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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a few 10-frame brood boxes in which the bees have overwintered (Gulf coast winter, that is, and funny at that considering we're just a few weeks into "winter"). Checking them today, each had 2-3 frames of bees at most, but each had some brood. Each has the entrance reduced to the smallest option and have some stores. I could easily transfer them to nucs, but then we're about a month away from the time when they can really expand rapidly.

So, the question is whether to leave them in the full brood box or put them into nucs. What would you do, and why? Thanks.
 

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I'd probably do it, even in warmer weather. Have had bees in too-large hives and it didn't go well, they were not able to build up and I believe it was because they spent too much effort trying to keep the brood warm. I'll be interested to hear the opinions of some of our more-experienced members on this one.
 

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Here's the weather forecast for Houston.

Houston, TX 10-Day Weather Forecast - The Weather Channel | Weather.com

Doesn't look especially cold, 3 frames of bees should handle it fine, 2 frames probably but not guaranteed.

That's if they are healthy.

There may be a reason why they are down to this size, are they a breed that winter very small, or, could they be struggling with a pathogen such as mites?

Your temperatures for the next week are very similar to winter where I am. I do get some hives drop down to these type sizes, if it's cos of mites they will not make it unless I help them, if they are healthy and it's just the breed they will pull through.

Other thing, have they got plenty of feed. Some bees but not all, if not given enough feed to get them through winter, reduce the cluster size drastically so they will consume less through winter.
 

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I hope you have an R10 lid. (R5?)
I'd leave them in the box just pull outer frames and put in spacers to make things more snuggle'y.
I'd Put some fondant right above them so they have no excuse for not eating.
 

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So, the question is whether to leave them in the full brood box or put them into nucs. What would you do, and why? Thanks.
Putting the small colony over a queen excluder on a populous hive is another possibility.
Later in the spring you have to separate them.
It is good to have another apiary: transport the upper unit there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks everyone.

I treated all hives with the blue paper towel saturated with OA, but have not done a mite count on the small-count hives. I don't know what breed the bees are. Many of my hives are from feral cut-outs. I do feed syrup when the stores are low.

What is an R10 lid, and how does it make a difference?

Is putting a small colony over a larger one for warmth?
 

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I would leave them and maybe put thick insulation all around and feed ..
As OT said your temps look fine and it will depend on your bees.
I would think the more you screw with them the more they will be screwed up
 

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I have a few 10-frame brood boxes in which the bees have overwintered (Gulf coast winter, that is, and funny at that considering we're just a few weeks into "winter"). Checking them today, each had 2-3 frames of bees at most, but each had some brood. Each has the entrance reduced to the smallest option and have some stores. I could easily transfer them to nucs, but then we're about a month away from the time when they can really expand rapidly.

So, the question is whether to leave them in the full brood box or put them into nucs. What would you do, and why? Thanks.
Along the gulf coast you do not need an R10 lid. I seriously doubt I would move them into a nuc in your location. I don’t know your pollen and nectar flows, but I do know it should be rather warm there year round compared to most of the country. I’d be surprised if you weren’t already within a month or so of getting some decent pollen coming in. Once they start getting natural flows they will, if healthy, expand rapidly. What’s the point of putting them in a nuc now only to load them all back into the 10 framers in a month when they’re about to swarm out of those nucs? I assume your lows are typically in the 40s and 50sF right now. There shouldn’t be any need to manipulate or insulate the hives to secure and/or boost warmth.

I am actually more curious about how large they were going in to “winter”. If they were packing a ten frame box in September/October, with your short and mild winter, I’d be looking for reasons as to why they shrunk down to only 2 frames that quickly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Along the gulf coast you do not need an R10 lid. I seriously doubt I would move them into a nuc in your location. I don’t know your pollen and nectar flows, but I do know it should be rather warm there year round compared to most of the country. I’d be surprised if you weren’t already within a month or so of getting some decent pollen coming in. Once they start getting natural flows they will, if healthy, expand rapidly. What’s the point of putting them in a nuc now only to load them all back into the 10 framers in a month when they’re about to swarm out of those nucs? I assume your lows are typically in the 40s and 50sF right now. There shouldn’t be any need to manipulate or insulate the hives to secure and/or boost warmth.

I am actually more curious about how large they were going in to “winter”. If they were packing a ten frame box in September/October, with your short and mild winter, I’d be looking for reasons as to why they shrunk down to only 2 frames that quickly.
Yeah, Spring comes early around here. A surprise freeze is always a possibility, but warm weather is more the normal. My hesitation in putting them in a nuc now for the reasons you mention is the reason for this thread. Last year in February, my hives across the board were booming with brood.

I'm not the most meticulous notekeeper, so don't know exactly how strong they were a couple of months ago.
 

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I treated all hives with the blue paper towel saturated with OA, but have not done a mite count on the small-count hives.
OA on a shop towel can be very unreliable, if using this method it should definately be followed with a mite count.

Also, I have been using (on and off) OA mixed with Glycerin on cardboard strips for several years. It does cause dwindling in some of the hives, which I think may be due to OA getting into some of the brood food. This is not an issue using OA as a vapor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
OA on a shop towel can be very unreliable, if using this method it should definately be followed with a mite count.

Also, I have been using (on and off) OA mixed with Glycerin on cardboard strips for several years. It does cause dwindling in some of the hives, which I think may be due to OA getting into some of the brood food. This is not an issue using OA as a vapor.
I'll have to look into OA methods again. Randy Oliver's Scientific Beekeeping website is what I've been using as a guide.
 

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Swedish sponges are now favored over shop towels and contact is necessary,not necessarily chewing.
Randy Oliver and Dr. Scott McArt ( Cornell) will be discussing extended oxalic acid treatment at the VBA annual meeting on February 11th. Free to members/ $15 for nons. J
 

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OAV is a pretty effective method and doesn't cause numbers to drop. It's just more labor intensive.

Either way, I hope your bees make it.
 

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Along the gulf coast you do not need an R10 lid.
This is worth arguing.

Test it yourself this season, take a couple hives and put a nice insulated lid on them and see what happens.
The insulation helps both ways for heat or cold.
The biggest thing is the insulated lid prevents the condensation that drips on the cluster.
 

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Did you ever determine why their numbers had shrunk so much? Sounds like it was several hives this happened to.
 

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Did you ever determine why their numbers had shrunk so much? Sounds like it was several hives this happened to.
That's a big point. #1 is saving the currently living colony, but #2 is figuring out what happened. Mites? Poor forage (but he says they have stores)? Some other ill, like EFB? Especially since it isn't just one straggler hive, but several.

Might be a good time to put OA on them.
 
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