Well I've been a bit absent from the blog, no surprise there. Been crazy busy as always.

I just had a new customer pick up two nucs on Friday. I thought he was all set up and ready. I could have sworn he said he already had his equipment when he inquired about buying the nucs. But he wasn't! He didn't even have feeders! Oh well. I'll do my best to coach him through.

Anyway, that led to me digging up this video on how to move the nucs into a full size setup (once he gets his built or ordered in.) With it being spring time, and a lot of new folks getting into beekeeping, I figured it wouldn't hurt to share this again.

It really is this simple! Just move them over from one box to the other. 

Now, in a lot of cases, I've seen commercially sold nucs come with only 4 frames of bees and a division board feeder. This is OK. You didn't get ripped off, it's pretty standard. If that's the case, still center the frames up, 4 in the middle, with 3 frames to either side. If you want to move the feeder over too, that's your call. I prefer to use a Boardman feeder with the quart jar so I can see when it needs to be refilled, and don't have to open the hive to do so. 

Also on setup, I like to reduce the entrance down on the 10 frame box to about only 2" wide so they have a small entrance to defend like they did in the nuc. As they grow out of course I remove the reducers. 

Good luck on your setup! 

AuthorTom Brueggen

When it comes to feeding your bees, you do have options. Likely more options than even I know. Having covered open feeding in a prior blog, here we are going to cover in/on hive feeders. These are designed so bees don't have to go far to get feed, and should maintain that the feed only goes to that hive that needs it, rather than being a free for all like open feeding. 

For a quick video about the different types of feeders, here is video by a friend of mine. I actually sent him the pictures of the top feeder, so I claim some fame in this one :)

Jason does a wonderful job of laying out the pros and cons in the video so I'll simply reiterate and explain what I've experienced.

For starters, I simply don't like frame feeders. The big downside is having to open the hive to refill the feeder. Also, you have to open the hive just to check if the feeder needs to be refilled. I prefer a glass jar or a hive top feeder where I can take a quick peak. I also don't like the drowning aspect of the frame feeder. Furthermore, I don't like the violation of bee space. Hang around me long enough, and you'll learn that I beat bee space to death. In an area ridden with small hive beetles, proper bee space is critical.

Jar feeders. I use two different types of jar feeders. Boardman inserts on the front of the hive, and top feeders similar to a drip pail design. I like the top feeder as it can't be robbed by other bees. It sits snug down in the lid. I used a 3" hole saw and it fits a regular mouth Mason jar nicely. I've also modified this design to put a 1/8" hardware cloth so the bees can't come out when you replace the feeder. However, the screen does slightly inhibit the bees' ability to take the feeder. I've see far faster consumption when not using the screen. 

For the entrance application I just use the standard boardman insert. As Jason suggests, this can attract robbers, but I've never actually witnessed it. The biggest issue with a boardman is that you have to approach the front of the hive which is typically right in the flight path. If it's a warm night, there may be bees clustering on the feeder as well. Jar feeders do limit you to a quart, unless you can find a bigger jar, but a larger jar won't fit a boardman feeder as it will have a larger lid. Still you can use a larger jar like a pail feeder for feeding inside a super or open feeding. For more volume, you could place several boardman feeders side by side in the entrance of a 10 frame hive, at least 3 would fit I suppose. 

Top Reservoir Feeders: The other feeder I have used is the top reservoir feeder. I bought the plastic insert from Mann Lake LTD beekeeping supply. It fits a 10 frame dimension but is only I think about 4" deep, not quite a shallow super. I like this feeder for feeding large hives large volumes. The bees are screened below so you can remove to outer cover to check/refill the feeder. And the screen doubles as a way for the bees to keep from drowning. I like them as feeders, but don't use them very often, just because I'm rarely feeding that much. But if say you had a large package you were setting up in a 10 frame setup (or you caught a large swarm) they will take feed quickly, and it's very viable to give them 2-3 gallons. That beats filling a quart jar every day.  

So again, these are just the version I have used. There are others out there. Be careful with home made feeder options. Something like a chicken waterer or hummingbird feeder may seem like a quick fix, but in both cases I've actually seen the bees somehow get inside the reservoir, and then of course drown because the don't know how to swim or get back out. 

AuthorTom Brueggen

Never something I ever try to do, but sometimes you don't have a choice. If it's warm out, and it's a drizzly rain, then you're probably OK, if you don't mind getting damp yourself. But a heavier rain could be detrimental to a colony on keeping the bees and brood warm.

I didn't have a choice, I had to open the hive and do work after a cutout. So I rigged up a 10'x10' canopy to keep the rain off of me and the bees. It was about 70 degrees and a steady harder rain all day. There was no waiting it out. The canopy worked great to keep me and the girls dry, but had some flaws with the bees wanting to gather up at the peak. 

Still, it all worked out and the bees looked great, so that's a happy ending.


AuthorTom Brueggen

Well it turns out that I did scavenge one more queen who was a late bloomer, emerging out of her cell at least a day late. Prior to this however, I had cage the other 3-4 live virgins that I had and transferred them to a new colony for holding until I sorted through the splits to find where to go with them. Unfortunately, I placed them for holding in a nuc that had a mated queen. As a result, the virgins were neglected by the nurse bees, and left to starve. I lost 3, all starved to death. With any hope, the one remaining that was alive yesterday evening will still be kicking this evening and I can find a suitable home for her.

The splits in general have not gone as well as I hoped. Seems I do this every year. I get behind, graft late, split late, and in my hurry make the same stupid mistake. Successful splits and grafting is very time sensitive. Perhaps more than veteran beekeepers put on. If I had more time, I'd be grafting every week so I constantly had a supply of virgin queens coming available just in case I needed them. Of course the simpler option is just to constantly have at least one hive queenless so you have a steady supply of queen cells. If this is the plan, I'd recommend an inventory of about 8-10 nucs used for this purpose. That way you aren't always subjecting the same hive to being queenless. And, the one that is queenless can always be subsidized with a frame of capped brood from here and there to keep it's population up. 

Oh the things I would do with more time... :)

AuthorTom Brueggen