Keeping a Top Bar Nuc the "Right Size" to overwinter
I have an 8 bar Top Bar Nuc that I have been struggling to keep this size to try to overwinter. I started it in late May and made it fairly strong because I wanted them to make their own queen. They succeeded and she is laying a great pattern but I have had a hard time keeping them this small size.
They are fully drawn (well, one partial) with a bar of pollen, a bar and a half of honey/nectar with good bands of capped honey on each of the remaining bars. The rest is solid brood but the queen is kinda skinny which I am guessing is due to her lack of space to lay. I stole a bar to give to a new nuc two weeks ago in an attempt to keep them sized for the nuc but they seem to be rapidly outgrowing it. It seems that half the hive is bearding on warm days and I am sure it is because they are crowded.
I can steal another bar from them for the new nuc but I think we are going into our dearth period soon and am not sure they will replace it without me feeding them but there is no room to feed them. I am now of the opinion that 8 bars are too few but do I make a new larger nuc (don't really have the time for this right now) for them or try to keep them in this nuc to overwinter? I should add that the wedge on these bars is slightly shorter than the rest to fit this hive so bars can go out but I currently only have one empty bar that will fit it. It is also shorter in depth but matches the new nuc. (The new nuc has ten bars, five drawn, and I gave them the queen so they aren't trying to make one).
Another option might be that I have a new full size hive two steps from going online and I could make a solid follower board to divide it and put them in one end. I have a nucleus colony in the end of my current full size hive due to an emergency split I did when they swarmed and left 7 swarm cells behind. I was going to put that colony in the new hive but this small nuc is stronger by one bar.
Here it is: 2013-07-15_crowded_nuc.jpg
Last edited by Colleen O.; 07-16-2013 at 12:04 AM.
Reason: add pic