Do nucs save any winter stores?

Learn how to manage nucs, and how they can add to your beekeeping success.
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GregV
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Do nucs save any winter stores?

Postby GregV » Thu Aug 31, 2017 1:37 pm

So this is August 31st here.
I have very good and strong nuc section on hand (6 nucs; 40 liter hive each; bee density is high or very high; brood is wall to wall or approaching it).
You can see my nuc hives in the "bait hive" section.
I posted pics of bait/nuc hives - all the same (tall, vertical Dadant frames).

So the issue is - these nucs have no stores for the winter yet.
At the same time I do not want to feed them any liquids (goes against the philosophy, but I also have no time to run around with the feeders).
In late October, I will dump into each nuc dry emergency sugar for the winter. That's it.

So do any of you observe the same - nucs don't build up any stores on their own?
I mean, even strong, 40 liter sized nucs have no stores?
Is this the normal case?

It looks to me as-if the all nucs are really busy and yet they just burn it all and no stores.
Even really well insulated nucs (testing the insulation theory here, thinking that more bees should be free for field work) - still no stores at all.
Hmm.

This September will be cool and moist here in WI (cool nights/warm days), as I can see it going ahead.
Should OK for the late bloom this year (better than hot and dry, I think).
I still hope they will bring something on their own; fingers crossed.

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Re: Do nucs save any winter stores?

Postby lharder » Thu Aug 31, 2017 2:53 pm

Depends on the nucs, how old the nucs are and the year.

Have had some that had lots of honey going into fall. Others I have fed.

This year is really dry and I will feed almost all of them. The big hives have enough food on them that I will be able to put into winter configuration with enough food for the most part.

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Re: Do nucs save any winter stores?

Postby Michael Bush » Thu Aug 31, 2017 3:07 pm

Every colony, nucs included, make decisions. Usually those decisions involve gambling on the future. Some decide they need more bees to make it through the winter. Some decide food is more important. Sometimes we can influence some of those decisions. For instance feeding may convince them to raise more brood since food doesn't seem to be an issue. Or they my decide it on their own without our influence.
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Re: Do nucs save any winter stores?

Postby GregV » Thu Aug 31, 2017 3:21 pm

Yes I agree about the "decisions" with Michael (I like that section in the book).
It is about personal traits, hive by hive/queen by queen.

So, this is one reason I would like to avoid feeding liquids to not mess with their "decision making" ways.
Poor decision makers should just go under; I have no time for them.

But yet I would hate to loose all my nucs as I already to not treat them chemically (hence the dry sugar thing). :)
It would be great though if they just brought in some honey too.
Bee pastures around me a really, really great. Tons of native prairie are booming right now with goldenrod.

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Re: Do nucs save any winter stores?

Postby moebees » Thu Aug 31, 2017 3:36 pm

At the same time I do not want to feed them any liquids (goes against the philosophy, but I also have no time to run around with the feeders).


Michael Palmer's philosophy is to feed them to put on weight rather than the dry sugar on top. The idea being that they normally store food in the comb and not on top so the cluster can form where it normally would without feeding. It makes some sense to me. I agree it is preferable not to feed but sometimes it cannot be avoided. To me feeding is feeding whether liquid or dry so the real choice is to feed or not. I tend to agree with MP it is better to have it in the comb.
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Re: Do nucs save any winter stores?

Postby GregV » Thu Aug 31, 2017 3:48 pm

moebees wrote:
At the same time I do not want to feed them any liquids (goes against the philosophy, but I also have no time to run around with the feeders).

......so the real choice is to feed or not.........


Well, like MB pointed out - readily available food will move some of the nucs into just more brooding (not food storing).
I don't want them to think that the food is readily available.
The food availability should not be dictated by the feeder.
It should be dictated by what is available outside in my exact locality at this exact time.

Good bees should read the current environment and make good decisions for survival.
I want the good, self-sufficient bees for my area - that's the project that I do.

My point is - timing of the feeding will make a difference in bee decision making (not feeding vs. not-feeding).
Right now I would prefer bees that would slow down the brooding and instead start storing the food into those combs and do it fast.
That's the choice to make.

