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WINTERING FIVE FRAME NUCS


During the winter of 2011 - 2012 we experimented wintering 16 five frame nucs.  Several beekeepers were wintering nucs indoors, so it seemed to make sense that we should try it outdoors.  Our purpose was to see if we could bring more queens through the winter on regular combs with which to requeen hives in the spring. We hoped it would also make up our numbers quicker.

We wrapped them in packs of eight.  All 16 came through the winter, but 2 were weak and soon died.  However, since it was a warm winter with almost no snow we questioned whether the results were repeatable.   

Therefore, in the fall of 2012, we put 57 five frame nucs into winter.  They were wrapped in packs of 7 or 8.  Fifty-four came through the winter.  They were covered with snow almost immediately and remained covered until spring.  We decided to do stimulus feeding of them before they could fly.  We put 250 ml of syrup in a ziplock bag with top slits in the top of the nucs.  We also treated them with oxallic drizzle.  Through this action we killed another 15 of them. (The lids squeezed some of the syrup out of the ziplock bags on to the bees.)

We had assumed that five frame nuc colonies were too small to winter outdoors.  Clearly, we were wrong.  We no longer thourght it was so much the size of the colony or how much feed they had access to, but instead how well they filled their home.  We know that several people in a room can heat that room requiring little outside energy.  Comparitively, a few people in a large house requires a lot of outside energy to heat it.  We just hadn't transferred that knowlege of energy to our beekeeping.  So, a colony in smaller space uses less feed providing that it fills that space.

 

Then in the spring of 2014, we lost 90% of the 138 five frame nucs we put into winter the fall before.  What went wrong?  What did we do differently? So, the research continues.

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