This past Saturday I checked the nucs and found that #1 had built out all 5 frames, while #2 only worked on 3 frames. One frame happened to be plastic foundation and I suspect there wasn’t enough wax on it for them to draw it out. Given the disparity I decided to take out one of the drawn frames from Nuc #1 and give it to #2, trying to balance it out a bit. The frame was quite bulbous and didn’t allow other frames to be added so Nuc #2 had 4 frames and Nuc #1 had 5 frames, of which one was brand new wax foundation. Sunday I would have everything I needed to separate the nucs and move them into new hive bodies, 10 frames each, so that was the plan.
Sunday came around and I was looking forward to moving them. But then came the conundrum: do I stack them on top of each other with a double-screened bottom board between them or move them away from each other? If I left them on top of each other, inspecting them would become a problem. So I decided to move them apart, one nuc in between each set of 2 main hives. At the same time, I had given a boost of brood to the smaller nuc as the strong one was certainly going to town on the frames. They had already started to draw out one side of the new frame I gave them just 24hrs ago!
Here comes the problem: I left Nuc#2 in the original space PLUS I had given them a frame of mixed brood. I moved Nuc#1 (the stronger one) over to the other hive stand, in between the original two hives I started with. Can anyone guess where all the foragers would come home to? Yes, the original location. So not only did I give the “weaker” nuc #2 more brood, I gave them more foragers.
Over the next few days the difference at the entrances became abundantly clear and so did my error. I could have easily left the nucs as they were (in regard to frames and just not moved any brood at all) and just moved the stronger Nuc #1 over to the new location, it would have lots of bees still, and the foragers would return to #2, boosting its numbers that way. Now as I watch the entrances, I can see that over a minute there are a couple of bees leaving Nuc #1 whereas #2 is like an airport. Oh brother, why didn’t I think of it before? Nuc #1 is now filled with nurse bees whereas #2 has nurse bees and foragers. So this begs the question: Do I switch locations or move a frame of brood from #2 to #1 in a (final) attempt at equalization?