Archives for posts with tag: nuc

Character leaning against question mark

This morning I received an email from a reader of my blog. It is a good question about whether you should keep a jar of feed for your colony after installing a nuc.

Hi, I just got a nuc of bees brought in and setup into a brand new hive that my neighbours have built for me. At this point it consists of two boxes with ten frames per box and a third on the top. The bees were introduced about one week ago. My neighbour set them up, he put a mason jar of sugar water upside-down with holes in the lid in the top box. There has been slight activity during the first part of the week as the daytime highs have only been about 12 degrees (Celsius) or so. Yesterday the temp was about 18 degrees and sunny. The hive was very active at that temp. Today was colder and this evening before dark I had a quick peek in the top box by gently removing the lid. I noticed that all the sugar water was gone. My question (finally) is should this quart size mason jar always have sugar water in it???  What should I do? FYI they are Buckfast Bees.

I answered this email directly, but I also thought I’d post my answer here and spark a discussion. If I understand correctly, this reader has two boxes with frames in them, and a third box on top of those that contains a mason jar for feeding. The nuc only arrived one week ago.

To answer the main question first: No, you don’t need to keep that mason jar filled with sugar syrup. You can remove it and take off the 3rd box that it’s sitting in. The feed is sometimes used to boost production in the hive. It’s typically used in smaller/weaker colonies. Your bees will eat the sugar syrup, but it is not what they’re designed to eat regularly. You don’t want them to choose that over nectar from flowers.

In the winter, or early spring, you may need to feed them again, but for now, as we head into summer, you’re fine without it. In fact, I didn’t use any feeder at all when I installed my nuc, around the same time.

Also, just a bit more information to help: Your bees will likely stay in their hive during colder weather, especially if it’s a bit rainy. It’s perfectly normal to not see a lot of activity around your hive on these cold & rainy days. As you mentioned, it’s when it’s sunny and 18 degrees that the bees get to work.

Try to avoid checking your hive when it’s chilly outside. If it’s around 10 degrees Celcius or colder, then you risk chilling your brood if you have your hive open for too long. It’s best to do your inspections mid-day, when a lot of your bees will be out foraging.

Another point I thought I should mention is that if you had a 4-frame nuc and you just installed it one week ago, then you might not need to have a second box with frames on it yet. You add boxes as you go, when the first box is roughly 75%-90% full. That’s the time when you plop another box with frames on top. If you give them too much space early on, it might be difficult to stay warm during really cold nights. At this point, however, they may have already started using that box, so it’s up to you whether you want to remove it or not. It may just be easier to leave it now.

In the future, it’s good to know that if you’re buying your nuc from a reputable breeder, there are guidelines to follow which are in place for your benefit. Your nuc should have been shipped with some food stores when it arrived. Adding sugar syrup is an extra safety measure to provide a bit more feed to your bees after their stressful journey to their new home. For information on what the Ontario Beekeeping Association recommends for nucs, please visit my blog post here: Buying nucs of bees in Ontario. Take into consideration that these are just guidelines, and your nuc may have been a bit different.

I hope this answers your question. I wish you all the best for a happy and healthy bee season. Good luck!

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.

I just got the call from my bee supplier! My bees are in! I’m going to get them in an hour. More to follow…

Boys on a wall, cheering


My bees are ordered and I will likely be receiving them sometime in May. I ordered my bees from Better Bee Supplies in Cambridge, Ontario. Lil at Better Bees receives her nucs (pronounced “nukes”) from several Ontario breeders. The nuc of bees will cost me $175.

As a first-time bee purchaser, I would like to make sure that I’m getting high quality bees and that they are well adapted to my local climate. Buying an “overwintered nuc” means that I’ll be buying a queen that has survived at least one winter and has already mated and is laying eggs. These eggs will hatch in my hive in May and beging working for their queen soon after.

I have pulled up some information on purchasing nucs from the Ontario Beekeepers Association site which I have reposted here to help anyone else purchasing a nuc of bees this spring: Read the rest of this entry »