Installing a 5 Frame Nuc and or 3# Package Bees

You’ve got your order in. You have all of your equipment and tools you need. You’ve read every book you could find twice. You might of attended a beekeeping class or two.  Want to be ready for your honey bees?  What can you do more? Listed below are some tips you might consider before you pick up your honey bees and how to install them.

  • Have directions via google map or know of the location.
  • Typically you will have paid in advance, if not and other arrangements have been made be sure to be prepared to pay any balances you may owe.
  • Come with a vehicle that has a trunk or pick up bed.  Station wagons, SUV’s, or Hatchback type cars are less than ideal, but with proper prep you can use. See the picture to the right.

    A great way to allow airflow but safely travel with a nuc, or package bees.

    A great way to allow airflow but safely travel with a nuc, or package bees.

  • Bring some duck tape.  You never know when you might just need to patch a small leak in a box or screen.  You don’t want the bees getting out pre maturely.
  • Be patient, bee packages and nucs are weather sensitive, delivery is sometimes delayed due to weather, watch the website to make sure your date doesn’t change or update.
  • Plan on going home as fast but as safely as possible.  We don’t recommend heading to mall or going out to lunch while your bees roast in the car.
  • Provide adequate air flow if possible.
  • A lite bed sheet or pillow case works well to keep any escaped bee from escaping.
  • Set your equipment up if you haven’t done so prior.  If inclement weather sets in you can wait until it clears up.
  • Never hurts to ask if the keeper has extras.  You might  be able to pick up a canceled order or  extra equipment.

Tips for Installing honey bee nucs  Tips for Package bees “click here”

(How do we make a nuc video clip)

  1. Prepare sugar water for feeder with essential oils.  Sugar syrup recipes are found here.
  2. Set nuc next to hive that the nuc will be installed in.
  3. Lite your smoker
  4. Put on veil and gloves and find hive tool.
  5. Pull the yellow plug and give the nuc a couple puffs with your smoker.
  6. Pull top cover off hive body, be sure to if your feeding to have made your sugar syrup and pre pour this in your feeder.  A funnel works good for this.  Place 2 or 3 frames opposite your feeder in your hive body.
  7. Lift the top of cardboard lid off your nuc.  You will see 5 total frames, 3-5 will be covered with bees.  Inspect closer you will likely see a frame that is not drawn out and is located on the far left or far right.  Use hive tool to break burr comb that may of been created and gently remove this frame first and install into the hive body furthest from the frame feeder.  Looking at your hive body from the front we will install in order the frames as they come out of the nuc they are installed in the same order into the hive body.  If you have a frame feeder be sure to get the frames with the bees close to the feed.  Remember you might want to leave a frame or two out so you can organize correctly, then add the additional frames.  If you have a 1 Gallon frame feeder you will likely only run 8 frames total in the hive body.  Some beekeepers can get a tight 9 frames.  This just depends on how well or unwell they’ve drawn out the comb.
  8. You may notice that the bees will start to get upset and become (DH) defensive hive.  Apply additional smoke as needed.  Sometimes you can set your smoker nearby and upwind and that works well for a slight constant smoke.
  9. While your transfer these frames of bees, honey, and brood, you should keep a strong eye out for the queen!  At no time will it get any easier.  In fact if your not an any hurry we highly recommend it.  Once you find her take special care not to smash her or keep her on the run.  Queens are young and moving fast.  They will be running from the sun, and well could take flight.  Although this is rare it’s certainly not impossible.  It’s also not impossible for her to fall off the frame or learch from frame.  If  this happens, or you find her walking on the bottom or side of the cardboard box you may need to remove your glove and CAREFULLY transfer her to her new home with your bare hand.  Yes your bare hand!
  10. Once you get every thing in it’s place in the hive body you can dump any remainder bees in the cardboard box and gently dump tap them in.  Replace lid on hive body and remove nuc box from site.
  11. Consider installing a entrance reducer.  You can use most anything.  Bricks, wood blocks or trim would work.  3-4 Inches for the bees to come and go is all you need.  Keep neighboring bees out.
  12. Your bees will do some clesning flights and orientate themselves.  It might seem wreak less and wide but it will get more direct as they settle in.
  13. If cold weather persist or you need to wait to install them you can.  Set them out side on top of hive and pull the yellow plug.  If your site is not home and is  aways, you could temparrly store the nuc.  Just remember to put the plug back in the night before or early in morning before last transfer.  Please do not put them in a garage and pull the plug out.  Your bees will make a mess, and remember if you have window in your garage the bees will fly to light and will many will expire!  This is not good site.  Someone this year will do this.
  14. Avoid hot temps or direct sunlight for any period of time with plug in.  These card board nucs are not well ventilated for a reason.  Young hives need heat and need it when spring temps dip.  We’ve designed the nuc to keep heat.
  15. Nucs are small hives.  You can inspect them often if you must.  They really won’t mind and we encourage you feed as needed until hive reaches a minimum 8 frames of bees.   When you add an additional medium or deep brood box consider them ready for the world.  This is what we call a blooming state, and they should be ready for mid to late summer nectar flows!
  16. What to do with the cardboard nuc box?  This is a great tool to have around.  You can use it to start additional hives, capture swarms, raise queens.  Consider putting it on your mantle for the summer.  Everyone will ask you, what the heck is that?  You can tell them all about your bees.
  17. Not all methods mentioned above are perfect, however they are ideas we’ve seen work.  If you have thoughts, questions, concerns, or ideas we would love for you to comment and share.

