The Proper Way to Install a Nucleus Colony of Bees

If you’re looking for a repeat of my last blog, where my activity with bees ends with pain and suffering, alas, you will be disappointed!  I learned from my previous mistakes, so I took the proper precaution this time around.

I’d been anticipating getting bees for months now, reading, researching, trying to put things into practice – but until yesterday everything was pretty much only theory.

Yesterday, I picked up my two nuc colonies from Joel White Apiaries (who I had a great experience with), and placed the nuc box itself where they would permanently go.  I was at first under the impression that I should immediately transfer the frames to my permanent hives, but Joel said it would be better to let them orient themselves to the area first, so that they knew where they were before I also confused them by putting them in a new hive.

So – easy enough.  But the drive back home, with thousands of bees in the back of my SUV buzzing at the same noise level as my vehicle’s engine and air conditioner, was more than a little nerve-racking.  I took all turns much slower than I normally do, because I kept having this image appear in my head, where the boxes tipped over, and two swarms of angry bees decide that I am their enemy.  That didn’t happen.

I got home and carried both to their locations, and removed the duct tape that was sealing their entrance.  After only a moment, they were out and about – obviously wondering where in the heck they were.  I put tape on the entrance of both boxes in two designs – firstly because I wanted them to easily differentiate which hive was theirs of the two, and secondly because I figured I could put the exact same tap design on the permanent hive, so they would recognize it quickly when their old box was gone.

And – then nothing.  I left them to do their thing.

This morning, I donned all my protective gear (helmet with veil, gloves, hive tool and brush), and moved the nuc boxes off their blocks, and replaced them with the new 8-frame hives.  After smoking them for a while, I precariously took each frame from the nucs and placed them in the new hives.  It took a while, but believe me – patience was worth not panicking from making hasty mistakes.

After getting all frames in place, I planned on giving them some sugar syrup to feed them – but apparently I did not make near enough.  What I planned on dividing between the two hives barely was enough for even one.  So – when I was done I came back and made a little more, which I have cooling in the fridge right now.  As soon as it’s at a decent temperature, I’ll fill both of the top feeders up.

So – there you have it.  No drama, no getting to laugh at David’s misery…  One project started, infinity minus one projects to go!

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