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  1. #1
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    Jun 2006
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    Default Making plans to overwinter nucs

    I'm planning to create some nucs in July or August. I have never tried to overwinter a nuc, and I'm not sure what to do. I don't see how a nuc can survive in a northern climate like Indiana's, but I want to try it. This is my plan so far, but its subject to change based on other people's experince.

    1. Make or buy some nuc boxes

    2. Pick my worst producers in June, and split them into nucs.

    3. Give each nuc a Carnie queen cell.

    4. When each nuc has a mated, laying queen, give them a second nuc box on top of the first one in order to let them store honey from the fall flow.

    5. In Sept, feed all nucs enough to let them store enough feed if needed without them having to use the stores they already have. I don't want them to backfill every frame because I've heard that it leaves them with no place to cluster.

    6. Throughout the winter, feed on warm days through a hole in the top cover with a jar feeder on top.

    The first goal is to go into fall with bees filling both nuc boxes. The second goal is to get them through winter. Then have them strong enough to be a full production hive in the spring.

    Each nuc will be overwintered up against each other at a minimum of 4 nucs. I've heard that each nuc box should have a entrance at the bottom, and a vent hole near the top. They will only be overwintered in places that will provide a wind break.

    I need any input I can get from those who have been successful at overwintering nucs in a northern climate.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Troupsburg, NY
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by IndianaHoney View Post
    I'm planning to create some nucs in July or August. I have never tried to overwinter a nuc, and I'm not sure what to do. I don't see how a nuc can survive in a northern climate like Indiana's, but I want to try it. This is my plan so far, but its subject to change based on other people's experince.

    1. Make or buy some nuc boxes

    2. Pick my worst producers in June, and split them into nucs.

    3. Give each nuc a Carnie queen cell.

    4. When each nuc has a mated, laying queen, give them a second nuc box on top of the first one in order to let them store honey from the fall flow.

    5. In Sept, feed all nucs enough to let them store enough feed if needed without them having to use the stores they already have. I don't want them to backfill every frame because I've heard that it leaves them with no place to cluster.

    6. Throughout the winter, feed on warm days through a hole in the top cover with a jar feeder on top.

    The first goal is to go into fall with bees filling both nuc boxes. The second goal is to get them through winter. Then have them strong enough to be a full production hive in the spring.

    Each nuc will be overwintered up against each other at a minimum of 4 nucs. I've heard that each nuc box should have a entrance at the bottom, and a vent hole near the top. They will only be overwintered in places that will provide a wind break.

    I need any input I can get from those who have been successful at overwintering nucs in a northern climate.
    One of the problems you will have right off the bat from making your nucs in June is swarming. They will swarm on the goldenrod flow if they become over crowded. So one of your manipulations should be to keep these nucs weak until late Aug, and then let them build up to a wintering cluster.

    I find a real big problem with using jar feeders on nucs during the winter. The biggest killer of hives in the winter is moisture. By using a jar feeder, you will be adding moisture to the hives when they are least capable of dealing with it. Wet bees are dead bees. Think about using a candy board feeder, or granulated sugar on newspaper inside an empty hive body.

    Hives pushed together and either wrapped with tarpaper, or surrounded by insulation board, plus a small bottom entrance, and larger upper entrance will winter better than stand alone hives. You might even consider stacking a second bunch on top of the bottom ones, and wrapping the whole stack. You will need a really good wind break as well.

    Some of my thoughts for what it's worth , i'm sure others will be along soon .
    "I reject your reality, and substitute my own." Adam Savage

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
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    Randolph County, Indiana
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    Default

    Great input. I should have been more clear on when I plan to make the nucs. I plan to make them at the very end of June and give them a queen cell. With the queen cell, they would not have a laying queen until mid July. When I overwinter them they will be in two deep five frame nuc boxes. If you've never seen it, its like a two deep hive, but I'm using nuc boxes instead, and they have a total of 10 frames.

    What is a candy board? How do you make them?

  4. #4

    Default over wintering nucs

    two deep five frame nuc boxes, is overkill, you might as well use a single deep hive body, less costly, and less work. Plus in mid-to-late summer it is difficult to build up nucs into this size.

    Best method I have seen is to divide a deep hive body into 2 sections, each section holding 4-5 frames with a screen bottom and having their own entrance (1/2", 3/4" hole). For winter preparation you place the 2 nucs on top of an inner cover on one of your hives, then wrap.

