4/4/4 overwintering nucs...?best way to overwinter bees
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  1. #1
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    Default 4/4/4 overwintering nucs...?best way to overwinter bees

    Im noticing over the last 2-3 years of bringing 4/4/4 Michael Palmer style nucs through winter that they seem to winter almost easier than the larger colonies that are in 2 x 10F deeps +/- medium supers.

    I had 12/12 survive last winter and 18/18 surviving this winter. Lost two colonies so far out of 41 total ( one drone layer queen and one i got from a friend late fall with high mite load that despite treatment still died out).

    Now though in spring i have boxes to rearrange in the larger colonies, extra equipment to put away ,heavier lifting to do etc. Also multiple boxes mean more cost with treatments potentially.
    Im starting to think that just taking 4/4/4 nucs through winter, storing all the remaining deep frames/boxes may be worth considering. Pretty easy to put the nucs into 10F equipment in early April and treat with apivar then start them building up with all the stored comb in time to make a decent honey crop.

    Thoughts?

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: 4/4/4 overwintering nucs...?best way to overwinter bees

    FWIW - my thoughts are that this technique is what Jan Dzierzon was writing about in his book 'Rational Beekeeping' - so it would appear that this methodology goes way back to pre-Langstroth days, but appears to have been largely forgotten about.

    His method was to place two hives 'back-to-back' to form what he called his 'Twin-Stocks' - this formed what was in effect a basic building-block for the more ambitious structures he describes afterwards. BTW - these hives were 'full-sized' top bar hives, but much smaller than what we're used to these days - so were more like large nucs.

    In one of his developments, he places two of these twin-stocks against each other to form a quad, with their entrances facing either North, or South. Now although this means that two of the hives have their entrances located on the same side, those entrances were positioned close to the corners in order to keep them as far apart as possible - because - he then places another set of identical (four) boxes on top of those, but collectively rotated through 90 degrees so that their entrances now face East and West. And, as if that isn't enough, he then repeats this twice - to create a stack of 16 bee-boxes, all under one roof, with their entrances positioned such that drifting would be minimised.

    Dzierzon won many prizes for his Twin-Stock ideas, and it's curious how this configuration went out of fashion in favour of stand-alone beehives. Nice to see someone re-employing it.
    'best
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  4. #3
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    Default Re: 4/4/4 overwintering nucs...?best way to overwinter bees

    Quote Originally Posted by aran View Post
    Im noticing over the last 2-3 years of bringing 4/4/4 Michael Palmer style nucs through winter that they seem to winter almost easier than the larger colonies that are in 2 x 10F deeps +/- medium supers.

    I had 12/12 survive last winter and 18/18 surviving this winter. Lost two colonies so far out of 41 total ( one drone layer queen and one i got from a friend late fall with high mite load that despite treatment still died out).
    . Pretty easy to put the nucs into 10F equipment in early April and treat with apivar then start them building up with all the stored comb in time to make a decent honey crop.
    oh so many ways to go with this one Your % of survivors is just about the same when you eliminate the free mite ridden hive. Since you do OAV in the spring, no real cost or time savings right? Now why would the nucs look better this spring than the big hive? that's how mine are this year, the nuc queens were produced later than the production queens, raised less bees, your production queens made lots of honey and bees, had more mites and diseases? You have to rearrange the larger colonies because of the easier winter because you left extra honey on that may have been needed in a normal winter, but if you decide to overwinter in all the 4x4x4's, you will still have to reconfigure them from full size hives in the fall to 4x4x4 in the fall right? I lost one nuc so far out of 25, have lost 4 full hives out of 45 or so, and the nucs look better, then again I would normally have requeened half my big hives, but just didn't have time, the ones that got requeened look as good or better than the nucs?? ah decisions decisions
    mike syracuse ny
    Whatever you subsidize you get more of. Ronald Reagan

  5. #4
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    Default Re: 4/4/4 overwintering nucs...?best way to overwinter bees

    yeah its more about keeping a colony fresh and in a state of wanting to continue to build. young queens certainly help. and low mite loads is imperative for thriving colonies that want to grow. also giving them time in the fall to organize themselves for winter. the box size or configuration dont matter much. the management style for your operation is what different boxes matter for.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: 4/4/4 overwintering nucs...?best way to overwinter bees

    You don't reconfigure your hives into 4x4x4 before winter. You make Nucs in the summer and build them into 4x4x4 through the Fall.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: 4/4/4 overwintering nucs...?best way to overwinter bees

    All food for thought. I think Mike is right. The ages of the queens is the main difference.
    Few benefits being smaller footprint for the same number of colonies and the ease of moving into 10 F boxes in spring. But mike is right it would be a PITA rearranging all the production colonies into 4/4/4 after the honey flow and storing all the equipment.
    Just an observation of mine that the 4/4/4 nucs are so easy to get through winter.
    I always treat 3-4 x/year with oav/FP and apivar so mites are always low.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: 4/4/4 overwintering nucs...?best way to overwinter bees

    my over wintered nucs all look to good, not sure they will still be in the boxes b/4 I can split them up. They sure are easier to handle now that I'm getting old and decrepit, and they really like to draw perfect comb fast, but make one mistake and you end up with a new queen. I didn't extract enough honey off of the nucs last year so I will have a lot of drawn frames tied up full of honey.
    mike syracuse ny
    Whatever you subsidize you get more of. Ronald Reagan

  9. #8
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    Default Re: 4/4/4 overwintering nucs...?best way to overwinter bees

    Quote Originally Posted by wildbranch2007 View Post
    my over wintered nucs all look to good, not sure they will still be in the boxes b/4 I can split them up. They sure are easier to handle now that I'm getting old and decrepit, and they really like to draw perfect comb fast, but make one mistake and you end up with a new queen. I didn't extract enough honey off of the nucs last year so I will have a lot of drawn frames tied up full of honey.
    There is nothing keeping you from supering those stacked 4x4x4's!
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    Default Re: 4/4/4 overwintering nucs...?best way to overwinter bees

    Quote Originally Posted by crofter View Post
    There is nothing keeping you from supering those stacked 4x4x4's!
    i need to do this more this year i have about 50 medium supers i need to get drawn out.

