Transferring a nuc into a hive body

Transferring Nucs

Photo of Stan teaching a group how to transfer a nuc from a nuc box into a hive body box

Part of our May beekeeping classes include how to transfer a hive nucleus into a standard hive body. Here is a description of how to do it for those who missed the class. (A hive nucleus, or “nuc” for short, includes bees on five frames. It does not include the box. So when people purchase nucs they transfer the frames into a standard hive body box.)

This process is best done during daylight hours. Prepare the hive body by placing it on the bottom board and removing at least 6 frames. Stan removed 7 in this photo. Removing frames will give you room to place the nuc frames without squishing bees. 

Move the nuc box over a bit and place the new hive body in its place. Be sure the hive entrance is pointing the same way. Bees have a good idea where their hive is supposed to be and will go in the hive that is in the right GPS location. 

Give bees a little smoke at the entrance. Open the lid and give bees a little smoke along the top bars of the frames. Give just enough smoke to move bees down onto the comb.

Use the hive tool to pry out one ear of one frame. 

Gently lift one frame out. Lift straight up to avoid smashing bees. 

This photo is of the outermost frame of bees. Bees have drawn out comb, but have not started filling this one with honey or brood yet. 

Gently place the frames into the new hive body in the same order and orientation as in the nuc box. 

Next, slide the frames next to each other to make room.

Continue placing frames and sliding them over until all 5 frames from the nuc are in the box. Then replace the remaining empty frames until you have all ten in the box (or nine if you run nine frames). 

There will be bees left inside the nuc box. Stan’s preferred (fast) method is to take the nuc box, turn it upside down and hit it sharply onto the top of the box (one quick tap will do it). This causes all the bees to drop out of the nuc box into the new hive body box. Be sure to remove the nuc box a few feet away. Bees may recognize the smell of their old box and want to go back inside. 

Place the lid on the bee box and wait until dark before moving it at least 3 miles away for 3 days. 

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