    You don't want/need a large number of bees to do this, just healthy, well fed bees. They may come out of winter with a small number of bees, but will rebound quickly. The nucs will benefit from the heat generated by the hive below them, and wont need to cluster as tightly to stay warm.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Seattle, Washington State
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    Default

    This was my first winter in overwintering nucs as a lot of talks with Michael Palmer on this issue.

    I went with 5 frame nucs that was a deep split in half. You want to identafy the weak colonies in mid July and than breake them down to the nucs in either late july or first part of August. If you are giving queen cells, than late July but if you are giving laying queens, than first part of August. Let her lay and them collect nectar. Feed them starting in late August depending on your flows. Feed until mid October. Make fondant and place on in the hive. This acts as your insurance.

    Leave them be.

    I love the method of using a deep broken up into two 5 framers.

    Michael Palmer puts those nucs on top of a strong colony but I tried this too and here, we have some sunny days in the winter and the strong colony will rob out the nucs easily. I do not recomend this.

    It works nicely...

    Just do not over think this like I did .

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Here's a list of my mistakes:

    My biggest problem overwintering nucs has been condensation. My first try was over a stronger hive with an inner cover with a double screen on the hole. The moisture from the hive below created huge icicles in the nuc above.

    My second try was a bunch of them wrapped. Condensation was a major problem.

    My third try was with a heater down the back and a bottom vent in the back and a top entrance on the front:

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnucs.htm

    This worked ok, but it was a mild winter and there were problems with the jars leaking onto the clusters.

    This last year I did the same in five medium frame nucs but without the feeders but then someone unplugged the heater and we got 50's F until December followed quite suddenly by -17F. Most of them were rearing brood and they could not handle it. Only one survived.

    This next year I'm planning on doing an eight medium frame nucs on top of regular hives with bottom board feeders on both going into the fall and for spring. I don't plan to feed in the winter unless they get really light.

    I also may do the heater down the back of one group if I can get enough nucs together.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Madison Heights VA
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    396

    Default

    I have a question, If moisture is the main problem...why not put the nuc below the full hive? The air flow from the main hive should help remove the moisture from the nuc. As long as you have a good cluster, there should not be a problem with heat.
    Just a thought.
    Curtis

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Troupsburg, NY
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    "What is a candy board? How do you make them?"


    Candy boards mean different things to different people. To me a candy board is a mold that I place sugar that has been moistened enough to be placed in the mold and allowed to dry, which makes a hard block of sugar that is then placed on the hive sugar side down.

    To others it is a mold into which they place a fondant, which is cooked sugar, that is allowed to cool and forms a solid block of sugar which is also placed on the hive sugar side down.
    "I reject your reality, and substitute my own." Adam Savage

  9. #9
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    Apr 2004
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    Wheatfield, IN
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    Default

    I plan on going into winter with med nucs. A five frame med nuc with a 5 frame med "super" on top. I use migratory covers on my nucs and dado a slot in the cover so that condesation can escape. It works pretty well.

    I didn't have good luck with a one story 5 frame med nuc but did with two stories. I made my nucs up in aug with combines from q-rearing nucs after I sold the queens.
    Dan Williamson
    B&C Honey Farm http://www.flickr.com/photos/9848229@N05/

  10. #10
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default

    >I have a question, If moisture is the main problem...why not put the nuc below the full hive?

    If you're going to put it on the bottom, you may as well put it on it's own stand. It doesn't need more draft, it need less moisture adequate (but not excessive) ventilation and some warmth wouldn't hurt for those -20 F nights we get most winters.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, Colorado
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    563

    Default Overwintered Nuc's

    I had pretty good success with the nuc's over the inner cover's & screen of the large hives below. These nuc's were really a strong test of the "system" since they were the last frames from all the mating nuc's, 1 frame queen holdout's and all the extra brood and super frames left before winter with some freshly, lately, mated queens!! Some were made up with 5-6 medium frames, some 5-6 deep frames. I really didn't hold out much hope for these but thought it would be a good test. I did feed syrup above and had some leaking when it got down below 0 and lost one nuc because of it I think. With the extra super above for the feeder I didn't have any condensation problems in the nuc's. This spring they have built up like gangbusters and I would definitely do it again but need to improve with the additional feeding. This past winter was a great test since we had a winter from Heck!! Snow and Cold like never before for months on end. If they made it through that the system has merit!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Forsyth, Georgia
    Posts
    8

    Default Overwinter nucs

    I plan on trying to overwinter nucs for the first time myself, I'm in Georgia where the winters are mild. My question is for the sake of having to make nuc boxes won't it work to put a pair of nucs in a stanard hive body with a screen bottom board so that they can share the heat from each other? I run 9 frame spacers so would they hold over ok with one bring a 5 frame nuc and the other being a 4 frame or would it be best to give them equal space? I think with the nucs sharing the 10 frame box and a screen bottom board with a little vent at the top one's moisture problems would not be much of a concern!

