs will build some of those swarm cells. Thank you for the help
Just let them get over crowded, they will swarm. If you inspect them often you could cut the cells when it before happens. you could speed things up by feeding them , just dont let them get honey bound.
Hello BGhoney , Thank you for the info , this is one of the two ways I will be trying to get some good Q cells , as I have always preferred swarm cells over emergency cells , but if our forced swarm does not form for us we will also be trying the way that Thershey above mention.
Have a question on what you said , do not let them get honey bound , it seems we get extreme swarming when we down size if we can and also let all honey stay , does honey bound help or hurt our attemps on swarming. Thanks
As others have stated here once bees are in swarming mode it can be uncontrollable. They may repeatedly swarm til autumn, leaving you with no stored honey and a very decimated hive. Better you use an emergency queen, for if she is not very good the bees may do a supercedure for you anyway. If you need to , do2 or 3 frame splits. Its easy to trash a good colony by forcing. Your option in swarmy hives is just to split like crazy. Queenless hives dont make a classic swarm as they need hives resources to requeen. Good luck!!!
Thershey mentions Michael Bush's method, but in Step #2, do it 9 days later on Day 13 instead of 10 days later on Day 14. Less chance of an early hatching queen destroying all the other cells that way.
In early spring this year, I crowded a booming hive and kept checking for queen cells. Once they were made, and before they were capped, I moved the queen and a couple of frames to a new hive. I got about 20 good queens cells that I put in mating nucs which I am selling. I left one frame with a couple of QC's in the original hive. It should make about 1 1/2 supers of honey. I also go by the theory that swarm cells are better than emergency cells.
honey bound can work both ways depending on the time frame. If lots of bees hatch out and the cells are back filled quick, the hive can seem super crowded and start the swarming process ( like during a nector flow. )

If the bees hatch out and the cells get plugged and they dont swarm, you are stuck with very few emerging bees and population will not build up enough for winter. often if you put supers on they will move honey up and make room for brood, or the queen can cross the honey crown, which is the hole frame and move up into the supers, not the end of the world, just move her down, a few weeks before you want to extract and stick on a excluder.
It is worth experimenting with. If you plan to bust that hive completely down to nucs I have a couple of suggestions.
If you can clip the queens wings and miss an inspection you are less likely to lose half the force as the swarm is more recoverable.
It is wise to have a few shims, because some swarm cells dangle down and a shim place between a nuc box and a bottom board can help avoid banging cells.
One problem, depending upon whether you have plastic or wax foundation is where the cells are and if you can cut them out to save them. If it is plastic foundation you are likely only to be able to save 1 cell per frame; In other words you are likely to harvest as many cells as there are frames with cells on. Others are hard/impossible to salvage.
Timing is critical. If you are late busting the parent down into nucs there will be swarms, after swarms and chaos as in #7.
Marking each frame that has cells on it is an efficiency when making up nucs and checking for emergence.
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