PS: I will give a saving hand in a form of dry sugar if needs be (but better bees for my area should choose their own honey instead and better food at that); what my project is about.

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Re: Do nucs save any winter stores?

Postby Michael Bush » Thu Aug 31, 2017 5:31 pm

A nuc is in an unnatural position already so I would give up on the idea that I'm going to choose bees that make better decisions when any decision may or may not be wrong depending on when winter sets in. If there is a strong flow coming in, yes, I would let them do what they do and see where they are at when the flow lets up. If there is not a strong flow (they are not gaining weight) then I would feed heavy syrup. They tend to stock that away anyway if they are feed in a way that gives them full access (e.g. a frame feeder or a bucket feeder with a lot of access as opposed to a jar feeder with few holes). It's important to distinguish between poor decisions by the bees and bees that are in the position they are in because of the beekeeper, late splits, heavy harvest etc.
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Re: Do nucs save any winter stores?

Postby GregV » Thu Aug 31, 2017 6:04 pm

Michael Bush wrote:A nuc is in an unnatural position already ....


True also; something to think about.
Though, regardless how I go them all they are all strong in workforce at this and could bring lots of nectar.
So I think they should.

OK; meanwhile, I may prepare few frame feeders, just in case anyway.
If comes to it, I am not doing this "jar feeding" thing again.
Done it last year, nursing my late August swarm - forget-about-it. No time.
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Re: Do nucs save any winter stores?

Postby Salvatore » Mon Sep 04, 2017 2:20 pm

My point is - timing of the feeding will make a difference in bee decision making (not feeding vs. not-feeding).
Right now I would prefer bees that would slow down the brooding and instead start storing the food into those combs and do it fast.


Each area will have a point in the season when honey weight will peak. For my area in North Carolina this is July 15th. I know this to be true based upon observations of our nectar flow and data collected by my friends at The Center For Honeybee Research based in Asheville, NC. Honey weight will peak at this time and begin to diminish from mid-July until late September. From personal observations and conversations with commercial beekeepers late summer feeding will continue to stimulate brood rearing and not add much weight to the colonies until after the Autumn Equinox, September 21st. The equal hours of daylight and darkness triggers these creatures of the sun to turn their duties to storage and slowly away from heavy brood rearing. Timing your feeding with the Autumn Equinox, or a week or two prior, will result in a more efficient use of liquid food. If bee density is high and pollen gathering is steady throughout the day, then personally, I do not feed until after September 21st.

There is also evidence that bees which have experienced minor starvation during larval development improved the metabolic responses to adult starvation. Check out the article from Bee Culture here...http://www.beeculture.com/closer-look-starvationundernourished-colonies/

Greg, I think that it is very normal for nucs made up throughout spring and early summer, that have not been fed, to be pretty light at this time of the year, at-least in my area of Western North Carolina. With wingstem, goldenrod and asters in-bloom in my area the next three weeks will help to influence whether or not I feed this season and how much.
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Re: Do nucs save any winter stores?

Postby moebees » Mon Sep 04, 2017 4:11 pm

Thanks Salvatore. Very informative.
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Re: Do nucs save any winter stores?

Postby GregV » Tue Sep 05, 2017 3:34 am

Salvatore wrote:..Greg, I think that it is very normal for nucs made up throughout spring and early summer, that have not been fed, to be pretty light at this time of the year, at-least in my area of Western North Carolina. With wingstem, goldenrod and asters in-bloom in my area the next three weeks will help to influence whether or not I feed this season and how much.


Informative and helpful response. Thanks.
I think I will continue the wait-and-see mode through the September.
Forage is a plenty.
These nucs are killers and have been very, very busy.

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Re: Do nucs save any winter stores?

Postby GregV » Wed Sep 13, 2017 1:19 am

It seems we have good flow with the goldenrod at the moment.
The weather has been great.
Last 1-2 weeks now my backyard smells as ... don't know....... lots and lots of fermented pollen? sweaty socks?
Something of the sort.