    I welcome all of the pro's and cons to this idea!

  13. #13
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    Jul 2004
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    Seattle, Washington State
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    bigbee:

    Your idea will work. To feed, I would made some fondant as the moisture from the hive will make the fondant easier for the bees to consume. Stay away from syrup as sometimes it does leak.

    Are you using a dividing board? The plastic grain bags from feed stores make gret inner covers. I used these last year. I would recomend that you staple the plastic feed bag to the dividing board so each nuc has its own flap. We had a bad wind storm here and it blew up one cover and the colony combined.

    I really enjoyed overwintering the nucs. It worked out great.

  14. #14
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    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Making nucs from your worst hives will give you poor splits.

    When I take my colonies south for the winter the poorest ones are the ones that don't survive.

    Make your nucs from strong hives.
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  15. #15
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    Mar 2005
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    Troupsburg, NY
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    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    Making nucs from your worst hives will give you poor splits.

    When I take my colonies south for the winter the poorest ones are the ones that don't survive.

    Make your nucs from strong hives.
    The whole point of making splits in June/July is to use the worst hives you have so you at least get something from them. Even the worst hive will give you a couple good splits into which you would place new queens or queen cells.
    "I reject your reality, and substitute my own." Adam Savage

  16. #16
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    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by peggjam View Post
    The whole point of making splits in June/July is to use the worst hives you have so you at least get something from them. Even the worst hive will give you a couple good splits into which you would place new queens or queen cells.
    If your worst hives are that good why not make a crop of honey off of them?

    I guess I imagined, perhaps wrongly, that ones worst hives are ones that aren't strong enough to make a good amount of honey or are perhaps too weak to build up for over wintering. No?
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    If your worst hives are that good why not make a crop of honey off of them?

    I guess I imagined, perhaps wrongly, that ones worst hives are ones that aren't strong enough to make a good amount of honey or are perhaps too weak to build up for over wintering. No?
    You would be correct in your assumptions, but those are the hives I would be more inclinded to split than ones that would make a decent amount of honey . When given a new queen and enough time to build up to a winter cluster, it would be a win/win thing .
    "I reject your reality, and substitute my own." Adam Savage

  18. #18
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Milton, Vermont
    Posts
    307

    Default Ten Frame Deeps

    Last year I tried two methods.
    In mid July I made up nucs in ten frame deeps. I put a couple frames of brood, a frame of honey/pollen and filled the rest of the box with empty frames and frames of foundation. I added a new laying queen and left them alone. I did not feed them at all. I did group them in groups of four. I put 2" thick styrofoam insulation under them and on top of them. They had a 3/8" X 3" bottom entrance and a 3/8" x 3" top entrance/vent hole. I wrapped them with tar paper.
    In mid August I split a ten frame deep with a specially designed feeder and put 1 frame of brood, 1 frame of honey/pollen and two empty drawn frames on each side of the feeder. I fed these nucs until November and then Put them on top of the inner cover of a strong colony. I put 2" insulation on top of them and wrapped them with Tar paper.
    The Ten Frame nucs did great and are my strongest hives this spring. The four frame nucs all perished though the winter. I think there were probably not enough young bees in the four frame nucs going into winter. They still had plenty of stores this spring. Moisture may have been a problem although there didin't seem to be ecessive moisture or mold in the boxes this spring.
    It is what it is.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Randolph County, Indiana
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    I agree with using the non-productive hives to make splits. But if I only winter them in a single story nuc box, how would they have enough room for buildup at the end of winter? Wouldn't this cause overcrowding? And cause them to consume all their stores?

    I don't think I will put them above a full sized hive due to moisture. But wouldn't stacking the nucs side by side and on top of each other provide the same amount of heat as using a full deep body with a devider?

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    >Making nucs from your worst hives will give you poor splits.

    If you requeen them, maybe not.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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