Installing the Nucs

May 21, 2012

I woke up early yesterday morning to see how the bees had fared overnight.  They seemed to be spending the morning becoming acquainted with their new home.  I could see plenty of curious bees buzzing around the nuc boxes and hives.  I looked on as some were spiraling up into the air.  They were orienting themselves to their new location.  The sun was shining brightly and temperatures were already in the sixties.  I had to get to work.  Later this morning, I would transfer the bees from the nucs to their new hives.

The first thing that I had to do was make food for the bees.  Our local beekeeper’s association recommends feeding Cape Cod bees in the Spring and the Fall as well as any new hives whether they are packages or nucs. Feeding the bees requires a sugar syrup at a 1:1 ratio in the Spring and a 2:1 ratio in the Fall.  The association has also had great results with Honey B Healthy added into the syrup as a supplement.  The kids and I made the syrup.


Honeybee Springtime Syrup

This recipe is the perfect amount to fill one feeder pail.  If you are like me and have two hives, double the recipe.

5 pints of water (10 cups)
5 pounds of sugar
Honey B Healthy (optional-directions per label)

Bring the water to a rolling boil on the stove.
Remove water from heat.
Stir in the sugar.
Mix until all sugar is dissolved.
Cool until room temperature then fill the feeder.

As the syrup was cooling. The kids and I got onto filling our frames with foundation.  Foundation is thin bees wax with tiny support wires running through it.  This is attached into each wooden frame. Adding the foundation serves as a guide to the bees for where we want them to “work”.  Our association shared with us a very useful tip.  We use bobby pins on the sides to support the foundation. We needed to fill ten frames for our new hives.

Once the sugar syrup cooled, I filled each feeder.  I gathered up my hive tool, the smoker, the filled frames, the mouse guards made from hardware cloth and suited up.  I was ready.  Some people tend their bees with just a veil.  Some people prefer to wear a light jacket, veil and gloves.  While others wear a full suit.  As I react very badly to insect bites and stings, I did not have an option.  My kids told me that I looked like White Darth Vader.

As the bees were still not accustomed to their new home they were on the guard.  Typically, our association has been misting bees with the Honey B Healthy when they open the hives.  However, I decided to use the smoker.  This was not going to be a typical hive opening.  This was a job that would take some time and stir up the bees.  I had my family watch from afar while my husband graciously offered to take some photos.

First I placed the nuc that I was going to be working with on the ground and opened up the new hive. I added three new frames with the foundation that the kids and I made. Then I methodically transferred each of the 5 frames from the nuc into the hive in the exact same placement as it had been in the nuc. Lastly I added in 2 more new frames with foundation. The nuc will live in the center of the hive and build out.


Using the hive tool to remove a frame
Gently grasping each side of the frame
Placing the frame in the hive
Adding the last two new frames with foundation

Some bees remained in the old nuc box.  I tipped it over and shook the remaining bees onto of new hive’s frames.  I replaced the inner cover, inverted the feeder pail and centered it onto the inner cover’s opening.  I then added an empty deep to conceal the feeder and replaced the outer cover on top of the hive.  Within no time, I had completed the first hive and then moved onto the second one.  I was gaining confidence.  I opened up the next nuc and got to work.

I followed all the same steps.  This time, I felt more relaxed and enjoyed the transfer process.  Once all the frames were added to the hive. I took a moment to listen.  I could hear plenty of bees buzzing.  Their low pitched buzzing was filling the air and the hive in front of me.  Then, I heard the queen.  She was singing.  Over the low buzzing, I could hear a high pitched melodic song.  It sounded so happy.  I was amazed.  I could not help smiling.
I added the mouse guards to the entrances.  Then I placed the old nuc boxes in front of the new hives respectively.  It was going to take a while for all the bees to realized where their queen was now residing.  Later that evening, I returned out to the hives and opened up the old nuc boxes.  They were empty except for one or two bees.  I freed those few bees and removed the old nuc boxes.  The transfer was complete.  My new little girls were all safe within their hives.  They will be left alone for a week and then I will open the hive to check on their progress.  If all goes well, I might just get some honey after all this Fall.
Old nuc placed next to new hive entrance
This post is linked up to Homestead Revival’s Homestead Barn Hop.
Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest, Mr. Tilly’s Nest



Author/Blogger/Freelancer-Sharing adventures with backyard chickens, beekeeping, gardening, crafting, cooking and more.



8 thoughts on “Installing the Nucs”

  1. too cool. Bees cause reactions in me also so I am leery of having hives. Glad you can do it. Love your stories!

  2. What you are doing is slightly different than the methods I was taught in my beekeeping class. There was lots of emphasis by instructors that good practices vary from area to area. This makes me wish I had been able to install hives too but I'll just have to live vicariously through you until I can get my neighbors to agree it's okay. So many people are afraid of bees, with good reason in places like Arizona and Texas, not so much up north where scary African bees can't survive.


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Sharing an inspired life from the New England seaside. Chickens, Bees, Gardens, Art and Yummy Goodness.