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Nuc Build-up Progressing Well

In normal years, I would be checking on some of my early Nuc’s now, looking for eggs (or the queen) and seeing about scheduling some pick-up’s over the next couple of weeks. But, this year I am already into my 3rd round of Nucs with a bunch already out the door! I actually believe that I will get everyone on my primary list at least 1 Nuc before the first week in May (crossing fingers for at least a little rain – we are very dry in Richmond, Va these days…)

My Deep Nuc’s have been nearly 100% successful. I kept one of my February Nuc’s (and it was the weakest one), just to watch how it does. So far, so good – I am confident that it will finish filling out the Deep well before the end of April. Brood pattern looks great, but I have to wonder if it is possible that a poorly mated queen can still have a good brood pattern, but run ‘dry’ much earlier than normal. We’ll see.

As to the Medium Nuc’s, I have had a huge struggle here. I am very confident (which probably isn’t a good thing – confident beekeepers, in my experience, typically have major issues all of the time!) that I have the ‘early’ Deep Nuc plan down to a science. But, that plan simply doesn’t work with the ‘early’ Medium’s. I think my success rate on those is a little over 60%. Currently, I think the problem was that I needed to shake more nurse bees in those small boxes. Shaking two Medium frames of Nurse bees simply is not the same thing as shaking two Deep frames of Nurse bees into a Nuc. You just get fewer bees. I’m not sure why that didn’t occur to my dense brain at the time, but most of my failures definitely centered around bee populations. The other possibility is that you just don’t have as much capped brood on a Medium frame as you do a Deep. Maybe I need to put more frames of capped brood in (which would lead me to charge more for them next year!) I have never been a fan of the ‘all Medium’ set-up and this experience is only firming that belief (wrong or right) in my mind.

The other big learning experience was with the queen rearing. I will be starting another round this weekend and hope to benefit from my earlier experiences. The key with Queen Rearing is (in my opinion) the Starting and Finishing hive(s). You have to get that right and monkeying around with it is a sure fire path to problems.

In closing, I have to pat myself on the back about this year being the ‘Year of the Swarm’. I have collected more quality swarms this year, so far, than all of last year. With much less enthusiasm, I must admit that (year to date) I have also had more hives swarms this year than I had swarm all of last year… Heh. With great rewards comes great sacrifices! Interestingly enough, about half of my swarmers already have a super of honey and are well into the second super. I have surely lost out on honey production, but this year’s crop is looking to be so good that I am hoping I won’t miss it.


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