January 03, 2011

Tending Marty's Nuc

A nucleus colony is a very small one. New beekeepers start a year with a nuc. It takes an experienced beekeeper to end a year with one. Marty's nuc hive has room for 15 topbars, which he finds is the minimum required to survive a Winter here, but the bees are only on the first 4 or so combs. It's a very small colony indeed, and it needs some serious TLC.

The day after we brought them home was ideal for opening the hive, a typical Colorado blue-sky day, to see what we have as our wards. But even at 58°F we didn't spend any more time than needed to just put some extra food in for the bees. At this time of year, there is little if any brood, but with such a small colony it's best to not risk chilling the bees at all. So, sorry, no pictures of the brood nest or Queen

Fast-forward a month. The bees are definitely oriented to the greenhouse. We've given them 4 combs of honey (12+ lbs.) and with the "turn of days" and anticipated increase in egg-laying, it's time to simply step back and watch. It has been arcticly cold lately, and we still have the coldest days of Winter ahead of us, but if the next two months pass as quickly as the last, we'll be back in the hive soon enough. We have some bee bread in the freezer that we want to give to them when the time is right. Do you know when that might be?

UPDATE: 02/09/2010 - There just were not enough bees to keep the cluster warm. Although it only dropped to -4.4°F in the greenhouse, Denver posted a -17°F night. BB counted only a few hundred bees, and about half as many loose varroa mites.

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