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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Whitefield, Maine USA
    Posts
    6,625

    Question

    Jim Fischer mentioned in another thread:

    >The problem with fall packages is that there
    simply is not enough time to feed them and get
    them built up to a colony size that can overwinter
    with any chance of success (except for NWCs, where
    even 4-frame splits can overwinter atop a full-size
    "heater colony" quite well if fed for a few weeks
    before the weather gets cold).

    Jim- care to elaborate on this statement a bit (and anyone else with an opinion)? I'm intrigued with the idea of building mid-to-late summer nucs and wintering them over for a spring "launch" so to speak.

    And, why NWC's as opposed to any other kind of bee?

    George-
    Dulcius ex asperis

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,492

    Post

    I'm still trying to figure out how to overwinter nucs. I have a few theories left, but all of mine, including overintering over another colony, have so far failed.

    I found a man who overwinters nucs in Wichita, KS. I thought he would have some wonderful insights, and perhaps some of them will help, but when he said he had problems when the temps got down to 0 F I knew it wasn't going to help that much since we almost always get some -10 and ocassionally get some -20 F. Still his methods are similar to what I have been concluding.

    I will consolidate what LITTLE I have figured out about overwintering nucs in a really cold climate like mine:

    1) Minimize the space. It's better to feed them all winter than to have them living in too large of a space.

    2) The space should NOT (contrary to popular belief) be spherical, it is better if the space leaves the cluster only one direction to go. e.g. put them in two five frame boxes as opposed to one ten frame box.

    3) Condensation has been a problem for me, so they need some SMALL intake at the bottom and outlet at the top to get the humid air out of the nuc. This seemed to be the failing when I put them over a strong hive.

    4) The killer has been the two weeks of -10 F with an occasional -20 F that kills them. I will try to put them on a heater this year to mitigate those kinds of losses.

    My theory is that I manage to winter four medium frames or less of bees in my observation hives every winter, so why can't I overwinter five frames of bees in a nuc? I think they need some warmth, some ventilation and a way to feed them and a minimum of space to maintain.

    So far I still have not suceeded to the level I would like. I'd like to see 80% survival but would consider 50% survival pretty good but so far I've only had about 20%. I'll let you all know how it goes this winter.

    >And, why NWC's as opposed to any other kind of bee?

    I've certainly seen a huge difference in the size of a normal cluster in a strong hive of ferals compared to Carnis and Carnis compared to Italians.

    The Carni's naturally go to a smaller cluster on their own.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Hookstown PA USA
    Posts
    581

    Post

    I don't know if it helps but my NWC's wintered in a single deep which everyone here told me they would die. I was using a two frame feeder all winter (empty) so it was really only 8 frames. I did have to feed them once with some dry sugar but that's it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Whitefield, Maine USA
    Posts
    6,625

    Post

    Michael Bush expounded thusly:

    >I'm still trying to figure out how to overwinter nucs.

    I've been to your web page and I feel your angst...

    >I found a man who overwinters nucs in Wichita, KS. I thought he would have some wonderful insights, and perhaps some of them will help, but when he said he had problems when the temps got down to 0 F I knew it wasn't going to help that much since we almost always get some -10 and ocassionally get some -20 F. Still his methods are similar to what I have been concluding.

    Sigh. Here in Maine, overnight temps of -10 is normal (for some value of the term "normal") for periods sometimes up to a month at a time; during this period, it may not get to +10 during the day. Nasty. Last winter I saw -25 a few times and temps in the -30s are not unheard of. I've personally seen -43 once, back in the early 1980's. That brought the rats into the house I'll tell yah...


    >4) The killer has been the two weeks of -10 F with an occasional -20 F that kills them. I will try to put them on a heater this year to mitigate those kinds of losses.


    Sounds like our winters are similar.

    >My theory is that I manage to winter four medium frames or less of bees in my observation hives every winter, so why can't I overwinter five frames of bees in a nuc? I think they need some warmth, some ventilation and a way to feed them and a minimum of space to maintain.

    I've got the picture. What would be the best diet for winter food?

    Finally, George whined:
    >>And, why NWC's as opposed to any other kind of bee?

    To which Micheal patiently replied:
    >I've certainly seen a huge difference in the size of a normal cluster in a strong hive of ferals compared to Carnis and Carnis compared to Italians.

    >The Carni's naturally go to a smaller cluster on their own.

    Carniolans is what I've got and that's what I've heard about them. I just know I'm going to have to try this. I suppose I should be worrying about wintering over my regular hives while I'm at it!

    Thanks Michael.

    George-
    -----------------------
    Whitefield Maine
    Let It Bee.
    Dulcius ex asperis

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
    Posts
    5,159

    Post

    >I found a man who overwinters nucs in Wichita, KS.

    Alas, Poor Joe,
    He's not with us anymoe.
    His wife moved to Nebraska,
    And he had to go.
    Bullseye Bill in The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
    www.myspace.com/dukewilliam

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,492

    Post

    >Sigh. Here in Maine, overnight temps of -10 is normal (for some value of the term "normal") for periods sometimes up to a month at a time; during this period, it may not get to +10 during the day.

    That's pretty normal here, but in a "typical" winter it won't last more than a couple of weeks.

    >Last winter I saw -25 a few times and temps in the -30s are not unheard of.

    I think -33 is about the record here. I lived in Mitchell, NE where the record low was -41 F. I also had bees in Laramie, WY where the record low wasn't that much colder, but it tended to stay colder longer and the wind blew a lot longer.

    >Sounds like our winters are similar.

    Pretty similar.

    >I've got the picture. What would be the best diet for winter food?

    I like honey, but I sometimes settle for sugar syrup.

    >Carniolans is what I've got and that's what I've heard about them. I just know I'm going to have to try this. I suppose I should be worrying about wintering over my regular hives while I'm at it!

    From my experience so far (which is only a few years), the Carni's overwinter well on smaller clusters. But it may be best to leave them in a smaller space with less stores, proportional to the smaller cluster. But they seem to do ok even in a lot of space.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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