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Thread: Wintering Nucs

  1. #21
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    Thanks MP for the information.

    Not being as north as MP, I have found that stand alone five frame nucs work very well. I can add a second five frame box in the spring to allow expansion and limit swarming, and at the same time have great comb drawn.

    I am overwintering some stand alone five frame nucs, and some double stacked nucs. (5 frame with 5 frames of honey on top.)

    I have tried to save all the nucs, late swarms, late splits I could this year. Many are two or three frames of bees in five frame nucs, and I placed 20 pounds of fondant on top of the ones that badly needed it.

    So far, I lost 4 out of 124, of the ones I checked so far. It seems that a couple clusters were just too small, even for the mld "winter" we are having.

    I have followed Kirk's writings, and wanted to stack my nucs on full size hives, but just ran out of time. (Ok, lets call it lazy.)

    I don't wrap. All my nucs have upper entrances. And I limit syrup feeding due to moisture concerns. I do feed from an open platform feeder in one yard, but the bees can only collect what they can process.

    The thing about nucs (as MP stated) is how fast bees explode, and how fast they will decide to swarm. You need to stay on top of the nucs frequently, and build them after the main flow.

    I believe as Kirk Webster has stated to me, that northern nuc production would not be as successful with standard italians. The odds of success increases with the darker lines such as carni's, and russians. They overwinter with a smaller cluster, and are more frugal with honey stores.

    Keep in mind making up nucs. The old saying about gold fish is something like "If you keep one in a small bowl, the gold fish stays small. Put a goldfish in a pond, and the goldfish will grow to what the enviroment allows." The same holds true with nucs. The bees will grow and go into winter with a cluster based on your management and manipulations. They will stay small based on brood comb area. Taking fives frames of bees, brood, a prolific italian queen, and placing them into a nuc and thinking they will make it, usually fails.

    Making the nucs at the right time, with the right resources, and knowing what gives you the best shot, greatly increases your success rate.

  2. #22
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    Thanks for the answers MP and your input Bjorn.

    I'd like to do mid summer splits as I could take 25-50 hives, turn them into 150-300 nucs, have better bred, easily avaiable summer queens and if I can get the mind shift in management down, not have to winter anything in the south. Are the average winter survival numbers enough that the losses are worth the outlay? What is the rate of survival?

  3. #23
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    >I'd like to do mid summer splits as I could take 25-50 hives, turn them into 150-300 nucs, have better bred, easily avaiable summer queens and...not have to winter anything in the south.

    I would approach this differently. More slowly, if you will. I think that the idea is to make and winter nucs, so that you have a resource to back up your wintering production colonies. With that back up, you can have your bees remain in the north, to be subjected to winter...the great see-lector and equalizer. That's the way you breed for wintering ability.

    You could break up some of your colonies into nucs. Over winter them, and use the best in your apiary. Then, those that aren't satisfactory, you allow to build up on deep combs until it's time to make nucs. Then you can sacrifice those colonies, instead of, or in addition to the weaker production colonies. Eventually, you will have enough nucs that you can replace any winter loss, increase the size of your apiary if you want...or sell some if you don't...and have enough nucs left that can be allowed to build up until nuc making time. It's like investing in the future of your apiary. One step at a time, then two steps forward, and one step back. Or to quote from James Herriot..."Big uns and little uns."

  4. #24
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    I didnt get a chance to place my nucs on top of larger colonies this year but I did with one colonie. Than on a nice day. I checked on the bee yard and noticed a lot of activity going on. I checked and the big hive was robbing out the small nuc. Crazy really.

    It was pretty easy finding all of the queen in August. Breaking the colonies up into nucs was a little more diffacult.

