Bone dry nuc
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Thread: Bone dry nuc

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
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    Toms River, New Jersey, USA
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    Default Bone dry nuc

    September's finished,and one of my new nucs from this summer has an enormous population of healthy looking bees and fresh eggs, but not a drop of honey in the hive. I'm sure the genetics of the queen are just telling them to constantly reproduce instead of wine down like they should, but I would feel bad losing such batch of healthy bees this fall when they inevitably starve out without intervention. My main question is should I simply combine these bees Into another hive, or is there a chance to massively feed these bees back from the brink and dump a sugar block when winter hits. I doubt any syrup would be feedable past halloween which gives potentially a one month window. Is that enough time to go from zero to passable winter stores with dry sugar as insurance?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
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    Decatur / Cullman, also. 35603
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    Default Re: Bone dry nuc

    I'd feed em well. If you have frames empty, and you feed this booming little hive. They may make it if you keep varroa in check asap. Also pollen sub wouldn't hurt. Worth a try to save them

  4. #3
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    Apr 2011
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    ElDorado,Arkansas,USA
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    Default Re: Bone dry nuc

    Feed,feed and feed. Bees can suck down a lot of syrup in a month.

  5. #4
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    Feb 2006
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    Massillon, Ohio
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    Default Re: Bone dry nuc

    What size nuc is it? Can you detail how many frames have brood and the number of frames with "empty" drawn comb.

    You have plenty of time to feed syrup and get them prepared for winter if you start feeding right away with a heavy syrup.
    To everything there is a season....

  6. #5
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    Jan 2019
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    Toms River, New Jersey, USA
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    Default

    Top bar hive, total volume about 40 liters, similar to a langstroth deep. About 5 frames of brood, and another 7 just empty comb. No easy way of feeding the required amount just from an inside feeder so it's gonna have to be a feeding station. All Combs and walls packed with bees so they should have a good field force. The way this fall is going we might not get a frost at all until November so I hope there's time

  7. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    DFW area, TX, USA
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    Default Re: Bone dry nuc

    Feed, or combine. Its up to you. If you feed, be careful with open feeding. You will feed bees living within three miles, but not necessarily your target NUC. For that reason you will do well to feed inside the hive. In my neighborhood, open feeding is an invitation to rob smaller hives close by. Do it with caution. Your bees could take a pint or quart per day (mixed 2 to 1), that could fill the empty frames within a week or so. I would put a robbing screen on a small NUC I'm feeding.

    P.S. Bees will take syrup down to about 50 degrees F. Below that, feed granulated sugar, sugar bricks, or fondant.
    Last edited by Lburou; 10-01-2019 at 09:01 AM.
    ...We don't see things as they are, we see things as WE are...

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
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    Portland, Oregon, USA
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    Default Re: Bone dry nuc

    Quote Originally Posted by Lburou View Post
    P.S. Bees will take syrup down to about 50 degrees F. Below that, feed granulated sugar, sugar bricks, or fondant.
    When it’s cool, but not frigid, I warm up a quart of syrup in a jar using the microwave, to about 110F (1 minute works), put that on in the morning, in each hive over the inner cover. Usually consumed by early afternoon. I try to leave no syrup on overnight; they’re ready for breakfast every day!

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    Isle of Wight, VA
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    Default Re: Bone dry nuc

    I'd feed until the end of Oct if possible and then if you still have unfilled comb, press soft fondant/moist sugar into the comb. All my topbar hives get sugar bricks in them in early winter so that they don't run out of stores. (active bees in winter here in coastal VA)

    fondantcomb.jpg

    bottlefeeder.jpg

    For my sugar bricks, I mix 3 cups sugar with 1/4 cup water and press in a pan. Let set up for a number of days and then it can be hung from an empty bar by a mesh bag. sugar brick.jpg

  10. #9
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    Jan 2019
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    Toms River, New Jersey, USA
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    Default

    Do you get issues with breaking comb trying to stuff the wet sugar in there?

  11. #10
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    Dec 2017
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    Dane County, WI, USA
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    Default Re: Bone dry nuc

    Quote Originally Posted by NJBeeVet View Post
    Do you get issues with breaking comb trying to stuff the wet sugar in there?
    You may have it a little colder in NJ, than in VA.


    When the cold sets, separate few bars above the cluster (just enough for a bee to squeeze through the crack).
    Put sugar brick. Or two. Or a good pile of sugar over paper towels even better (i.e. MC).
    Toss a blanket over (or whatever works for your setup; best to have some space above the bars IF the local winter is cold.).
    Done.

