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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

    Default Treatment Free Summer Nuc Experiment

    As some of you may remember, I had been keeping a few nucs over the summer to see how well it would work. We have harsh hot summers here and Michael Palmer had stated that he has problems with absconding if the hives are not large enough. So I thought I would try it out to see if I had similar conditions here.

    I don't.

    First, as far as I can tell, none of the hives absconded (left brood) but all three did fail. I found one at the point of having a couple dozen bees left so I dispatched it. One other nuc I started in the middle of summer barely made it, having virtually no stores, no brood, and a relatively small population. The hives should have had brood at this time. There have been flowers blooming for over a month. I merged it with a dink-ish hive started this spring.

    So that's the end of that experiment. I'll use the five frame nucs for other things, for sales or mating probably. I have had hives come through with a ten frame nuc though, so I'll continue using those. I don't know how much swarm trapping I'll keep doing. I had 15 or so swarm traps out this year and only caught one swarm. I don't need to catch swarms anymore as it is, I have as many hives as I want to keep. I believe many of the feral bees in this area did not make it through a month and a half of 100+ and weeks of 110+ temps last year with no rain.

    So it's back to making strong bees. These days I seem to be losing more in the summer than in the winter. I lost one last winter, but lost three last summer and the three nucs this summer. I still have a total of 24 with a goal of 20, so I'm right where I want to be.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Strafford, NH, USA
    Posts
    397

    Default Re: Treatment Free Summer Nuc Experiment

    We're these single depth five frame nucs? I believe MP was running a double stack for a total of 8 or 10 frames.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,541

    Default Re: Treatment Free Summer Nuc Experiment

    So, what happened, and what's happening?

    First, if they only have 24 bees, something major happened early. And the other with no brood makes me wonder what happened. Did you give them mated queens, cells, or did you do walk away. Did you ever see brood in any of them? You say that you made up #2 in mid summer...didn't you have a drought and very hot in mid-summer. Was the flow over when you made the nuc?

    You shouldn't be so eager to give up. Something went wrong with a couple nucs in a poor season, and you really should try again. Make sure you set them up on a flow, and do give them a mated queen.

    The fact that you're losing more bees in the summer than in the winter should turn on the warning light. Have you tried to diagnose the losses? What are you finding? Do you ever requeen? The nucs you bring through the winter can be used to boost and requeen those colonies your losing in the summer.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

    Default Re: Treatment Free Summer Nuc Experiment

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    Did you ever see brood in any of them?
    These were queenright from day one, having been removed from other hives used for brood or because they were too mean.


    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    You say that you made up #2 in mid summer...didn't you have a drought and very hot in mid-summer.
    The one that survived was made after the flow was over. This was more or less a normal summer, if there is such a thing anymore. Last year was the bad one. This year was actually the best year I've had.


    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    Something went wrong with a couple nucs in a poor season, and you really should try again.
    Nothing went wrong. I have harsh summers, prone to robbing episodes. http://youtu.be/uLlbuwJUg2U It was an experiment and it proved something. I would try making nucs in the fall, but my fall flow is so small and unreliable. Big hives are what it takes to do well through the summer here. I keep saying there's a reason there are no commercial beekeepers around here.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Belpre,Ohio, USA
    Posts
    1,335

    Default Re: Treatment Free Summer Nuc Experiment

    Solomon,
    I understand that you are a treatment free beekeeper so I was curious if a heavy mite load could have caused their demise; did you checks on mite loads in these nuc's during this experiment? By the way, I set out six swarm traps this year and never even got a nibble, I am done with that experiment as well.
    Bill...in Southeast Ohio Zone 6A

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

    Default Re: Treatment Free Summer Nuc Experiment

    There were no obvious signs of a heavy mite load. The hives were fairly clean. I do have one hive that happens to have a screened bottom board which is blocked off with a piece of cardboard and there were some mites down there, but that hive did pretty good this year.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Myrtle Beach, SC, USA
    Posts
    876

    Default Re: Treatment Free Summer Nuc Experiment

    Thats some nasty robbing!
    https://www.facebook.com/stevesbees99
    Please visit my page, Thanks

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,541

    Default Re: Treatment Free Summer Nuc Experiment

    Would setting them up earlier be more successful?

    The idea isn't to set up and winter nucs in "nuc" boxes. It's about using your extra brood and bees...maybe from non-productive colonies to use as the startings of your future stocks. Perhaps you need to get them going earlies to they have a population that can defend itself.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

    Default Re: Treatment Free Summer Nuc Experiment

    They were made up as early as they could be. They did well, drawing comb, brooding, making honey, but they didn't have the space to store honey for the summer. They probably starved. In some years, my summer dearth can be as long as the winter one. This last winter, I had dandelions blooming the whole winter long. The same could not be said for the summer.

    For me, nucs are a solution that doesn't fit my equation year 'round. They work well in spring when there are plenty of flowers available and I'm making nucs and selling them. But once that cycle is over, it's time to consolidate hives that haven't grown from 5 frames to ten.

    Now I'm going to have to change my plan. My website will need a lot of updating to reflect these results.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

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