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Author Topic: Wintering Mating Nucs  (Read 9167 times)

Offline BlueBee

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Wintering Mating Nucs
« on: November 24, 2012, 03:48:32 PM »
OK folks, I’ve got my lab coat on, the Van De Graaf generator fired up, and honey balls in hand.  I’m ready to experiment with the bees again this winter. :)  So this winter I’m experimenting to see rather or not I can overwinter small mating nucs in well insulated foam boxes.  The mating nucs hold 4 half size medium frames with a total comb area = 1.6 medium frames.  I have counted between 604 and 1013 bees in these mating boxes.  So the experiment boils down to this: can you over winter a cup full of bees in a foam box in Michigan?

I’ve got 4 mating nucs left that are going into this experiment.  Here’s a photo of them as of today.  It was 32F/0C when I took these photos.






What are the odds any of these survive the winter?

Offline RHBee

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Re: Wintering Mating Nucs
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2012, 04:31:46 PM »
With the amount of experience I have I have to say. I don't have any idea but, I'm looking forward to finding out. Pushing them to extremes aren't you?
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Offline Finski

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Re: Wintering Mating Nucs
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2012, 05:43:34 PM »
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I have done this several times and it suceeds,  but it is a nuisance.

After winter the nuc is not able to start brooding. It must have 2 frames of bees from big hive and it is much. Practically you must make a nuc from nothing.

However it reveals out, what means heat and cold in wintering.

"Cold does not kill hives" = rubbish! It surely kills.

It kills at least small colonies. Heating reveals that small  colonies go over winter with heating.

Big hives may become small when nosema or varroa kill most of bees from cluster.

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Offline Jim 134

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Re: Wintering Mating Nucs
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2012, 11:37:56 PM »
I do know wet bees and cold will kill BEES.



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Online tefer2

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Re: Wintering Mating Nucs
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2012, 11:56:12 PM »
I've thought about this before, my guess is 0% of survival. Not enough bees to keep a small cluster alive when it's winter. I would give you a 50% chance if you combine all four. Good luck.

Offline BlueBee

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Re: Wintering Mating Nucs
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2012, 12:02:56 AM »
Heating reveals that small  colonies go over winter with heating.

I'm not using electric heat to heat these mating nucs.  It's only about 800 bees plus about 50mm worth of foam insulation. 

So far, the bees are making descent heat since they were not in cluster today and it is was 32F/0C all day long.

I'll tell you one thing, they sure don't like it when I peel back the plastic foil to throw in some more honey balls!  The come rushing to the break in their home's seal real fast.

Tefer….. you may be right!  We’ll have to watch and see.

Online tefer2

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Re: Wintering Mating Nucs
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2012, 12:22:55 AM »
It is a shock when they come blasting out of there for your face. You would think that the cold would slow them down some. I learned to wear my veil now.

Offline Finski

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Re: Wintering Mating Nucs
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2012, 12:27:10 AM »
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Sad to say BlueBee but you have much to learn in bees wintering.


You should understand that winter is the most dangerous period to bees.
The best hives are those which show zero activity from Autumn to spring.

You are too earger to arrange activities to them when they should be very silently in their cluster.

Some hives are restless, they keep so high temperature that snow melts from roof.

Extra activity makes them ate gut full and they must come out to die.
In south they burn too early themselves and loose their longlivity.

Those honey balls as "extra food" make cluster restless.
They know that there is open honey in the hive and bees instinct say that they should clean the hive.

Then you have honey balls and condensation dew points over the balls. What hapens?

I wonder if any bees will stay alive from this toy. Bees are very sensitive to get nosema in these
circumstances.

You see condensation and you should make a tiny hole that it can go out.


Many guy in this forum is too wise to lean anything. Sorry to waste my time.
This discussion have not been pleasant with you about wintering.

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« Last Edit: November 25, 2012, 12:58:37 AM by Finski »
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Offline BlueBee

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Re: Wintering Mating Nucs
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2012, 12:46:38 AM »
It’s an experiment Finski, I’m open to suggestions, but there isn’t much I can do at this point.  I hear you about the cluster wanting to sleep.  I don’t believe the bees will sleep until the hive temperature gets cool (say 55F/13C).  50mm of polystyrene plus the bees are evidently keeping the hive above 13C at this point….It’s nothing I’m doing.  I’m not adding any electric heat, or any heat for that matter; it’s the bees.     

These little mating nucs already have a top entrance so poking a hole in the plastic really isn’t going to do much.  There’s no place above the top for the moisture to vent.  The top is the top.  As for the condensation, I think what is happening is cold air is getting blown into the entrance hole in Nuc #1 and causing the condensation.  My plan is to rotate that hive 90degrees to get it out of the wind.

The only reason I’m feeding the honey balls is because most of these mating nucs were VERY VERY light.  They had maybe two of three days worth of honey left in them when I saved them.  They had eaten all their honey trying to keep warm before I added all the insulation. 

