Suggestions for getting your nuc(s) started.

Beam’s Bees
Suggestions for Getting Started with Your Honeybee Nucs
(Note: These are just some suggestions. The same things don’t always work for everyone in all locations. Be sure to
check with multiple sources to get a variety of ideas and don’t be afraid to experiment to determine what may work best
for you.)
Planning for Your New Hives:
In advance of picking up your new bees, please make sure you have the necessary equipment to get started on your
exciting new hobby. While this may vary for folks, most people will need:
Protective clothing that may include:
 Veil
 Bee Suit or long pants and shirt with sleeves
 Gloves –cowhide or latex gloves – you decide which you prefer to work with.
Beekeeping Equipment
● Hive tool
● Smoker
● Hive composed of:
● Metal-Clad Cover
● Inner Cover
● Brood Box - Deep or Medium Box (Depending on what size you prefer)
● Bottom Board (We use screened bottom boards)
● Hive Stand
● Frames with wax foundation
The next thing is to pick a location for your new hives and prepare it accordingly. While there is no absolute right or
wrong location, many folks prefer:
A location that is at least mostly sunny (some afternoon shade may be desirable)
Has a south, east or southeast orientation
Is not in an area that will be windswept in the winter nor at a location where cold air will settle in and stay
Is out of the way of well-traveled paths and play areas
Not pointed directly at the neighbors or pet areas; etc.
If you don't have the absolute ideal location, many times you can make accommodations (e.g.: winter wind breaks) to
make most areas acceptable. There is a lot of information and suggestions online about picking the ideal location.
Once you've picked a location, you should prepare it ahead of time for your bees. Think about things like future mowing
/ weed-whacking around your hives. You may want to put down mulch or stones or something in order to minimize the
amount of routine lawn care that you will have to do once your hives are in place.
If you live in bear country, be sure to consider some measures to protect your hives from hungry bears. Consider
investing in a quality electric fence or other bear-proof measure.
The important thing to remember is that (although not impossible) it is difficult to move your hives once you've set them
up somewhere. You don't want to just pick them up and then later move them 50' or change the orientation. Your bees
will become confused and may not find their way back to their hives. So, pre-plan your location carefully.
Picking Up Your Nuc(s):
Picking them up around mid-evening is generally the best time. At that time, the bulk of the foraging bees have
returned to the hive (so that you don't leave without them), but yet it's not too late that the bees get irritable when
working with them. It's also cooler to transport them home in your vehicle.
If transporting them home in your existing hive(s), please prepare and bring the following:
An appropriately-sized brood box in good repair for each nuc you are buying. (e.g.: deep box if getting deep frames,
medium box if medium frames)
Enough frames to fill out the brood box after we transfer the 5 frames over from our nuc (to keep things from
shifting around too much on the ride home).
A bottom board for each hive (screened bottom boards are fine and in fact help provide ventilation during
Lid (and inner cover) for each hive.
Please seal the entrance and any holes to keep your bees in on the ride home (particularly if you have them
inside your car with you). We recommend either a wooden cleat screwed into the opening, a piece of screen
secured in place, or even a rolled-up newspaper with the ends taped shut wedged into the opening and secured
with some duct tape. Whatever gives you confidence is fine with us.
We also recommend using a ratchet strap or something around each hive to secure the bottom board, hive body
and lid all together as one secure unit for the ride home. Ratchet straps also help with moving the hives.
When you arrive at the agreed-upon time, we will open the nuc and transfer the frames and bees over into your box.
We will allow you the opportunity to inspect the bees at that time, so you may want to bring your suit, veil, gloves, etc.
along with you in order to do so. [Please note: Bees sting, particularly when being worked with and when part of a large
apiary. We welcome you to visit our apiary and are happy to show you our operation and answer any questions you
may have about beekeeping; however, we cannot be held responsible if you or your family members get stung during
your visit.] (Please make sure you aren't allergic to honey bee stings before starting into beekeeping. If unsure, you
may want to schedule an appointment with your doctor for testing and further advice.)
When transferring your bees, we will try to help you look for the queen if you'd like; however, we cannot guarantee that
you will see her at that time. In general, in beekeeping, you are often satisfied if you see signs of the queen (e.g.: fresh
eggs in a strong pattern) without always actually seeing the queen every time.
