Simply Resourceful

Simple ways to be more conscious about how we use our resources.

Installing a Nuc

Yesterday I picked up my nuc (short for nucleus) of honeybees at Livingscape Nursery.  A nuc is an established colony with an accepted queen who is already laying babies.  A nuc consists of 4 frames so the bees are building comb and taking care of the brood (babies) while in transist.  Last year I purchased a package of bees which is more complicated to install because the queen has not been accepted yet by the colony and she lives in a little cage, which I, as the beekeeper, must help release.  A nuc is sooooo much easier and takes about about 5 minutes to install.
The nuc came in a waxed cardboard box so I covered it with a tarp to keep it somewhat dry overnight.  You can see the bees coming out of the hole.  The large house on the left will be their new home. 

I'm taking out the first frame of bees.  Jon is standing far away so this picture isn't very detailed ; ) 

Voila!  The job is finished!!  The bees are nestled into their new home!

The weather today was cloudy, around 48 degrees, and no rain.  Installing the nuc turned out to be a success!  In the hive I also included a pollen patty (leftover from last year; baby bees are fed pollen), a grease patty (disease treatment for mites), and sugar water (some food to give them a head start after their long journey in the box).  I want to do biodynamic beekeeping, but I don't have the necessary items in my bee kit yet.  Biodynamic beekeeping looks holistically at treating the bees.  You want to strengthen the bees immunity and health rather than treat the disease.  Mites and other diseases are getting resistant to chemical treatments so in the end, we're breeding "superbugs!"  Biodynamic beekeeping looks at using herbs and essential oils rather than chemicals.  A biodynamic beekeeper would not combine two weak hives to get a strong hive.  Let nature decide who is strongest so we're not breeding a weak gene.  Does this make sense?  I am growing my own herbs but need to dry them so I can make tea infusions.  I also didn't harvest honey last year so I can't substitute honey in place of sugar.  It's recommended that you only use honey from your own hives so you can ensure no cross-contamination of diseases.  

So, with all that being said, I made a grease patty to help eliminate any possible mites.  The grease makes the bees' bodies slippery so the mites fall off.  I mixed together 1/2 cup vegetable shortening and 1/4 cup powdered sugar.  I planned to add some Honeybee Healthy (commercial essential oil mixture) to the mix, but the bee supplier didn't have any.  The sugar syrup was a mixture of 2 cups water and 2 cups cane sugar (warm it until the sugar dissolves). 

Recently I just learned that freezing the frames can help kill some diseases and criters that may be lurking on the frames. Freezing will get rid of nosema ceranae spores (although not nosema apis).  I currently have 7 frames in my freezer, and after a week or so, I will exchange them with some other frames. I read somewhere that 48 hours should suffice.  I have two hives, so I have a total of 40 frames.  I will let the frames come to room temperature before giving them to the bees.
For those of you who are unsure what a frame is, here is a picture of one that I took last year.  A frame has foundation that bees build there comb on (made of plastic or beeswax).  The foundation is supported by the wooden frame on all four sides.  There can be ten of these frames in one hive box. 

In addition to my own hives, I volunteer at Zenger Farm.  Earlier this week we installed three nucs because 5 hives died over the winter.  I took a video of the installation:


Tiffani April 16, 2011 at 10:55 PM  

Hey Holly!

Just wanted to leave a quick comment - I really enjoy following your blog! Keep up the good work!


Phoebe April 17, 2011 at 11:59 AM  

Thanks for the video. It was fun to watch.
I am in the middle of planting a big herb bed along my first hive.I am trusting that since we are in the middle of 50 acres of natural area that the bees will be able to gather the trace elements they need themselves.It's all a big experiment.

Now I am just waiting for swarm season to fill my second hive I have just finished.

Elyssia April 20, 2011 at 11:44 PM  

Holly, I am glad that you are trying again. I look forward to another interesting morning side tracked by a swarm as I am leaving for work, lol! Best of luck to you this time around.

About this blog

A weekly update on our adventures of trying to be more self-sufficient by using resources wisely. We explore a variety of topics that most broadly fit in the "Homesteading" category, i.e. beekeeping, organic gardening, edible landscaping/fruit forest, food preservation/canning, woodworking, soap-making, and environmental stewardship.

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