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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Has anybody out there raised a colony using only 4 or 5 frame nucs through a season and overwinter? What are the pros, and cons?

Phil
 

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I have two apiaries of bees run all year in nuc boxes. Total number in these two is about 108. For winter they are 4 over 4 in double boxes. Before dandelion I'll add another 4 combs to each so they're 3 story double boxes. Then May 10 I'll start using them to fill frames of brood which I use to make cell builders, boost production colonies, and make my summer supply of nucs to winter. By mid-July they have been knocked all the way down to nuc size and they start the buildup process all over again, wintering as 4 over 4s.

Easy to work with, cheap to make, bees build up well in this configuration, and queen fills frames of brood fast.

Difficult to keep them all summer without intensive management, may abscond in extended hot weather. I suppose you could use nuc boxes as your standard production unit…is that what you meant?…but with a good queen and strong with bees, I imagine stacks of nuc boxes would get real high and tippy. You could probably use 3 story double nucs with an excluder under a good stack of supers and you might be successful. Might just mean lots of extra lifting.
 

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Phil, I've been wintering 5 over 5s for about 4 years now and it does work well, but as Michael said you have to watch them.
They can produce wonderful cut comb honey also. But I have to tip my hat to that double box setup, I'm switching about half of
mine that way because it uses less equipment, seems a little easier, and I feel its a warmer setup for winter.
 

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For those that aren't familiar with bee "jargon" what/how is a 4 over 4, or a 5 over 5 and then how does a double fit in? I am certain to most this is very clear but to me it is a foreign language:)
 

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Five over five = ten frames in two boxes. Doubles are two hives in one box w/ a division board.
I've thought about it especially going into winter for the dink hives, instead of combining, give the hive a chance to prove itself in the spring.
 

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Thanks. I have read of folks putting a double screen between a single deep with 2 nucs above. If one does that for over wintering how does one feed sugar bricks or the like to the lower hive? Do you use a rim with the screen above and then lift off the nucs every time you want to check the deeps stores?
If you treat with oxalic acid vapour when there is no brood do you treat from below the deep and hope it rises to the nucs?
 

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Five over five = ten frames in two boxes. Doubles are two hives in one box w/ a division board.
I've thought about it especially going into winter for the dink hives, instead of combining, give the hive a chance to prove itself in the spring.
Pictures PLEASE, I'm still confused:}
 

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These are 4 over 4 double nucs. Bottom box has divider with a 4 frame nuc on each side. Above each nuc is a 4 frame super. Bees are not in contact with each other.



These are 3 story double nucs after expanding in the spring….ready for harvesting brood.

 

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Why does one use a divided box below and separate nucs on top?
Why do you not use divided boxes above and below?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you CtyAcres and Michael Palmer for the response and pics. Michael, looking at the pics on your post #8, are the bottom boxes standard 10-frame boxes with a center partition?

Phil
 

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We do it here with five frame nucs as well. They winter with 5 over 5. We put a third box on right now. We split them all down with mated queens as soon as the third box is full. They build back up to two boxes for wintering or we sell them when they get really strong. Most years some of the hives will build back to third box which is split off or used to donate brood, honey and/or pollen elsewhere. Last year we had a spectacular goldenrod flow that caused us to have to run around and split off multiple boxes. It was one of those years you dream of but just don't seem to have enough queens late in the year.
 

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3 high was about all I ever wanted to go, even then it seemed like it could blow over easy. The main thing is, during a strong flow they'll fill a box in 2-3 days so it's constant work to add more space or keep them with enough space to prevent overcrowding.
 

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Yes, but also because if you take off a divided box to examine bottom box, the queens can cross under the divider…and they do!.
And you could get things turned around if you don't take care not to put the divided box back on correctly.
 
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