NZBF: Wintering a ChCh urban nuc… what to expect?

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Josh

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Christchurch
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Hey 1 & all.

I’m trying to over winter a nuc. It’s two 5-frame boxes, and a hive top feeder. Queen new this year, generated as part of swarm control.

Good stores at moment (5+ honey/syrup), pollen and 3ish frames brood.

Checked yesterday (full AFB check, strips out etc). It’s winding down nicely as the days get cooler (no drones, and some backfilling of old brood space with nectar/syrup).

Only tried to winter a nuc once before, by stretching it to one box and feeding like mad…. It died. Needless to say, I’m now unimpressed with the person who sold a newbie a nuc to a complete novice at the end of the season. But having failed before, I’ve been doing some reading and there isn’t much out there (NZ Beeking, YouTube, forums) specifically on nuc management over winter.

I plan to feed syrup over winter. It’s at home in my ChCh back yard. So can do it as often as needed. I was going to sneak/peak on warm days or heft as often as needed.

Any/All advice welcome please.
 

Otto

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100
236
Dunedin
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Semi Commercial
Sounds more like a hive than a nuc to me🙂
I overwinter nucs every season in and around Dunedin. Mostly have them in 2 in 1 boxes, 3 or 4 frames with a single frame feeder. I try to make sure they are as heavy as they can be this time of the year. I think that they are best not fed through may and june as feeding encourages brood rearing, which makes them chew through stores much more quickly. After June I watch the weather forecast and when we have some warmer days I get out and feed them. If it is cold and they're clustered up tight they won't process the sugar. A good rule of thumb is that if they are coming out to forage it is okay to feed.
While I do my best to get all my nucs through the winter I do invariably lose the occasional one. This is usually because some decide to start brood rearing early and they starve trying to nurse full frames of brood in the middle of winter on limited stores. It is not feasible to check on them every few weeks over the winter. You can likely do that with your one though.
 
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maungaturoto
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Hey 1 & all.

I’m trying to over winter a nuc. It’s two 5-frame boxes, and a hive top feeder. Queen new this year, generated as part of swarm control.

Good stores at moment (5+ honey/syrup), pollen and 3ish frames brood.

Checked yesterday (full AFB check, strips out etc). It’s winding down nicely as the days get cooler (no drones, and some backfilling of old brood space with nectar/syrup).

Only tried to winter a nuc once before, by stretching it to one box and feeding like mad…. It died. Needless to say, I’m now unimpressed with the person who sold a newbie a nuc to a complete novice at the end of the season. But having failed before, I’ve been doing some reading and there isn’t much out there (NZ Beeking, YouTube, forums) specifically on nuc management over winter.

I plan to feed syrup over winter. It’s at home in my ChCh back yard. So can do it as often as needed. I was going to sneak/peak on warm days or heft as often as needed.

Any/All advice welcome please.
firstly overwintering nucs is not for beginners.
its something to avoid doing especially as there is no point to it (unless your selling nucs) which is why there is little info on it.

sounds like your nuc is a hive and should be in a single box.

any nuc made in spring should be a hive well and truly by autumn.
common trap for beginners is not understanding hive size very well. which means they often split a normal hive into a weak hive and nuc that take ages to build back up to size. this routinely kills hives. hives need to be strong, beeks need to understand what strong is.
i'm not a fan of taking splits for swarm control, it doesn't slow down the hive much. i usually split the hive which turns a strong hive into two good hives.
btw i've never used nuc boxes. i can't see the point its just more work for nothing.

i would put them into one normal box, maybe one feed and leave it. its got reasonable stores at the moment.

you should be setting up the hives so you do nothing to them over winter.
 

Mummzie

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Only tried to winter a nuc once before, by stretching it to one box and feeding like mad…. It died. Needless to say, I’m now unimpressed with the person who sold a newbie a nuc to a complete novice at the end of the season. But having failed before, I’ve been doing some reading and there isn’t much out there (NZ Beeking, YouTube, forums) specifically on nuc management over winter.

I plan to feed syrup over winter. It’s at home in my ChCh back yard. So can do it as often as needed. I was going to sneak/peak on warm days or heft as often as needed.
Your current "nuc" probably has way more stores than your initial attempt and will be a different experience. A good learning curve, and I hope you get other positive input and advice.
I am also attempting to winter a small colony- a 3/4 box. Got to learn the parameters somehow.
Like you I started with an autumn nuc, which someone told me had no hope of getting thru winter. With beginners luck, blind ignorance and ample feeding, it was 2 FD boxes by spring.
I'm sure you will do fine this time.
 
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Like you I started with an autumn nuc, which someone told me had no hope of getting thru winter. With beginners luck, blind ignorance and ample feeding, it was 2 FD boxes by spring.
don't get me wrong it can be done. how do you think big corporates make so many hives so quickly. they stimulate feed nucs all winter long. but its high risk for beginners and generally pointless outside of commercial growth. its a situation best avoided.
 
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Josh

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Christchurch
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Hobbyist
Thanks everyone. Appreciate the time taken to respond.
It’s an experiment/learning opportunity for me. I’m back up to 4 hives, after starting this year with 1, and this is an insurance policy. I don’t want more hives (time & gear).

And generosity I received this year (2 nucs from @BRB ) needs to be paid forwards next year if I have surplus.
 
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