Yesterday morning I got the call that I had been waiting for all month long. My bees were in! I went and picked them up at lunch with my wife and daughter. The nuc box was a 4-frame cardboard box with a screen on top and it was humming quietly.
My wife insisted on taking 2 cars because she didn’t trust a box of bees in the same vehicle as our 1-year-old. It was probably a good plan too because at least 3 bees had managed to escape the nuc box on the way home. At home, I put the nuc on my porch in the shade so that it wouldn’t become too hot during the afternoon.
After work, we all drove out to my bee yard, and we set up the hive. I raised the hive off the ground using cinderblocks and made sure it was level. Hives need to be level so that the comb hangs straight and doesn’t run from one frame to the next. After everything was set up, it was time to move those bees from the nuc into my hive.
I have a video of the whole installation, but my wife, with our daughter, was standing about 100 feet away and with a baby in one hand and camera in the other, let’s just say that a tripod may have been a good idea. So to spare you the motion sickness of watching that video, I have opted to provide only still photos above. 😉
After suiting up, I smoked the bees lightly. This actually seemed to upset them a bit and they started buzzing loudly. I opened the nuc and the bees swirled out around me. No turning back now! I slowly pried out the first frame of the nuc and inspected it before putting it in my hive. I did the same with the second frame and noticed a cluster of bees up in one corner. In the centre of the cluster, I spotted the queen! This was a pretty rewarding experience for me because I have heard of beekeepers not finding their queen for quite a few inspections. After that, it was fairly straight forward to place the remaining frames from the nuc into the hive. I ensured that I was placing the frames in the same order and orientation as they were in the nuc, so as to not disturb the internal layout of the hive and the laying pattern that the queen has established.
I filled the rest of the hive body with empty frames and closed everything up. That was that — all done. It was at this point that I realized I hadn’t tucked my pants into my socks. Oh well. The bees were fairly calm and they must have liked me enough to spare me of any stings. I took off my gloves and took some close-up photos while they swirled around. A few landed on my hands, but we were cool with each other.
So overall, a painless (literally) and uneventful install of my first nuc. I wish that I had a better video of the experience and a photo of the queen, but there will be more opportunity for that in the future.
Next steps: Leave the bees alone for a week, then check and make sure that they’re liking their new home and open their entrance a bit wider as their population should increase a bit.