Mating nuc set-up?

Discussion in 'Raising Queens' started by d.magnitude, Apr 12, 2012.

  1. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    I'm faced with the "problem" of too many queen cells, and perhaps not enough resources to get them mated. I was hoping I might explain my situation, and somebody could offer advice on how to make the best optimal use of my bees/equipment.

    Here's what I've got:
    6 hives that are all of good strength (each approx. 3 meds or 2 deep brood chambers + 1 super)
    about 17 queen cells that should be placed in mating nucs on Monday
    15 empty 5-frame nucs (some meds, some deeps) similar to the DCoates design
    20-30 drawn frames, plus plenty w/ foundation

    Here's what I was thinking... I want to preserve my honey harvest this season, so I don't want to take too many frames of brood/bees from each hive. I thought perhaps I could just take a couple frames of brood (plus one of honey/pollen) from each of my 6 hives to make 6 nucs and fill them out w/ comb and foundation. Then take 'em away to my mating yard, feed, and install cells the following day. I might repeat this whole process a couple more times this season, or just split the growing nucs later on to get another batch of queens mated.

    Do you see that as impairing the surplus potential of the parent colonies? Or on the other hand, is that too conservative? Could I be putting one frame of brood in each nuc (w/ a shake of bees) and make a dozen or more nucs to mate queens? I can now appreciate the appeal of "baby" nucs, but I'll be sticking w/ full frame nucs for now; it fits better with my scheme and philosophy.

    This is my first time through this particular process (I've made nucs for splits, etc., just not mating nucs), so I appreciate any advice on optimizing my resources from you guys who have been there and done this.

    Thanks,
    -Dan
     
  2. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Two frames in a nuc. set up as you suggested, would probably be adequate for mating without detracting too much from your full hives.
    One "warning": keep the nuc's entrances very small to prevent them from being robbed out. Weak hives like these are very vulnerable and don't have a strong enough population to protect themselves from robbers. I learned that the hard way.
    Six nucs still leaves you with an excess of queens. Maybe someone in your neighborhood would be interested in buying or making some sort of barter agreement in exchange for ripe queen cells. :smile:
     

  3. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Remember that queen cells are very delicate and can be easily damaged by bumping around, traveling, etc.
    Some people set up nucs with 2 queen cells per nuc, in case one doesn't emerge. I don't know much about that, but thought I'd mention it.
    Personally I wouldn't make up a nuc with less than 3 frames of food and bees. But some people do use 2 frames.

    What you don't want to do is lose a full hive because you took too many frames out just to save a few surplus queen cells. You'll probably have more queen cells soon whether you want them or not.
     
  4. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    Yes, I was thinking I might put two cells in each nuc for insurance, and since I have them to spare. I have JZBZ cell protectors I was going to put on them just for ease of handling (you can see them here).

    If I put in two cells per nuc, I wonder if I should forgo the protector. It seems it would be better for the first queen out to have a chance to destroy the remaining cell, rather than have them fight it out later. Dunno.

    -Dan
     
  5. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    anything you take away will ultimately effect your honey harvest. you are kind of making a choice here as to whether to make bees or honey.

    sometime for me this means sacrificing a hive that for one reason or another I don't like and leaving other totally intact to obtain some honey crop.

    two cells per is a good idea and for exactly the reason Omie states. at or about 10 days (after graft) the cells are NOT nearly as fragile as some folks might lead you to think. 10 days old cells I have transported from East Texas (about a 200 mile one way trip) in a egg carton (five or six to a slot) in a cooler with a quart baggie of slightly warm water in the bottom of the cooler. one year in which I got the water a bit too warm I had virgins emerging from their cells in the egg carton as I drove into my driveway.

    the smaller the unit (number of frames and or bees) really means feeding becomes mandatory... as far as I can tell it is not optional under any circumstance.
     
  6. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    And I ask you- where else can one bring forth such wondrous imagery but in a bee forum? lol!
     
  7. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    I'll probably stick with swiping 2 frames of brood from each hive to make up nucs for now. I'm thinking 2 frames brood of different stages, 1 frame of honey/pollen, 1 drawn, and 1 foundation frame to fill a 5-frame medium nuc.
    *This is an instance that I'm glad I've got these smaller medium nucs. Two med frames of brood is like only taking 1 1/3 deep frame. Doesn't seem like such a hit.

    If I'm doing Round 2 a little later in the season, maybe I'll be able to better identify any dud colonies (in terms of honey production), and just bust those up for nucs.

    I was just re-reading the thread about transporting cells, and it made me feel much better about handling them. Heck, I've got an egg carton. I may yet offer some cells up to locals who want a cell to get a nuc started.

    Still not sure if I should use cell protectors or not when putting two cells in one of my nucs. There's probably a paper somewhere that says whether it's better to let two virgins emerge to duke it out (strongest survives?), or to let the first one tear into the other cell pre-emergence (less chance of injury?).
     
  8. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    a snip..
    Still not sure if I should use cell protectors

    tecumseh:
    acell protector for small nucs of bees made up in the way you describe is not essential. these may help if you had a box of old angry bees (who will chew out the side of a freshly inserted cell). I sometimes use these to create holding pens for virgin queens when I have too many cells to deal and need to stretch them out for a day or so.

    since you are talking about stocking low population nucs placing the cell itself become a bit tricky and a good bit of guess work is part of this game. the cells need to be placed in such a location where the bees cluster and cover the cells.

    here a medium 5 frame nuc box with 3 or 4 frames makes for a nice sized mating nuc. 5 frames actually makes inspection a bit difficult due to how tightly the frames fit into the box. likely again (am I repeating myself here???) feeding just a bit and reducing the entrance on these is essential for any kind of success.

    I myself make up the splits/queen rearing nucs, insert the cells and totally close in the unit for 2 to 3 days (quite typically stacked in an old out building for the darkness and to keep them from overheating in the Texas sun).