  11. #10
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    Default

    Yep, qx and super as one. We've done this for a couple years on 4/4. We will try this year supering on single deep 4/4. I would not bother reconfiguring production colonies to 4/4 in fall but do consider harvesting honey in July and splitting production colonies up to build up to 8 frames by fall. Works well.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: 4/4/4 overwintering nucs...?best way to overwinter bees

    There was a good sare study on this
    http://www.rrbeekeepers.com/Meghan/S...-Fall-Nucs.pdf
    "oh well, let us stick to science. let them have their beliefs and intuitions!" -Medhat Nasr

  13. #12
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    Default Re: 4/4/4 overwintering nucs...?best way to overwinter bees

    Quote Originally Posted by msl View Post
    There was a good sare study on this
    http://www.rrbeekeepers.com/Meghan/S...-Fall-Nucs.pdf
    this was a terrific read thanks!
    I have considered trying a few colonies this winter of 2020 in just singles. I have heard that this wont work in this climate however im skeptical of that since many of our canadian beeks are overwintering in colder climates in singles outside just fine.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: 4/4/4 overwintering nucs...?best way to overwinter bees

    Quote Originally Posted by aran View Post
    this was a terrific read thanks!
    I have considered trying a few colonies this winter of 2020 in just singles. I have heard that this wont work in this climate however im skeptical of that since many of our canadian beeks are overwintering in colder climates in singles outside just fine.
    if your going to do it, please keep records of how much the 1 deep hives make for honey, and how much your normal hives make for honey, with queens of the same age. Have you looked at the type of queens they have, russian, Italian, carni??
    mike syracuse ny
    Whatever you subsidize you get more of. Ronald Reagan

  15. #14
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    Default Re: 4/4/4 overwintering nucs...?best way to overwinter bees

    Quote Originally Posted by wildbranch2007 View Post
    if your going to do it, please keep records of how much the 1 deep hives make for honey, and how much your normal hives make for honey, with queens of the same age. Have you looked at the type of queens they have, russian, Italian, carni??
    Yeah good thinking Mike.
    I will probably give them queens that i graft this spring so will be daughters of my survivors. I have italian/carnis/ Foleys russians/MP queens/anarchy apiaries queens, swarm caught queens, Williams honey bees queens and saskatraz queens in my apiary. The queen im planning to graft from is the same one i grafted from last year. 2016 queen who has survived her 4th winter ( i think i havent yet checked to see if they replaced her but she was in the hive in late summer) and last year made 4 mediums of honey.

    Ill keep as good a records as i can.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: 4/4/4 overwintering nucs...?best way to overwinter bees

    Quote Originally Posted by COAL REAPER View Post
    yeah its more about keeping a colony fresh and in a state of wanting to continue to build. young queens certainly help. and low mite loads is imperative for thriving colonies that want to grow. also giving them time in the fall to organize themselves for winter. the box size or configuration dont matter much. the management style for your operation is what different boxes matter for.
    COAL R I would take the opposite side of this "discussion" the configuration is exactly one of the determinant factors for these wintering effects. Setting it aside is illogical.
    the narrow tall config is help full. No/less chimney effect where the bees pass the honey and are at the top tending into a corner. cluster is above the entrance by 1 box, for most of the winter. 1 side of the hive is warm. all these collectively matter. I have Natired a set of medium extracted frames in a deep under a weak hive often. they do better. build and go into an Igloo, the effects of being above the entrance is obvious. I have had several 10 frame 1 deep 1 medium nice looking hives with a smaller cluster, chimney up then veer into a corner and starve out with 30 pounds of honey still in the hive. narrow tall environments, have several interesting characteristics, all good for the bees. Side by side my 8 frame hives do better than the 10 frame, IMO why the 1 deep 20 frame AKA top bar does poor in the way north.
    Good empirical data Aran. As well the brood break mite disruption also has impact.
    GG

  17. #16
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    Default Re: 4/4/4 overwintering nucs...?best way to overwinter bees

    I think GG is correct that the narrow but tall arrangement is key to the bees not being inclined to ever get far from their food source and locked on brood. If you are feeding up to weight in the fall it will tend to force the cluster down lower in the box so they start winter below the majority of their stores. Depending on conditions that the beekeeper often influences you may have to do a bit of shuffling. For instance if you pull honey too late you could force them to start winter without a full course of capped stores above them. Then you might have to move them down and pull some capped frames up from the sides of lower boxes. I would rather feed than have to juggle things around and risk the queen when it is too late to replace. I have no fall flow anyways, so an easy decision.

    I had one stack of side by sides get messed up when one side rejected the introduced queen and made their own. One side got ahead of the other and that made that stack harder to work. That troubled nuc is the one that the first EFB showed up in the following spring. Oh how I wish I had not combined that week hive with others. That Siamese twin effect can be a drawback to the shared bottom concept.

    I have done quite a few stacks 3 high of 5 framed nucs with good results but they are not as stable a setup to have in a windy location, or to wrap for winter
    Frank

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