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Mating Hives, for breeding honey bees

This page is credited in full to Dave Cushman who created it. His voice is expressed in black colour text and any additions or comments in blue belong to myself. Credit: Dave Cushman’s website.

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Mating Hives, for breeding honey bees

Many Types can fulfill this role. Some use standard size brood frames and some use reduced size frames.

The 5 frame National Nuc is common in the UK and can be used for many purposes, but it can be wasteful of bees if used for mating purposes.

The 3 frame National Nuc is 150 mm wide and was once part of the British Standard 1300 for beehives. Three of them side by side have the same size and shape as a standard brood box.

Boxes that take half width National frames and bifold frames. are the most versatile and are strongly recommended.

Boxes that take one third width national frames and triplefold frames looked like a good idea to start with, but experience has taught me that the half width option is better.

My 5 x 3 Mating Hive is an oddity brought about by my particular mix of existing equipment. They work for me and are included for completeness, but are not recommended.

The LRBKA Mating Nuc was designed by John Groocock and won 1st prize at the National Honey Show 2000.

The Apidea, Kirchhain Nuc and Mini BiVo are made from expanded polystyrene and require only a very small quantity of bees. Although I have none of these types myself, I used to own some wooden versions of the Kirchhain type and I have used Apidea nucs that belong to others… My conclusions are that they are viable mating nucs, but as a bee breeder I desire more space than these types provide for assessment of brood after mating. Albert Knight of BIBBA has come to the same conclusions and he has developed an adaptor board that will allow two Apidea hives to be used as a two storey single hive.

The Mino BiVo is a rather small unit and may be difficult to operate, but the page linked above details some adaptors and extras that make it more easy to use.

The Kirchhain nuc has been used a great deal in UK and Germany and the Kirchhain Adaptor Frames page details how the frames can be inserted into full sized hives to get the comb drawn or to have them filled with stores or brood.

I have used the Kirchhain type for many years now and had great success with them and thoroughly recommend them. It is possible in southern climes to get 4 queens from one in a season which is some return on an investment of a mug of bees and

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