Overwintered nuc - definition is vague - advice requested.
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
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    Northeast PA
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    476

    Default Overwintered nuc - definition is vague - advice requested.

    I have colonies that overwintered, but they're not technically sitting in nuc boxes.

    I don't even think it's possible to overwinter a colony in a single nuc box in my location.

    Local beekeepers have told me they sell overwintered nucs as colonies that WERE double or triples, and then condensed down to 1 nuc box for the sale in the spring. Using the overwintered queen and her brood etc.

    What's your opinion?
    Last edited by username00101; 03-06-2020 at 01:09 PM.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    Default Re: Overwintered nuc - definition is vague - advice requested.

    That meets my definition. The queen and her brood/bees are overwintered. She is being sold in a nuc, or as five frames of bees, brood, and food.
    It is a good swarm management technique. Split off the old queen and enough of her brood to make the nuc, let the original hive make a new queen (or several that you make Spring nucs with).
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
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    Southwest Michigan
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    23

    Default Re: Overwintered nuc - definition is vague - advice requested.

    Michael Palmer seems to be able to do it. I believe he is further north than Pa?

  5. #4
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    Mar 2013
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    Seattle WA
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    Default Re: Overwintered nuc - definition is vague - advice requested.

    You can go round a round on this topic without getting a clear answer. My opinion on overwintered nucs, based on my experience with the ones I have sold or seen bought by others, is that the claim of overwintered queens being better is overblown. Getting a nuc with an actual overwintered queen generally means two things to me. 1, the nuc will get installed too early in the season and build up really fast and swarm. 2, If the nuc is put together later in the season, the hive will probably supercede the original queen. It is to me, not a rosy picture. My advice is to get whatever healthy nuc is available, let it build up and re-queen later in the season with a fresh, young local queen. That way when you go into the winter, the hive will have a young healthy queen that should survive the winter just fine and give you a nice honey harvest the next year. Please note that in my area (Seattle) the honey season ends in late June to early July. No nuc purchased in the spring will ever give you a honey harvest. Other areas of the country will be very different.

  6. #5

    Default Re: Overwintered nuc - definition is vague - advice requested.

    https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/pnw682

    Here is a really good article that includes what it takes to over winter nucs. This is from Oregon State University Master Beekeeping Program.

  7. #6
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    Nov 2017
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    New Paltz, New York, USA
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    Default Re: Overwintered nuc - definition is vague - advice requested.

    To try to answer the original question, I would guess that what most customers are looking for in an "overwintered" nuc is a queen who's proven herself over a winter, along with bees and brood that are her progeny, as opposed to a mishmash of resources put together into a nuc right before sale. I wouldn't think that having overwintered in a small box would matter.

    Whether this is something customers should want is an interesting question. My local beestore sells both "regular" and more expensive "local overwintered" nucs. I've purchased both and will describe my personal experience, for whatever it's worth.

    The regular nucs came in a homemade 6-frame plywood box with a frame feeder full of some homemade mix of pollen sub and sugar. Three of my colonies were perfectly fine, while one had to be requeened immediately. All were healthy. Most eventually swarmed because of my incompetence and lack of drawn comb, but otherwise they were great bees. The one I immediately requeened made excess honey and all survived the winter.

    The local overwintered nucs came in 5-frame coroplast boxes. Both of my colonies had run out of protein stores and had begun eating their own brood by pickup day. Once fed, they built up great, and had no health or queen issues. Great bees to work. Both stored excess honey, eventually swarmed, and so far appear to be making it through winter.

    So, I don't know, I guess my limited experience support's dudeIt's suggestion to buy any healthy nuc you can and plan to requeen it. My purchased queens have been the best, followed by the queens that came with my nucs, while the queens my bees have made for themselves have been my least favorite, mostly because they've been more defensive.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
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    Williamsport, PA
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    559

    Default Re: Overwintered nuc - definition is vague - advice requested.

    Quote Originally Posted by username00101 View Post

    I don't even think it's possible to overwinter a colony in a single nuc box in my location.
    I have never lost a colony that wintered in a single 5 frame nuc. Next winter I will be doing more of them to sell as well. I have given up on selling honey with Uncle and the lawyers demanding too much of my time and $ for the privilege. I carried over a small amount of singles and 4 over 4's to sell. Just by word of mount I've sold all but 2.

    A local apiary wanted to take them all but was only interested in mediums and mine are all deeps.

    *My overwintered nucs were made last year and overwintered as a single unit.

  9. #8
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    Jun 2016
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    Geauga, Ohio
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    Default Re: Overwintered nuc - definition is vague - advice requested.

    As long as that queen made it through the winter, her capped brood is in the for-sale box, and her foragers are in there - it is fair. A buyer should be able to see the quality of the brood produced by the queen, and should have an accurate sense of what her daughters will be like from the first day. That to me is critical with a nuc - bees of all ages, so it can grow quickly and has resilience for handling Ohio. We like to have at least 3 seasons in a month - sometimes in a week - which can be taxing for any bees that expect predictable weather.

  10. #9
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    Jan 2015
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    powhatan, virginia, usa
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    Default Re: Overwintered nuc - definition is vague - advice requested.

    I am a bit more picky, for me I only want an over wintered nuc if the queen is coming out of her first winter, I do not want a 2 or 3rd year queen in a 5 frame box. I have always believed a queen is at her strongest coming out of the first winter and rdy to explode.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    Albany NY
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    Default

    The overwintered nucs we sell were made up as summer splits on the tail end of the flow and overwintered on 8 deep frames. I do not think an old work horse from last year has the same value as a 2nd year queen that did not have to lay soo many eggs. As for the 3rd and 4th year queens, we keep those.... Every now and then we get a fifth year queen but so far they have not been able to keep up with a production colony. Running out of eggs, semen, energy.... I like the longevity though.

