So I have some questions on my nuc management in rearguards to winter survivability and spring build up.
Skip to the end for the questions or a little background on my area and bees:
I'm listed as USDA zone 4a. Elevation of about 4700' (1432 m). Generally Dry I believe the average rainfall is about 14” (35 cm) of moisture. Typically have wind speeds of 75+ MPH (120+ kph) in the winter with temp reaching down to about -25f (-32 c). In the summer I will see over 100f (38 c).
I have one hive that started with a swarm out of a bee tree, located about 10 miles (16 km) from this location, in June 22 of 2014. They have been in the tree for 5-6 years and swarmed for the last 3 years or maybe they have died off and repopulated the tree this I am unaware of. My hive is consistent of all medium frames mix of foundation less, mannlake small cell plastic, and acorn drone comb.
The first year I did feed sugar syrup with LGO and spearmint to help with comb build up and winter stores. I did not realize this was considered a treatment.
Year 2 I did not feed or do any varroa management, counts or treatment. I now know that this might be a mistake and will at least do number counts next year. I am not opposed to killing off of the hive to prevent a might bomb if need be.
This past year I attempted to make some nucs off of this hive, my timing was bad and made them later in the year then I should have. The queens returned from mating flights and started laying around the 1st of august. This corresponded to the end of the main flow and a massive dearth. Robbing and death ensued.
By the time I checked on the queen and got it to stop, the three nucs that were left consisted of a queen a few larvae and maybe 50 to 100 workers. It was a very sad day.
I moved the nucs to a different location and repopulated from the main hive, a frame of sealed brood and about a frame shake of bees. This met with near disaster as I had inadvertently shook the queen from the main hive into the transfer box and had her out of the hive for over 8 hours. I had wondered why the bees had looked kill the new queen and it wasn't till I had seen the main queen on the last frame of transfer that my heart rate raised and it all began to make a little more scene.
I did move honey, nectar and near empty frames to help the bees build up, I don't believe that they did much comb building.
The last I opened the nucs was in October, by this time two of the hives had slowed on brooding. I had moved 4 partly filled nectar frames on top of them the strongest had some uncapped brood and capped honey on the top. The nucs had 16 medium frames and I would estimate 12 lb (5.5 kg) to 25 lb (11.3 kg) of honey. Good luck little bees.
So ten days ago:
I attempted to listen to the nucs with a stethoscope and knocking on it. No sound, are they dead? The last hive on the right of the picture is completely empty.
The last few days we have had a warm up and today was calm 10 mph (16kph) wind at 47 (8 c). Some bees flying.
I went to check on them. Should of had the smoker. They were not happy having the lid removed.
Nuc one still had capped honey.
Nuc two inner top frame almost empty.
Replaced it with a frame similar to this one. Getting those bees off was a pain, should have had the smoker. Hope I didn't kill the Queen not that I saw her.
Nuc thee still have some capped honey on the top it can bee seen in the lower middle of the pic.
How do my nucs look in regards to population?
How often should I be monitoring the honey reserves in the nucs?
In my area I estimate that I'm still a month or two from flowers in the area and last frost is not expected until the first of June. Last year I saw fully developed drones near the end of April.
What would be a good estimate for adding ultra bee patties and syrup if weather is failing to produce or to really help the bees explode?
Thanks in advance for your help and advice.