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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As we plan ahead, I don't think this is too soon to ask this question.

On the "My Two Weeks with Michael Palmer" Michael mentions that he overwinters nucs for queens the next year. Michael, and others who overwinter nucs, can you please describe the makeup of the nucs you overwinter?

For example, 4 frame or 5 frame? One story or two? Feeder (top? inside?) on all the time? Any guidance for successful overwintering would be appreciated for those of us who might want to try it this year.
Steven
 

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Michael, and others who overwinter nucs, can you please describe the makeup of the nucs you overwinter?

For example, 4 frame or 5 frame? One story or two? Feeder (top? inside?) on all the time? Any guidance for successful overwintering would be appreciated for those of us who might want to try it this year.
Steven
Really, all of the above. It's not about what type of box, feeder, or configuration you use. It's what's inside the box that counts.

I start my nucs between the last week of June and the first week of August. Approx. 1.5 frames of brood, a frame of honey and an empty comb, and bees to cover the honey and brood. No more bees than that, or they will be too crowded. Give caged queen or ripe cell the following day.

My nuc boxes are doubles with a movable feeder, or a solid divider. Feeder allows a strong nuc made early to expand onto 8 combs by moving the feeder to the sidewall and adding 4 combs. Last summer I tried something different. I added 4 frame supers above each double nuc with a solid divider...at least to to nucs made before the middle of July. Those after were made in the nuc boxes with feeders and kept in single story.

Whichever setup you use, the nucs have to be managed to prevent swarming. In single story nucs that are strong enough, 4 frame supers are added above. Bees move up well, build well into supers, and will draw out 4 frames of foundation for you. I like this method better than expanding horizontally in 1 box with feeder. Bees move up more readily than sideways. Also, with 2 strong nucs, expanding sideways means twice as many nuc box setups...rather than two little 4 frame supers. In the spring, these nucs with supers above will explode into the supers, creating many nucs with 5-7 combs of brood by Dandelion.

In single story nucs, brood removal is a good way to stop swarming. Replace with foundation for beautiful worker comb. One note: Nucs will swarm out of nuc boxes in a big hurry if they get crowded and hot. I've seen them take off, and not even cluster on a branch. Directly out of the hive, and gone over the trees like a cartoon arrow...with only a queen cup with egg or day old larva. When have you seen a production colony do that?

When I make up my nucs, I use non-productive colonies. I sacrifice the bees and brood to the project, and allow strong productive colonies alone, to make a crop. That way, I'm making the best use of the brood/bee resources that I have in my apiary. You could remove 1.5 frames of brood and a frame of honey from about any colony without weakening the colony much. I just don't want to lift off the honey crop, remove required combs, and lift the crop back on the hive.

This is the way to have good tested queens early, and a way to approach sustainability in your apiary. Who says you can't have early queens in the north. Bolderdash and poppoycock fostered over the decades by the southern breeders. Want to make beekeeping fun again? Raise your own bees and queens, and winter them as nucs. If you can't raise queens yet, find someone local who can or start a queen rearing project with your association.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks Michael Palmer.
And thanks Michael Bush, will do that!
Regards,
Steven
 
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