  12. #11
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    Feb 2017
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    Northern Il, USA
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    Default Re: Overwintered nuc - definition is vague - advice requested.

    Currently have two 5-frame nucs that appear to be surviving the winter. We will see how the next month goes before I call them survivors. N Illinois is not that different temps or winter length from PA.

  13. #12
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    Jul 2006
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    Pennsylvania/Florida
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    483

    Default Re: Overwintered nuc - definition is vague - advice requested.

    I don't think there is any real regulation in the over wintered term. So know your beekeeper, if you trust them ask for their definition. And ask where they were overwintered. I've heard of places that over winter their nucs down south and call them overwintered as well. Not saying it's a false statement just verify what over wintered means to the seller, and see if that coincides with your definition.

    Aaron

  14. #13
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    Feb 2016
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    Covington County, Alabama, USA
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    Default Re: Overwintered nuc - definition is vague - advice requested.

    Quote Originally Posted by dudelt View Post
    My opinion on overwintered nucs, based on my experience with the ones I have sold or seen bought by others, is that the claim of overwintered queens being better is overblown.
    That goes double for the southeastern US. I have a lot of people ask me for an overwintered queen. I always want to tell them that I would be happy to give them last year's queen if they want it, because I will likely be pinching her in July anyway. But this is definitely a regional thing. I think folks are missing a few steps in this analysis. No, I would not want to be in PA and purchase a nuc that was made up three days ago from last year's brood frames and a queen that arrived in the mail from GA yesterday morning. But I think this is driven by the desire to have a locally adapted and bred queen more than an "overwintered" queen.

    Personally, I want a new spring queen that was locally bred from a locally adapted and bred overwintered queen.

  15. #14
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    Jan 2017
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    Eliot, ME
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    Default Re: Overwintered nuc - definition is vague - advice requested.

    Ive got a overwinter NUC in So. Maine, our winter has been mild, used advice from here to get them through, loaded the top box with honey frames, insulated sides, wrapped in tar paper, candy board on top with a quilt box and insulated cover finishing off the 2 stack tower.

    Now, my springtime question is, Im assuming Im gonna move the 5 frames from the top NUC box into a 10 frame deep.. when? When they've about to outgrow the 5 frame, like I would a regular 10 frame deep? Dandelion season?

    Mike

  16. #15

    Default Re: Overwintered nuc - definition is vague - advice requested.

    Quote Originally Posted by dudelt View Post
    that the claim of overwintered queens being better is overblown.
    In my opinion, it isnít necessarily about the overwintered queen. My overwintered nucs are available about three weeks before ones with a new queen. It can make a huge difference in their ability to build out a nest.
    I had a fellow buy some a couple of years ago who said that they all drew out two deeps and a medium and he was able to harvest the medium full of honey that first season.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  17. #16
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    Feb 2017
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    Linton, IN, USA
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    Default

    In my area I sell nucs we graft only from over wintered stock and you get a new queen that was grafted from the over wintered queen that shows a good stock of bees that can survive the winter in a specific area I do think that at least anyone I know thats what they mean by over wintered.

  18. #17
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    Mar 2015
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    Decorah, Iowa USA
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    271

    Default Re: Overwintered nuc - definition is vague - advice requested.

    I'm going to use overwintered Queens to produce all my Nucs this Summer for increases for next year. All Nucs sold will be produced in May and will be from Overwintered Queens. I'm hoping that everybody benefits that way. Good ideas from Oregon State on overwintering Nucs
    Jerry

  19. #18
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    Feb 2016
    Location
    ACT, Australia
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    17

    Default Re: Overwintered nuc - definition is vague - advice requested.

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    Split off the old queen and enough of her brood to make the nuc
    I would expect an "overwintered nuc" to contain a queen raised late in the previous season, nicely established and ready to kick off for her first spring.
    I would be unhappy if I purchased an "overwintered nuc" to find the queen was "old" and already in need of replacement.

  20. #19
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    Feb 2016
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    Covington County, Alabama, USA
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    Default Re: Overwintered nuc - definition is vague - advice requested.

    Quote Originally Posted by timriver View Post
    In my area I sell nucs we graft only from over wintered stock and you get a new queen that was grafted from the over wintered queen that shows a good stock of bees that can survive the winter in a specific area I do think that at least anyone I know thats what they mean by over wintered.
    If you are doing the graft in the same spring that you sell the nuc, I do not think that is what most mean by "Overwintered Queen." At least that is not my understanding.

  21. #20
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    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: Overwintered nuc - definition is vague - advice requested.

    Quote Originally Posted by psm1212 View Post
    If you are doing the graft in the same spring that you sell the nuc, I do not think that is what most mean by "Overwintered Queen." At least that is not my understanding.
    How many nucs percentage wise are actually going to have an overwintered queen? By the numbers it certainly should command a premium but by actual value perhaps not. Overwintered how many times?

    I think perhaps what people are trying to avoid is a high percentage of poorly mated early queens due to sketchy weather and a scarcity of drones. Such queens could be iffy for having a lower rate of lay or lapse into drone laying. The quality of the first run of queens is dependent on the producers judgement and ethics.

    The fellow I commonly purchase from cancelled his first round of queens last year; I was told that he said he would not put his name or reputation on them! He doesn't do much advertising; doesn't have to!
    Frank

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