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Thread: Nucs?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Campbell, Wyoming USA

    Default Nucs?

    First and foremost let me apologize for posting this thread. Undoubtedly there are a plethora of threads training videos and I'm sure even books on this very subject but I'm tired, just got off a fourteen hour shift and don't have the ambition to look, so I turned to the lazy side. Again, my apologies.

    I've read a couple of books on beekeeping and all make mentions of nucs and give various explanations. From what I gather they are most aptly described as a "mini hive" and have several references as to using them as a great management tool but I'm still somewhat confused about them.

    I understand they are a smaller hive but are you able to overwinter a nuc? Is a nuc just a temporary home for queens and brood/house bees or is it something that when done correctly gives you a constant and readily available supply of brood and workers. If this is the case and they have no stores of honey for the winter what is to be done with them in the fall?

    Most of my questions relate to overwintering a nuc and I will try to search through previous threads when I have more time but if someone could give me a real quick answer (or even an in-depth one if you have the time and desire) I would greatly appreciate it. Also any literature that could be recommended or videos on the subject would be helpful.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    East Windsor, CT

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Concord, CA

    Default Re: Nucs?

    Several people over winter nucs, I overwinter 5 here last winter but my winters are mild. Some people in cold climates do it on top of a strong hive.
    The hardest thing for me is trying to keep them small until I find people to buy them.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Danbury, CT

    Default Re: Nucs?

    The definition of a Nuc is a little vague. Some people consider any 5 frame hive a nuc, even if it has multiple 5 frame boxes. The Nuc by definition is the start of a colony; so it is a temporary state. If you buy a nuc to start a hive, then you bought a nuc, but IMO if you buy a nuc and then keep it for an indefinite amount of time for management reasons it is just a 5 frame hive and no longer a nucleus.

    Some people have had better luck wintering Nucs rather then full hives. I personally prefer to break everything down to nucs in the fall and winter over in nuc form. Stacking has been the most successful method for me. I usually Stack nucs on nucs, but staking on a full hive also works.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA

    Default Re: Nucs?

    What Nucs are Good For:

    Splits You can put a frame of brood with eggs a frame of emerging brood a couple of frames of honey and pollen and put them in a nuc and shake another couple of frame of bees from some brood in and the bees will raise a queen and you will have a new hive. When they fill the nuc, move them to a standard box.

    Artificial swarm. If the bees are trying to swarm, do as above except add the old queen to the nuc and take out all but one or two of the swarm cells in the hive.

    Making queens from swarm cells. As above you can do a split to get them to make a queen, but also when they are trying to swarm you can as in the first (splits) and put a queen cell in each nuc with the brood and honey and bees and they will hatch the queen and you can use them for requeening or selling or whatever you like. Of course you can also do queen rearing to get the cells to put in. If you have multiple queen cells you can cut some off and put them in nucs.

    Keeping a backup queen. When you requeen take some of those old queens and put them in nucs with a frame of brood and honey and if the new queen gets rejected you still have a spare. Also, if you just keep a nuc with a queen in it for a spare, you can requeen a hive with that queen. To keep it weak, keep taking sealed brood out and giving to other hives.

    Foolproof requeening. If you do as in the first (splits) and put a caged queen in the nurse bees will quickly accept the queen. After she is laying you can kill the queen in the hive to be requeened and do a newspaper combine. Bees readily accept a laying queen.

    Queen bank. I built a shim that is the size of a nuc but " thick and put queen cages with the wire down to keep them for several days or weeks before introducing them.

    Comb building. This is especially nice with regressed bees. Since the problem with 4.9mm foundation isn't getting the bees to use the cells, it's getting unnatural large bees to BUILD the cells. If you start a nuc with small bees as in the first (splits) and after it's established, put frames with 4.9mm foundation in the 1,2,4 and 5 position. Feed it well and remove some drawn frames everyday. If there are eggs, put it in another colony to let them emerge and then steal the frame. Keep 3 or 4 pounds of bees in the nuc.

    Swarm catching. Nucs are nice for hiving small swarms.

    Bait Hives. Nucs are nice for bait hives for swarms. You could use a 10 frame box and that is a nice size too, but is harder to attach in a tree and for best results they need to be 10 feet or so up a tree.

    Shaken swarms. You can put a screen bottom on the nuc and shake bees from brood frames from several hives (being careful NOT to get a queen) and you have a bunch of homeless queenless bees. These can be put in hive with some brood so they can raise one or added to a nuc with a caged queen.

    Transporting honey. Nucs are nice and light even with five frames of honey, compared to a ten frame box. Nice for putting frames in as you brush off the bees to harvest and nice to carry around.
    Michael Bush "Everything works if you let it." 42y 40h 39yTF

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA

    Default Re: Nucs?

    Looks like a good topic for a Bee Talk.
    Mark Berninghausen

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Columbia county, New York, USA

    Default Re: Nucs?

    Michael thank you so much for all that good advice.

    I am just about to make a nuc from my 2nd yr hive, taking the old queen to do it and letting the main hive raise a new queen. So glad I bought a few wooden nucs this Spring!
    The little bee returns with evening's gloom,
    To join her comrades in the braided hive... -Tennyson


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