Overwintering Nucs - Page 2
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  1. #21
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    Claremont, NH, USA
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    Default Re: Overwintering Nucs

    Karla, it was an issue for me last year, too, because all my nucs had new queens, and I stared them in August. As Michael recommended, I fed the heck out of them and they also had the advantage of the fall flow we get up here. They had stores on all or part of four of five frames, but that was not enough.

    Now, I am running only 5-frame nucs, so they do not have any extra boxes or frames, and I am using polystyrene nucs. The plus is that they keep the bees pretty snug; the negative is that they keep the bees pretty snug. By that I mean that the bees are warmer, so they are more active, so they eat more stores. I know that Michael doesn't like it, but for me using dry sugar during the winter saved my nucs, well two of them at least. I also used it on the hives I started from packages, because I cut some corners with them going into winter, and I know it saved some of them, too. All the hives eventually ate everything on the paper, and I did not see any problems from using it. Hopefully, with this nice goldenrod flow we are now having up here, they will really pack it away for winter, so I won't have to worry about the main hives.

    Checked the bees yesterday and all new queens have been accepted and are laying (7 nucs, 1 hive - 4 Russian, 4 Sooper Yooper). It is amazing how quickly and heavily the new queens lay. Here is a shot of a frame from a nuc. The bees JUST started drawing it out, yet you can already see eggs in the middle (and some pollen in a few cells above and to the right. Sorry for the blurry pic - hard to hold the frame and take the shot, while in 90+ degree weather in a bee suit. The frame is upside down, BTW.



    Bill
    “If you want to gather honey, don't kick over the beehive.” - Dale Carnegie

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  3. #22
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    Default Re: Overwintering Nucs

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    Keep at it Karla. You're doing what has to be done. Removing brood frames and replacing.

    There must come a time when your production colonies slow down brood rearing. Here, it's after the Goldenrod is nearly finished. Some years an early frost will do it. At that point, the bees are storing honey in recently emerged brood cells. Swarming is finished. That's when I would feed until they have enough for winter. Until then, it's all about swarm control.
    Thanks! Your encouragement is appreciated. You would be proud, this year our group is increasing its efforts with overwintering, we all have more nucs to overwinter than last year. Some have VP queens and some have our own reared queens which is really exciting. I have 8 nucs going into winter- in different configerations to try and compare what methods work best.

    This year production colonies are still going strong. Lots of Spring rain may have given us more of a late summer flow- certainly much more of a flow than I have seen in my brief experience keeping bees (4 years now). So I will keep moving brood from the nucs and not worry so much about honey stores until next month when I start 2 to 1.
    karla

  4. #23
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    Default Re: Overwintering Nucs

    Quote Originally Posted by bnatural View Post
    Because the polystyrene nucs have close-fitting lids, I can't put that much on. So, I have to check and add several times during the winter.
    l
    By the way, I do not see it on line, but in a 2009 catalog, I saw that Betterbee was making shims for these polystrene nucs. Shims helped in my set up, (even though I am using wood nucs) it gave some room for pollen patties etc. so you might consider that opinion.
    karla

  5. #24
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    Claremont, NH, USA
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    Default Re: Overwintering Nucs

    Quote Originally Posted by winevines View Post
    By the way, I do not see it on line, but in a 2009 catalog, I saw that Betterbee was making shims for these polystrene nucs. Shims helped in my set up, (even though I am using wood nucs) it gave some room for pollen patties etc. so you might consider that opinion.
    Thanks, I saw those, too, earlier this year and ordered a bunch of them for all my nucs (10). I did it during a call-in order and even asked if they were shims for the lids on the nucs, which I was told they were. Turns out they are the wooden front pieces on which the revolving entrance reducers are fitted. Guess they have a different definition of shim than I do. They were not worth the price of returning them, so I ended up eating the cost.

    I told a customer service person at BetterBee that they should talk to the manufacturer about making shims for those nucs. Would help me out a lot in the winter. So far, though, nothing.

    Again, thanks,

    Bill
    “If you want to gather honey, don't kick over the beehive.” - Dale Carnegie

  6. #25
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    Dec 2008
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    Default Re: Overwintering Nucs

    I am interested to know if people overwinter their nucs on top of production hives?

    If so, what is the set-up you have found to help keep moisture from the production hive becoming an issue in the nuc?

    Thanks,
    Michael
    Last edited by MWillard; 08-18-2009 at 06:51 PM.

  7. #26
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    Default Re: Overwintering Nucs

    Quote Originally Posted by MWillard View Post
    Does anyone overwinter their nucs on top of production hive?

    If so, what is the set-up you have found to work the best to help keep the moisture from the production hive from becoming an issue in the nuc?

    Michael
    Winter the nuc box above the inner cover, with no contact between the two.

