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Author Topic: Thoughts on wintering nucs  (Read 1296 times)
Bush_84
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« on: January 22, 2014, 03:29:08 PM »

So I made a few nucs last fall and fed them until cold temps came.  I put a heat tape heater under them.  So far I have had three full sized hives die this winter, but I can still hear buzzing in the nucs.  They are in a single 5 frame nuc with 10 lbs of dry sugar overhead.  They both still have dry sugar as of two weeks ago while my full sized hives burned through two 8 frame deeps of honey plus 10 lbs of dry sugar.  So my question is what the deuce gives?  Why are my full sized hives having a difficult time while my nucs are plugging away?  Maybe this should be a long term strategy for me.  I combined a few hives last fall.  Maybe I should have broke them down into nucs and attempted to winter the nucs.  I know other "famous" beekeeper a have been successful at wintering nucs such as Mr. Bush and Mr. Palmer and they are in some cold climates.  I'm just looking to see if anybody else has any insight or related experience with this.

FYI-this spring I am going to make up poly nucs and plan on using these to winter my nucs.
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T Beek
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« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2014, 04:53:17 PM »

The more I read and hear of NUC success in northern climates the more convinced I become of their usefulness for northern Beeks.   It seems it may be the best way to keep bees alive over our winters.  I recommend the teachings of Michael Palmer.   His videos are all over the internet.

I have 3 NUCs in a single rectangle box (my old Long Hive converted into three sections).  Unfortunately, I have no way of checking on them, which entails removing the cover unless we get some warmer days (bad initial design)……….and that doesn't look very promising for the next week or more….. Undecided
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« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2014, 05:25:27 PM »

A nuc will definitely help with keeping the cluster consolidated. I think they are stacking nucs on top of each other to consolidate the heat from each other.
One of the members of our bee club has been putting his colonies inside a enclosed building keeping the temps in low forties and total darkness. His overwintering did well last year, we'll have to wait until spring to see how he did this year.
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Robo
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« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2014, 06:48:12 PM »

I overwinter nucs here in NY in polystyrene.

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« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2014, 06:53:28 PM »

Home made poly nuc box Rob?
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« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2014, 06:55:36 PM »

Home made poly nuc box Rob?


No, they are from Betterbee.   I have made some homemade ones,  but find the effort, cost, and durability makes the Betterbee ones a better deal.

I'll be heading up this spring to get 20 more.
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« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2014, 07:03:42 PM »

That's the beemax nuc?  And what is the entrance configuration? I see they say you can feed a litre of syrup right through the entrance hole and it goes to the bottom. And then bees store it away?
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« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2014, 07:14:18 PM »

That's the beemax nuc?  And what is the entrance configuration? I see they say you can feed a litre of syrup right through the entrance hole and it goes to the bottom. And then bees store it away?

Yes it is the beemax nucs.     I drill a hole to fit a piece of 1" PVC for an entrance (So they don't chew it).   I'm not a big fan of feeding syrup as it puts too much moisture in the hive.   I actually drill a drain hole in them.   I have had cases where there was 1" of water in the bottom come spring,  which is a nasty mess with dead bees.  It surely can't be health.    I build 1" insulation shims to go under the cover and feed dry if needed.
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Bush_84
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« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2014, 07:54:47 PM »

I love to hear all of these success stories.  At this point I am convinced that instead of combining I should be breaking them down into nucs and requeening with my own stock.  I just hope these nucs keep trucking through and come out in the spring strong as ever!
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derekm
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« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2014, 04:45:29 AM »

So I made a few nucs last fall and fed them until cold temps came.  I put a heat tape heater under them.  So far I have had three full sized hives die this winter, but I can still hear buzzing in the nucs.  They are in a single 5 frame nuc with 10 lbs of dry sugar overhead.  They both still have dry sugar as of two weeks ago while my full sized hives burned through two 8 frame deeps of honey plus 10 lbs of dry sugar.  So my question is what the deuce gives?  Why are my full sized hives having a difficult time while my nucs are plugging away?  Maybe this should be a long term strategy for me.  I combined a few hives last fall.  Maybe I should have broke them down into nucs and attempted to winter the nucs.  I know other "famous" beekeeper a have been successful at wintering nucs such as Mr. Bush and Mr. Palmer and they are in some cold climates.  I'm just looking to see if anybody else has any insight or related experience with this.

