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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is my 3rd Winter as a beekeeper. This is my first year attempting to overwinter nucs on top of production colonies Palmer/Webster style. I started my nucs too late in the season (August 24th), and caught some late season swarms as well. As a result I am overwintering many very small clusters and simply seeing if I can make it work. I've lost 2 of 8 small colonies to date.

What has me confused is this: All the production colonies that have nucs on top of them are still clustering in the lower deep or lower mediums. They cannot be seen when the inner cover is lifted, but an ear on the box confirms that they are alive and sound fine. All the production colonies that do not have nucs on top of them are clustering in the upper deep/medium and in some cases, have been since the start of winter. There is only 1 colony without a nuc on it that is still in the lower super and not visible below the inner cover.

Thoughts? Any help would be appreciated.

Here are some photos of the colonies. You can see which have nucs on top and which don't. I also have pics of the colonies that are clustering at the top.

http://picasaweb.google.com/shawnbernard/WinterBeesJan2010#
 

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whodoctor....from the looks of your photos, I may be interpreting the wrap gap partway up on two hives wrong, but it looks like you are wintering nucs at the top of two production colonies, right?

I think the reason some of your clusters haven't moved up into their upper box is that they haven't needed to. They'll most likely move up in the coming weeks if there is honey/stores above them. How have you set them up to observe into the lower units of the ones with nucs on top?

I'm wintering some double nucs atop full hives as Mike Palmer described, and can swivel the top double nuc box to one side which allows access to the lower unit...I wrap with empty chambers at top for feeding if necessary.
http://i48.tinypic.com/v5dcmw.jpg

...It's the one in the middle of this photo...
http://i48.tinypic.com/14eco6d.jpg

Those photos you show of the clusters around the sugar and pollen patties,...are they the nucs which are on the production colonies?

Thanks for showing your hives setup.:)
 

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whodoctor, What is the combination of feed you have in there. Is that bacon? and sugar candy? I like the use of spacers to allow room. Also, do you utilize bottom entrances too? if so when do you unblock them? I guess I am not helping to solve your mystery much am I?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hey Denny, I am overwintering 3 double nucs and 2 singles on top of production colonies.

The configuration I have is either double deeps or 3 mediums for the production colonies, with a 1 1/4" shim with an entrance in the front for the lower colony. On top of that I have a modified Snellgrove bottom board so that the entrances for the nucs are to the left and right, and not in front, to prevent drifting.

The Snellgrove board acts as a bottom board for the nucs, and in inner cover for the production colony, giving the greatest amount of radiant heat to the nuc colony. The screens in the Snellgrove BB are blocked off with tar paper and duct tape. This BB is stapled with a few staples to the nucs so that when I lift the nucs, I can look into the top of the production colony to feed them or remove the nucs entirely to work the production colony if needed. I really like this setup so far.

I have entrance reducers on the production colonies and upper entrances provided with those shims as previously mentioned. The shims provide upper entrances and allow space for pollen and sugar candy to be placed on top of the colonies. All the nucs have this shim as well for feeding.

My thoughts are that perhaps the colonies with the nucs on top have retained more heat, and required less stores and therefor are not yet visible because they have not had to move up yet. Is this possible, is this a coincidence, or is there another explanation?
 

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My thoughts are that perhaps the colonies with the nucs on top have retained more heat, and required less stores and therefor are not yet visible because they have not had to move up yet. Is this possible, is this a coincidence, or is there another explanation?
My guess is that it's coincidence. If, like you say, you've heard them buzzing in the lower box, well, then they'll move up if there's food above them, as they need it, when they want to. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well, lets see what happens. If I get the same results next year, then I'll know there is a reason.

At this point, I just want to get through winter as strong as possible (10+ colonies that can turn into something). I couldn't work my bees for a few months last year and they all swarmed...yes, all of them, so in the Fall I was trying to play catch up and do the best I could to get them through winter. I only pulled 171 lbs of honey from the three 2nd year colonies. The rest are all seeing their first winter. Finger's crossed.
 
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