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Author Topic: Nuc question  (Read 601 times)
dave1958
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« on: January 16, 2013, 11:48:54 PM »

I am a first year beekeeper with one hive. I started with a nuc in June(5 frame). I see people talking about overwintering nucs in one thread, and how many of their hive are starving in another. I have my bees in 2 deeps, with a mostly full super of honey. While it has rained so much that I cant get to my hive I am comfortable that my bees have adequate stores. But I dont understand how a nuc can over winter in mid US with enough stores, yet people are talking about rapidly expanding their colony numbers from these "overwintered nucs". My questions are is there a critical mass of bees in relation to stores that it takes to survive winter? Are these overwintered nucs I see discussed different from the nuc I started with in June? In a slightly different mode, do you try to get the bees to fill up the brood space with honey as the season wears down? If not how much empty comb do you want to see? Last, when will the queen start laying again in the spring, is when I see pollen coming in? is there a temperature (minimum) that I can open the hive and safely inspect without chilling the brood?

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BlueBee
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« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2013, 01:58:23 AM »

My questions are is there a critical mass of bees in relation to stores that it takes to survive winter?

I think you need at least 500 bees to survive winter and insulation if youíre going that small.  Colonies that small arenít going to rapidly expand your colony numbers in the spring though.  They might be useful for getting an early start in queen rearing though.

I donít see many nuc dead outs due to a lack of stores.  When I have deadouts itís usually because they froze.  They usually freeze because the volume of bees have gotten too small relative to the volume of the box IMO or they've fallen below that 500 number.  I have nucs with only 4 medium frames right now that are going strong.  There isnít a lot of stores in on 4 medium frames.  Then again there isnít a ton of bees in a 4 frame medium box either.  Itís a proportional thing.  The other problem with ďstoresĒ is they are completely worthless if it is too cold in the box for the bees to move around.  Hence I am an advocate of well insulated nucs.

 
Are these overwintered nucs I see discussed different from the nuc I started with in June?

No, these are just nucs that we start in July and August from 2 or 3 frames of bees.  They havenít had time to grow to full sized colonies so we just winter them in their smaller size.


In a slightly different mode, do you try to get the bees to fill up the brood space with honey as the season wears down? If not how much empty comb do you want to see?


Yes, it is desirable to get the bees to fill up a lot of the empty space with stores in the October time frame. 


Last, when will the queen start laying again in the spring, is when I see pollen coming in?

Depends upon rather or not the hive has significant pollen stores.  If no, then yes the queen will hold off of laying a significant amount of brood until the pollen starts coming in.

is there a temperature (minimum) that I can open the hive and safely inspect without chilling the brood?

I donít know for sure, but I donít like to pull frames until it is above 60F and ideally sunny. 
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Joel
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« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2013, 04:26:26 PM »

We have successfully wintered 5 frame nucs in Cardboard MDA's, standard wooden nucs and now use styrafoam successfully.  We usually so this with splits made in late July or the 1st week of August before our main summer/early fall flow here in the Finger Lakes Regions of Upstate New York.  I'll put a hive with a small population (one that swarmed late) in a nuc and winter as well.  The key is to allow enough brood cycles for a hive to gain population and forage nectar during a flow but not have a hive build up a huge population.  A fresh queen helps and let them use the flow to pack out the 5 frames.  We thought we'd have issues with condensation in the styrafoam nucs but they worked exceptionally well and due to the insulating value they are going full guns early in the season.  We can feed by simply pouring sugar water into the bottom and they are light and easy to move.  We have wintered nucs inside as well but what a hassle!  We have the best results with NWC's as they are very efficient and run small clusters anyway.

Queens in our area - the frigid finger lakes, start laying the last week of Janaury as a rule.
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Finski
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« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2013, 04:35:31 PM »

do you try to get the bees to fill up the brood space with honey as the season wears down?


No. We take honey off and arrange to the hive space to make as much as possible brood for winter.
When it is time, we feed hives full of sugar syrup.

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Finski
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« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2013, 04:41:13 PM »


I think you need at least 500 bees to survive winter and insulation.  


20 000 bees occupy a langstroth box. When it makes a winter cluster, it has bees only in 4-5 frames. That is a minimum wintering hive.

500 bees is nothing.

But no one count hive size as number of bees. They are counted as frames.

5-frame nuc is practical size of wintering nucs, because hive should have enough bees to start spring build up.

Before spring the hive looses lots of bees and no one can say what they have in spring and how it starts build up.

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The winter cluster will be same size as brood area in late summer before winter beeding.

If you have 5 frames brood, you should not use the whole box for wintering. You need a dummy board.

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