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Mini Nuc Stocking Instructions

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marcros 

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There are obviously variations to using mininucs, and personal preferences- this is more or less what I do. If anybody wants a pdf copy, which is laid out a bit better, please pm me with email address.

Stocking Mininucs

Equipment needed:
Mininuc Hand Sprayer, filled with water Mug
Wax foundation for starter strip Sugar (Cell Protector)
Cardboard box (larger in width than the size of a brood frame)

These instructions will need adapting if you are using different food. If using fondant, a cut comb container is useful to enable a quick change when food is low. If not using sugar, the nucs can be stocked from the bottom, with frames left in place.

1. Assemble mini nuc (entrance mesh, frames etc.). If using new frames, fit each with a 1cm starter strip of foundation. A line of melted wax will hold it in place. If you are using drawn combs, just break the old comb off, leaving about 1cm- the bees will draw this down quite happily.

2. Fill feed compartment of mini nuc with dry white sugar. Spray with hand sprayer until the surface is damp. When the bees need feeding, dry white sagar can be added, and given a quick spray. Make sure entrance is closed.

3. Remove all frames from mini nuc. Take a brood frame from hive, having caged and put safe the queen. Do not operate on the assumption that she is not on the frame- know where she is not, by finding her! Give each side of the frame 3-4 sprays of water so that the bees are damp.

4. Hold frame over cardboard box and give it a good firm shake so that all bees go into box. (It is easiest to do this whilst kneeling) Drop frame onto floor whilst you do next stages- it will come to no harm in the 30 seconds, and you need to move quite quickly. The dampness of the bees should stop too many flying when you do this

5. Bang box onto the floor, so that there is a mass of damp bees on the bottom. Tilt the box, so this mass of bees go into one corner. (This makes it easier to scoop them in the next part)

6. Take mug and scoop up enough damp bees to ¾ fill. Tip into mininuc. Quickly replace frames, inner cover and lid

7. Put nuc in a cool dark place for 24 hours, e.g. shed, cellar etc.

8. After this 24 hours, introduce a ripe queen cell in a cell protector towards the back of the nuc (where the temperature is warmest), or run in a virgin queen. By this time, the bees have realised that they are queenless, and there is a good acceptance.

9. Return to cool dark place for 2-3 more days, then put outside in a shaded place (i.e not in direct sunlight), preferably in the evening. Open the entrance.

10. Check every couple of days that the unit has sufficient food, and for signs of the queen laying. You do not need smoke when inspecting, instead a little water spray will keep the flying bees down. When you have established that the queen is mated correctly (eg there is female brood present), the queen should be moved to a full size nuc etc.
 

Polyanwood 

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Are you sure about cool dark place? I have not seen evidence to convince me of benefits of this.

I make up mininucs 3 days before I want to put in ripe queen cell to get them to draw foundation. I feed. I keep them shut in. Then free them.

It seems simpler - but does it work less well than what you suggest???
 

marcros 

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Are you sure about cool dark place? I have not seen evidence to convince me of benefits of this.

I make up mininucs 3 days before I want to put in ripe queen cell to get them to draw foundation. I feed. I keep them shut in. Then free them.

It seems simpler - but does it work less well than what you suggest???
Polyanwood,

The cool dark place works for me, and so I stick with it. As you say, it may be an unnecessary step, and I have never examined the science behind it. I tend to stick with what seems to works for me, in case by varying it, something doesnt!! The only thing in defence of the cool dark place is that by its description, it cannot be in direct sunlight, and whilst it may not add anything to the efficiency compared to a shaded place, it will in comparison to somewhere that gets too warm.

I do acknowledge that there are various methods to using minunucs, mine is not perfect, but has given me success in getting queens mated and I hope that it will give some guideance to anybody who is not sure what to do. At least putting it on a thread, people can see it, and read comments like yours and pick the bits that work for them. Who knows, it may even become a sticky!!!

Thanks for your comments- it is what beekeeping forum is all about
Mark
 

Polyanwood 

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I don't much about it Mark and welcome the thread. I was just trying to make sense of the science.:)
 

Poly Hive 

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Where did your info come from Marcros?

From reading or from just bits and bobs of info?

PH
 

marcros 

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Where did your info come from Marcros?

From reading or from just bits and bobs of info?

PH
It is partially from Ron Brown's book, partially from Clive de Bruyn's course at Stoneleigh, and partially from bits read/picked up from here and there.
 

