Just wondering if anyone has a good idea what might work for this. I am planning to winter a lot of nucs on top of double screens over strong colonies. The problem I haven't worked out is that I want to be able to feed them and monitor the feeding and consumption without having to open anything or move anything. I am considering the possiblity of using one of those little bottle feeders they use for hamsters etc. If I drill a hole in the nuc and have the pipe from the bottle go into the hive then I can see the bottle to see if they are consuming it, and I can pull it and refill it without risking breaking up the cluster or having to dig down several layers of nucs to get to one of them.
Be able to monitor and feed from the outside without moving any of the nucs.
Does anyone have any other ideas of a method to do this?
I think its alot warmer where your at so this may not apply but Ive never had any luck feeding liquid in the winter as it freezes or ends up dripping all over the bees.
It's not a lot warmer here, but we do get warm spells and I will want to feed them in the spring for a while without disturbing them. Part of my concern is that there isn't a lot of room for extra stores in a nuc and winters and springs are unpredictable.
I referred to you as Michael Bradshaw in another posting.....sorry, just the name of a fellow I know.
You might want to check with Kirk Webster on wintering your nucs. He has alot of experience with it in the north. I havent had great luck with it myself. Loss of nucs for me is 4 times higher than loss of a production colony.
Here is something to consider.....it might not be feasible or maybe it is. I switched to wintering singles rather than the nucs and have alot more success. I generally don't do anything to the singles but the weaker singles (ones which were made really late and couldnt build up enough but have a specific queen I would like to see tested the following year) I sometimes put over a strong double with a screened inner cover between them. Very similar to what you are thinking and it seems to save a number of those colonies.
From a feeding standpoint, I can't help you. I generally dont believe in feeding, on rare occassions that I do feed it is only boxes of honey.
I usually feed honey for winter feed. And with luck I won't need to, but I also know how unpredictable things are and would like the facility to be able to.
Just a thought, but how about fondant? It wouldn't help with the monitering, but a chunk of candy on top of the top bars, would be there as food as a last resort. If they don't need it, it would still be there come spring.
Partly my problem is I want to set up a multi story "aparment" complex with double screens. So there would be a strong hive underneath and several nucs across and several nucs high with double screens between them. The fondant boards I've seen would go on top and stop the flow of warm air throught the "apartments". Also, if it was just food, I could just use a larger box and put in more honey, but I'm also concerned about the space that need to be warmed for the winter.
Thanks for all the suggestions.
The candy on top of the frame top bars could maybe be packed around the edges and the middle left open so that the Nucs could get the heated air.I have had limited success with wintering nucs on top of hives too.The nucs have to be very strong and because of the limited space in a nuc,its a balancing act to be able to store enough food and raise enough brood for a nuc to over winter.
Have you considered bringing your nucs inside to over winter? Best of Luck
I have considered putting them inside somewhere, but I don't really have anyplace to put them. I've also considered using a heater somewhere in this system. Maybe a waterbed heater under the strong colony. I have about five of them somewhere in my garage.
I dont know a lot about indoor wintering but have seen it done here and in Canada.
Temperature is one component.....memory serves me that optimal is something like 35 degree from the time you put them into until they come out. I recall that success is fairly dependant upon airflow over temperature. Most of the indoor wintering rooms are exhausted to turn over the air on a fairly frequent basis.
I have often thought of building an "apartment complex" for overwintering nucs. I think I will use 2" to 3" Styrofoam for the bottoms, sides, and top. The only wood part would be the frames/comb, and some sort of divider to separate the nucs. Since the foam comes in 4X8 sheets, I would have 2 rows of nucs lengthwise down a single sheet of styrofoam. The divider would have holes with double screening to allow the atmosphere in the "apartment building" to common to all the nucs inside. I am not sure how to address the ventilation needs as far as venting moisture out and fresh air in. I think as far as feeding, I would use the frame type feeders. There are many types of foam which have a variety of characteristics, including cost. I have not analyzed these characteristics to see what would work. Also, what glues or tapes to fasten the bottom and sides? The top needs to come off, but best removed one nuc at a time? I think perhaps a combination of plywoods and foams might make a fantastic wintering nuc--Apartment Building.
Some foams are waterproof and a feeder could be incorporated right into the bottom of the nuc---just pour the syrup into the nuc until touching bottoms of frames. Bees can reach it anytime.
I am very interested in the possibilities....have many technical questions on foam qualities, adhesives, ventilation requirements, temperature modulation, etc....
Maybe someone has tried this?
How would you get to the frames on a nuc that is several stories down and not on the outside? I'm not sure I follow the structure. Also, if I use a frame feeder how do I get to it to fill it? The bottom feeder concept has been done and may be as good an idea as any. Unfortunatly it means any unlucky bee that falls will drown in cold syrup.
Here's a foam one with the bottom feeder. It is, unfortunately, a deep and I need a medium.
If you laid out a sheet (4x8) of Foam, Draw a line down the middle, creating two halves, each 2x8(don't cut). Use this as a base. Then cut out of foam sidewalls only tall enough to serve your needs either for medium or deep. These sidewalls would be 8foot long x depth of medium or deep, and 4foot long x depth of medium or deep. Internal construction to create separation for however many nucs you could fit in there would utilize a thin plywood or other sturdy material. You would want cross ventilation through all the nucs, enabling a small nuc to maintain an adequate temperature. This "apartament" could only be one story tall. The lid could be two parted. The first part, again a 4x8 sheet of foam. The second part, individual tops for each nuc. Something would have to ventilate with a constant supply of fresh air, temperature moderated/controlled, in order to provide moisture venting and fresh air needs.
Since foam is cheap, the construction material may not cost much. This may be a way to overwinter nucs made up in the fall with new queens. I think it may be possible to overwinter a much smaller nuc than previously thought possible. It would take very little energy for 30 nucs inside this thing to control temperature(create heat). Perhaps a 4 frame nuc could maintain a loose cluster, feed on syrup, and begin earlier spring laying/brood rearing inside this thing.
The danger is that with inadequate ventilation, you would end with a huge box of suffocated bees.
So are you talking about an insulated outer wall and putting actual wood nucs inside? If it's only one story it does solve the problem of getting to each nuc. How would you fill a frame feeder without opening it up to the cold air and possible breaking the cluster?
I suppose you could just make screened inner covers for each box and seal it up well enough to keep it warm but put a small vent top and botom for some natural ventilation. The heat from the bees would drive it by convection.
I have always liked drip irragation, I used it when I raised rabbits and it works on my birds too.
The only birds I have left are a couple of African Gray parrots. I use the hampster type waterers for them, the water always stays clean and they don't make as much of a mess.
My thought has been to use the same type of tube with ball attached to a rubber hose, fed by a large jug that could feed multipal hoses. Position the feeders through the hole in the inner cover (middle) and let hang down to the cluster. The bees would not have to go anywhere to get feed and it would only drip as they removed the liquid.
So many ideas and so little time
That was kind of what I was thinking of. I'm not sure how to pull it off, but I think that's probably a workable plan. Since I'll stack them up several deep, I'd have to run the tube in through the front, but I like your idea of having it in the middle of the cluster. On the other hand, if I could do it all inside and designed it right, then none of it would freeze and I could check the status of the bees, or at least make sure they weren't starving by checking the feeder instead of opening up all the nucs.