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Author Topic: Small colony going into winter  (Read 298 times)

Offline rgennaro

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Small colony going into winter
« on: September 16, 2019, 03:53:12 pm »
Let me open with a brief recall of my summer adventure. End of June move a swarm into a box right before I leave for a month. When I get back (late July) queen is not doing so well -- spotty brood, colony dwindling. After 2 failed attempts to requeen failed, with the help of a local beek I am able to requeen the small colony towards the end of August. The colony is now in a 5 frames nuc.

I looked at it yesterday and 4 of the 5 frames were almost full of either brood or nectar (we are in full goldenrod bloom here). This new queen seems to be doing well, brood was well organized. I removed the empty frame and replaced it with a frame of bees, brood and nectar from my other hive. I am pretty sure I didn't bring the queen along from Hive 1  :tongue:

Now the question is what to do next. I know the odds are against this colony, this late in the season in my geographical area. But I want to try to give them the best chance. As I see it here are my options:

-- Attempt to overwinter them in a nuc. I have heard of local beeks succeeding at that even around here. Get a second nuc box, put it on top of the current one and feed them as much as possible.

-- Move them now into a regular deep box now and hope they will fill that, and maybe even a second box on top with aggressive feeding.

The other hive looked good. Lots of bees, lots of honey, but not a lot of brood (top box only 3 frames had a little in the middle). Almost all frames filled. I know it's normal for the queen to slow down in the fall, but is it normal to be so little this early in the fall? I didn't look at the bottom box. I was just looking for a frame to transfer.

Thanks for your help as usual.

Rosario


Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Small colony going into winter
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2019, 08:22:50 am »
If you don't think they have enough stores add sugar to the top:
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfeeding.htm#drysugar

Or if you like cooking and work, then make a candy board.

Put some styrofoam on the cover.

Put it between two strong colonies or put it on top of a strong colony.

Make sure you have a good windbreak.
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm en espanol: bushfarms.com/es_bees.htm  auf deutsche: bushfarms.com/de_bees.htm  em portugues:  bushfarms.com/pt_bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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"Everything works if you let it."--James "Big Boy" Medlin

Offline rgennaro

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Re: Small colony going into winter
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2019, 09:21:00 am »
Thanks. I can actually move this colony inside the barn ... the current location of the hive is right next to an entrance to the barn. I can put them there so they get the sun in the front but they are shielded on the other sides from wind.

But should I double up the nuc, by putting another box on top or move them to a 10 frame box now?

If I put them on top of another colony how do I keep them separate throughout the winter? A screen?

Thanks!

Rosario

Offline cao

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Re: Small colony going into winter
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2019, 11:39:40 am »
But should I double up the nuc, by putting another box on top or move them to a 10 frame box now?

That's your choice.  I would tend to put them in a ten frame box.  If you have any drawn comb, that would help.  Feed them until frost then add dry sugar/sugar brick after that.

If I put them on top of another colony how do I keep them separate throughout the winter? A screen?

I think Mr. Bush was talking about just setting the complete hive on top of another hive. You still have the top and bottom boards to keep the bees separate.  They are just sharing the warmth.

In my area, my nucs need to be 3 tall and stacked together with others to make it through the winter.  Wish you luck on yours.


Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Small colony going into winter
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2019, 05:50:19 pm »
Inside the barn might not be a good idea.  It can go wrong in many ways...

Yes, I was talking about a weak hive on top of a strong hive.  Just make sure the moisture from below can't get into the hive above.  The heat will transfer somewhat.  My preference would be a pices of 1/4" luan plywood between to allow some heat to get through but not moisture.
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm en espanol: bushfarms.com/es_bees.htm  auf deutsche: bushfarms.com/de_bees.htm  em portugues:  bushfarms.com/pt_bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
-------------------
"Everything works if you let it."--James "Big Boy" Medlin