Nucleus Colony Installation Guide
These instructions will help you through the process of getting your bees home and installed into your hive. Please note this is by no means a complete guide to beekeeping. If you need help or mentoring we can help you feel comfortable managing your bees with on site guidance. Please contact us for more information.
Transporting your nucleus colony home
- Arrange the pickup at least a day in advance. This allows us to lock you bees into the nucleus at night once they have finished foraging for the day.
- Bring a light weight sheet with you when you pickup your bees (if you are transporting them inside the vehicle with you). This will allow you to cover the nuc and contain any bees that escape.
- Morning pickup is best as the bees will be locked up for a shorter period of time.
When you get the bees home
- Place the nuc in the position where the permanent hive will be. Face the entrance in the same direction as that of the permanent hive.
- Wait at least 1 hour and then open the entrance of the nuc. This will allow bees come and go. The one hour delay is to let the bees settle down after their journey home in your car.
- Bees will fly around orientating themselves to their new environment for a day or two. After this the bees will come and go from the nuc in an orderly manner. If the weather is cool, rainy or overly windy there may not be much activity at the nuc entrance.
- Wait 2 days minimum (or as long as two weeks) before moving on to the next step.
Transferring the bees from the nuc to the new hive
- Light your smoker, a cool smoke is what you are looking for here. Hot smoke will burn the bees and make them angry!
- Gently move the nuc aside and place the hive in the same position that the nuc was.
- Give the bees a single puff of smoke at the entrance, too much smoke makes them angry so use sparingly.
- Gently open the lid of the nuc, another puff of smoke over the frames.
- Remove each frame from the nuc gently and put into the new hive. You need to put the frames into the hive in the same order as they come out of the nuc. Put the nuc frames in the centre of the hive box.
- Install blank frames (wired with foundation) on the outside of the nuc frames in the hive box. This will mean if you have an 8 frame box you will have 1 empty frame on one side of the 5 nuc frames and 2 on the other side. If its a 10 frame box you’ll have 2 and 3 empty frames either side of the nuc frames. See image.
7. Put lid on hive.
8. Bees will now come and go from the new hive.
The first season of the new hive is all about establishing the colony; drawing out the bank frames with beeswax comb, establishing a good population and storing away enough honey to see the bees through winter. Don’t put a super (second box) on top until bees have filled the bottom brood box with brood, pollen, honey and nectar.
It is unlikely in the first season that the bees will collect enough honey to have a surplus for extraction. The bees will need it for winter.
Feeding will allow your colony to build up quicker as it provides the bees with the energy they need to draw out the empty frames and also stimulates the queen to lay more eggs. If you are on a strong nectar flow though (you will see lots of uncapped honey in the hive if this is the case) feeding will not be required.
Spring and summer feeding is done at a sugar to water ratio of 1:1 by weight. This consistency mimics nectar and will encourage the queen to lay more eggs quickly building up the colony. Be careful when feeding 1:1 sugar syrup that you don’t feed more than the bees can consume within a few days at any one time. Sugar syrup at this consistency will eventually ferment and can make the bees sick when this happens.
Autumn and Winter feeding is a sugar to syrup ratio of 2:1 (2 parts sugar) by weight. This will be a thicker consistency and the bees will naturally want to store this away for winter food stores. It will not ferment as readily and will not stimulate the queen’s instinct to increase the population as the thinner syrup does.
If you have any questions please let us know.
Good luck with your new beekeeping hobby!