Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Best Way to Install a Nuc

Dad and I have been super busy with the bees.

A week ago we picked up two nuc hives to install in the bee yard beside our other two existing hives.

Here's the best advice I got from a long time beekeeper about "The Best Way to Install a Nuc". I haven't installed tons of nucs like some beekeepers but these instructions work great!

These steps will stop bee losses from the bees flying around too much in unfamiliar territory and getting lost.

1. When you first get home with the bees set the nuc box in place and then wait until dark. Once dark, open the front flap of the nuc box to allow the bees to come out.

Have a flashlight handy and smoker if needed. Wear your bee gear because they can fly and sting at night. With the flap open they'll be able to explore the area outside the hive, get familiar with the scents, etc. Most of the bees will not fly in the dark but will hang out just outside the flap, clean house and carry out their dead. With the flap open it'll be much easier for them to ventilate the hive so they don't get too hot. (If it's a cardboard nuc you'll want to temporarily tape the flap down).

Make sure you put a covering of some kind over the ventilation holes on the top of the nuc box in case it rains - but don't put it right on top - leave air space for ventilation. A lot of bees have been shaken into that container and they can get too hot quickly.

2. The next morning, around mid morning, install the frames of bees right where the nuc box was placed (move the nuc back and set your deep in its place). The bees will be already out flying and gathering. You'll probably see them coming back with pollen.

Have your smoker lit but you probably won't need to smoke the bees when doing the installation. They usually cling to the frame and cluster over the brood. One of the outside nuc frames should be of honey for feed and you'll find it much heavier than the other frames.

The nuc will have anywhere from 3 to 5 frames. Most nucs are 4 frames. Keep the frames in the same order they are in the box. Put the first new 3 empty frames with foundation on one side of the hive then add the 4 nuc frames. Initially, set them in far apart and after they're set in place, wiggle them gently into position, maintaining the bee space. If there are a lot of bees between the frames a slight wiggle back and forth as you slide the frames closer helps give them a warning and a chance to move out of the way. Then add the last 3 new empty foundation frames (for a total of 10 frames) to the hive. Check out your bee space between frames. Take some photos!

There will be some bees left inside the nuc box after you've removed the frames. Sometimes they get stuck under the flaps of the cardboard nuc. You can hold the nuc upside down over the hive and shake the bees into the hive. Don't be afraid to tap the cardboard to urge them to leave. If you have more time you can set the nuc box in front of hive and leave it for 20 minutes or so. The bees inside will soon smell their queen inside her new home and fly to her.

3. Place the entrance reducer into the hive on its smallest setting.

4. Feed them sugar syrup for at least a couple weeks. The syrup will help them to produce the wax required to build combs on the new frames. I highly recommend a hive top feeder as the easiest to access without disturbing the bees. It also holds the most syrup - don't overfill because when doing inspections you will have to lift it up and the syrup can slop over the sides.

Once 7 of the 10 frames are drawn in comb, it's time to add another deep or super of frames. If the nuc frames had dark brown combs you may find the newly built combs are brown (new combs are off-white). The bees will steal any extra wax from the old frames to build faster on the new frames.

It'll probably take the bees 1 to 2 weeks to draw out comb on the other frames. This is an estimate as the length of time varies depending on nectar sources, temperature, time of year, number of bees in the nuc, etc.
Post a Comment