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Mike a 

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Hi guys


Just wondered if any one can offer some advice please on the mini mating nuc, like a few others on here I want to bring on some queens from a carni colony which last year built up well, are very gentle, low varroa counts and to date have come through winter. My concern is the amount of time I should give the virgin queens to mate as these Swi-Bine mating nucs from Swienty are so small a newly laying queen would fill it in a day or two.

Of course I can see if its been a nice day suitable for mating but if others have a golden rule of how many fair - good days I should count before checking to see if she's laying I would be grateful as I dont want to be opening it up every other day and annoying them. :boxing_smiley:
 

oliver90owner 

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Mike,

That's why they are called mating nucs.

Counting days is not always a good indication. Your whole batch could be poorly mated in our UK climate.

With 3 colonies one could get more queens than needed from normal splitting methods (artificial swarming etc). You will need bees to build up all these new colonies before the wasps start to worry them.

If you have 15-20, or more, colonies then space might be a premium, but apart from 'having a go for the experience' you will struggle with only 3 colonies unless you buy in packages of bees.

In your last line you say it. Does this mean you are getting just the one?

Lets have the whole story and someone who does this regularly will advise on the best way to go about it. I don't think you have thought it through completely. I might be wrong, but to me it seems that you are trying to run before you can walk, so as to speak. Maybe you don't want any honey crop this year?

Regards, RAB
 

Poly Hive 

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Setting aside the issue of "should" which is of course your decision to make, you are asking about mating time.

The perceived time is 21 days beyond which the "wisdom" has it it is too late. My experience is that up to 28 days is more kind and the resulting Queens are fine.

As for how fast she will lay up a mini nuc I think you will be pleasantly surprised as with but a mug ful of bees she is quite moderate in her laying rate and you will have rather more time then you currently think. About 2 weeks to really fill it and then there is a repeat of spring really as the old codgers die off and the new bees emerge. So before it gets to boiling point is fully two months or more.

It PAYS to use as young bees as you can get to make these units up.

PH
 

Mike a 

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RAB thank you for the reply.

Maybe you don't want any honey crop this year?
I keep bees for the pleasure of keeping them and not for honey farming. Although I am only starting my second year as a keeper I can assure you I am well set up with a plan for the first 90% of the process, however the time required for mating is the one variable I have no say in which is why I posted the question.

Using a Jenter kit, cloake board, incubator and mating nucs (2) to raise a couple of queens at a time to start with. So I can replace my queens after June and pass on any extras to friends.

Thank you PH, that eases my mind a little, I've read a few horror stories of the mated queens absconding looking for a new larger home but of course they never say how long they left the mating nuc out between inspections.
 
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You can also add a queen excluder to the entrance after the queen has mated to prevent them swarming due to congestion. Some mating nucs have this feature built in but for others or home made ones you can fabricate something. A bit of plastic queen excluder would probably be easiest.
 

Hivemaker. 

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If the weather has been fine i check the swi-bines about twelve days after setting them out,if the queen is mated i exclude the entrance, then remove the queen as soon as possible after she has sealed brood.
Yes i have had queens abscond in the past by leaving them to long in the mini nuc,have also had them abscond with the virgin by making up the mini nuc's to strong in the first place.
 
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Mike a 

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You can also add a queen excluder to the entrance after the queen has mated to prevent them swarming due to congestion. Some mating nucs have this feature built in but for others or home made ones you can fabricate something. A bit of plastic queen excluder would probably be easiest.
Once the queens have mated I will put them in 5 frame nucs to build up first, then start the whole process again. Then I can decide when to replace the old queens or pass on a nuc with a 2010 queen to a friend in need or new bee keeper.

Thank you all for your advice
 
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One of the reasons for confining the queen is to give you an opportunity to assess her performance. This is not as easy in a mini-nuc as a full sized nuc but you can certainly check for susceptabiltiy to chalk brood for example. Letting the queen lay for a few weeks gives you this chance. Of course this means you need more than one mini-nuc but given that mating will be less than 100% this is more or less essential. Don't rely on a single mating nuc, as already pointed out.
 

Mike a 

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One of the reasons for confining the queen is to give you an opportunity to assess her performance. This is not as easy in a mini-nuc as a full sized nuc but you can certainly check for susceptabiltiy to chalk brood for example. Letting the queen lay for a few weeks gives you this chance. Of course this means you need more than one mini-nuc but given that mating will be less than 100% this is more or less essential. Don't rely on a single mating nuc, as already pointed out.
I agree its vital to access the new queen. I have bought two mating nucs and if I decide to expand to raise more queens then I'll make my own. To date I've made 9 hives of various types and sizes.

See the following for some of them
http://picasaweb.google.com/mikesbeekeeping/BackYardTopBarHive#
and
http://picasaweb.google.com/mikesbeekeeping/TopBarHives#

So knocking up a few more mating nucs and 5 TB nucs only takes a few hours each.
 

admin 

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Loving the pics Mike,the TBH looks like a very satisfying project for the home builder.

You have done a good job..
 

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