How To Hive a Nucleus- May beekeeping

So, you’re getting bees! How exciting, exhilarating….. terrifying! It is completely normal to be feeling the flighty wings of anxiety as THE DAY comes closer. Really, installing bees is a very simple thing IF you are eager and willing to be gentle to yourself in the learning process and prepare yourself before with all of the things that you will be needing.

When you get your Nuc, what to look for:

  1. Is your nuc active: lots of bees?
  2. Are there signs of disease/lots of dead bees in the bottom of the box? This could be caused by death/heat during transport. If if it more than 1/8 your populations, observe your remaining populations critically
  3. Is your hive queen right? (Do you see the queen, eggs, brood at all stages of development? Then YES. If you see queen cells and no eggs? Then NO. TAKE PICTURES: You will need to contact your supplier and let them know that their queen didn’t take in the nun and they will send you a replacement queen.

Installing a Langstroth Nucleus colony in to a Langstroth Beehive

What you will need:

  •  Bottom board
  • standard brood box
  • inner cover
  • lid
  • 4 or 5 frames (these can be pulled comb, foundation, foudationless, or a mixture of any of these)
  • Friction feeder/frame feeder or boardman feeder (see below)
  • 2:1 syrup
  • Winter wrap (optional, see below)

Now, a couple of things to consider as THE DAY comes:

  • What is the weather going to be the day you receive your bees?
  • What is the 14 day forecast after THE DAY

These are important questions because as weather can be variable, liquid feed may be a bad choice  if the weather is looking to be cold, snowy/rainy, or averaging below 10 degrees C on a daily basis. This could cause the feed to steal the heat from the cluster and decrease: Wax production, brood production, and increase risks of chalk brood (fungal infection representative in the spring with a beehive is stressed). This is where a winter wrap can come in useful to encourage the heat to remain in the hive while the feed is accessed by your bees. Its optional, but a consideration.

How to Install:

I don’t recommend adding a 4-5frame nuc in to Langstroth greater than one box UNLESS you have pulled combs to use in your beehive. Lost heat means lost wax production. So, if you are starting from scratch, you will start in 1 standard lang box and contemplate supering when you feel your colony has grown.

IF YOU HAVE PULLED COMBS, I would put the bees in to a double (2 standard langstroth boxes stacked, but be sure to do the below operation in the TOP BOX to ensure that all the heat created by your bees stays with their brood nest (heat rises remember)

Your lang box left to right, 9 or 10 spaces:

  1. Frame Feeder with 2:1 sugar to water syrup
  2. Frame
  3. Frame
  4. Honey Frame from Nuc
  5. Brood Frame from Nuc
  6. Brood Frame from Nuc
  7. Brood Frame from Nuc
  8. Frame
  9. Frame
  10. Frame (if you are going to run a 10 frame brood nest)

Here is a video of placing in a nuc: From Brushy Mountain Bee Farm

Installing a Langstroth Nucleus colony in to a Top Bar Beehive

What you will need:

  • Large sheet of cardboard to cut combs on
  • Table (outside your house and near your bees)
  • exacto knife (lots of replacement blades)
  • sturdy and larger circumference wire that you can still bend with relative ease
  • hand drill with a bit that will allow for easy access of the wire to slip through
  • Top bars
  • Sugar 1:1 spritzer
  • Follower board
  • Zip loc bag feeder or Boardman feeder
  • Bee brush
  • Water bowl to wash hands and tools in at work station

How to Install: Preparation

If you have a Golden Mean Top Bar Hive (www.backyardhive,org), which is the hive design that we here at A.B.C Bees HIGHLY recommend, then you are in luck because a standard langstroth from cut in half is exactly the width of the bottom board. So: You will do the following:

  1. Prepare your TBH by putting the follower board after bar #10
  2. Remove bars 1-8 from your TBH
  3. The 2 extra bars will be the empty ones that you place at the front (closest to the entrance)
  4. Spritz your TBH inside down with sugar syrup mix
  5. Put on an entrance reducer or block your entrance with grass
  6. Take the 8 bars to the table with all of your tools on it

NEXT STEPS: The Install

  2. inspect your honey bee nuc as stated above
  3. Find your frame with your queen on it. YOU MUST FIND YOUR QUEEN
  4. Shake/brush your bees off of the frames WITHOUT the queen on it first in to your TBH
  5. Place your queen and the remaining bees in to the TBH
  6. Cover your TBH with 8 bars found from BEHIND the follower board. This will enclose your bees in your TBH and decrease the number of bees flying/queen flying away. As well, you will be removing these bars as you add the bars with attached comb momentarily.
  7. Place the bee-less frames back in to the nuc box and place in a shaded area

Cutting the Frames to Fit

  1. You will start with the honey/pollen frame found in the box as your trail frame.
  2. Place the frame down on the cardboard workspace
  4. Use the knife to cut all vertical lines: along the sides of the frame and down the middle of the frame
  5. Use the knife to then make all horizontal cuts at top and bottom of frame
  6. Place the now empty frame back in to the nuc box
  7. Place one of the 1/2 frame combs below a TBH bar ensuring that it is placed centered
  8. Be sure to drill holes with your drill in 2 places on either side of the bar and mirroring the holes about 2″-3″ below the holes in to the comb
  9. Weave your wire through the holes in the bar and the comb: twist the fire off
  10. Suspend in to the TBH

Your TBH should looks as follows from the Front (nearest the entrance) to the back

  1. Empty Bar
  2. Empty Bar
  3. Honey Comb
  4. Brood Comb
  5. Brood Comb
  6. Brood Comb
  7. Brood Comb
  8. Brood Comb
  9. Brood Comb
  10. Honey Comb
  11. Follower board

Watch an Old Video we made on how to install a TBH

Once this is complete, place your feeder in the hive and leave your bees alone for a week!

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