How to install a Honey Bee Package of Bees (video clip)

  1. Keep your package out of the rain, snow, and wind.
  2. Keep out of direct sunlight.
  3. Spray with water if sense over heating.  Wait to install if really cool or raining.  They will buzzz and change buzz tones as they sense danger.  It’s quite fond to hear.
  4. Prepare the hive that the package is to bee installed in.  If you have your frame feeder fill it half way.  Sugar syrup recipes are found here.  Fill it perferably 1/2 full, and also set 3 to 4 frames into the hive body.  We want an area to dump the bees into so don’t put all your frames in.  If you put all the frames in the pile bees will sit on top and create more flying bees and confusion.
  5. Prepare sugar water with essential oils and have a spray bottle handy.
  6. Fire up smoker for fun, Put on veil but not gloves.  You will likely need your bare hands to pull out feeder can and queen cage.
  7. Spray the bees with sugar syrup, get them pretty wet were giving them carbs and reducing flight, but if it’s cool and windy we would recommend not soaking them down.  Smoke is a good option for cold windy days.
  8. Give the package a firm tap on a hard surface so you can drop the cluster from the queen.  Pull out feeder can and remove caged queen.  Replace feeder can to keep bees from escaping.  VERIFY that she is alive.  If she is expired you must call us immediately! STOP…Do not install package!!!! They will abscond if there is no queen.  We replace queens the day of and the next morning but that’s it.  We require you to return expired queen.
  9. Set queen cage aside, put on gloves.
  10. Give the cage a firm tap again pull out feeder can and slightly tap and shake bees into open area in hive body.  Lot’s of bees will start to fly but the majority will start to crawl up the frames you provided.  Try to get most the bees out of the cage.  The sent of the queen is strong in the cage.  It’s been home for a few days.  You wouldn’t want to leave it either.  We don’t like the cage in hive method for this reason.  Many times the bees just wont leave the cage and will start to build comb in the cage if you set it in the hive body.  For this purpose we explain the dump method.  When your done dumping replace feeder can so bees won’t revisit the cage.
  11. At this time your queen cage is likely covered with a few bees that found her while you were dumping the rest.  That’s great just slightly move the center most frame in your hive body and hang her between the frames with the cork or candy plug down.  The  whole or access in the queen cage is where the queen will emerge in the days to come.  We highly recommend you leave her in that cage for about two days.  Let things settle down, then expose the candy plug or pull the cork out and give the queen freedom!
  12. Be sure to install additional frames softly.  If you are using 1 gallon frame feeder you might only set 8 frames in your hive body.  Some keepers can get a tight 9 frames in but it’s up to you.
  13. Replace lid and walk away.  Come back in 2 to 3 days and remove cork, or expose candy queen plug, and check feeder.  You might get to see some progress made on the comb they’ve drawn out.  It won’t be tons but you should see some.  By that night or next day your queen will be laying eggs and your hive will start to increase in 24 days for then.  It will decrease slightly as older bees expire.  You shouldn’t see an increase until 5 to 6 weeks from the day you release the queen.  We suggust to feed your package until it reaches about 8 frames of bees.  At that point lot’s of other food sources will be available to them.  Bees gain strength in numbers.  Bees also seem to over come issues easier when the hive is grown to maturity.  It might take upwards of 2-3 gallons of sugar syrup to get your  new comb drawn out and the hive reaches what we call a blooming state.  If you have spare good drawn out comb you might only need 1 to 2 gallons to help them produce the numbers were talking about.
  14. Considering installing a reducer at the entrance of the hive.  This could be anything like a spare brick, trim wood.  Two to three inches is really all you need in early spring.  You can open that up that entrance more as time passes and hive grows.  You might consider reducing the entrance in the winter again so keep the reducer handy.
  15. What do we do with the cage?  As much as I would love to collect every cage and use it again it is difficult if not impossible to do this.  Not all cages are alike and cannot always be used again.  Over the years we’ve given money back for returning the cage only to find out the cage was not ours.  That said we don’t need the cage back at this time.  but we appreciate your effort in recycling these cages.  Some if not all of our cages have been will be or were made of a portion of recycled material to begin with. Our best suggestion are growing but might we inspire you to create something useful with these cages.  We’ve heard of some people making crafts, gift wrap, hive reducers, candle stick holders, screen ventilation, honey screens, baking molds with the feeder cans, and on and on.  Get creative, and take a picture so we can show others what you done with it.  Who knows what we all can come up with.
  16. Not all methods mentioned above are perfect, however they are ideas we’ve seen work.  If you have thoughts, questions, concerns, or ideas we would love for you to comment and share!

Disclaimer:  Don’t keep bees if your allergic or know of those who are nearby.  Use common sense and practices that show your a responsible bee keeper.  We need more love and less fear.