Overwintering a 5-frame NUC

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Joined: Thu Apr 15, 2021 12:14 pm
Location: Colfax, NC

Overwintering a 5-frame NUC

Post by rbunch »

I have some 5 frame deep nucs that are the result of some frames with queen cells I pulled from a hive about to swarm back in May. I used 2-frame mating nucs like the guy at Barnyard Bees on youtube promotes (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8JZIrR7iUQ). It worked really well using only 1 frame with queen cell plus 1 blank frame. As soon as the queens were mated and laying I moved these soon after into 5 frame boxes which they've built out completely (I feed pretty consistently). My question is at this time of the year what would be my best options for overwintering these? Should I keep them in 5 frame boxes and try to overwinter as a nuc? Is it too late to move them to a 10 frame box and feed them to get them to build it out? We've had enough rain lately that I'm wondering if the Goldenroad/Frost Aster flow will be pretty good. I am in Colfax, NC
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Re: Overwintering a 5-frame NUC

Post by Jacobs »

I use mediums, but have had pretty good success over wintering in 3 boxes. I prefer honey in the 2 outside frames of the first box and brood inside, room for brood (open, drawn comb) in the second box and honey/sugar water honey filling the 3rd box. I then feed regularly, but not heavily with 1:1 to encourage the queen to keep laying. The 2 frames of honey in the first box and the honey in the 3rd box give the bees a good start at winter feed and also some insulation to the sides and above the brood. Others may have different nuc set ups that work well for them, and if so, I would like to hear about their configurations.

I don't count on goldenrod or aster to keep bees fed or keep a queen laying, but consider it a bonus when there is enough nectar from them to contribute to either continued laying by queens or putting up additional winter stores. The balance I seek in feeding this time of year is encouraging the queens to continue laying, but not giving the bees so much feed that they fill all open cells causing the hive to be "nectar" bound and leaving the queen nowhere to lay.

I have had bees draw comb this time of year, but usually when I kept a strong swarm drawing comb all season long by continuous feeding and removing frames as they were mostly drawn and replacing those frames with undrawn frames. I have not had much success getting bees that were not drawing comb to start drawing this time of year. You need warm weather, lots of young bees & bees that sense the need for additional comb/space, and plenty of nectar/sugar water to get bees to draw wax. If they are not that strong in a large space, I am not sure they will feel the need to draw wax. I'm also not sure that even if you get the population of bees up considerably, that you will be able to trigger the comb building urge this time of year. I may be wrong.
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Re: Overwintering a 5-frame NUC

Post by frank »

I am all mediums too and have been overwintering nucs for a few years now. I overwinter 5-frame medium nucs in 5x5 configuration and use a piece of styrofoam under the top cover as insulation. I think having a third box does help with extra feed as I often need to feed them as we get out of winter. I also open feed during warm days to supplement during winter.
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