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Building Nucleus Colonies June 9, 2012

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1 Building Nucleus Colonies June 9, 2012

2 INTRO: Where do your bees live?
Finding your queen is important Use marked queens Use only a little bit of smoke a puff under the screened bottom, and one at the entrance Remove top hive body, remove frame #2 and assess the oval of broodnest The queen is most likely to be on a frame with eggs and young larvae – go there first Only go through every frame as a last resort.

3 Look near the eggs

4 House bees – under 3 weeks of age: don’t fly well, perform tasks within the hive
Nurse Bees – 5 to 15 day old bees produce the most royal jelly – they are found on the young larvae

5 Nurse Bees Nurse bees are essential for queen production, queen health, and brood development Nurse bees are not aggressive, don’t fight with other bees, and rarely sting

6 Cull combs in early spring
Rotate 20% of frames with new foundation each year so none are older than 5 years Date your frames, pull out oldest ones when broodnest is small (don’t pull brood frames) Save frames with capped honey and pollen in the freezer Clean out frames that are broken or full of drone comb – add new foundation and change the date (If you glue and nail your frames they should last for years.)

Our goal is sustainable hive management – Stop Buying Bees! Overwintered nucs with northern raised queens are in high demand and short supply – become part of the solution I look forward to the day when there is no demand for package bees (but don’t worry about my business) Nearly every bee in a package has just returned from California almond pollination – where every disease known to bees is in one place for a month

8 Why make nucs? Swarm prevention – in spring

9 Backup against winter losses
Go into winter with as many nucs as you hope to have hives for next year and you’ll be sure to not buy bees (and probably have nucs to sell) Use your own raised queens or purchase queens “Reverse split” – combine weak hives in the fall or break the weak hive down into a nuc The survival rate of bees in nucs is significantly higher than in full sized hives

10 Ideally nucleus colonies should be on a separate yard from full-sized colonies.
If they are in the same yard as your hives, put them as far away as possible, reduce entrances, and add a robbing screen

11 Types of nucleus colony equipment
Queen castle (not really a nuc, but great for rearing Northern queens) Use better bees! Any new virgin queen open-mated locally will be stronger than a Southern raised queen Carniolans use less honey in winter, and Russians even less Carniolans and Russians forage better on cloudy, foggy, and misty days Dark bees shut down broodrearing when resources are scarce and are less prone to robbing than Italian bees

12 Types of nucleus colony equipment
Double wide (in 8 or 10 frame sizes) Advantages: uses standard sized equipment; two small colonies share warmth Can live atop a full hive and share more warmth

13 Types of nucleus colony equipment
Standard 5 frame deep Advantages: industry standard, easy to transport and sell Two-story 5 frame medium Advantage: huge demand for nucs on medium frames and tiny supply

14 Making a nuc: Need a queen
Take out the existing queen for swarm prevention nucs Cut queen cells in parent hive down to ONE Then return within nine days and double check for queen cells Purchase queens for nucs for increase Or better, move swarm cells into a queen castle and raise your own* Nucs can be made with queen cells at the right time of the year Move weak queens into nucs in the fall Sometimes they improve and perform well in spring *(Move a frame like this into a queen castle, add a shake of young nurse bees and a frame of resources and wait for a couple weeks)

15 Making a nuc: Need resources (at least one frame)
Use pollen and honey from comb rotation, or take it from a too-strong hive

16 Making a nuc: Need brood and nurse bees
Move at least one frame each of open brood and capped (ideally emerging) brood and the bees that come along Shake one or two frames of nurse bees from additional frames of open brood

17 Making a nuc: Spring nucs need space (foundation); late season nucs need drawn comb Spring and summer nucs tend to want to outgrow their space; to prevent them swarming take out full frames of capped brood and give them to your hives that can use the population

18 Making a nuc: Feed the nuc
For spring nucs, feed just until nurse bees grow up into field bees (a week or two) For late season nucs, feed heavy syrup (until mid October) to pack the hive FULL

19 Overwintering nucs (use dark colors)
Solo 5 frame (worked last winter) – solo double wide (I’ll try this this winter) Double wide over a full sized colony *The Forbes Overwinternator (naming rights by D. Israel)

20 Overwintering nucs Multiple boxes, packed tightly together for warmth

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