  8. #27
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    Default Re: Overwintering Nucs

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    Winter the nuc box above the inner cover, with no contact between the two.
    Mike,
    I'm assuming that in this case, you would leave the inner cover hole open. In the setup you are recommending, is the bottom board of the nuc sitting on top of the inner cover of the production hive?

    Michael

  9. #28

    Default Re: Overwintering Nucs

    MWillard - Mike will tell you to close the innner cover hole with two layers of duct tape - top and bottom and set the nuc right on that (no bottom board).

    I winter quite a few colonies with double screened divided nuc bottom board/top cover for the hive below to encourage heat sharing+ good pheremone sharing.
    My nucs have homasote "inner covers" which are grooved to the side and migratory style outer covers with a rain guard (tar paper) over everything. This allows enough moisture wicking for the parent and nucs.

    the keys here are:
    1 - keep the bees in each colony from being able to physically contact eachother (QMP is communicated by touch so you need to keep them apart so they don't know that there are three colonies)
    2 - allow transfer of positive inputs (heat/pheremones) as much as possible
    3- prevent moisture buildup in any of the colonies/boxes

    I hope this helps.

    On a side note, what a GREAT discussion of overwintering! Thanks MikeP for keeping up with this thread - so great to see so many of us working on making our apiaries more sustainable through overwintering nucs.

    I'll be headed to winter with 60+ nucs this year, they're looking great now that the goldenrod and knotweed have started and I'm working hard to stay ahead of swarming.


    -E.
    Last edited by Maine_Beekeeper; 08-19-2009 at 07:51 PM. Reason: .
    Erin Forbes, EAS Master Beekeeper
    overlandhoney.com

  10. #29
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    Default Re: Overwintering Nucs

    Quote Originally Posted by Maine_Beekeeper View Post
    MWillard - Mike will tell you to close the innner cover hole with two layers of duct tape - top and bottom and set the nuc right on that (no bottom board).

    I winter quite a few colonies with double screened divided nuc bottom board/top cover for the hive below to encourage heat sharing+ good pheremone sharing.
    My nucs have homasote "inner covers" which are grooved to the side and migratory style outer covers with a rain guard (tar paper) over everything. This allows enough moisture wicking for the parent and nucs.
    My nucs do have a bottom board, and the whole thing is placed on top of a production colony inner cover. The escape hole in inner cover is taped closed as Erin has said...only both pieces of tape are on the top of the escape hole. I don't want all that moisture up in the nucs.

    Erin does it differently. Uses a double screen, and absorbes the moisture with homasote. I use foam on the nuc's inner cover bag, and an upper entrance to vent moisture away.

    So, here we have another classic example of two beekeepers using different means to arrive at the same end. While opposite in theory, both seem to work.

    Here's another method...just this year I have set up 200+ 4 frame nucs in double nuc boxes with 4 frame supers added above. The nucs have gone wild on the foundation with this Goldenrod flow. I plan on wintering them on their stands, and not place them on top of any colonies. This seems a better way to handle the first batches of wintering nucs, rather than trying to remove frames of brood so they won't swarm. It also allows the nucs to store combs of honey while still having combs for the queen to raise winter bees. Photos will follow when I have the time. Huh...wonder when that will be.

  11. #30
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    Default Re: Overwintering Nucs

    I am converting everything to mediums. Do you think you can overwinter in 5 frame medium nucs? They are next to my home so checking on them or feeding them from time to time during the winter would be possible.

  12. #31
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    Default Re: Overwintering Nucs

    I've got eight nucs going now, as I wrote earlier they are all in polystyrene nucs. They are really rocking. Last year I noticed that, maybe due to the warmth of the boxes, maybe because they were new queens, the bees kept going and brood was hatching out really late, well into November. With the goldenrod having kicked in (my scale hive is up almost 15 pounds this week), I'm wondering how late I could split a booming nuc and start another one? I still have drones hatching out, but, if I split them this weekend, it would be into September, before the queens could go out on mating flights. I don't know if all the drones would be toast by then. The reason I ask is because I have two empty nucs that I have had set out as swarm traps all summer. My guess is that the swarm threat is pretty much past (somebody please correct me, if I'm wrong), and it would be nice to utilize those two nucs.

    I DO have a possible way to cut that time down. This past weekend I found queen cells in a new hive (started from a nuc) with a new and well-laying queen (I posted on this elsewhere, because I can't figure out why a new colony in a new hive with a new (and apparently healthy) queen would start queen cells). There was one capped queen cell and two uncapped cells all on one frame. I moved the frame to a nuc (another experiment) and that queen should emerge in a couple of days. One of the other cells is now capped and the other will be capped today or tomorrow. If I can remove those cells, I could add them along with a couple of frames from the hives to those two nucs. If they don't raise queens, I can always combine later.