Hopefully, the nucs will take care of themselves into the winter with all the smell they put out.

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Re: Do nucs save any winter stores?

Postby lharder » Wed Sep 13, 2017 3:10 pm

Likely not enough though. I would feed and make sure they are up to weight. I monitor the weight quite closely and do not wait for the fall flow. If you wait too long you will run out of good weather to feed.

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Re: Do nucs save any winter stores?

Postby moebees » Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:48 pm

This is sort of on topic. I have a couple of nucs I started late (mid august) with a couple of frames of brood and new queens. I have been feeding them from the beginning and my problem is that I can't get them to draw any comb and I don't have drawn comb to give them. I have tried thin syrup and thick syrup and now we have a flow on. But they won't draw comb. Any ideas on what I could do to try to get them through winter?
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Re: Do nucs save any winter stores?

Postby Dustymunky » Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:54 am

I ran into same problem moe. Bees really dont make wax this late in year. Either combine and kill queen which stinks or build smaller nucs.


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Re: Do nucs save any winter stores?

Postby GregV » Thu Sep 14, 2017 2:36 pm

Well, IF the queens are laying AND the queens are worth keeping (e.g. Nordak's queens), I would try to winter through.

First, forget this comb-building thing - ain't gonna happen (UNLESS it is a swarm - a swarm will build no matter the season).
The entire project setup is not good up front (late started, small nucs).
But it is what it is.

Second, go around and rob bigger hives of a frame of closed brood with bees on it.
Most strong hives can still afford loosing a frame at this time (I would not take more than one though).
They may even build a replacement comb if the flow is good still.

The goal is to bump each nuc from 2 frames to, say, 4 frames (and be well populated at that).
As the brood hatches, they will vacate the combs for storing nectar/syrup into them.

Third, I just keep the robbed frames in a transport box for 30 mins (while relocating them, anyway) so that the bees that are on those frames realize to be queen-less. Get to your nucs, plug the additional frames with brood/bees (I'd smoke the hell out of them to create confusion in the nuc) - done.
Older bees will fly away; young bees will stay put.
If in doubt, simply combine-in additional frames using a newspaper.

You now have 4 frame nucs with combs that you can feed and winter with better chances.

Disclaimer: all my equipment is 90-degree turned frame based and so the above will work;
shallow standard frames - not as good for wintering;
have to have at least deep standard frames for better chances but even those I would turn 90-degrees..

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Re: Do nucs save any winter stores?

Postby lharder » Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:04 pm

Are they storing any honey on the comb they have? If not maybe the flow rate needs to be improved till you see a little stored and they feel like they have some excess to make a little comb. My nucs seem to make comb with little hesitation as soon as there is some flow.

I run all mediums. I start small nucs, but give them a frame of capped brood sans bees when things are warm in August. They then get a second box of extracted comb ASAP to work with. Now I'm feeding to fill up that comb.

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Re: Do nucs save any winter stores?

Postby moebees » Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:47 pm

The one had some capped honey when I started them. The other had very little and has begun to store a bit. I was trying to simulate a flow by feeding but that didn't seem to work. We do seem to have a pretty good flow now so we will see. I just don't know what to do if they don't have any comb going into winter. They are in 6 frame polystyrene deeps and I think could survive the winter with some feeding but they only have 3 frames of comb. The only think I have come up with so far is to combine them if they don't build anything.
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Re: Do nucs save any winter stores?

Postby GregV » Thu Sep 14, 2017 4:03 pm

All in all - if there are no spare empty combs, not much you can do.
If your bees only cover two frames, not much you can do either.
Spare workforce is just not there to do foraging and building.

You have to do something drastic to double the nuc population, like right now (this is mid-September in upper Midwest, mind you).
Need to donate bees and hatching brood to quickly grow the population (this also resolves the lack of combs, as a side effect).
Then feed them heavily to try to get them to back fill the freed combs as bees are hatching.

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Re: Do nucs save any winter stores?