    Last winter I pulled through a dry hive with a large cluster - just like that (on dry sugar).
    They mined through a pile of sugar all winter long; not a problem.
    Wish they just dropped dead; they did not.
    Now they maybe going into the second winter.
    Like so again:
    20181216_132759.jpg

    Be best to break up/re-queen this all-growth/no-honey fools the next season.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    Portland, Oregon, USA
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    Default Re: Bone dry nuc

    You can lay the comb flat, sprinkle sugar over it, shaking the comb a bit to get it to go deep into cells, then lightly mist it when the cells are about half filled. Ultrafine granulated sugar is easiest. Have done this a couple of times when only empty comb was available. Hesitant to fully fill cells, afraid hive-generated moisture might be sufficient to liquify, cause dripping.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
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    frederick, md
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    Default Re: Bone dry nuc

    I put 8 lbs of sugar bricks on each hive in Nov, usually by the end of Jan the blocks are gone. We cycle between cold and warm all winter. The bees fly a lot looking for food

    I make mine with 10 lbs of sugar, 1 1/4 cup of vinegar and 1 TB of citric acid. Dehydrate for around 30 hours, makes them nice and hard.
    Zone 6b: 27 hives in Maryland, Carniolan, Italian mix mutts: Still learning - started bees spring of 2014.

  14. #13
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    Toms River, New Jersey, USA
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    Default

    Do you find they use them better if their super hard or if they're more crumbly? Or does it not matter?

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Bone dry nuc

    Quote Originally Posted by NJBeeVet View Post
    Do you find they use them better if their super hard or if they're more crumbly? Or does it not matter?
    For mine it does not matter. The warmth of the hive and moisture from the hive makes it real easy for the bees to eat. When I pull any non eaten sugar off in the spring it is usually soft and crumbly. I leave a queen excluder on the hives and put the blocks above the excluder. Keeps a lot of the pieces of sugar from falling down into the frames.

    I just melt it for any spring feeding we are doing and or fall feeding. None is wasted lol

    These pictures are in Feb of this year.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Zone 6b: 27 hives in Maryland, Carniolan, Italian mix mutts: Still learning - started bees spring of 2014.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Bone dry nuc

    NJBeevet............ we started feeding our 7 hives that are 1/2 mile from here mid Sep. Hive top feeder, around 2 gallons with each feeding. They were very light, almost zero honey/nectar in the cells. We did three feedings in around 2.5 weeks. The nectar was eaten usually within a 1-2 days. We would give them a week or so to process it then feed again. This is 2:1

    We just went and checked the hives. They now have one full box of capped honey, a few have two full boxes, a few have 1.5 boxes of capped honey. Before I was able to pick them up with one hand, now it takes a lot of effort with two hands. So we brought them back from the brink of disaster to almost ready for winter in around 3 weeks.

    We have been horribly hot and dry, most of the fall nectar plants are dying. I think that is why they were so light, last year we fed them once to get them ready for winter. We have been feeding since July but not heavy feeds.
    Zone 6b: 27 hives in Maryland, Carniolan, Italian mix mutts: Still learning - started bees spring of 2014.

  17. #16
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    This makes me feel a lot better. I had in my mind that it would take a long time to fill up a hive but a month seems like plenty. I'm definitely requeening these guys next year. I dream of having bees that perfectly respond to local flows but I'm guessing that'll take a decade of selection. I've never had a worthwhile fall flow here on the Jersey shore in 5 years so I'm going to assume it just doesn't exist.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Bone dry nuc

    Quote Originally Posted by NJBeeVet View Post
    Do you get issues with breaking comb trying to stuff the wet sugar in there?
    That will depend on how "old" your comb is and how well it is attached to the comb guide/bar. I find the little pocket of air in each cell to be more of a problem than comb breakage. If you try and pour syrup in the combs, you will find most of it runs off. You have to use a squirt bottle to put some force behind it. As for the fondant on the comb, I only did it one year because it was so much work and the bees seem to work the sugar bricks just as easily and they are much easier for me to make.

  19. #18
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    Dec 2017
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    Dane County, WI, USA
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    Default Re: Bone dry nuc

    Quote Originally Posted by NJBeeVet View Post
    ....I dream of having bees that perfectly respond to local flows but I'm guessing that'll take a decade of selection....
    The good news - someone already has done it for you. No need to wait a decade.
    Just find some local bees next spring.
    Or find a local queen and use your "fools" are a resource to switch the stock.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Holyoke, MA
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    4

    Default Re: Bone dry nuc

    Why not take out two or three empty frames at the end and put a couple of sticks on the bottom that would suspend the punctured cap of an inverted quart syrup jar? If a quart doesn't fit use a couple of pint jars. May be better than feeding the neighborhood.

  21. #20
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    Oct 2016
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    Albany NY
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    I would not open feed if I were in your shoes. If colonies around you need 50# of honey to overwinter, get 40# granulated sugar. Mix 2:1 and feed it in there as fast as they will take it. If too thin or fed too slow they may opt to use it instead of store it. If you open feed you won't know what they have. I would not combine them. With your oversight they should make it through just fine. How much syrup have they taken down so far?
    Happy beekeeping!

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