Nucleus, or "nuc" hives have fewer frames than a
standard beehive. They are one of my favorite beekeeping tools, because they can
keep extra queens and can be used to raise new queens.
I want to get a lot of honey from my hives, and am always
disappointed to find a queenless hive or a hive that is weak for some other reason.
Nuc colonies provide me with spare queens and frames of brood in the bee yard that are
available immediately. This allows me to re-start a problem hive, and the colony
hardly misses a heartbeat.
Most of my nuc hives have four frames, and I think that is
ideal. Three frames does not overwinter well here in Dallas and crowds the
In the months before the main honey flow, I sometimes take
two frames of brood out of a nuc colony to boost the strength of a regular hive. This
increases my honey production and delays crowding of the nuc colony.
To join a nuc colony with a regular hive that is
queenless, I smoke the bees lightly and spray the bees in both colonies with a light (1:2)
sugar-water syrup. The bees then seem to concentrate on licking themselves off
instead of fighting. A sheet of newspaper between the nuc bees and the others may be
helpful too, if the colony has more than one box.
I try not to spray inside open brood cells.
If a new queen is to be placed into a hive
without her brood and bees, or I want to give her extra protection, a cardboard
matchbox or the equivalent can be helpful. The queen is placed in the brood nest, preferably on emerging brood, and the box is pressed into the comb.
The bees will get to know their new queen for a while before they chew into the box and
release her. No cage to remove later. I believe that the keys to successful queen introduction
flow (real or simulated)
the queen in the brood nest, where there are mostly young bees
to get acquainted
sure the colony is queenless