Last year using nuc boxes instead of deeps was extremely successful in overwintering my bees. Anyway, I believe the narrow boxes are more natural, mimicking the bees' preferred home of hollow trees, rather than the wide Langstroth boxes everyone swears by. Give the bees just enough space to thrive and they will. And with two small colonies, the largest being just 4 frames of bees, it was time to go narrow this third weekend of October.
Before I started, I sterilized all parts of "big" nuc with 100% vinegar, gave it a rinse and let air dry.
My small hive beetle traps placed everywhere have been doing a great job for both hives. I carefully removed them. Some were almost completely full. A good many I'd put too much oil in. Do not put more than half-full. It makes lifting the traps out dangerous, as the oil easily can fall out and kill your bees or queen below.
I put the largest food frames in the bottom brood chamber to make up a 5-frame nuc, removed an empty frame, killed small hive beetles with my hive tool in the sun, and placed two good food frames and feeder in the top box.
When I was done, foragers coming in, and guard bees quickly oriented to the newly downsized box. Downsizing into the narrow nuc box instantly reduced space to maximize heat for the cluster and more bees per square inch to keep the small hive beetles at bay. I instantly felt better, and my bees hummed in approval. I also made sure to put on a reduced entrance, a large entrance I'd cut down to fit the small nuc box.
With temps dropping into the '50s in the second week of October, my little one-frame hive was hanging in there. I was disheartened to see it hadn't grown in size, just about 1.5 frames of bees. There was a little bit of larvae and capped brood, and I think eggs (it was a hazy day), so the queen was still alive. Their chances of survival are slim unless I come up with a better solution for them. Still, they've survived a couple weeks of cold temps. I've gotta stay positive and just focus on doing the best for them.
With such a tiny number of bees and feeding in progress, I'd reduced the entrance down to the smallest opening possible, 3/8's of an inch and put their entrance facing the back. So far this has worked out. My bees were doing okay considering this season of hard lessons. I'm just focusing on being best steward I can, giving my few bees their best chances to survive the winter and thrive next spring, and rely on the blessings of Providence.
Tom Davidson is the owner and beekeeper at T's Bees.
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