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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
For many years now, I've been raising a few queens and nucs, each spring.

I've even been able to produce a few nucs on Top Bars for those who like to use Top Bar hives.

They're usually very easy to produce, by simply dropping the top bars between brood combs in strong hives, overnight. The next morning they usually have nicely started combs, filled with eggs by the resident queen. I then place those Top Bars with combs into their own box, position them in the location of an already established nuc, then move the queen and most of that nucs bees into the newly assembled Top Bar nuc, where they soon establish and complete the combs and fill their nuc box (side to side and top to bottom).

However, this season, for unknown reasons, some have done this, as expected, but many have under-performed, creating abbreviated nests, with combs only reaching halfway to the bottom of their boxes and as much as four inches short on each side, so they only have small, seven or eight inch wide combs, four inches deep. They then widen the outermost combs until they nearly touch the nucs sidewalls, but they stop expanding their combs in a vertical plane. This is much more than annoying.

So far, I can only attribute this to how the weather has been atypical. Though, by now, we usually see very hot daytime high temperatures. This year, those temperatures were much higher, even earlier than usual, and they just keep getting worse. Our last measurable precipitation was last November - and this is not typical, either.

Has anyone else seen issues like these?
 

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I don't know what is causing your problems, but that is an ingenious way to start top bar nucs. I've done a similar thing in the past, but left them for several days - and always have to trim comb. But as long as the comb contains eggs that is all you need to anchor the colony to the box. I wish I had thought of it.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Not yet, though this seasons even lower than usual relative humidity may certainly be a factor. I think that what you are saying is that under-performing colonies may be those that aren't as efficient at foraging for water, which could be true.
 

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That's what I have experienced in the past. I've ran bees in Alabama during several droughts and ran into a similar problem. I put more water out for them it helped a little. My grandson suggested putting a dish of water with a sponge as we do with starter colonies and I was amazed with the results, they picked back up with the comb building. I'm referring to foundationless nucs that were doing as you described. I can't remember the numbers off hand put he checked the humidity in all the nucs, the humidity was lower in the ones that weren't building versus the ones that were having no issues. We had over a hundred nucs and I felt it was a fair test for my grandson's idea.
 

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That's what I have experienced in the past. I've ran bees in Alabama during several droughts and ran into a similar problem. I put more water out for them it helped a little. My grandson suggested putting a dish of water with a sponge as we do with starter colonies and I was amazed with the results, they picked back up with the comb building. I'm referring to foundationless nucs that were doing as you described. I can't remember the numbers off hand put he checked the humidity in all the nucs, the humidity was lower in the ones that weren't building versus the ones that were having no issues. We had over a hundred nucs and I felt it was a fair test for my grandson's idea.
Well now! Ain't that food for thought?
I've never really had this issue but will keep this in mind. Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Slow Drone,
I'm going to assume that may be the issue. I keep these nucs on a bottom board of thick foamboard with a hole cut into it, (about 4" wide x 6" long), then cover the whole surface that's exposed to the inside of the hive with #8 hardware cloth. The entrances are above, and one one end.

I think I'll place a terry cloth washrag over these bottom vent openings, between the foamboard and hardware cloth, then dampen it, several times per day, and observe what happens.
 

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Water is the source of life. If you look at the animal kingdom the strong will survive and the weak will perish. In the case of water a beekeeper has the ability to provide water to a weaker hive. What I am wondering is if the beekeeper provides is he/she carrying on genes of a weaker bee? I don't know the answer.
 
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