Should Every Beekeeper Have A Nuc?
Nucleus colonies, commonly known as “nuc” are very small colonies of a few thousand honey bees and a queen.
Nuc boxes are the structures that hold a nuclear colony. The boxes are available in several shapes and sizes. One of the very commonly found nuc box structure is the five framed deep box structure, however some of them are also designed to hold medium sized frames. The width changes as well. Some other types of nuc possess two, four, five and seven frames.
Another most widely used nuc is a standard sized deep box having three dividers that give you the access of four two-frame sections, each with its own entrance. This structure also allows its users to remove the dividers so as to create bigger sections. The nuc requirements vary from person to person; you can choose the one that suits your requirements.
Now, the question arises, what is the importance of maintaining a nuc?
Below are some of the reasons why you should maintain a nuc:
- If in any case, any of your hives become queen-less, you will be having a queen ready to go. If you will wait for your hive to re-queen it, the population of bees will drop and ultimately you will not be able to get sufficient amount of honey for that year.
- Having a nuc allows you to re-queen your colonies during the seasons when queens are generally unavailable for purchasing.
- The bees in the nuc can help you a lot in increasing the population of a weakly populated hive. If you don’t want to re-queen your hive, you can simply transfer some of the frames from your nuc to the weakly populated hives.
- In addition to these benefits, an empty nuc box can also be used as a perfect source of catching the group of bees.
So how would you raise queens in a nuc? The least complex route is to take a casing or frame of brood with a swarm cell from a crowded hive, and place it in a nuc. The casing ought to have heaps of nurse bees covering the brood to keep them warm. Put a casing of honey or an internal feeder beside the brood. Fill any additional space with drawn comb or void cases, then close the cover. Also, includes an entrance reducer, and let the honey bees do their work.
This takes place quite rapidly. You can do the same thing without a swarm cell, if there are a lot of eggs or very young larvae on the brood casing or frame. However, the process takes long time, and after a week or two you might not have enough nurse honey bees left to raise a great queen.
Here’s an example of how one of the leading beekeepers utilized nuc:
- Last year, in the spring season I was having a hive that developed fully before time and looked like it was all set to swarm. I didn’t want it to swarm, so I took out four casing of brood. Each case was having no less than one swarm cell at the base part and several nurse bees covering the brood.
- I put each casing in a separate two-casing nuc and provided each one a casing of honey reserved from the year before.
- After four weeks, I checked the nucs and discovered that three had produced the laying queens. I merged the queen-less with the one already having the laying queen, so now I had three nucs.
- After a couple of weeks, I shifted the two-casing nucs into a five-casing equipment, so the colony would continue to expand.
- To protect my bees from being robbed, I kept the entrance reduces in small colonies.
- At the end of the fall, I shifted every a five-casing nucs into ten-casing nucs.
- I stacked the three nucs, one over the other. I put the strongest on the base, and put double-screen board between every nuc so the hot air from the biggest colony might help in keeping the smaller ones warm.
- In the month of December, I discovered a dead queen on the landing board of one of my hives. I then combined one of the nucs having queen with the queen-less hive utilizing a piece of paper. This left me with two nucs.
- At present, the hive to which I had added the queen and the other two nucs are all flourishing.
The nuc provides you several wonderful management options that you couldn’t have without it. A good nuc actually serves the purpose of insolence policy against the loss of a queen.