Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

Add to My MSN

Nucleus Hives Keep Your Apiary Alive

5/21/2014 11:17:00 AM

Tags: beekeeping, Tennessee, Betty Taylor

IMG_1401.jpg

Making nucs is paramount in keeping bees these days because so many hives die each year in comparison with hive losses of the past. Just to stay in the game and to keep the bees alive, beekeepers must add new hives every year.

Making nucs during the nectar flow is a wonderful way to aid the bees, because they naturally want to swarm at this time of year, and nucs are artificial swarms! The bees win and the beekeeper wins--the bees get to do what they are meant to do and the beekeeper gets to keep more bees. Fewer bees are lost in artificial swarms than if they'd swarmed naturally, so more bees are left to produce honey AND you have a new hive.

A couple of blogs ago, I described making nucleus hives (nucs) and the importance of timing their creation to coincide with the nectar flow (read last 2 blogs) and promised I would report on how it all turned out.

IMG_1418.JPG

I made 6 three-frame nucs just as our nectar flow was getting underway here in Middle Tennessee. I made another 5 nucs a week or so into the flow. So how did they do? Did the nucs make laying queens and get down to business? A current Bee Culture article says that a 70-percent success rate is to be expected--so that was my goal.

Of the first 6 nucs, 5 successfully reared queens and are now laying and producing brood. I added the bees from the unsuccessful nuc to one of the successful ones. These 5 nucs each received one feeding of about 1/2 shallow frame of comb honey (frozen from last year's harvest) when I made the nucs. I did not give them anymore feed, and they are storing honey and making new wax.

I started the the last 5 nucs a week or so into the nectar flow and gave them NO supplemental feed. There was some honey in the frames, as well as pollen, brood, and unhatched eggs, at the time I made the nucs. Four of the 5 produced laying queens. Again I combined the unsuccessful nuc with one of the successful ones. Nine of 11? I'm satisfied with that. We'll see how they progress.

IMG_1417.JPG

The picture above shows something interesting in one of the nucs that was unsuccessful in making a queen for itself. It was the last nuc I'd made that day and I was tired. After I'd chosen the 3 frames from the original hives and was installing them, I noticed that one of the frames was almost all drone brood! Crap! I thought, a bunch of useless bees that won't do the work of making a new hive! Well, a couple of days later, I walked by and noticed that the worker bees were dragging out drone larvae!

Smart girls! They were in survival mode and needed to make a queen and gather food. The boys were a drain on already stretched resources, so they'd uncapped the cells and discarded them. The bees in this nuc did bring in enough honey to fill all 3 frames, but there was no laying queen, so I added them and their honey to a nuc with a queen.

The pictures below show moving a successful 3-frame nuc into a deep brood box after 30  days.

After removing the top cover of the nuc, seeing these bees at the entrance of the inner cover is a very good sign. 

IMG_1423.JPG

IMG_1421.jpg

Closeup of capped and uncapped worker brood--signs of a laying queen.

The 3-frames installed into the center of a regular deep hive body. These hives will not produce enough honey to rob until next year. I will watch them and combine any weak hives in the fall to improve their chances of making it through the winter. So, just maybe, I'll get to call myself a beekeeper for another year.



Related Content

How to Make Nucleus Honeybee Hives

Describes the timing and the nuts and bolts involved in expanding your apiary by making nucleus hive...

Successful Beekeeping with Your Own Honeybees

A hive of bees will produce honey and help pollinate your garden and orchard, but beekeeping is also...

My 6 Tips for Starting Beekeeping

What follows are my top 6 tips on how to start beekeeping; a most wonderful hobby that I urge everyo...

Making Soap at the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Learn why making soap doesn't have to be as intimidating as it may sound. Katherine from Bramble Ber...

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 










Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.