Russell Apiaries

Quality Bee Keeping Tools and Resources

The way its done.

This page contains a list of instructional writings explaining how to use your equipment and your bees to reach your operation's great potential.  Listed in a "Frequently Asked Questions" style, it may take you a while to locate exactly what you are looking for on the list.  If you have a question about something that may not be listed here, please feel free to email us your question so we may add the answers to this page for everyone to benefit from. Also join us on our forums for direct conversations with Robert as well as our wonderful web community from all over the world. Enjoy!  

Feeding Mating Nucs

Our mini nucs (half length frames) have solid bottoms and the only shb issues that I ever have with them is if I need to feed them during an unusually long summer dearth... I'm tell you guys, syrup and shb are an explosive combination... that's why I try to rotate to capped honey frames instead of feeders after the first or second cycle... in the case of the brushy mountain fourway, the spaces in the bottom are the only air way period, so being a crack is asking for trouble... yes adolescent shb can get through #8 hardware cloth, and can even get between the screen and the wood... but anything that slows their entrance enough for the bees to catch on to their attempts to enter will give the bees a chance to defend it better... sbb's are problematic mainly after a swarm in a full sized hive... the nucs are vulnerable all of the time though because they are constantly suffering big fluctuations in brood and food... my threeways do have partial screened bottoms on them for air flow, but I use aluminum door screen which has the downside of having to be torn out and replaced once or maybe twice a season due to heavy propilizing... screens on the bottoms of mating nucs can cause troubles as you guys may have already noticed if you use them... the scent of rival queens that close can be overwhelming for a young queen... so a fully screened bottom can lead to odd absconding, "un-neighborly" visits, and queens that just don't seem focused on what they are suppose to be doing... so my partially screened threeway bottoms are simply a 2 1/2" hole cut into the rear for hole #1, the front for hole #2, and the center for hole #3... then the aluminum door screen is stapled over each hole tightly... note, I recommend that the screens go on top of the bottom boards (inside the nucs) so that it doesn't create a "catch trap" for debris which will give wax moths a place to get started...

I like to dip mini nuc feeders in melted wax, letting it fill the inside and cover the outside at the same time, then lift them out for a moment and then pour out the wax and let them cool... the trick is getting the wax to the right temp so that it isn't too hot in order to get a nice thick coating on the inside and out... this encourages the bees to build comb in the feeders, which is exactly what you want so they will have a safe ladder to get to the syrup on... the next trick is to know when to pull the feeders and switch to capped honey frames...

Another trick that works well is a small petri dish in the bottom with a thin cut of foundation around the rim... this can be filled at night with just a splash of syrup to allow them to take it up quickly before day break to prevent robbing... 

 

  Here are the gavanized ones... they are made of 18 gauge galvanized steel sheet metal formed on a simple break press then sealed with wax...
A piece of foundation is placed inside to give the bees something to walk on to reach the syrup safely...



 

Managing Threeway Mating Nucs During the Off-season

You could always just cut the groves for the division boards into all of your deeps (assuming you winter in doubles with a super above) then in early spring simply pull the top deeps and put them on threeway bottom boards and place a deep of foundation on the hives in there place... that way you simply put in the division boards, add cells to all three holes, and when your done mating queens, you cage one from each threeway and pull the division boards to let them combine... then once they are ready to accept the queen again, release her and add a deep of foundation to the top of each one so they can build up like splits... this way you are making increases, controlling swarming, not constantly robbing brood frames, and mating queens at the same time... also, your threeways will need to be weakened every now and then while mating queens, so that gives you brood and bees to make nucs with for resale... its a simple and productive way to keep all the same equipment and mate multiple queens from each box and there is very little lumber involved (only the threeway bottoms, covers for each compartment, and division boards to make during winter)... several of my student workers use this method solely and simply sell the extra singles when they are done mating queens if they do not have space for all of the hives...  

In summer, it's the perfect time for someone to start pre-converting their deeps and cycling them onto their hives by simply transferring the frames from the deeps that are on the hives into the deeps that they have converted, then convert the empties that they take off and continue that process until they are all converted over to be dual purpose boxes... we pre drill entrances in ours and then simply plug the holes, but using bottoms like the ones you have would save them from even having to do that... all they need is the grooves cut for the division boards and they are ready to be set on hives so they can be used as soon as they are building up in spring... for areas where they may not over winter as threeway nucs, simply pulling the division boards and marrying the three nucs back into one single will work and a super of honey can be placed on top or if there is a flow after they are finished using them as mating nucs, a second deep can be added to be drawn out and give you three times the number of mating nucs as the year before... its easy, uniform and effective.
 

