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Author Topic: Wintering a nuc ?  (Read 817 times)
twintrades
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« on: July 15, 2011, 12:17:55 AM »

Is there a safe way to winter a five frame nuc ?? I dont have a hive to winter overtop of so thats outa the question. Im just wondering if there in a shed by themselfs would they do better ? It wouldent be heated, just deffenetly outa the wind. And might help with thoses nights that drop down into the -30 degs.

Anyone have any luck doing that ?? THis is all depending if they could fill out 5 more frames by then. That way i would have 1 deep to winter over and that would work better.

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BlueBee
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« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2011, 01:16:24 AM »

There are lots of different ways people have overwintered nucs in the cold north.  Basements, garages, wrapped in packs with other hives, between mounds of straw, in wood hives, in foam hives, using candy boards, etc.  You name it and it’s probably been tried. 

If you’re a nuc veteran with many years of trial and error, like the guys in Vermont, it sounds like it can probably be done reliably IF you have all their knowledge and experience in your noggin.  Most of us don’t have that much experience and hence without cheating a bit, I think our odds of success are not very good. 

Hence my recommendation is to cheat.  I would recommend providing a nuc with some form of artificial heat.  A basement, a garage, a shed that does dip below freezing, or other heat source.  The artificial heat is kind of like adding 3 lbs of bees to your nuc; it gives the hive the heat of 3lbs of bees when you just don’t have an extra 3 lbs come winter.
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2011, 04:24:08 PM »

Is there a safe way to winter a five frame nuc ?? I dont have a hive to winter overtop of so thats outa the question. Im just wondering if there in a shed by themselfs would they do better ? It wouldent be heated, just deffenetly outa the wind. And might help with thoses nights that drop down into the -30 degs.

Anyone have any luck doing that ?? THis is all depending if they could fill out 5 more frames by then. That way i would have 1 deep to winter over and that would work better.

Hit me with all your info.

I've successfully overwintered double stacked nucs (2 high) several times over the years and will be doing so this year with 2 recent splits.  I use medium framed nucs so if you're using deep framed nucs you'll probably be in better shape stores wise.
In Wisconson you can wrap if you insist but usually all that is necessary is a wind break to re-direct the worst winds of winter.
Overwintering in a nuc isn't any different than with a full sized hive, the difference is the amount of stores available but the size of the cluster will also be smaller so the ratio of bees to stores would be about equal.
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BjornBee
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« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2011, 05:34:20 PM »

First....lets address the "guys from Vermont". The guys I know, will privately tell you that anything over 50% in nuc overwintering rates, is considered a good year when factoring all the good and bad years. And all the "guys in Vermont" have been killed in the past few years with massive losses in one year or another. Of course, I don't see them hanging out telling you that on forums.

Personally, in a mild year, I can get through 80% of my nucs. In a harsh long winter, I may lose 80%. And I'm not afraid to state that when it happens.

I will pass this along....I have found out that the winter success rate greatly improves if you take the 5 over 5 nuc arrangement, and place the 10 frames in a 10 frame box. I think in harsh winters, the narrow walls of the nucs, and the cold being too much on the outside walls of the nuc, it really compresses the cluster to just a few frames.

If I take the 5 over 5, place them in a 10 frame box, slap enough fondant on top that they will not starve, I can get through a very good number with no problems.

Overwintering nucs is not an easy task in the true northern climate. I don't care what your knowledge, experience or technique may be. All serious nuc producers that overwinter large numbers of nucs have good years and bad. Even when they do the same things every year. And anyone stating otherwise probably is not telling you the truth.  Wink
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2011, 12:56:56 AM »

It's a valuable experiment to overwinter nucs.  Many of the things that seem intuitive are not.  Things like providing heat, having them over a strong colony or feeding all winter don't always work out the way you imagine.  Experiment on a small scale and see how it works out.  Just because something works well one winter does not necessarily mean it will work the next.  Some winters in SE Nebraska we get a couple of weeks of -27 F.  This usually does a lot of nucs in.  As far as success rates, I agree with Bjorn.  If you get about those rates you're probably doing it right.  If you get less you're probably doing something wrong.  Look for causes of losses like starvation (no food or no access to food) or Varroa (lots of dead Varroa on the bottom boards and Varroa feces (white specs) in the brood combs.  Peek in now and then during the winter to get a feel for how they are doing when and you'll get a better idea of what time of year and what conditions seem to do them in.  Moisture is a big issue if you put them over a strong hive and allow any of the air from the strong hive into the nuc.
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joebrown
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« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2011, 02:05:21 AM »

I am going to try to overwinter some nucs this year. However, I am not nearly as North as you all. Where I am from we get a few weeks with some single digit days, but mostly teens and 20's are the coldest it will get. I think starvation will be my primary obstacle. Anyone overwinter Nucs in NC or like states? What are you suggestions and success rates!?!
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