FYI-this spring I am going to make up poly nucs and plan on using these to winter my nucs.
the advantage of nucs comes from the geometry, nucs have less surface area than a hive, a poorly insulated hive is limited in its heat producing capacity by the maximum size cluster it can support, this is  roughly limited by the height of the frames. This frame height limitation gives a surface area per bee advantage to nucs. that gives less heat loss per bee. its not much but some.
better still improve the insulation with a poly nuc.
   But if you have an open top vent you lose all the heat gains.
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« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2014, 10:16:27 AM »

the advantage of nucs comes from the geometry, nucs have less surface area than a hive, a poorly insulated hive is limited in its heat producing capacity by the maximum size cluster it can support, this is  roughly limited by the height of the frames. This frame height limitation gives a surface area per bee advantage to nucs. that gives less heat loss per bee. its not much but some.
better still improve the insulation with a poly nuc.
   But if you have an open top vent you lose all the heat gains.

I'm a firm believer in heat retention. No upper vents in my hive.   I also see better results overwintering my full size hives in one deep rather than 2 mainly because of what derek explains above.  In my climate one wood deep is not enough,  but one polystyrene deep is.
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sterling
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« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2014, 10:57:31 AM »

I overwinter nucs here in NY in polystyrene.




Would you tell us what time of year and how many frames of brood, food, ect. you make them up with? Also I know you raise your own queens. Do you put in queens or cells or what? Thanks in advance.
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GLOCK
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« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2014, 03:01:41 AM »

I run my nucs  5over 5 and 5+5+5 and all are doing well but then again so are my DBL.deeps and I have top ventilation on all hives.
I been having a great year have not lost any yet .
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gmcharlie
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« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2014, 01:37:49 PM »

How did you rig the heat tape??? 
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Bush_84
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« Reply #14 on: February 15, 2014, 11:30:38 PM »

Right now I have wood nucs but planning on running poly nucs after this winter.  I also don't have the entrances to just toss them on the floor.  So right now I made a special "sump" which is basically like a varroa tray.  So I slapped the heat tape in there and had the power cord sticking out of a small floor in the back.  Make sure the thermostat is inside.  Bee proof screen on the top of the box and hive body over the top of that.

My plan for next winter is to make poly nucs with a floor that you would consider standard for full size hives.  I would also need to put something down on the poly floor so the heat tape doesn't melt the floor.  Maybe just a small piece of that thin Luan stuff.  Then have the power cord coming out of the front. 
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gmcharlie
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« Reply #15 on: February 16, 2014, 10:04:44 AM »

so you have no control over the actual temp?? or do they have a thermostat of sorts???
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Bush_84
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« Reply #16 on: February 16, 2014, 07:11:48 PM »

I'd have to look at the specs but the thermostat goes in the hive and it only turns on during temps below somewhere in the 35-45 f range, which is exactly when I'd want them to turn on. 
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gmcharlie
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« Reply #17 on: February 16, 2014, 07:40:40 PM »

thanks..  I have pondered the "russian" heating pads you can get on ebay.  they are cheap,  but how to use them???  on a side wall?  on the bottom?  near the cluster?  and what temp do you set them??  Ideally we store bees at 40,  but the cluster likes 87......


I have been kicking it around for 2 winters.  nice to see you tried it....
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Bush_84
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« Reply #18 on: February 16, 2014, 10:05:55 PM »

Honestly in souther Illinois does it get cold enough to warrant supplemental heat?  I have a buddy in champaign and it doesn't sound like it gets very cold there. 

Most of the people heat using around 15 watts.  You don't want to use to much.  Also the temp cutoff where the heat tape kicks in is right where you want it.  I looked it up and the one that I bought linked below turns on at temps lower than 38 which is most of our winter.

http://www.menards.com/main/plumbing/rough-plumbing/pipe-tubing-fittings/pipe-insulation-heat-cables/heat-cables/9-pipe-heating-cable-for-metal-or-rigid-plastic-pipe/p-192096-c-8588.htm
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gmcharlie
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« Reply #19 on: February 17, 2014, 09:38:34 AM »

well  to a bee its cold.....  Your buddy is deceiving you a bit.  Hes an hour north of me.  Normally we have a huge issue because we are at the "freeze line"  which means its wet damp cold...  frankly its worse than when I lived in norther IA...  this year has been a cold nasty one here also....  better for bees though because it is frozen tight,  and dry.
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