Installation Day

May 12, 2013

The day had finally arrived.  Our nucs were ready to install!  As a refresher, I spent the prior night watching YouTube videos on how to install bee nucs.  Gotta love YouTube!

Nucs and Packages

Perhaps I should have explained in my prior post about what a nuc actually is.  You see, new beekeepers can choose to start their hives with a nucleus hive or with a package.  A nucleus hive is a mini-hive that includes a wax covered box (which acts as the hive body) and five established frames with the bees and the queens all ready to go.  All I do is transfer those frames into my larger hives, then add three new frames to fill my 8-frame hive.  Nucs are the easiest way to start a brand new hive, and because the colony is already established, you get a quick head start.

Packages are screened boxes that contain about 3000 bees, a separate box containing the queen and several attendant bees, and a can of sugar syrup.  The package is opened by pulling out the can of syrup and the queen box.  Then the bees are literally dumped into an empty hive.  Bees don’t like this much, which makes this method a bit risky.  Plus the queen has to be gradually introduced and accepted by the worker bees.  But packages are considerably cheaper and can be purchased in the mail.  I understand postal worker just love having bees in their facility.  Packages are best to use if you have drawn out frames just need bees.

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Nucleus Hive (Nuc) Ready to Install

Let the Installation Begin!

So I went into Sunday morning feeling excited to jump in and start interacting with the bees.  I had even created a checklist of action items in preparation for the big event…

  • Make 2 gallons 1:1 simple syrup made the night before
  • Fill feeder buckets and hammer down tight so they’re ready to go
  • Learn to light the smoker
  • Pull tools out of box:
    • Hive tool
    • Brush
    • Smoker (lessons via YouTube)

My hubster had been waiting to light the smoker with his stash of wood chips from the workshop.  So while he worked on that, I marched the tools and feeder buckets up to the apiary.  We set up a video camera and I dressed in full gear, completely covered from the top of my hat all the way down to my pink muck boots.

I moved with relaxed and fluid motions.  Gently and slowly I removed each frame, inspected for the queens, then transferred them to the center of the hive in the exact same position from which they’d been pulled from the nuc.  Then brand new frames were added to the outside slots.

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Removing Frames from the Nuc

The hubster took photos from afar.  He could see the flying activity that surrounded me and he nervously began coaching me, thinking I was unaware of my surroundings.  I quickly reminded him that just because I couldn’t SEE the activity didn’t mean I couldn’t HEAR the activity.  I was very aware.  But when you’re covered head to toe in canvas, leather and muck boots, it’s hard not to feel like you have the upper hand.

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Adding Established Frames to the New Hive

I didn’t find the queen in Green Hive 1 (GH1), but I did find one in Yellow Hive 2 (YH2).  I was pretty certain both were where they were supposed to be.  A few puffs of smoke calmed the girls down and coaxed them back into the hive.  Feeders were placed and I closed everything up.

They were pretty cool about the move and they certainly adapted quickly to their new space.   I was thrilled that the deed was done and that it was a success…and (guess what?) it’s on YouTube.

See Bee Install Movie on YouTube!

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