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Author Topic: Overwintering NUCS in the north  (Read 7365 times)
Humanbeeing
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« on: February 22, 2011, 06:55:22 PM »

http://www.frenchbeefarm.com/splitting_method.html

I have been thinking about the above system of overwintering nucs in the north. It seems that you can put a double nuc together, and in late fall, throw a queen excluder on top, then a telescoping lid, and the bees will not start a ruckuss. As they overwinter, they share the warmth, and if one queen dies, the queenless bees will take up with the queenrite side. If one side runs low on stores, they, the weak side, will liberate food from the strong side.
My question:
Has anyone here tried this method?

Then there is this fellow up in Manatoba, whom may well be a member here, that uses this:

http://www.mbbeekeeping.com/wintering-singles

I am looking at the possibilities of incorporating both, as an experiment next winter. I want to stop buying bees from the south and have a lot of nucs come spring.

Any input?
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Countryboy
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« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2011, 09:15:28 PM »

If one side runs low on stores, they, the weak side, will liberate food from the strong side.

That is highly doubtful.  If it was warm enough, they 'might' try to move to the other side by going through the excluder and over the barrier, but they would likely be moving 'to' the honey, rather than getting honey and bringing it back.

It appears to be a lot of unnecessary hassle, but it may work in Canada due to the cost and difficulty of obtaining packages there.

Michael Palmer has some good info on wintering nucs, but in my opinion, he tries to see what the bare minimum necessary for overwintering nucs is.  I prefer to try to give my bees a little more than they actually need.  For example, I'll allow a midsummer nuc to grow into a single deep with a feeder, and overwinter that way.  (Or give a 5 frame nuc a nuc super of feed on top of it.)  I think it is a lot less management hassle to just overwinter nucs as singles.

Latshaw http://www.latshawapiaries.com/wintering_nucs.htm seems to be having success overwintering bees in styrofoam nucs, but they are about $40 each.  I also saw a webpage a while back of someone using a $20 WalMart cooler like a 7 frame nuc.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2011, 09:31:01 PM »

I tried wrapping them all and the condensation was an issue.  I started grouping them and just insulating the top and bottom and ends.

http://bushfarms.com/beesnucs.htm#overwinternucs
http://bushfarms.com/images/Winteringnucs1-2007.jpg
http://bushfarms.com/images/WinteringNucs2-2007.jpg

That way they can breath better.  Some of these are one eight frame box and some are two.  Dry sugar keeps them from having moisture problems while insuring they don't starve.  I'm pretty sure if you have two queens and free access  between the two sides the bees will choose one queen and move there leaving the other behind.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2011, 09:36:47 PM »

I have my doubts about the queen excluder method as well.

I use the styro 5-frame nuc boxes, and they work well.



In fact, up until last this week,  they have been buried in the snow.

Michael Palmer only uses 4 frame double wooden nucs and is quite successful with it.

I have tried the $20 Igloo coolers from Walmart.   The issue with them is the lid has no insulation, only an air space.  I tried drilling some fill holes and pumping it full of the expandable foam.  But by the time you do that,  the $25 poly nucs turn out to be cheaper.  And they work better.
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Countryboy
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« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2011, 10:17:50 PM »

I didn't know the coolers didn't have lid insulation.  Cutting a sheet of blueboard (or green or whatever color Lowe's has on sale) to fit the lid might be a cheaper way of insulating the lid.  Mike Palmer uses the 2 inch insulation for hive tops too.
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« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2011, 07:09:01 AM »

I didn't know the coolers didn't have lid insulation. 

Ya, me either until I bought one to make a nuc out of.  If you think about it, it does make sense though.  A cooler is to keep things cool,  cool air sinks and heat rises.  Think about the freezers in the supermarket that have no top at all.

Quote
Cutting a sheet of blueboard (or green or whatever color Lowe's has on sale) to fit the lid might be a cheaper way of insulating the lid.  Mike Palmer uses the 2 inch insulation for hive tops too.

Yup,  I use 2" insulation on the top of my full size hives as well.  That stuff is not cheap either though.   I'm sure you could make the cooler cheaper,  but personally,  I find it too big for what I'm trying to do.  Five frames seems about right for me,  so I find the polystyrene nucs my best fit.
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T Beek
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« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2011, 07:18:13 AM »

Wintering NUCs is my goal.  Thanks for posting this thread.

thomas
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« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2011, 08:15:54 AM »

Betterbee has the nucs that Latshaw uses for $19.95 for 5 or more.

http://www.betterbee.com/s.nl/it.A/id.1107/.f
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« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2011, 08:50:25 AM »

Betterbee has the nucs that Latshaw uses for $19.95 for 5 or more.

http://www.betterbee.com/s.nl/it.A/id.1107/.f



They are the ones I use as well (pictured above).  Save the $6 and drill your own entrances/vents.  For the $20 price,  it doesn't pay to mess with the igloo coolers.
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Finski
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« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2011, 08:56:57 AM »

.
You may split a normal poly box in two pieces and you get 5 and 4 frame nucs.
Leave 10 mm gap on either side between frame and wall.

