Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Installing a Nuc in my back-yard bee hive

Here is a series of photos showing me installing a nuc in my back-yard hive.

The term "Nuc" is short for Nucleus Hive. It is basically a box containing 3-6 frames which include not only a good number of bees and a queen, but brood cells (I.E. baby bees) as well. The presence of the brood cells means that the bees aren't going to pick up and move any time soon, because there are youngin's to take care of.

In my understanding, the advantage of installing a Nuc instead of a "package" is because the queen has a head start producing new bees (a 21-day process) and the hive can get down to business quicker than the package bees can. A package, however, has many more bees to work for their queen.

My experience last year with package bees and top-bar hives (basically, they took their queen and left -- "absconded") led me to the conclusion that for my next attempt, I was going to use a Langstroth hive (I.E. "standard") so I could start it with a Nucleus instead of a package. Bees with babies just don't abscond.

Here is what I had laid out before I started the process: the nuc (the waxed cardboard container there, they are also often in wood containers), my hive and stand on its screen bottom-board, extra frames, pollen pack (in the wax paper on the ground), and a frame feeder (the black "frame" inside the hive at the top).

Here is a view into the prepped hive, showing the gap I left (turned out I needed to remove one more frame as the nuc had 5 frames, not 4 as I expected) to receive the nucleus frames. You can see the screen at the bottom there -- screen bottom boards are becoming standard as they allow both debris and especially mites to fall through and not get back up into the hive.

Opening the nuc.

A couple pictures of carefully pulling frames from the nuc box (I pulled two at a time when I could) and installing them in my hive.

Tapping bees from the nuc box into my hive.

The hive, closed up, with the nuc box set nearby so the remaining bees could make their way into the hive. There is a lot of queen scent in the nuc box so if there were a lot of bees the next day still in the box I was going to do another "tap" into the top of the hive. As it turns out there weren't very many so I didn't feel the need to do this. I wanted to let the hive alone for a bit to settle in.

A note on feeding the new hive: I used one package of pollen and 8 quarts of syrup to feed the hive as a precaution. Although the weather has been variable lately, I didn't want to trust that there'd be good flying weather any time soon after the install. This way if they need the food it's there, if they don't -- well, who doesn't need food when you're starting a new project, right? There was already tons of forage nearby for the bees to work if they did fly (maple, hawthorne, apple and comfrey to name a few) so I didn't feed a lot, nor do I expect I'll need to feed any more this season.

The bees look dandy and I'll post reports as the project progresses.

Enjoy pursuing your passions,



The Guy Who Writes This said...

Whoa, pull that pollen substitute out and put it in your freezer for next January. They are getting more than enough natural pollen. Too much pollen will develop the workers ovaries and they will produce drones like you won't believe. Drones don't bring home any nectar, but they do consume it.

Bentley said...

awesome pictures brandon! :D soso jealous.

Bpaul said...

Gotcha, I was going to open it up anyway.

Thanks for the advice sir.


nolocontendere said...

Good stuff! Beekeeping fascinates me.

stingite said...

Best of luck with the bees, Brandon!

Anonymous said...

Great photos and rationale - have you seen/read The Secret Life of Bees yet? it's worth it... good luck with the little guys this time, va momma