Late Season Nucleus Hives

It has been a busy season thus far and the bees are so grateful for the abundant forage. They are not amused by the lack of heat and dry weather. It has made queen mating hazardous. This spring has had more failed queens than I have ever seen. Other beeks have had the same experience in our cool and unreliable climate.

In spring and summer, I achieved 27 nucleus hives mostly for new beekeepers. These were nearly all started with 4 frame nucs containing 2 frames of brood and 2 frames of pollen/ honey. This is very successful in the early part of the season, however now we require a different approach. There are still drones for mating, the weather is relatively warm although we don't have much time to ensure a strong hive is built before winter. To address this, any splits or nucleus hives are started with a minimum of 8 strong frames of which 4 to 5 are brood.

A Slit-Board Nucleus hive from a strong colony

A Slit-Board Nucleus hive from a strong colony

Even with a strong start, there needs to be a productive queen to build a strong colony. With good forage and warmth it is possible to build the 4 ideal boxes or 2 deep boxes required for wintering over in a cool climate. If the bees do not thrive, they will need extra warmth and honey to survive.

In this circumstance, I often use a split board to create the nuc above a good hive where they can share the warmth of the stronger hive. Should the queen fail or the colony fail to thrive it is easy to paper the weak colony back onto the original one.

Happy Beeking!