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!!! Getting nucs in July/Aug?

 
pollinator
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The apiary I want to order from will not have nucs available until July or August. Anybody have experiences to share with overwintering new nucs?

In our region, though we have mild winters, food availability decreases around fall. I haven't planted nectary to support them year round, and that would probably take at least a year to establish. Accounts abound about people losing bees here.

I was thinking of biting the bullet for fall and spiking their diet with that Paul Stamets Host Defense Sauce, so if anyone's tried that out, I'd appreciate opinions.
 
gardener
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Hi Fredy. This video about overwintering nucs might help.
 
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Hi Fredy,

May I assume you have no experience with bees?

Unless you can provide year round forage for them (like in the tropics) no one would get a nuc of bees that far into the season.

A nuc is usually a SMALL colony of bees, typically five frames, might be 10, unknown whether they are mediums or deeps. Usually 3 or 4 frames of brood and nectar and 1 frame of drawn comb for the queen to lay in the the workers to have someplace to store the incoming nectar.

Normally you get a nuc in early Spring so they have a long running start to get themselves to be able to overwinter. When bees are young and the nectar is flowing, that is when they exude wax to draw out the foundation so there is enough room for the queen to lay, the hive to build up in numbers and the hive to collect enough nectar and pollen to carry them through Winter.

I am not personally familiar with Winters in the Northwest, but I have heard it gets cool if not cold and rains a lot. Yes? That means no bee forage. They will not have had enough time to build up to cluster to keep warm and gather enough food to tide them over.

I would strongly recommend that you find a local experienced bee keeper, or three, who are in alignment with how you think you want to keep bees, humanly, sustainably, treatment free, you add your adjectives and values. Ask them if they will mentor you for a year in exchange for your help BEFORE you get bees. I know master beekeepers who have 'students' who kill their bees year after year and buy new nucs or packages every Spring. Just like with a parcel of land, observe it for a year of cycles before you start planning your water, earthworks etc.

Unless there are factors that I am grossly unaware of, I think getting nucs in July/Aug. is a set up for failure for the bees. Two + months is not enough time. And if you don't have any experience, perhaps get some before you get bees.

Hope this is helpful. Any beekeepers from the Northwest?
 
Fredy Perlman
pollinator
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Hi Lee, is it that obvious I have no experience ;)? I've read about it some, is all...enough to know July/Aug is not the best time for acclimating a nuc.  I just can't believe people would sell them at a time when the odds are against the bees. I've started a couple of other threads on the topic, determining that I should plant nectary to cover every season...in the warmer days of our mild winters, the bees forage. But there isn't much for bees to find in winter unless we plant it. I seem to recall Viburnum was something I ought to plant, but I can look it all up here!

You're right about winters, usually as low as 25-38 at night, 35-50 during the day. 66" of rain per year, most of it occurring over winter.

Their complete colony is a medium, I don't know about the nucs.

I know a couple of local bee keepers, I think I'll propose that to them and concentrate on planting nectary (especially for the lean months) this year. Thanks!
 
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You may have heard the old saying:

A swarm in May is worth a load of hay,
A swarm in June is worth a silver spoon,
A swarm in July ain't worth a fly.



Bees are hard to get established and trying to do it late in the year is risky. If your neighbor calls in August and asks you to remove a swarm for him, and you already have the equipment, sure, no problem, you'll just risk time and energy. But nucs are expensive and I wouldn't pay for them that late in the year. And losing your first couple colonies is depressing and likely to drive you out of bees entirely. Maybe once you know some local beekeepers you'll have a better idea where to buy from. I know in our area, there's a strong local beekeeping club that can provide both mentoring and bulk ordering help.
 
steward
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now's a good time to be building bait hives for swarm season. I've caught swarms as early as the first week of March in Washington, but the middle to end of April is a more typical beginning of swarm season.

consider asking any beekeepers you know for some hive debris to use in your bait hives. the stuff that collects on the floor of a hive, especially if wax moths are in residence. a little searching will also turn up plenty of recommendations for other swarm lures.

starting with a swarm, especially if you can snag a prime swarm early in the season, is really the best way to go.
 
gardener
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Hi Fredy,
I'm from mason county originally and am doing a bit of activism there around bees and food forests. Let's talk about this, if you're interested. I would absolutely not get a nuc in summer. Our forage diminishes as time goes on in the season due to drought,  depending on the year. Feel free to message me
 
James Landreth
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I'll add this::
With feeding,  I would maybe put a nuc into a log hive at that time of year,  because log hives can be smaller  (they'll fill it out faster) and are insulated so well that bees can get by with less honey through the winter
 
Fredy Perlman
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Dave, that's a thrilling idea, and a great aphorism. You and tel got me thinking I shouldn't have had a 3-box hive sitting around assembled and empty since the summer of 2018! I know some beekeepers (and I'll ask James) to get the debris, and can make it a bait hive in time for swarm season. If they're still around come next spring, I'll make another hive for my dream bees. In the meantime I can plant nectary for each month this year so it's in full swing, and I'll get some low-risk beekeeping practice. More than a silver bullet for my concerns, a silver cluster bomb! (Huh...some expressions don't update.)

And James, check your PMs. I should also think about log hives because I have at least two 30" hollowed out cedar trunks from second-growth trees cut and left lying like litter :0. I find them, unrotted, covered with undergrowth. I tried torching one once and it smelled like plastic burning...maybe the only thing breaking it down was solid mycelia. I broke pieces out of the charred interior and their texture was nothing like wood: porous, sponge-like, crystallized and crunchy. I decided these trunks were too special to burn and saved them, but they char up nice.

 
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