Offline BMAC

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Re: Wintering Mating Nucs
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2012, 04:25:28 PM »
You have to let us know how your mating NUCs winter.  I am also wintering mating NUCs this winter but they will be in the south so they should be fine.  Weight is always an issue.  Mine where almost too heavy for 1 person to pick up so they should have enough stores till spring.
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Offline Finski

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Re: Wintering Mating Nucs
« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2012, 05:00:49 PM »


The only reason I’m feeding the honey balls is because most of these mating nucs were VERY VERY light.  They had maybe two of three days worth of honey left in them when I saved them.  They had eaten all their honey trying to keep warm before I added all the insulation. 


You may for example move nucs to the frames which are full and capped. Just shake them

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Offline BlueBee

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Re: Wintering Mating Nucs
« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2012, 06:08:30 PM »
Thanks Finski, that does sound like a good idea if we get some more good weather. 

I haven’t peeked in on them since the last post.   We’ve been right at 32F/0C the last few days.  It’s going to dip to 20F/-6C tonight.  I haven’t seen any bees at the entrances of the mating nucs today, they may be sleeping in cluster right now. 

Offline MTWIBadger

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Re: Wintering Mating Nucs
« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2012, 09:07:25 PM »
BlueBee
I like your willingness to try something new when you have nothing to lose.  It would be nice to insert enough capped honey/sugar frames to eliminate lack of food as a variable in your experiment.

I also use foam insulation on all of my hives and a low watt bulb for the smaller hives (only turned on in the single digits or lower range).  I've been thinking about keeping my single 8 frame insulated hive in
the garage for the winter since it will stay mainly in the 40s. I could plug up the entrance and bring it out on a warm day which won't happen until spring. 

Even if you have to add some frames of eggs/brood in the spring, you have a mated queen that normally would not be able to survive the winter.

Keep us updated!

Online tefer2

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Re: Wintering Mating Nucs
« Reply #13 on: November 26, 2012, 09:16:24 PM »
Bluebee, a few of my double deckers were light last fall after an inspection. I added full honey frames to fill them and thought that I was all set for winter. We had a few warm days and some of them got cleaned out by robbers. This year I waited until Thanksgiving to top them off. With the forecast this weekend to 60 degrees I'm already looking for my robber screens. You should be able to add some capped honey to them Sunday for sure.

Offline BlueBee

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Re: Wintering Mating Nucs
« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2012, 06:19:30 PM »
It’s not Christmas yet, but I figured my little mating nucs might like an early Christmas snack.  So I made them a batch of honey balls today.



I haven’t checked in on the mating nucs for a couple of weeks.  Here is what I found today.










Online tefer2

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Re: Wintering Mating Nucs
« Reply #15 on: December 12, 2012, 11:18:20 PM »
It's way to early to be seeing that for sure! :(

Offline Finski

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Re: Wintering Mating Nucs
« Reply #16 on: December 13, 2012, 05:33:43 AM »
It’s not Christmas yet, but I figured my little mating nucs might like an early Christmas snack.  So I made them a batch of honey balls today.

You really try to kill your nucs.
Bees must be in peace over winter. you cannot learn seemengly but I tell to other beeks.

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« Last Edit: December 13, 2012, 05:51:54 AM by Finski »
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Offline BjornBee

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Re: Wintering Mating Nucs
« Reply #17 on: December 13, 2012, 08:37:32 AM »
You really try to kill your nucs.
Bees must be in peace over winter. you cannot learn seemengly but I tell to other beeks.


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Offline Finski

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Re: Wintering Mating Nucs
« Reply #18 on: December 13, 2012, 10:05:18 AM »
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That feeding methods is used to wake up colony in spring that they start brooding. But it is December now.

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I do not even ask what is idea.  It is a  disaster, not even idea.

"big hives try to rob mating nucs"   - you should understand that you you self invite them to do that. Don't do that in winter, and not at all in summer.

"open feeding trials before permanent snowfalls"  -- somebody told you to do so....


When you give open honey to the hive, questions is not that "bees like it". No, they wonder what is wrong, because somebody has broken they honey stores. They are more upset than happy. What they  will do; they start to rearrange their stores so that food is in cells and not allaround corners.

What do you think that someone comes to you home and throws tomatoes, juice and bread onto walls?


A years ago I give to hives old capped honey frames for winter food. Frames seemed good, but it took one week that bees arranged the frames and calmed to cluster again. Bees cleaned broken cells, moved food and tried to recap food in low temperature.

« Last Edit: December 13, 2012, 10:23:56 AM by Finski »
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Offline S.Rummings

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Re: Wintering Mating Nucs
« Reply #19 on: December 13, 2012, 10:34:52 AM »
You really try to kill your nucs.
Bees must be in peace over winter. you cannot learn seemengly but I tell to other beeks.

I thought the whole point of this experiment was to learn. He apparently has bees that he is willing to sacrifice for this experiment so what is so bad about that? I took this thread as a report on that experiment, not a request for help.

When I start giving advice as an experienced beekeeper I would feel better giving advice based on my experience, rather than giving advice based on what Finski told me. There is nothing wrong with learning from others but I'll bet that isn't how you became the expert you now are. I would never criticize someone for trying a risky experiment in the goal of education if the risk of failure is understood and acceptable.

BlueBee has much to learn in wintering nucs.... Isn't that what he is doing now?
« Last Edit: December 13, 2012, 01:33:02 PM by S.Rummings »