Getting your first nucleus (nuc) of bees can be an exciting and memorable occasion. We’ve put together this short checklist to make bringing home your bees as stress-free and enjoyable as possible.
You’re going to need to make sure you have a few things in place before collecting your nuc:
- Beekeeping suit
- Hive tool
- Hive and frames of foundation
- Feeder and an eke or empty super (see below)
- Sugar syrup (you can buy ready made sugar syrup or make it yourself)
Prepare the Place – bees can only be moved very short distances (3 feet maximum at a time) or very long distances (more than 3 miles), so wherever it is that you want your beehive to end up, that’s where you are going to place your nucleus. Make sure the ground is level and you have in place something to place the nucleus onto, away from the floor. A concrete paving slab, recycled car tyre or beehive stand are all ideal.
You’ll be collecting your nuc either very early in the morning or later in the evening, to ensure that all of the flying bees are back inside the nuc. When you get back to the place that your bees are going to remain and have safely placed it in position, slide the disc blocking the entrance to the completely open quarter, allowing your bees to fly.
Check that the bees have some sugar syrup in the nuc to last them the next couple of days. Allow the bees to settle for 24 – 48 hours and orientate themselves to their new surroundings.
Providing your nuc is strong and well established, on the next available warm (above 14 degrees celsius), sunny day, you can transfer the bees to their new hive.
One by one, remove the frames from the nuc, placing them carefully into the hive, checking each frame so you can ensure you are also moving the queen across.
Place a frame of foundation at the front of the new hive, then each of the 5 or 6 frames from your nuc and then fill the remainder of the hive up with foundations frames. Place the crown board on top, with one of the holes uncovered, over which you can place your feeder, filled with sugar syrup so your bees have plenty of readily available food to help them grow and to build out the frames of foundation without using up essential stores of collected food.
By placing a bucket or top feeder on top pf the crown board, the roof won’t now fit over the top of the hive, so you’ll need to place something around the bucket/feeder to build up that space. We use a super with the frames removed, or an empty brood box.
Replace the roof and leave them for a week to settle, checking the sugar syrup level every few days to ensure they have sufficient food. After a week to ten days in their new hive you can begin your regular inspections.