    Do either of these ideas sound reasonable, or is it too late in the season?

    I thought it was too late after mid-August to start any nucs from scratch up here, but when I found those queen cells, I figured I'd give it a shot, and that's what got me thinking about those other queen cells.

    For me all this working with nucs and raising queens has been a new and grand experiment. I just don't know what the practical limits are.

    Thanks,

    Bill
    “If you want to gather honey, don't kick over the beehive.” - Dale Carnegie

  13. #32
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    Default Re: Overwintering Nucs

    the central ohio beekeepers assoc. has a bee yard at ohio states farm. Each wensday when there isn't a lcub meeting there is a meetng at there bee meeting. Every gathering someone speeks, we talk about bees, do something the hives at the yard, and did I metion talk about bees.

    Anyway, last week joe latshaw(don't know how last name is spelled) had a presentation on overintering in styrofoam nucs. What he does is take a frame of brood and bees, put it in a styrofoam nuc, and add a queen cell that will hatch in a few days. Or use mated queen and do the split later. He said it works best with carnis because they overwinter with less bees.also the thing with styrofoa nucs is you can just pour the suger syrup right into the hive. He said a liter or so will bring it just up to the frames. I am going to try this next year. It works as a issurance policy if you loose any hives.
    Chris Cree
    Cree's Bees

  14. #33
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    Default Re: Overwintering Nucs

    Just thinking out loud, wonder if you could use medium frames in a deep nuc and put a tray in the bottom to hold syrup or dry sugar?

  15. #34
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    Auger Hole, MN
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    Default Re: Overwintering Nucs

    I wanted to add to M Palmers system of supering nucs. I have found you can put an excluder on a double 4 frame nuc and super them with standard supers and I rarely lose a queen.

    In addition to the double nucs made from deep hive bodies I have a 4 frame plywood nuc box thats homemade. these are nice cause they are sized to be the same outside dimensions when doubled up as a regular hive body. Again these can be fed simultaneously with top feeders or supered with an excluder.

    early nucs made up in southern Wisco by mid june when doubled up side by side can make a super of honey.

  16. #35
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    Default Re: Overwintering Nucs

    Quote Originally Posted by bnatural View Post
    Do either of these ideas sound reasonable, or is it too late in the season?
    I think it's too late for either...in New Hampshire.

  17. #36
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    Default Re: Overwintering Nucs

    Quote Originally Posted by hilreal View Post
    Do you think you can overwinter in 5 frame medium nucs?
    I think you probably could. I believe Webster used to use shallows in his 2 way mating nucs...4 frames each. They wintered like that. If I were to winter in mediums, I might use a 10 frame box.

  18. #37
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    Default Re: Overwintering Nucs

    Quote Originally Posted by Bud Dingler View Post
    I wanted to add to M Palmers system of supering nucs. I have found you can put an excluder on a double 4 frame nuc and super them with standard supers and I rarely lose a queen.
    I found the same thing to be true. Rarely lost a queen. I did find that if one side changed their queen, that the virgin wasn't accepted.

    I also found that double nucs with a super over an excluder had no honey in the brood combs. 4 frames of brood and a huge population. I quit using the method for that reason. What have you found, Bud? Do you take off the supers in time for them to store honey from the fall flow? Do you find huge clusters and swarming on the fall flow. Do you have to feed lots of syrup?

  19. #38
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    Default Re: Overwintering Nucs

    [QUOTE=Michael Palmer;455542]

    Here's another method...just this year I have set up 200+ 4 frame nucs in double nuc boxes with 4 frame supers added above. The nucs have gone wild on the foundation with this Goldenrod flow. I plan on wintering them on their stands, and not place them on top of any colonies. QUOTE]

    Mike Palmer, in this method of overwintering the double nucs, are you treating them similar to production hives and wrapping them in a traditional manner? Having taken your nuc workshop in July, I have the same setup going into this winter with, 4 frame double nucs w/ 4 frame super above. Each nuc has it's own individual inner cover.

    What would be your recommendation on how to setup the top of the nucs for the winter?

    Thanks,
    Michael

  20. #39
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    Default Re: Overwintering Nucs

    Quote Originally Posted by giant pumpkin peep View Post
    What he does is take a frame of brood and bees, put it in a styrofoam nuc, and add a queen cell that will hatch in a few days. Or use mated queen and do the split later. .
    But what time of year does he do this?
    karla

  21. #40

    Default Re: Overwintering Nucs

    1 frame of brood + a queen cell - In Maine that would work in May or early June if the flow is perfect (which it was not his year)

    Please all remember that beekeeping is local.

    Also if I say one thing and Michael Palmer says another, take his advice over mine. I would.

    Best,
    -Erin
    Erin Forbes, EAS Master Beekeeper
    overlandhoney.com

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