I got a free nuc full of bees this morning from a neighbor beekeeper (nice, eh?). I bought a new queen yesterday. I have the bees in a cool spot in the closed nuc box in the garage and I want to install the queen this afternoon. My question is, should I open the entrance to the nuc and let them fly tonight or wait till tomorrow? And how long should I wait once I know the queen is released and laying to install the nuc in a hive box?
Sorry if this is a dumb noob question, but I couldn't find anything when I searched.
btw, if it helps formulate the answer, i'm in central florida and it's about 90 degrees and sunny today. Expecting rain later today.
Hi Bob. I only have three years experience but since nobody else has answered I will give you my advice. I would get those frames in your hive box right away in their permanent . Definitely open it up and let them fly. Normally I would advise to add the queen at that time but since they have been closed up I would let them fly for a day to settle down a bit. You can give the queen a drop or two of water and sugar water on her cage in the meantime. Do not give her store-bought honey. J
I am a year and a half in and still so far to go! So now, I've left the new queen in the nuc for 4 days. rained like a mother yesterday afternoon when I had planned to open it and see what's happening and maybe transfer to the hive box. Will try again today. On my own limited rationality I followed your advice and let them fly the night I brought them home. The yard I got them from is only a half mile away so I didn't want to let them fly till I was reasonably certain they would take to the new queen and not just mosey on "home". Installed her at 4 p.m. and opened the door at 6 p.m. Everything externally seemed pretty calm but I will find out what mayhem I may have wrought with my noobness if I can get in today. Rain predicted again for this afternoon.
So here's what I really want to know. I find all sorts of good instructions on installing a nuc in a hive whether from a split (also lots of good instruction on how to do that) or from a purchased nuc. All of these tutorials (that I've found) skip the part in the middle! E.g. From the point where I install a mated queen in a queen cage to my newly made split, or from the point where the queen was installed in my purchased nuc to the time I pick the nuc up from the seller.. So... I make a queenless 5-frame split. frames of honey and pollen, frame of brood and larvae, and lots of nurse bees. 1. how soon do I install a mated queen in her cage to that split? 2. How long from the time she's installed to the time I move the nuc to the hive? I know she needs at least a few days for the bees to accept her and eat through the candy plug to release her. But do I leave them alone in the nuc for another week until there are eggs and larvae? or go ahead and install to the hive once she's out and about in the nuc? not speaking in absolutes, just a rule of thumb on timing... If I were a commercial operator selling nucs, how long do I wait from the time I introduce the mated queen to the nuc until I tell my customer it's time to pick up the nuc, to put it another way.
My queen introduction success rate this year is only 75% so consider the source a bit.
I would have introduced the caged queen on a frame with mixed larvae immediately. The bees know they are missing a queen in an hour or so.
I would also have moved the nuc into its perm hive immediately (as soon as practicable) with the hive in its final location.
I check to see if the bees are happy with the queen after a couple of days. Check their reaction to the queen in the cage. Are they attacking or just clustering around the queen. Try moving them around with your finger. If they move easily she has most likely been accepted. I release her when this is the case. If the bees are clinging tightly to the queen cage you may need to let her bee for a while. I leave the cork in until I've done the cling test. My one failure was one where the bees released the queen by eating through the candy to kill the queen.
Don't judge the queen's performance for the first 14 days. By day 21 you should be able to tell if she is laying in a nice pattern.
Thanks for the replies. I was able to dodge the rain today and checked the nuc when I got home. Queen cage empty and spotted the queen right away. Transferred the nuc frames to the hive it was sitting next to for the past 5 days and put a feeder on. All appears to be well. Which means that sometimes luck beats science...
well... here's the rest of the saga. Sorry if this seems like a trivial subject, but in case any other new beekeepers out there get themselves into my predicament, perhaps my story will help.
So. My timing was apparently ALL wrong and I'll be attempting to requeen both of my hives this coming weekend. Comes from not asking the right questions in the first place, I guess... as the old saying goes, sometimes you don't know what you don't know. The good folks at the apiary where i bought the queens, when I reached out to them with an SOS after doing an inspection this past Saturday and finding no queens, no larvae and diminishing brood in both hives; asked me to send photos of the hives/frames from that inspection. They quickly verified what I'd determined to be queenlessness in both hives. They also gave me good instruction on how to make adjustments (moving the split back into the nuc box, for example, until it builds up) and hopefully salvage this mess.
My error was getting ahead of myself. I should have left the new queen in the nuc until there was evidence that she was laying and the brood nest was expanding in the nuc... THEN move to the 10-frame box. This goes to my earlier post in this thread regarding time from makeup of a split in a nuc to "ready" to hive condition. In the older hive I cut out all the queen cells I could find and then put in the queen cage the same day. I thought the bees looked too agressive on the cage and i was apparently right. They probably killed her. Again, got ahead of myself. I should have been more thoroughgoing in my work to ensure there was not an existing queen or any viable queen cells in that box.