Once You Get Your Bees Home:
Once you've set them in place, you can go ahead and open the entrance. You may want to do this right away or wait
until the next morning (just don't forget them and leave them sealed in a hot hive). We usually open them right away;
however, do so quickly and move away. Bees can see in the dark, and they probably won't be too happy right after the
move. Often, they will be clinging to whatever you sealed the entrance with, so you may just want to partially open it or
drop it in front of the hive to be picked up later.
Your bees won't need the full entrance opening for some time until the colony increases in size and strength. As such,
you may want to reduce the size of the entrance to allow them a better chance to defend it.
Within a couple days, you may want to open your hive to generally check how they survived the move. In general, you
may have to push all the frames together to one side. This is probably also a good time to check to determine if the
queen survived the move OK. Generally, she will do just fine, but anything is possible. Again, it's nice if you actually see
her; however, if you don't, but you see a good quantity of fresh eggs in a regular pattern on your frames in the days and
weeks following the move, then she's probably settled in just fine. (You probably will notice them dragging a few more
dead bees out of the hive than normal the day after the move; however, it should be insignificant in the scheme of the
overall population.)
Feeding -- While the nucs are strong, established starter colonies, they are just that, starter colonies. What was
a bustling, bursting at the seams colony in a 5-frame nuc box will only initially half-fill a 10-frame hive body. So,
offering them some 1:1 sugar syrup and perhaps even a pollen patty is generally a good idea. This will
encourage them to draw out comb and expand the brood nest and encourage the queen to lay lots of eggs to
increase the size of the colony. You may want to continue feeding them for awhile, or if it's during the height of
the nectar flow (typically from around mid-April to mid-June in our area), you may be able to cut back or stop a
short time later. You will have to be the judge based on how you see the colony expanding and the relative food
stores for the expanding colony.
Don’t plan on taking “honey” from your new nucs the first year! They need all the food stores they can get to
draw wax comb, rear a lot of brood, and generally get ready for winter. Your first year should be focused on
getting them strong and healthy to give them the best chance to over-winter and be ready to produce honey on
drawn comb the next year. Besides, if you’ve been feeding them, what they are producing is not honey, it is
essentially sugar syrup. (Honey is generally defined as being produced from flower nectar.) Even if you steal a
taste, please don’t bottle it up and sell it to someone under the label “Honey”!
When the bees have drawn out comb and started rearing brood and/or storing honey and bee bread on
approximately 70% of the frames in the first box, it's time to consider adding another brood box for them to
continue expanding into. (Repeat as necessary)
Checking for swarm cells -- Rapidly-expanding colonies are subject to swarming as part of their natural
reproductive cycle. This is especially true during the height of the nectar flow and if they feel they are too
crowded. While not necessarily a bad thing, most beekeepers would prefer not to lose half or more of their
newly-purchased bees through swarming. The only way to attempt to avoid this is to actively inspect your bees
weekly, checking every frame for signs of swarm cells or other indications of swarming. Make sure to continue
to give them plenty of room to expand into.
Check for mites and other pests (e.g.: small hive beetles, wax moths, etc.) regularly! Research and perform
the appropriate tests (such as the sugar roll test). These pests can really drag down the strength and health of
your hive, and can jeopardize the chances of winter survival.
Make sure they have plenty of food stores going into the winter! The main nectar flow in PA / MD is very short and
early. Even if they have stored what seems to be a lot of honey at that time, they will quickly start eating it by midsummer and can literally be starving by fall. Keep checking the weight of your hives and start feeding again in the fall in
plenty of time to allow them to store and properly cure enough honey (generally considered 2 deep boxes or 3 mediums
at a minimum) in time for winter. This is often considered to be between 60 – 100 lbs. per hive.
Beekeeping is an amazingly interesting and enjoyable hobby. Spend lots of time working with your bees and learning
about them (via internet research, publications, local associations, fellow beekeepers, mentors, etc.). Involve the whole
family, too. What better way to get outside, learn something new, spend quality time with others, and help the
environment than by welcoming 60,000 super-industrious insects into your family?!
Enjoy your bees!
The Beam Family