Are you a Novice Beekeeper?
Most beekeepers get a Nucleus Hive as their first venture into beekeeping. A good nucleus Hive, or ‘Nuc’ as they are commmonly called, is a small colony of bees which has a young Queen laying on 4 – 5 frames of the 6 frame nuc. The first task of the novice is to move this colony into a full hive, containing 11 frames, so it can grow to full size.
The ‘summer nucs’ are normally ready in June, which gives the colony plenty of time to settle and develop in its new home. This hive will normally require feeding so the bees can draw out the wax foundation into new comb for the queen to lay in. Most of the nectar collected by the foraging bees is used in this process and surplus honey is usually not collected. The novice must wait to the following year before the hive can provide honey for consumption.
An ‘Over-wintered Nuc’ is the same size as a summer nuc but is available in April. These nucs are made later in the summer and have been brought through the winter by the beekeeper. If you have purchased an over-winter nuc it will contain a mature queen from the previous year. She will be laying strongly and can quickly fill your new hive and provide some surplus honey for harvesting in the same year. However, a note of caution for the novice – over-wintered nucs should be managed like full hives from the beginning. You must have a ‘swarm’ management plan in place, including all the extra equipment needed for this task.
We recommend a summer nuc for the novice as they can grow in experience with the hive, while avoiding the more complex management issues in their first year.