Postby GregV » Sun Sep 17, 2017 8:22 pm

Well, I have to say, I am pleased with at least some.
Since this topic was posted, I already had to upgrade one my nuc from 7 frames to 10 frames.
The thing was packed with both honey and the bees, and they started building combs outside and filling them too with nectar.
:shock:

PS: this is one of the Nordak's queens and started working for me since mid-July. :) Really pleased so far.

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Re: Do nucs save any winter stores?

Postby lharder » Tue Sep 19, 2017 3:47 pm

moebees wrote:The one had some capped honey when I started them. The other had very little and has begun to store a bit. I was trying to simulate a flow by feeding but that didn't seem to work. We do seem to have a pretty good flow now so we will see. I just don't know what to do if they don't have any comb going into winter. They are in 6 frame polystyrene deeps and I think could survive the winter with some feeding but they only have 3 frames of comb. The only think I have come up with so far is to combine them if they don't build anything.


How are you feeding them? I have top feeders and a good nuc will put away 2.5 liters in a couple of days. A little jar on top with a few holes may not duplicate this in terms of comb building.

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Re: Do nucs save any winter stores?

Postby moebees » Tue Sep 19, 2017 7:43 pm

I have three quart jars above screen over the top bars. I have feeders on all my hives now and only a few of them are taking any syrup right now. We have goldenrod and asters in most areas. But these nucs just haven't done anything. They wouldn't build any new comb so they are raising brood and putting stores in the couple of drawn frames they had which means they aren't building up at all. I think I will combine the two and at least they will then have about 6 frames of comb and some stores and maybe enough numbers to overwinter. Learned another lesson. I won't make late starts without drawn comb again.
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Re: Do nucs save any winter stores?

Postby GregV » Wed Sep 20, 2017 12:06 am

Yea, this time of the year all the nucs should be strong 40 liter colonies being able to fend for themselves IF there is a flow available.
This is my program anyway.

I had one straggler nuc (I just could not get the queen mated in time - my fault there; bad configuration).
Gave up on them and combined the straggler with a small swarm at the end of August yet.
Someone was all too happy to take my virgin queen from that nuc (they had something going on as well).

PS: I would ask about and donate a decent queen to someone (before pinching it);
someone in our local group is always begging for a queen;
if advertised as "free" someone will snatch the queen - better than to waste it.

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Re: Do nucs save any winter stores?

Postby GregV » Mon Oct 02, 2017 4:01 am

Well, 4 out of the 6 nucs are set pretty well just over the month of September (our fall flow was good).
I don't to plan to feed them.
Two nucs will have to be fed.

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Re: Do nucs save any winter stores?

Postby moebees » Mon Oct 02, 2017 9:00 pm

Well, 4 out of the 6 nucs are set pretty well just over the month of September (our fall flow was good).


I'm surprised your fall flow was good. Ours was terrible. We have not had rain for over a month.
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Re: Do nucs save any winter stores?

Postby GregV » Mon Oct 02, 2017 9:05 pm

moebees wrote:
Well, 4 out of the 6 nucs are set pretty well just over the month of September (our fall flow was good).


I'm surprised your fall flow was good. Ours was terrible. We have not had rain for over a month.


August was cool and wet here.
That gave a good boost to the local late bloomers with strong roots (the natives).
September was dry and even hot, indeed, but could not do enough damage.
But also I do have good bee pastures, now that I can appreciate better.

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Re: Do nucs save any winter stores?

Postby lharder » Tue Oct 03, 2017 4:10 pm

I just talked to a a beekeeper I sold a nuc too and a couple of queens to.

We had a very dry summer so I told him that he should feed at the beginning of August as he had to get some comb built. I had another look at the beginning of September and his hives had made no progress.

He began feeding with a hive top in September and his bees have made some comb and put away stores. Maybe not enough but he is in a much better position than before.

So these bees made comb in a dearth with feeding.

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Re: Do nucs save any winter stores?

Postby SiWolKe » Tue Oct 03, 2017 6:50 pm

Many thanks Iharder.
Such things are so valuable to know.
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