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Setting up Mini Nucs.

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Poly Hive 

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First of all you want young bees.

You can find the queen, and dinna raise your eyebrows like that please, and shake the bees into a container. I usually use a nuc box.

Or you can shake all the bees off some open brood, (not sealed) and put it above an excluder so that the bees will come through the excluder to care for them.

I work on the basis of one well covered frame per mini nuc.

For this little story I am using the phrase Mini Nuc for all the mini systems including plant pots. I kid you not they work too. ;)

Having got your bees, take them home and put in a dark cool place and keep over night.

Meanwhile of course you have been busy and raised or collected some queen cells which you have been incubating in supers latterly in cages so you have some eager virgins ready to have some freedom.

In the morning spray the bees with water until they are really quite wet and in a miserable heap on the floor of the box. Measure a decent mug full into your Mini, which has damp sugar in the feeder compartment and leave them over night again in the dark cool place.

Next day pop in the virgin. This is fraught with issues which you need to consider.

Virgins are VERY flighty so the best thing is to get her out of the cage in to a pluffer, {aka plastic queen catcher} then blow her gently into the mini. If you lose control here you are stuffed. Take note. This is best done in a small room probably the bathroom.

The bees will be very happy to accept her as she is their only hope, they are broodless, queenless and hopeless, then salvation arrives.

In general in Scotland I found from making them up to seeing eggs was some three weeks. They may run faster in the balmy south and they may not. I just mention 21 days as a guide from my experience.

Once mated you can leave them to get to sealed brood stage to ensure the little colony survives or if you are in a hurry just take her out and put in a cell. I'd leave them a couple of days before offering a ripe cell as always remember the secret of success with introducing cells or virgins or mated queens is to give them what they expect.

They are great fun, they demystify queen rearing and they are very very useful to have as a couple of spare queens is a major asset aye?

PH
 

xwb 

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what if you were to place this mini nuc into a small nuc box. could you start a colony from them? I don't know much about this subject, just a query.

Xwb
 

Polyanwood 

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I have a Nuc I started from the bees left over from 4 mininucs. One of the queens had started laying very well and I felt sad at the idea of killing off the brood, so I propped the brood (beeless) in the nuc, put in some frames and put it in the place the mini nucs had been. I emptied out the mininucs and sprinkled all the bees with talc, so they all smelled the same and wouldn't fight. I moved the mininucs away. I put in an old queen that I didn't want anymore (her colony had been trying to supersede her) after they had settled down.

I fed them. They seemed fine... but they too wanted to supersede her, so I let them and today I saw a new virgin in there.

It would take a long time for a colony made like this to reach a good size and to cover 5 frames I think, but it was fun and it did mean that I have probably made another queen who is more likely to supersede.
 
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m100 

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For this little story I am using the phrase Mini Nuc for all the mini systems including plant pots. I kid you not they work too. ;)
One of our senior association members recounted the tale of a local beekeeper many years ago who, quite successfully, used inverted plastic vending machine cups perched on the top of garden canes to rear queens.
 

marcros 

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One of our senior association members recounted the tale of a local beekeeper many years ago who, quite successfully, used inverted plastic vending machine cups perched on the top of garden canes to rear queens.
Sounds interesting. Do you have any details on this?
 

m100 

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Sorry, I know no more than that! The beek who did it is I believe long expired and I'm not sure if it was ever documented. I'll ask if anyone can fill in some more details when I next see my source.
 
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Cups inverted over canes? I don't doubt it can be done but it would require good beekeeping skills. The bees would abscond at the first opportunity as the colony expanded and starve if the weather was bad. So if you can keep an eye on them every day and remove the queen as soon as she is mated and feed them every time it rains - fine. Otherwise, I suggest stick with slightly larger mating hives with better insulation than a few microns of white plastic.
 

Poly Hive 

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Bernard did it with plastic plant pots for fun and yes he was highly skilled.

Probably unknown now but he was a NDB and the last Bee advisor for the North of Scotland College of Agriculture. He was not an easy man to work with but he honed what little I know.

PH
 

m100 

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Otherwise, I suggest stick with slightly larger mating hives with better insulation than a few microns of white plastic.
It was only for mating, nothing more and presumably at the height of summer. What capacity is a plastic cup 200ml or thereabouts? Around 2/3 of the load of workers placed into a mini-nuc. Micronucs have been shown to work in the past holding far fewer bees than that, but usually with better thermal characteristics. The tall insulated polystyrene coffee cups would probably be a better modern equivalent.

Not sure how you could feed them individually though, maybe sit another cup with a lid the right way up on top of the inverted cup and make a pinhole connection between the two.
 

crazy_bull 

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Mini Nuc's in action:



Dotted about through the spinney (most trees about 10- 15' tall so partial shade from the sun)





C B
 

Eyeman 

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What amount of activity at the entrance can one expect from a mini nuc?
I opened my apideas 1 week ago- 2 days later there was lots of activity and I saw a queen return from a mating flight. Since then they spend the day moving around the entrance, the odd one flies around the hive. I've seen a couple of bees with pollen and that's it.
When should they start working?
 

mbc 

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Cups inverted over canes? I don't doubt it can be done but it would require good beekeeping skills. The bees would abscond at the first opportunity as the colony expanded and starve if the weather was bad. So if you can keep an eye on them every day and remove the queen as soon as she is mated and feed them every time it rains - fine. Otherwise, I suggest stick with slightly larger mating hives with better insulation than a few microns of white plastic.
Possibly polystyrene mating hives sold by modern beekeeping .co.uk would be better ?
 

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