Peter Borst and David Hopkins will pick up the nucs on Friday, May 4. You will be able to get your bees Saturday evening (at dusk) and beyond. Please make every effort to pick them up right away, in consideration of our host.
***Nucs will be at Peter’s house, since Max will be out of town this weekend. See below.***
For first-time beekeepers, your journey into beekeeping will really start! Here are some tips and info about what to expect.
You will be contacted by phone and/or e-mail when we know the exact night. Then you will be able to pick your nuc(s) up either that night, or on one of the following evenings (typically close to or after dark). Peter Borst, our vice president and long-time beekeeper, will host the nucs this year. He lives at 128 Lieb Road in Spencer, 8 miles outside of Ithaca.
Transporting your nucs:
It is preferable, both for you and your bees, to transport your nucs outside the passenger compartment of your vehicle – but not in the trunk (where they might suffocate). We advise picking up your bees at or near dark, to make certain that all of the bees in your nuc have found their way back to the hive and to facilitate closing up the entrance at pick-up, then opening up the entrance when you get the nuc “home.”
Items to bring with you for the trip home:
(1) newspaper to stuff into entrance to keep bees inside nuc (or flexible screening for the entrance if you live more than 20 minutes away so that they won’t suffocate)
(2) Bungee cords, ratchet straps or some other way of securing your bees in or on your vehicle
(3) Bee veil/suit (just in case)
(4) Smoker, fuel, matches (in case)
(5) Duct tape
(6) A large garbage bag-to contain your nuc in the event of an accidental breach
(7) A flashlight, if needed, to help you move your nuc into their new location at “home” (see below).
When you get your bees home:
(1) Place your nucleus colony on top of the hive where they will soon be installed, with the nuc entrance facing in the same direction as the hive body. Put a rock on the top of the nuc cover, just as you would on your regular hive cover.
(2) Remove the newspaper you had stuffed inside the entrance when you picked up the bees. Since you will be doing this after dark, you will not need to use a smoker.
(3) Allow your bees 72 hours to calm down from the trip home. Check your nuc to make sure they are leaving the nucleus hive and returning to the nuc throughout the day and doing their bee work.
(4) Any time after 3 days but fewer than 7 days, install the 5 frames in the center of their permanent hive body, in the order in which they were set up inside the nuc. Choose a warm, sunny afternoon when the foragers have left the nuc; this will make moving the frames into the hive body easier on both you and the bees. As you move your frames into the hive body, check for eggs (not capped brood) in cells. Since eggs hatch into larvae in 3 days, if you have eggs after 3 days, you will know you have a live queen.
**This is important**
On very rare occasions, one of the club nucs will be found to be queenless, and if so, Kutik’s will replace the nuc or supply a new queen. Sometimes, bees will ball the queen if they are disrupted too much when moving (another good reason to wait 3 days before moving the nuc frames into their permanent hive body).
Fill out the remaining empty frame slots with either drawn comb or foundation. Check the bees in about 3 weeks. If the bees have drawn comb to the edge of the box and if there is considerable capped brood covering 5-6 center frames, add a second hive body. Again, if you are starting with foundation, allow the bees to draw out comb on all the frames before even thinking about adding supers to the colony.
What to expect the first season:
If you have already-drawn comb to offer your bees as you fill out the brood boxes, and when you begin to super up the colony, you should expect honey by September. If you are starting with foundation, your bees may or may not produce much honey in their first season.
On occasion, a particularly strong colony that begins as a nucleus hive will swarm in the first season, perhaps even as late as September. On even rarer occasions, members have reported that nucleus hives themselves have cast a swarm, but this is unlikely. Still, it is important to move your bees out of their nuc and into their permanent hive body as described above.
lf you have any questions or concerns during this process (or throughout the season), remember that you may join the FLBC discussion list (go to www.flbeeclub.com) and post your concerns to the membership, or bring your questions to any club meeting for informal conversation.
When and where to return nuc boxes:
Mr. Kutik, the source of our nucs, has provided our bees in his own nuc boxes. They are branded with his name, and in contracting with him to purchase the nucs, the club agrees that our members will return the boxes.
After you have had a chance to move your nuc into your own equipment, you may bring the nuc box back to any summer club meeting (at the club hives behind the Cayuga Nature Center) or, if it is easier for you, you may take the box directly to Wixson’s on the west side of Cayuga Lake.
You may also leave the nuc box in the shed at the club apiary or behind the shed if it is locked. Please drop Marjorie Pryse an e-mail letting her know that you have returned your box – or catch her at one of the summer meetings.