4-Way Mating Nucs

-Hi there. I’d like to talk to you today about our four
way mating nucleus colonies. These are made up with a medium depth box,
divided into four with partitions that are built right into the box. We’ve been working with these for the last
couple years to try them out as an alternative to our styrofoam mini mating nucleus colonies
that you may have seen in some of our other videos. There’s some advantages and disadvantages
of these larger units. Starting with the disadvantages, they’re bigger,
heavier to move around, a bit more expensive and when you are going through them to find
queens it’s a little bit slower cause they are a little bit larger. That said we quite like these nucs and we
find they work really well. Their chief advantage is that they’re more
robust than the mini mating nucleus colonies. Last summer we had poor weather. We had a lot of rain, cool temperatures, and
these units outperformed because they had more bees, more food, and they were able to
ride through those periods of poor weather. Let’s have a look at, see how we load them
up in the spring. Around the beginning of May we start loading
these up because by the middle of May we’ll be raising queens and we’ll have cells ready
to go in them. So we want several weeks to get everything
set in place here. Starting from the bottom here we have our
single brood chamber hive than we put a queen excluder on that and than we take the bottom
board off the four way nuc and install it above the queen excluder. So bees have free access up into all four
of those chambers. Above that we have a hive top feeder that
we fill with sugar syrup. What we’re accomplishing by, with this set-up
is we get the bees to move up, access the sugar syrup, they come back down, they build
a comb on the foundation in these frames. Fill that comb up with sugar syrup and we
are loading bees up into these boxes at the same time. When we’re ready to go with our queen cells
we then take these units off and we move them to the location that we’re going to have our
mating occur in. So they get built in one bee yard and moved
to another bee yard. Just before we move these colonies to another
yard we install this little strip of queen pheromone. It’s called TempQueen. So we put one of these strips on one frame
in each of the four nucleus colonies and that helps hold the bees in these boxes when they
get to their new location. Then we put the bottom board underneath the
four way nuc and secure it to the nuc with screws. This bottom board is made up in a way that
we have partitions down here that correspond with the partitions in the box and that seals
things up really well. Which is really key cause if there’s any way
a queen can get at another queen they will and then they’ll start eliminating each other. We tape the entrances shut on all of them. So when that’s screwed on to the bottom of
the four way nuc there’s no way the bees can get out. There is however ventilation holes here, one
on each side of each nuc, so they have cross ventilation, and that way they are able to
keep cool and breathe while we’re moving them from one location to another. Let’s go open up one of these units and see
what they look like inside. Here we are in the mating yard. We’ve moved they nucs in, set them up on cinder
blocks and then what we do is we put a queen cell into each of the four units. We wait til we get to the new location to
put the queen cells in because we don’t want those queens damaged during the transit. Early the following morning we open up the
entrance by cutting a little slot in there. Bees chew their way out through that, do their
orientation flights and settle down in their new home. We’re gonna have a look inside here just to
see where we positioned the queen cells and where that TempQueen is positioned as well. Here is the partition dividing two of the
four nucs. There’s frame number one, frame number two,
the queen cell goes in between frame number one, frame number two. Right beside it is the queen pheromone, and
our goal in positioning those two close together is to have the bees clustering around that
pheromone and thereby incubating the cell properly. We’ll just close that back up. Whenever we’re closing the canvas up we push
it down like that to the partitions to seal it up well. This is the same canvas we use for our regular
inner covers, it’s number eight duck or 18 ounce canvas. Works really good to seal things up. We’re gonna have a look now to see how we
manage our colonies through the summer. So two weeks ago we installed queen cells
into each of these four units, and now ow we’re coming back the queens should be mated
by now and laying eggs. Taylor and Stephanie are gonna go through
these units to find and cage the queen. It’s one of favorite jobs, right? – – So we will take the lid off, set it on the
ground. We leave it right side up in the same orientation
just in case we need to write notes on the lids that correspond to the nucs that we’re
going through. We peel that inner cover back, you can see
how well it’s sealed down there with propolis. Then we just set that on the ground. Here you can see the cell bases. We put those down in between the frames here
so if they sit up on top of the frame they prevent that canvas from sealing along the
partition there. They have to fit down in between those frames
there. The first thing Taylor and Stephanie are going
to do is loosen up those cell bases, and try to take them out with the cell intact so we
can see if our queen has hatched out. Now if we know our queen has hatched out,
there, you can see that one the hole has been opened up. So we throw that over our shoulder. This one kind of fell apart but looking down
in I can see that it did hatch out. So that’s good. Now they’ll go through those and find the
queens. Just looking at the strength of these colonies
they’re relatively uniform but once we’ve found and caged the queens, removed all the
queens from all four units, that’s an opportunity for us to equalize the four units. Having four open at a time like that is a
real advantage. You can shift a frame here to there or from
there to there. If one of these doesn’t have a mated queen
it won’t have any eggs. So it’s population will dwindle. So what we would do is switch a frame over
that has eggs and larvae on it to the one that was queenless and that will help keep
that population up. They also accept the queen better if they
have brood inside the colony. If one of them happens to be a little bit
weaker we would just transfer a frame from a stronger one over. So we fix these up as we’re going along and
finding the queen. Once the queens are found in them all we then
reinstall a new cell into each of the four units, close it back up and come back in two
weeks time to repeat this process. At the end of the summer, usually for us that’s
about middle of August, we’re done with mating queens so the last round of queens come out,
we let the brood hatch out, and then we shake the bees out of these boxes and store the
comb for the following year. We don’t find it’s worth trying to winter
these small units and it’s so easy to fill them up with these in the spring that there’s
not really much incentive to try and winter them over. This is something we find that really works
well for us I think it’s easy to fit in, in any kind of scale for other bee keepers so
we highly recommend these mating nucs. Thanks for watching, see you another time.


  1. Love these videos. They're so helpful for both the beginner and the experienced beekeeper. There's always something new to learn.

  2. I hope I had seen your videos two years ago, so much good information! I saw you answered the tons of questions about the inner cover right away, good thinking 🙂

  3. I'm curious. Why not use 4-way Queen Castles? The frames in them are standard size Langstroff making them easier for beekeepers to keep their equipment interchangeable. Is there an advantage to smaller frames?

  4. I love your videos. With that said, could you say the date when each video is filmed. Since you are in Canada, I'm assuming you're publishing videos from last summer?

  5. Another Fantastic video guys. I use a deep version of these with another layer on top to overwinter my last batch of queens for the year. We get a pretty good survival rate in the Northern part of the US. Keep up the great work!

  6. Thank you for putting out these good videos. Pleasure to watch. Wish I could buy bees from you. You raise some good stock. Thanks

  7. Hey guys, awesome video as always.

    Can I ask what species of bees you have? I can't believe you aren't even wearing a bee veil.

    My guard bees don't like me very much. I was just checking the bottom beetle tray and they come out and tell me to get lost.

  8. What kind of top feeder are you using so that all 4 chambers can access the sugar water when placed over the deep?

  9. Thank you to everyone for watching and supporting our videos! If you have any questions about our videos, please check out our list of FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS on our website, which can be found at http://www.uoguelph.ca/honeybee/videos-FAQs.shtml .

  10. Hi, when you say:
    These are made up with a medium depth box
    What do you say exactly, Langstroth or supper ???
    Thanks from Spain

  11. I really have enjoyed all the videos you have produced. I recommend them to new beekeepers. Where did you get the half size frames?

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