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2 hives to start-1 5-frame nuc and extra queen - stack with queen excluder?


#1

I could not purchase an extra nuc, but have a second hive to start. So I purchased an extra queen. My nuc has 5 frames, supposedly all will have bee activity (I read that some only had 3 with 2 frames empty). I’m contemplating stacking 2 brood boxes with queen extruder between, and put 3 frames in bottom box with a queen, and the other 2 nuc frames in the top box with the extra queen. Could this work?

I live in Colorado at 8,000 ft. It is currently snowing cats and dogs (hoping this is our last snow!) I plan on heavy feeding with both the patties and 2:1 syrup. I’ve seen some dandelions and I have bulb flowers up. Our warm season isn’t hot nor long. But LOTS of wildflowers, besides my extensive garden all summer into fall.


#2

First of all, please don’t extrude your queens! It is messy and unkind!! :smile:

Personally I really wouldn’t do this for several reasons. First, Colorado is already a challenging climate. Even if you put one box on top of the other, you now have the bees needing to keep twice as much space warm. Chances are, many of them will migrate through the Queen Excluder into the upper box, leaving the lower frames of brood to chill, and possibly letting the lower queen starve. The end result may even be that you lose both queens and the nucleus, because they can’t keep everything warm enough.

I would stick with putting your nuc into one brood box, and don’t take the second queen. If you get a swarm later in the season, you have your second colony, and you could get another queen at that point.

I will be interested to see what others think. Good luck!


#3

I agree with @Dawn_SD on this one. I don’t think I would risk it esp with how bad your weather is. If you were in the middle of your flow and warm weather then maybe but it would be risky even then. Better to have one strong hive to make it through next winter then two weak ones that will be questionable.


#4

If you can’t cancel the second queen, I’d put three frames plus queen in a hive with a reducer board to decrease the space they have to keep warm, and leave 2 frames and a queen in the small nuc box. You might want to consider reducing the nuc box too. I’m not sure if it would be wise to give them an empty frame to build on right away or better later on. The free space behind the reducer can hold a bottle feeder.


#5

I agree with both too.
You will probably end up with two failed hives.
Your five frame nuc will probably have only three frames of brood and you are contemplating splitting that between two cavernous boxes.
Be patient, look after your little nuc, grow it into a bigger box and split them next year.


#6

I agree with @AngoraAngy, my main concern is that it’s snowing cats & dogs. It would be good if you can cancel the second queen. If you do what Angela suggests, I’d suggest that you give the nucs some added insulation & keep the entrances out of the wind.


#7

One other thing to think about. A queen excluder is designed to keep a queen in a box, but if there is another queen on the other side, I doubt that it is thick enough to keep 2 queens apart if they want to fight. Yes, they may not be able to cross it, but I bet that they can get enough of their abdomens through to sting their opponent. Most of the stacked nucs that I have seen have a spacer between them, just to prevent the queens from reaching across the gap.

Be careful! Losing a queen is $20-40. Losing a nuc is $150+. Is it really worth it? :worried:


#8

One strong hive is worth a bucket of struggling hives. If you can’t cancel the queen order I would be setting them up in individual nucs. Still think splitting a nuc is asking for trouble.

Cheers
Rob.


#9

Admittedly I’m in a sub-tropical climate, however I proved that at the start of spring you could start a colony off with just one frame of brood covered in bees & a queen. This is why I suggest using plenty of insulation as well as the reducer board as Angela suggests.


#10

I was going to post exactly this. Even if you did go ahead with this, an excluder won’t be thick enough to separate the two queens. You either need to space the boxes with timber blocks between two excluders or run a box/super between two excluders (eg. an ideal/shallow).


#11

After having some hives in QLD, I can say you’re in a pretty awesome place for bees!


#12

Don’t do that. You will be surprised how fast your one colony will grow, bee-wise, once the queen really gets to laying eggs. She will need that second brood box for herself just to expand the colony. As advised by others would be to use a nuc box to start your second colony in. I agree about the snow, we’ve been getting snowed on and off for the last month up here in Wyoming. Some days we will see high 60’s or even 70’s temperatures and then it rains and snows for the next 3 days. Makes it difficult for me to get into my bee yards. It’s a real muddy mess.


#13

Thank you all for the advice. I did finally talk to a mentor I can work with, tho no more bee keeping right now (my old mentor is in a nursing home; I did have bees years ago, but a bear destroyed 2 years in a row - another thread, since a bear has been around the last 3 days - so now, major fencing needed!) With all the advice, I will keep the nuc in tact and just go for one hive this year. I was hoping my friend was still keeping bees and I could get some bee frames from him for the second hive. Years ago him and me got one of my hives started with collecting a swarm.

I won’t even put the flow frames on this year either, since we really need 2 brood boxes for over-wintering. So I’ll focus on this one hive for healthy longevity!


#14

Really great decision-making, congratulations! Please stick around on this forum and let us know how things go for you.

Dawn