For going into winter... How much do you figure an 8 frame nuc should weigh?
I would guestimate 40 pounds or maybe more. That should give 2 combs for brood and clustering with the other 6 for stores. Maybe 50 pounds. 6 frames stores should be 40 pounds, then the weight of the box and bottom and lids. I'd say 40 pounds as a minimum.
I always judge what the bees need by the size of the cluster. How many frames of bees are in the eight frame nuc? In my location I need at least a frame of capped stores outside the cluster for every frame of bees in the cluster just to not starve and I prefer two frames of capped stores so they have plenty to build up in the spring.
>Excuse my ignorance , but can cluster size be determined by counting frames w/bees on the top bar?
Sort of. If you have three frames in an eight frame box that have bees half way across that's about 1 1/2 frames. But I can assume, since it's one box, that they don't go down much further. In an eight frame medium box that is in a four box hive, with bees on eight frames, I may not be able to make that assumption as they probably span more than one box. In the end it's an estimate, of course.
> Can this be done before cold weather arrives or will the cluster be a different size in cold weather?
It does contract more in cold weather. I'm usually looking at it in moderately cold, but not freezing weather and then try to make allowances for differences in temperature that day. The cluster gets tighter as it gets colder, but I'm just looking at when they start clustering, like in the 40s F or so.