Thursday, May 21, 2015

Beekeeping Adventures: Nucs and Packages

Honeybees come in two different styles of boxes when picked up. The first is a nucleus or nuc. The second is a package.

What are nucs? Nucs come in a Styrofoam container that looks like a cooler. They have five to eight frames inside them. There is a fertilized queen and roughly three pounds of bees. The bees have been busy building combs on the frames. This is known as “drawing out” comb. There is honey on the frames as the frames have been taken from active hives. The queen is already busy laying eggs. The honeybees are ready to go as soon as you place them in the hive. Honey production is faster as a result.

What are packages? Packages come in cages. There is wood on four sides of the cage. The other two sides have screens. There is a fertilized queen and approximately three pounds of bees. The queen is in a queen cage with a few attendants. There is a can of sugar syrup to sustain the bees while in transport.

The queen cage is placed in the empty hive once at the bee yard. The bees are then dumped into the hive. The bees will eventually chew through the candy cork of the queen cage. This takes two to three days. The bees will be busy drawing out comb in the meantime. The queen will then begin to lay eggs. The bees begin foraging for plant nectar as soon as there is wax comb to put it in.

Sugar water will be placed in feeders at the entrance of all of the hives. This will provide food so the bees can focus on building up the combs. Honey can be harvested from a hive started with a nuc in July or August. A hive started from a package can be harvested in September or October. Both harvests are weather dependant just like gardening.

My bee yard will be started with one nuc and seven packages. One hive will be a Langstroth, or Lang, hive. This is the box on a box style of hive. The other seven will be Top Bar Hives also known as TBH’s. This is a horizontal hive using bars instead of frames. Please see the archive for more information on these two styles of hives.

The Lang hive installation will be on May 21st while the TBH’s installation will be on May 23rd. Pictures and video will follow in a few days after that. I would love to hear your comments!

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