    I think if I have to feed, it will be fondant cakes.
    Chef Isaac..Culinary Arts and Honey are a sweet mix! http://www.sweetascanbeehoneyfarm.com & http://www.adoptahive.info

  5. #25
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    Lincolnton Ga. USA.
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    well Im not for from everyone, I have a deep like fusion with dividers for three 3 frames nuc's but I use mine for splits, now I am wintering 3 nuc's this year for the first time and have 5 frames nuc's with 5 frames mediums supers on them with top feeders, so for all 3 are booming with this warm weather raising brood and bringing in pollen, I have been feeding 2-1 syrup because they are going through their stores and I think winter hasn't really hit yet, they are heavy now so I will see, If this does good I want to winter about 30 nuc's next year....
    Ted

  6. #26
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    May 2005
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    This is a great thread. It made me think about how I will approach it for my situation. I am a hobby beekeeper, second winter here. Started with two hives, which grew to six last year (sounds familiar, right?  ). Anyways, I will not treat my bees with anything, and I know I will have losses in spring due to Varroa, or other factors, probably lots of losses. After thinking this through, maybe you guys with more experience can tell me where I might be wrong, or where I could improve things. I know that I will never be able to raise a bee that is well adapted to my climate, is resistant to the most common diseases, can handle Varroa and be gentle, calm and productive on top of that. I just don’t have enough hives to achieve that. However, I can still try to raise my own nucs to replace losses that will always occur and try to overwinter them. That would get me off the cycle of trying to order early packages, nucs, and /or early queens. The problem with my small operation will be to get new blood in periodically, because I operate with such a limited number of hives. My plan is to follow Michael Palmer’s strategy of dissolving the non-producers in the summer to make up nucs and let those nucs raise their own queen, but also requeen a few with queens I will have ordered (in summer) from folks like Michael Palmer, Kirk Webster, Bjornbee and others like them that raise healthy bees adapted to the northern climate. So far, that’s where I am in planning for this coming year. What did I miss? What do you think/know will, or will not work? Suggestions? Ideas? Let me know. Thanks for all your postings, I learned a lot from it.
    Marc

  7. #27
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    >My plan is to follow...strategy of dissolving the non-producers in the summer to make up nucs and let those nucs raise their own queen,

    You missed the point here. By splitting up non-productive colonies, you are eliminating those genes from the pool. Allowing their nucs to raise their own queens would be adding thos genes to the pool.

  8. #28
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    Marc you are generally on the right track though. You just need to find a local producer of northern queens and then use the non-producers to populate the nucs with the new local queens.

    Or maybe you plan to let the non-producers raise a new queen from eggs from a queen with "good" genetics. Either way I think you are on the right track.

    Man if any of my nucs make it through this winter with its warm Jan. and frigid Feb. I will be so happy. Anyone in the midwest with surviving nucs should be happy. Like Kirk Webster and others say, we have to make the winter our friend, use it to weed out the weak. I just hope it doesn't end up weeding out the whole crop!

  9. #29
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    >we have to make the winter our friend, use it to weed out the weak.

    Yes! The great See-lector

  10. #30
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    Michael and David, good points about the genetics. I guess the only two options for me then are to purchase good northern queens for the new nucs, or to let the nucs raise their own queen from strong hive eggs. Thanks for pointing that out. Other than that, you think my plan will work?

  11. #31
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    Sure. That is basically my plan too. This year I made up late summer nucs using Queen Cells from Tim Tarheit and 2 queens I made from my best hive queen.

    Just hope we can get them through winter.

    Instead of making up the nucs in the spring, I am making them up in August. That way you get your honey production and then double up your hives for the next year.

    You will lose some, but those were theoretically weak anyway. So the winter weeds out the losers and the honey left in those deadouts you feed to the surviving colonies.

    That's the plan anyway, just hope I have some that make it.

  12. #32
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    BerkeyDavid, it looks like you are further north than I am, which means that I should have even more time making nucs in August. I know it's too early to tell how your nucs will winter this deep freeze right now, but are you satisfied with the August timing for your nucs? Did you enter nwinetr with enough young bees? I think I will target mid August for making my nucs. That should give the new queens enough time to lay at least one or two rounds of eggs before they shut down for fall/winter. Man, this is exciting, can't wait for warmer weather, I am itching to take a look at my hives... [img]tongue.gif[/img]

  13. #33
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    >but are you satisfied with the August timing for your nucs?

