Beckys Bees - How To Make A Nucleus (Nuc)

There are many different ways to make a nuc of bees, a lot of the time it depends on the situation you find yourself in at the time. One of our favourite ways for queen introduction is as follows:

To make a nuc to introduce your new queen into, you need to take at least two frames with bees, emerging and capped brood from a strong parent colony. When taking these frames out pay close attention to ensure that the queen is not on these frames and then place the frames into your nuc. You also need to add a few frames with honey stores on them, again check these frames to ensure you have not got a queen on them and put these into your nuc box along with the frames of brood and bees. Now fill up the rest of your nuc box with new frames with undrawn foundation, this could be 1 or 2 frames depending on whether you are making a 5 or 6 frame nucleus up. Before you close up the nuc you also need to shake a couple of extra frames of bees in from you parent colony. This is essential as you need lots of young bees to help prepare cells for your new queen to lay into and to look after the existing brood and the new brood your new queen will lay. If you nuc is being sited at the same apiary that the parent hive is in then be aware that all the flying bees will all return to the parent hive and only the young workers will stay to look after the brood on the first two frames you placed into the nuc. Therefore you must ensure you shake a good amount of bees into your nuc and check the next day to ensure you still have enough bees in the nuc. If the quantity of bees has diminished then go back to the parent colony and take another couple of frames out and shake them into your nuc - do check for the queen first as you don't want to accidently shake her into your new nuc.

Beckys Beezzzs – Open Polystyrene Nuc
Beckys Bees – Bees Inside A Wooden Nucleus Hive

You can leave your nuc queenless for a few days before adding your new queen but it is not essential. Some say that you get a better rate of acceptance if you do leave it queenless but we usually put our queens in the same day, we just leave them queenless for a short time, half to one hour. However, if you didn't see the queen in the parent hive when you made up your nuc then you should leave it queenless for 3 days as this will give you the chance to make sure you didn't accidently transfer the queen from the parent colony as they will start to pull queen cells if there is no queen. If when you check it in 3 days there are no queen cells and you still have eggs present you know you have transferred the queen from the parent colony. If there are the start of queen cells after 3 days it is essential that you remove every one the bees have started to draw before you put the new queen in (still inside her cage, with or without workers), if you miss any your bees are likely to kill your new queen.

There is some more information about queen introduction on our Queen Introduction Page.

When you put in the new queen (still in her cage), you have the option to hold her in the cage for a few days before you allow the bees to release her. Some say this helps with acceptance but we usually allow the bees access to the fondant trap straight away. Some of the cages we supply queens in have a tab you need to break off, others already have the fondant exposed so if you wanted to delay the release of the queen in this instance you would need to take over the fondant. Which ever you chose to do you do need to feed your nuc once the new queen is in. Depending on what nuc box you are using you may already have a built in feeder, if not then our ply nuc boxes are designed to take a rapid feeder on top of the crown board. We prefer rapid feeders to contact feeders as you can top them up easily without disturbing the bees). Feed your bees preferably with Ambrosia Syrup but you can feed 1:1 sugar water. If using sugar water ensure you don't boil it.

If you have delayed the release of the queen by a day or two please remember to go back and release her!! 2 or 3 days after your new queen is free from her cage she should be happily laying eggs inside your new nuc. Having said that it is really important not disturb your bees, no matter how tempting, for 10 days. Opening the nuc before this time can upset the balance and they may try to superceed the queen. Without disturbing the nuc you can check for pollen on the legs of your returning flying bees. This will give you a good indicator that all is well inside.

I must stress that there is not a fail safe way to introduce a new queen to either a colony or nuc, this is meant as a guide only and often even though we do all the things mentioned above some bees will not accept a new queen.

As the nuc matures your nurse bees will become your flying bees and the brood from the first 2 two frames added originally will have emerged to become your new nurse bees.

3 weeks after your new queen started laying her eggs will be hatching and all your worker bees will be her off-spring. Your nuc will soon be full of bees and the brood should have spread across more frames. Once you have a nuc full of bees and brood and food it will be time to put it into a hive so it can increase to a full colony.

Beckys Bees – Poly Nuc's In Apiary

Please read this page in conjunction with our Queen Introduction Page if adding a new queen.