 

Three-way nucs in Deep, Medium, and Shallow...

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A shallow three-way that a frame had been forgotten in...

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Managing Fourway Mini Nucs During the Off-season

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Utilizing Threeway Mating Nucs for BOTH Queen and Nuc Production

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How to Arrange Your Mating Nucs and Builders

Cell Starters for this yard... Two pics because I couldnt get the whole thing in one... These are only used for the first 24 hours of the cell building process, then the cells are moved to the upper story of cell finishers... These 17 starters can start 1,496 cells each day for 7 days before they have to be rested... Thats 10,472 cells in one week... However, we set up plenty of starters and finishers in every single mating yard, so we never have to have this many is use... Instead, we cycle them as we use them, resting them in between each cycle.

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Note that these are under a roof, which is under trees, they are placed so that the wind blows on them to cool them, and they are set up high enough to keep the air flow consistant... VERY important to keep these cool, especially in the deep south where it is already topping 100 degrees heat index... These are 5 frame nucs running 3 and 4 frames, each stocked with a full 3 lbs of nurse bees, and 2 frames of emerging brood... Extremely heavy with bees... Frames must be cycled out consistantly when not in use... again these are deep frames and all are foundationless... not that anything is wrong with foundation, but when we run out of places to put all of the frames that they produce, we simply tear out the comb and put the frames back in. lol. Do not want to pay for foundation, just to keep tearing it up.

Types of Mating Nucs

Mini Duplexes...

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This pic shows our old Home mating yard (well about half of it anyways)... These little nucs are singles that held 3 half frames and a feeder. You may notice a piece of red cloth hanging out from under a few tops. That was used to help seal the bulk bees in during stocking. Although tiny, about 30% of these little nucs would be strong enough by the end of the year that we would leave them be and see what made it through winter... About 70% of them wintered just as they are... This may be an option for folks in a warm climate that can make these tiny pine boxes and use bulk bees and empty frames (which by the way were hand made and very cheap... I will post a few pics of them as well)...

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Stocking Mini Nucs

We shut the doors for 24 hrs. A frame of brood, ripe cell that will hatch the following morning, 8oz of bulk bees, little feed, blank frame, stock at dusk, open after dark the next night. It has to be cool out to do this. When its warmer out, we use caged virgins to stock them with because you will only get one shot at getting them to stick...

Managing Hatchery Hives For Virgin Queen Availability

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Caring For Your Equipment

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Managing Mini Frames Year Round

Mini Nucs are a key tool in controlling the size of a nucleus colony for easy access to the queen... However, whenever you deviate from standard size equipment, you add to your work load as the new equipment must require special care... This additional workload can wind up being more than the time saved by using smaller nuleus colonies... So for smaller operations, one must keep this in mind and either only consider mini frames for a period when the operation has grown or develop specific practices that ease the burden of care and production for the special frames. Hopefully, these instructionals will assist with that.

Well the first thing that any frame needs is to be drawn out... this can be done in a nucleus of course, but at the expense of a great deal of nurse bees and energy, so I only recommend doing this as a way to reduce the speed of developement for the nuc (which you will find is very important during a flow)... So instead of building the small frames in small colonies, I recommend building them on full sized hives... This can be accomplished by using a cross-bar in a equal depth super to allow 20 mini frames to take the place of 10 frames, or if using our 4way mating nucs which can simply be placed on a full-sized colony...

Mini Frame Supers (Holds 20 Mini Frames aka Half frames "Not the tiny ones used in the small styrofoam nucs")

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Note the positioning on the hive and the number of drone cells in certain frames... These frames were honey frames while in the minis... They are gathered and placed on one side of the super, while worker brood frames are placed on the other... this allows us to not have to use any drone comb and keeps the bees from building any burr in these hives... These supers can be moved up or down in the hive to fit whatever need we foresee having... So lower gives us brood frames to boost nucs and help keep bees from absconding when they are stocked, higher gives us honey to feed the nucs, which is a must when the SHB get going... Syrup is a beetles best friend.

 

Here is a super added higher on a hive... By the way, this is ALL natural cell...

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A few sunkist hives with mini supers...

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A few MoonBeam hives with mini supers... (notice the funnel in the back, that is one of our shaker boxes... These are kept in every mating yard and hold two 3lb cages beneath them that slide side to side and in from the front... Extremely useful...)

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