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Author Topic: Over wintering queens  (Read 3858 times)

Offline Ymbe

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Over wintering queens
« on: October 16, 2006, 07:06:42 PM »
I will be raising some queens next year and would like to keep some in hand for spring requeening - can they be over wintered successfully in poly mating nucs? I don't really want to have to deplete the stocks I have to create full nucs for this purpose if I don't have to.

Offline Michael Bush

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Over wintering queens
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2006, 07:23:19 AM »
I think it's worth a try to figure out how to winter nucs.  I've been trying for several winters now.  This will be my fourth.  I wish I could say I found the "secret".  I haven't.  But I keep working at it.  Condensation and extreme cold have been the problems.  It's those -10 F nights and the condensation that seem to do them in.  The first winter I put ten frame medium nucs over a double screened, notched inner cover with the notch as the entrance for the nuc on top and the double screen to let the heat in.  Unfortunately it also let the humidity in and many got enveloped in ice.  

The next winter I stacked up eight frame boxes two wide and five high and wrapped the whole thing in styrofoam.  They tended to die off from the bottom because of the extreme cold and the condensation was so bad many had puddles in the bottom.  Some 3/4" deep.

http://www.bushfarms.com/images/ApartmentNucsWintering.JPG
http://www.bushfarms.com/images/ApartmentNucsWrappedInFoam.jpg

Last winter I laid them out side by side in two rows with plywood and styrofoam over and under and a heater in there and jar feeders.  This seemed to work well, except we didn't HAVE any bitter cold nights and the feeders leaked and drowned some of the nucs.

http://www.bushfarms.com/images/OverwinteringNucs1.jpg
http://www.bushfarms.com/images/OverwinteringNucs2.jpg
http://www.bushfarms.com/images/OverwinteringNucs3.jpg

This winter I will do a similar setup but without the jar feeders.  I'm going to make some 1 by 2 shims and put a pollen patty with "Baker's" sugar on top for feeding instead.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnucs.htm
Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm en espanol: bushfarms.com/es_bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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Offline Brian D. Bray

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Over wintering queens
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2006, 08:49:44 PM »
Part of the problem is the "foam" queen nucs.  The foam seems to collect moisture--as pourous as it looks it doesn't breath.  I think I would try dividing a wooden medium depth nuc into 2-2 framers, The center frame would have window screen on both sides, keep it inside, and feed all winter--much like an observation hive without the windows.
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Offline Robo

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Over wintering queens
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2006, 10:32:53 PM »
I've been overwintering nucs for about 6 years now.   I've been refining my method over the years.

My first attempt was keeping  5 frame wooden nucs in the basement with an entrance to the outside and fed sugar syrup.  

The problem I had was that feeding syrup provided too much moisture and the bees suffered from dysentery.

The next year I added screened bottoms and screen vents in the top.  Although this improved ventilation and reduced moisture, I still had issues with dysentery.  Furthermore, the nucs got a real late start in the spring flying and building up.  Basically the basement didn't warm up enough to entice them to fly on warm spring days.

I then progressed to moving them outside in the early spring and giving them some aux heat with a heat lamp.  It still seemed that although they survived in the basement, they suffered from not taking any cleansing flight during the winter.

My latest process is to keep them outside all winter and provide aux heat from underneath with 7W night lights when the temperature falls below freezing.  I also have moved away from syrup because of the dysentery and feed blocks of hard candy right on top of the frames.  This allows the cluster to move right to the candy and not have to break cluster to go to a source above the inner cover.  This seems to work quite well for me.

I only do this on a small scale (2 to 3 a year) and although the last 2 years were  successful, they were also rather mild winters.

There shouldn't be any problem with polystyrene if you only feed hard candy.
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Offline Brian D. Bray

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Over wintering queens
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2006, 10:18:31 PM »
That's good info to know.
Life is a school.  What have you learned?   :brian:      The greatest danger to our society is apathy, vote in every election!

Offline ian davison

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Re: Over wintering queens
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2007, 07:39:36 PM »
Hi all

Ymbe: Over several winters I have got a number of the mini nucs succesfuly through. Last year we had 11 out of 15 survive .2 died 2 went queen less. This has not been a specific plan, more the use of spares.

They have been overwintered in a bee house (shed) with some additional insulation over the top. An empty nuc box placed upside down on top provides room for a ball of candy and this needs replacing several times.

The queens are indeed very handy. This season we have made a few more splits from large hives and small nucs with young queens with a steady feed build late into the Autunm. A shed has been converted this Autunm with heated shelves so that 5 frame nucs can sit on the warm shelving and they seem to be doing very well but do require extra feed(candy)

Give it a go it's good fun and good to see the results, bees can survive well on candy and tennis ball size clusters in a poly box can be got through the winter.

Good luck
Regards Ian

Offline TwT

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Re: Over wintering queens
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2007, 11:08:42 PM »
GOOD INFO Robo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
THAT's ME TO THE LEFT JUST 5 YEARS FROM NOW!!!!!!!!

Never be afraid to try something new.
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Offline Finsky

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Re: Over wintering queens
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2007, 04:25:15 AM »

I have tried on purpose to over winter 2 frame nucs with electrict heating. The result has been marvellous.

* When brood has emerged in the nuc, give in autumn ready capped frames from big hives. Need to to feed.
* shake bees in front of hive and they walk inside.
* 3 frames in poly box and actually 2 frames of bees
* when it is permanently cold, put nucs in darks shelter
* when you have 10 feet heating cable (15W) , put it go via several hives.
* put cabel in upper part of hive that it do not heat under winter cluster.

 

anything