Mike101 

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Good info, thanks
 
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What seems to be missing is in the methods I have heard about and used myself there is a stage where the bees for the mini-nuc are selcted to be free of drones and to be young bees. One way is to give the frame a first shake to knock off the older bees and hopefully the drones then to shake the bees left on the frames into the box. PH has also described a method of effectively sieving the bees through a queen excluder which sounds very effective.
 

marcros 

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What seems to be missing is in the methods I have heard about and used myself there is a stage where the bees for the mini-nuc are selcted to be free of drones and to be young bees. One way is to give the frame a first shake to knock off the older bees and hopefully the drones then to shake the bees left on the frames into the box. PH has also described a method of effectively sieving the bees through a queen excluder which sounds very effective.
Does the odd drone in the nuc cause significant problems?- I have seen methods, such as PH's where the bees are sieved, and where the frame is given a first shake. I have had good success rates without doing this, but have only used the nucs on a small scale basis of 10 at a time. It is difficult, if not impossible to judge without raising hundreds of queens, and systematically trying things.

I also understood that the tasks of bees could change backwards, so if there was a lack of nurse bees, then foragers would take on these duties- is this correct? If so, then if there were some older bees amongst the cupful, then they would sort themselves out (obviously, it does not want to be entirely older bees though).

In nature, if a queen is lost, and a new one raised, there would be a mixture in the colony of old/young workers/drones. Is the main difference the limited number of bees in the mininuc, and so a handful of drones would represent a larger percentage than in nature, or is it that within a full colony there would be enough of exactly the "right kind" of bees?
 

susbees 

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We were told not to worry about the odd drone or two on our course in the "collect a bucket of bees" stage.
 

crazy_bull 

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I have used the swienty poly nucs (keiler I think is the name) for the first time last night, i normally mate queens in established 5 frame nucs so have no experience of using such a small nuc,

I have followed the above instructions and installed the bees, put them in a cool place, they were initially making a loud roaring noise shortly after I put them in and thought they'd calm down overnight but this morning if anything it is louder.

Is this normal?

Will they calm down when I introduce a virgin later tonight?

C B
 

Poly Hive 

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Yes it is and yes they will.

They are very distressed, they are queenless, brood less and hopeless. How would you feel apart from doomed?

PH
 

susbees 

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It is spooky that noise. They will quieten when you leave them (mine go in a slightly opened filing cabinet drawer in the cool, dark beeshed). And when you add a QC they quieten. Magic...

...anyone know if they can sense an unviable QC and not quieten???
 

crazy_bull 

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Yes it is and yes they will.

They are very distressed, they are queenless, brood less and hopeless. How would you feel apart from doomed?

PH
Yes good point PH, I guess when I normally do it they are in a wooden box which would dampen the noise and aren't normally so stressed as they have brood to play with and are in familiar surroundings.

Cheers
 
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I am following the BIBBA timetable this year, it is known a "Tom's timetable". The mini-nucs were filled with bees this Monday plus a slab of Neopoll bee food added to each. After a few hours to allow the damp bees to dry off I opened them up again in the dark using a red headlight and introduced a queen cell to each. These queens were scheduled to open on Thursday (yesterday) and the mini-nucs are being taken to the mating site this evening (Friday) when the entrances will be opened.

They have been confined for longer than I have done in the past but I am sure things are in order. Every day I have given them a spray of water through the grills or varroa floors. I am using 3 different types of mini-nuc, Swi-Bine which are like an Apidea but cheaper, Kielers and some Mini-Plus hives which take 5 quite large wooden frames and which I filled with 2 cupfuls of bees, the others only one. They have been confined in the dark the whole time.
 

Eyeman 

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I also understood that the tasks of bees could change backwards, so if there was a lack of nurse bees, then foragers would take on these duties- is this correct?
MY understanding is bees which have not been involved in nursing duties ie the last to emgerge before winter or in a queenless colony can 'regress'.
 
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I think there are two issues here - older foragers, such as those which take part in a swarm and which have at that point given up nurse duties can start nursing again when the queen starts laying in the new colony.

Bees which are born at the end of the season and which do not do any nursing as there is no or very little brood live for much longer than normal. The increase in life expectancy over a normal summer bee is at least 3 fold. The lesson from this is "children shorten your life", although in my experience they only make my hair grow grey.

For a mini-nuc I think the reason for stocking it with young nurse bees is they will live longer and therefore can support the mini-colony until it get self-sufficient, if it ever does. A swarm can cope as there are lots of bees but in a mini-nuc you want every bee to count in the first few weeks, which they will not do if they expire of old age just as the queen is ready to start laying.

Nurse bees are also generally non-flyers. A fact I noticed last weekend when doing the first inspections on some mini-nucs to remove the empty queen cells - there were very few bees flying from them despite good weather but inside there were lots of bees wandering around. These bees were carefully selcted nurse bees have been sieved so to speak through a QX when they returned to empty brood frames placed above the QX a couple of hours earlier.
 

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