    I think you need to look at when your fall flow is. Is Goldenrod/Aster the last flow of the year? I find the best nucs are made here about mid-late July. That's about 3-4 weeks before the Goldenrod flow starts.

    My Goldenrod flow...not bloom...is about midAugust, to midSeptember. From about midJuly until Goldenrod, there can be strong flows...Loosestrife/Alfalfa...but usually a slower time than the main flow. Anyway, I've made nucs in June, July, and August.

    The June nucs build up too strong, obviously, and need to be nuced again, in July. If you plan on maximizing your nuc production from weak hives, this is a good plan. Split your weaker hives in midJune, into about 4 nucs...that's what I average. By midJuly, they're packed and swarmy...if left in 4 or 5 frame nuc boxes. If your nuc boxes have movable division boards,(feeders or otherwise) then you can let each expand onto 8 combs, and when you nuc them in July, reconfigure nuc boxes back into doubles. The extra brood and bees can go into additional nuc boxes. From your original 4 nucs, it is easy to get 8 on the July split, and sometimes 12.

    July nucs are probably the best here, if you're going to do it one time. They have time to get their broodnest set up, and some bees in the hive...so they're ready for the fall flow. They do have to be watched for swarming. Some of the queens will be more prolific, and they'll get especially strong. To prevent swarming, brood and bees can be removed and given to weaker nucs, or turned into additional nucs. The closer you get to August, when you make your nucs, the less likely they will be to build up and swarm on the fall flow. But there's a tradeoff.

    Nucs made here in August are a gamble, depending how far into August you make them. The nucs made with the best queens will probably have enough bees to winter...but are noticably weaker than those made in July, come spring. They will also have to be fed more.

  14. #34
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    Default Re: Wintering Nucs

    123456, not sure if this thread is what you're looking for?

  15. #35
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    Default Re: Wintering Nucs

    Great Thread -- I didn't know it was out there and I have been thinking about my plans this year with the knowledge that with the creation of alot of nucs going thru next year's winter.

  16. #36
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    Default Re: Wintering Nucs

    Quote Originally Posted by CentralPAguy View Post
    Great Thread -- I didn't know it was out there and I have been thinking about my plans this year with the knowledge that with the creation of alot of nucs going thru next year's winter.
    See also the general forum for similar thread
    karla

  17. #37
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    Question Re: Wintering Nucs

    Michael (P.),

    someone has told me that your method of overwintering nucs has also provided you benefits in terms of helping the bees to combat Varroa without the use of chemicals.

    I am interested to learn more about this (and the benefits of an induced broodless period in combatting Varroa in general) and am trying to find any threads/posts where you discuss such benefits.

    Are there any threads you could point me to or key words you suggest I search for?


    thanks,

    -fafrd

  18. #38
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    Default Re: Wintering Nucs

    No, not really. Wintering nucs does help in the battle though. Unless you make them up with PMessed up brood, they do handle a varroa load better than full sized production colonies. Gives yo live bees in the spring to restock your dead-outs.

    Why, I'm not sure. Brood cycle break if you use cells? Probably helps. The fact that they aren't the brood rearing factories that their big sisters are? That probably helps, too.

  19. #39
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    allen,indiana,usa
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    Default Re: Wintering Nucs

    if the nucs are stacked 2 high [having 4 nuc ] on top of the strong hive, how do you feed the 4 nucs?

  20. #40
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    Default Re: Wintering Nucs

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post

    Wintering nucs does help in the battle [against Varroa]. Unless you make them up with PMessed up brood, they do handle a varroa load better than full sized production colonies.

    Why, I'm not sure. Brood cycle break if you use cells? Probably helps. The fact that they aren't the brood rearing factories that their big sisters are? That probably helps, too.
    Thanks for the response, Michael.

    Someone sent me an article which implied that a fall queen will lay and brood up much more rapidly than a spring queen which is split in the fall (kind of the opposite of what you are implying above) - do you believe there is any truth to that? In general, do your fall nucs have a shorter broodless period than your full-sized production hives?

    thanks,

    -fafrd

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