Then you add a missing wall. Make a missing wall from insulating foam plastic board and cover the inner side with thin material what bees cannot chew.
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tonyp
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« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2011, 05:31:57 PM »

Robo, if you don't mind me asking how many of your nucs successfully overwinter percentage wise. Also how many years of service do you think you can get out of the poly nucs.
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« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2011, 05:58:04 PM »

Thought about ordering some of those nucs until I saw the cost of shipping. $63 for 5 nucs!
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« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2011, 08:46:00 PM »

Robo, if you don't mind me asking how many of your nucs successfully overwinter percentage wise. Also how many years of service do you think you can get out of the poly nucs.

That's a hard one to answer with actual numbers.  Conservatively speaking, I would say 75-80% over the long run.   Inevitably I always end up taking some weak ones into winter, that I shouldn't,  just for the chance they will make it.

With proper painting to protect from UV,  they should easily last 10 or more years.
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« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2011, 08:47:22 PM »

Thought about ordering some of those nucs until I saw the cost of shipping. $63 for 5 nucs!

Ya, they are a "take a road trip" item.  Very light, but bulky.
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« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2011, 08:58:14 PM »

Yup,  I use 2" insulation on the top of my full size hives as well.  That stuff is not cheap either though.

I use the 1 inch insulation, and put it inside 18X24 ziplock bags to keep the bees from chewing it.  IIRC, the 2 inch was twice the price of the 1 inch. I think the 1 inch was $15 a sheet at Lowe's, and I can get 14 pieces out of a 4X8 foot sheet.  That's roughly a buck apiece - the 2 inch would be $2 each.

My neighbor tried some of the 5 frame styrofoam nucs this year.  Before he bought them, I thought he told me they were going to be about $40 a box...but if they improve survival, they will pay for themselves pretty quick.  I think he got 8 or 10 of them, and all still alive so far. He really likes them because it is so easy to feed them - just pour the syrup in.
I just checked the price at the local bee supply place...$31 with holes, and $25 without.  I may have to try some this next year.
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« Reply #15 on: February 26, 2011, 12:49:15 AM »

Robo

I've got a free source of styrofoam 3 inch thick containers that will easily fit 6 deep frames.  I've never overwintered a nuc before but thinking about doing a couple this fall.  How would you set up the nuc box?  What diameter and location would you make the entrance hole? Do you make a way to feed them? What holes would you make for ventilation at the top or drainage at the bottom.  I could easily move them inside my small workshop during the sub-zero spells.     
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Finski
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« Reply #16 on: March 01, 2011, 04:19:40 AM »

.
http://web.mac.com/klmalone/Alaska_Honey_Bee/Alaska_Honey_Bee.html

Alaska bee knowledge
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MTWIBadger
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« Reply #17 on: March 01, 2011, 11:36:23 AM »

Finski,

Thanks for the link which answers a lot of my questions.
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Robo
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« Reply #18 on: March 01, 2011, 11:59:12 AM »

Robo

I've got a free source of styrofoam 3 inch thick containers that will easily fit 6 deep frames.  I've never overwintered a nuc before but thinking about doing a couple this fall.  How would you set up the nuc box?  What diameter and location would you make the entrance hole? Do you make a way to feed them? What holes would you make for ventilation at the top or drainage at the bottom.  I could easily move them inside my small workshop during the sub-zero spells.     

For some reason this topic fell of my radar and I missed your questions.

My nucs are set up with a 7/8" lower entrance and a 7/8" screened vent on each end.   I use 7/8" because wine corks plug them off nicely.   With this set up,  robbing is greatly reduced as robbers are drawn towards the screened vents which the scent permeates from, while the bees of the nuc know to use the lower entrance.  I know some folks feed syrup through an upper entrance and into the bottom of the nuc,  but I don't.   I believe in heat retention and close off the 2 vents for wintering.  I have tried feeding via a sugar frame with mixed results.  The sugar frame is put to one side as to not break the combs into two groups.   Depending upon which way the bees migrate, they may or may not get to the sugar.   I have had far better success with allowing them stores in comb.  So if they don't have 4 frames of capped honey,  I will feed them syrup starting in September to get them up to 4 frames before October.  I do not feed syrup after October 1st.   I also have a 1/4" weep hole in the bottom front corners and tilt the nucs forward.   Any condensation on the walls runs down and out.

Strong nucs do extremely well in this set up.   Moving a weak or failing hive into a nuc in the fall doesn't fair as well.   They perhaps stand a better chance,  but it is still crap shoot.

As far as moving them inside, I think you are better off not disturbing them.   Most of mine stay buried in the snow with just the front exposed.   A good strong nuc with four frames of honey can ride through the coldest weather without issue.  In fact,  it is not uncommon for my nucs to come out stronger in the spring than full sized hives.
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MTWIBadger
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« Reply #19 on: March 01, 2011, 10:31:31 PM »

Robo,

Thanks for answering ALL of my questions.  I have a plan now that I know will work. I appreciate you taking the time to spell it all out for me.

Luke
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