Wow, I had totally forgotten that I had posted here-- I am sorry that I didn't respond to your follow-up posts!
In case some of you are still interested, let me tell you what happened!
When I last posted I had decided to buy a hive and put the swarm from the nuc box in it. But the typical male fear of commitment kicked in and I kept going back and forth on it.
Fall came and I was starting to get attached to the bees. I enjoyed watching them go in and out of the nuc box. By late fall there wasn’t much for food so on warmer days I started putting out a sugar water and honey mix for them. They seemed to appreciate that:
By the time I finally decided to go ahead and purchase a hive it was winter. A neighbor knowledgeable about bees, and a local bee expert, said there was almost no chance that nuc would survive the winter. A late swarm, in too small of a box, on the ground, completely exposed to the Michigan winter would be a recipe for disaster.
I covered the nuc with a large carpet remnant I had to serve as a wind break and a little bit of insulation. A couple times during the winter I had to dig snow away from the front of it because it was completely encased. But the winter was mostly quite mild, and on warmer days I actually poured sugar water into the nuc box through the entrance to try to feed them and help them out. After a few minutes I could see them swarming over the floor feeding. However I have since come to realize that introducing lots of moisture into a hive during the winter is a big no no that can kill the hive (not sure exactly why but I’ve read that enough to believe it). So by trying to help them I was likely killing them!
But somehow, in spite of it all, to the astonishment of my neighbor and local bee expert, they actually survived! Together we have come up with the probable reasons why:
- The nuc box only had 2 frames in it and so the bees had to fill the rest of the box themselves. They naturally constructed things inside better than they could have if it was all frames. They know how to construct a small hive that maximizes their survival chances!
- The nuc box was on the ground, but only a couple feet beneath that is the septic holding tank. It is likely that tank stays relatively warm in the winter and that warmth helped.
- The windbreak of carpeting I put over and around the nuc box helped to prevent the winds from sucking the heat out.
I am impressed by these bees—they are survivors!
Here is a photo of the nuc box I took this afternoon: