The weather is finally consistently below 50, and the bees have not flown in more than a week, so I decided the time was right to move my nucs inside.
I've hit a small snag in my plan, but I'm hoping to work it out and still get the nucs into the basement and hooked up to the box with exit tubes. My skills as a handyman/carpenter are weak at best. My box to attach to the front of the nucs was pretty close, but there were a few gaps were the bees could escape into the basement, so I had to move the nucs back outside while I problem-solve. I have constructed inner covers similar to the Honey Run Apiaries one, into which I had planned to put fondant and pollen patties. These fit perfectly (I did one thing right, anyway!). I did not add ventilation holes to the walls of the cover, since the nucs have 3 holes in them already for ventilation...the entrance, and one hole near the top at the front and back, both screened (these are Betterbee nucs, so they don't have a full width entrance...just a hole near the bottom in the front).
The worst case scenario, in which I can't get my nucs into the basement at all, means that I need to keep them outside. At the moment, I have the rear ventilation hole stopped up, so the entrance and the hole above it near the top are the only ones open; I thought that holes in the front and back would allow wind to pass straight through the hive, making it tough for the bees to keep warm. The holes as is should create a chimney effect, bringing cold air in the bottom and allowing the heat out the top without allowing a wind tunnel to form. I have 1.5" of styrofoam sitting on top of the outer covers (weighted down), and 1" underneath the bottom of the nucs (which I'm thinking may trap moisture between the bottom board and the styrofoam...bad idea to have this here?). I have the nucs placed as close to each other as possible along the long sides, but they don't quite meet flush along the whole side. I could run some duct tape down the outside of the gap to trap some air in the space, if that would help. I'd estimate the gap is at most 1/4".
If I need to keep the nucs outside, I plan to ensure that they have fondant all winter long in the inner cover; I have it placed right over the holes I made, so they can cluster right below it and feed. Do you think they have a shot, if I need to go this route? Is there something I could do to improve their chances? They're placed on my deck such that they get sun for as long as possible each day.