A Tale of Two Nucs: post 4 – Checking on the new nucs

This weekend, I checked on the two nucs I set up a week ago.  Here are some of the things I looked for:

  • At this point in time, I am mostly concerned about the queens. Are they out of the queen cages and on a frame?
  • Do I still have plenty of bees on the frames? (Some of them will return to the hives I moved them from.)
  • Are the bees drawing out the frames of foundation I placed in the nucs when I set them up?
  • Are they taking the syrup from the feeder jars I placed in the hives?

I was pleased to find that the answer to last three questions was yes, and I refilled the feeder jars. However, I was not so fortunate on the first and most important issue.  In Nuc #2, the queen was released and on the comb; it is fine. In nuc #1,  I had messed up. I missed the presence of three queen cells on one of the brood frames. They were probably small and uncapped at the time, but their presence can interfere with the bees’ freeing and accepting the queen I had installed in the nuc. They are now capped queen cells. In this nuc I did not find a queen on the comb even though the cage was empty. I suspect that the bees may have released and killed her due to the presence of the queen cells, or perhaps something else happened to her. Either way, what do I do?

As I said in the post on setting up nucs, if I wait for a queen to emerge from a cell, mate, and begin laying eggs, it will take at least two weeks. I do not want my nuc to wait that long to begin building up, so I decided to a install a second queen, which I had in my queen battery. I also removed the frame of brood containing the queen cells from the nuc , and replaced it with a frame from another hive. I put the frame with queen cells in a third hive containing what appears to be queenless swarm I had caught earlier. This hive with the swarm has lots of bees, and is better able wait two weeks for a queen.

This is hive management (or, in this case, nuc management): looking at what is happening in the hive and taking action to get the results I want in order to produce better hives (nucs). In a few days I’ll check nuc #2 for eggs, and see if the queen is out of nuc #1.


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