NUC INSTALLATION INSTRUCTIONS & TIPS
The Bees: Each nuc contains a young mated & marked queen, four frames of bees of various ages, and a one-gallon frame feeder. Please transfer your frames with care to prevent accidental injury to the queen and worker bees.
Transport: The nucleus hive entrance is closed for transport with ventilation holes. Please do not leave the bees in direct sunlight, block ventilation holes, or leave in a hot car. Bees are very sensitive to temperature and CO2 buildup and can easily suffocate or overheat.
Preparation: Have your equipment ready before your bees arrive to their new home. You will need one deep brood box (unless you purchased a western nuc), a hive tool, protective clothing, and one gallon of sugar syrup made with 2 parts sugar to one part water (by weight or volume). We recommend placing your nuc exactly where the colony will be sited and opening the entrance to let the bees fly and orient to their new location as soon as possible. Bees orient to a specific location, and foragers will return to the exact spot they exited; these bees are valuable workers and they become disoriented and lost if they imprint on the wrong location. While the nucs may be installed immediately, it is usually a little more pleasant for the bees and beekeeper to instal them after they have calmed down a bit from transport and some of the field bees are out foraging. If weather and time constraints do not allow for this, please do not hesitate to install your nuc anytime so they can continue to grow and prosper.
Installation & Care: It is best to install your nuc into a hive box as soon as possible. If installation will be delayed, locate your nuc box in the exact spot where your hive box will be located and open the entrance so the bees can fly out for water and cleansing flights (see above). Colonies can grow very fast this time of year and they can quickly outgrow the nuc box and develop the urge to swarm.
Before transferring frames please remove the feeder and place against the inner wall of the brood chamber. This will allow enough room in the nuc to easily manipulate frames and reduce the risk of damaging the queen. When transferring the frames from your nuc to a hive box, it is important to keep the nuc frames together in the same order. Place the four frames of bees next to the feeder and then add frames to fill the box. It is very important to keep the correct number of combs in the brood chamber to prevent the production of burr comb which can make future inspections difficult. Be sure to brush or shake any remaining bees from the nuc box into the hive and thoroughly examine to assure the queen is not left behind. Start your bees in a single brood box and add a second brood box when 70% of the frames in the first box are drawn out with wax.
Feed your bees 2:1 sugar syrup until the frames in both of your brood boxes are drawn, or until the bees stop taking the syrup. Backfilling/storage of syrup in brood cells indicates the bees are being overfed. Your new colony will benefit greatly from supplemental feeding of sugar syrup and protein until they are fully established in both brood boxes. This is especially true if they are installed before a stretch of rainy weather or if you are using new foundation. Try not to disturb your new hive for a few days after transfer (other than to refill sugar syrup). You should inspect the hive after about a week to ensure the queen is alive and viable (look for eggs). You should see fresh comb, wax, and brood of all stages.
After your colony is established in their hive, (2-3 weeks) we recommend that you check it for mites. There are many methods for doing this; a good resource and starting place is this guide from The Honey Bee Health Coalition, which you can download here: https://honeybeehealthcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/HBHC-Guide_Varroa_Interactive_7thEdition_June2018.pdf
* There is inherent risk in transporting live bees. Be aware that you may have a few loose bees on the outside of your nuc box. Take care to secure the nuc in your car so it doesn’t tip over. Keep the bees shaded and well-ventilated during transport.
* Bees are stinging insects. Take care to protect yourself during handling and installation.
* A colony of bees is a living organism. As beekeepers we do our best to manage them in a way that encourages them to stay in the hive we provide for them. It is highly unlikely for a first year nuc colony to swarm, but there is no guarantee. Swarming and absconding are natural phenomena.
* Varroa mites are present in almost every bee colony, including nucs. It is a good idea to test your colony for mites after they are established to determine if treatment is warranted.
* Be very proactive about sampling regularly for Varroa mites. Poorly managed mite populations are the single largest cause of colony mortality and this is very preventable.
* Please consider joining your local beekeeper’s association. Bees offer an opportunity for a lifetime of learning and the experience of others will prove very useful on your beekeeping journey.