Beautiful Swarm For The Beehaus

Beautiful Swarm For The Beehaus

I had my first swarm of the year.

It was 16C, so I went down to the allotment to do a quick 12 noon scan for a swarm.  80m away I spotted that a fence post in the farmers field was a darker colour than the other posts and wider at the top.  As I approached it was clearly a swarm. It was very contained, just a few bees flying around. And very calm, the bees did not bother with me at all.  It was a classic, beautiful swarm.

Swarm Of Bees On Fence Post
Swarm Of Bees On Fence Post


Swarm Of Bees - Close Up
Swarm Of Bees – Close Up

Catching The Swarm

I quickly got my nuc box, brushed half of the bees in, moved the box 10m to behind the gates (safe from the cows), grabbed a few handfuls of the remaining bees from the post and placed them on walkway up to the nuc entrance. 10 minutes later all the bees had left the post and made their way to the nuc.

The Remaining Bees In Swarm Find Nuc Box
The Remaining Bees In Swarm Find Nuc Box
Ready For Arrival Of Beehaus
Ready For Arrival Of Beehaus

I later transferred the swarm to full hive body and fed a thin syrup.

Ready For The Beehaus

I have mentioned before that the team at Omlet are providing me with a Beehaus (thanks again).  The Beehaus is wide, has 2 entrances and allows for 2 separate colonies.

With 2 colonies facing in opposite directions I am ready for the Beehaus. The plan is to put both colonies in the Beehaus, whilst keeping them separate. Exterminate the old queen and then combine the hives with the new Queen (the hive on the left is the one that swarmed and will have a 2017 queen). I am hoping this large colony become a honey factory with possibly 20+ frames of brood by end May that will become foragers during the main nectar flow in July! I am ever hopeful!


I wrote a review of the Beehaus some years ago, or you can go direct to the Beehaus website.  It’s a super duper hive.  With an aching back the day after my swarm exertions, I am looking forward to using this ergonomic hive.  It will also make swarm management easier.

My Swarm Management Approach This Year

I hadn’t managed to find a convenient time (due to cold weather when I was free) to practice any swarm management on this colony that swarmed.  I was also hoping that the cold weather would delay any swarming till a bit later in May. With my allotment hives, I have given them additional supers below the brood box and am planning to split the 2 strong ones ASAP. The colony which I had to emergency feed is struggling somewhat and no where near swarming.

Videos Of The Swarm

I also took a series of 4 video clips:

Part 1/4 – Found Bee Swarm On Fence Post

Part 2/4 – Some Bees In Box Others Remain On Fence Post

Part 3/4 – All The Bees Find The Nuc Box

Part 4/4 – Close Up Of Bees Going Into The Nuc Box

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The Nuc Seller & The New Beekeeper

The Nuc Seller & The New Beekeeper

Brian arrived to pick up his nucs, a wannabe beekeeper … he left a keeper of bees … he arrived home … with his own beekeeping stories to tell!  More on this later.

Selling Honey Bee Nuclei – Best Practice

Within 10 minutes of announcing I had two nucs for sale on this site, they were sold. This internet malarkey is really going to take off some day.

I quickly felt the responsibility of needing to be a responsible beekeeper. I was handing over the chalice to another, in this case a novice beekeeper who was so keen he was driving 80 miles and getting up at 6am to pick up my colonies.

So I had to prepare. I had to prepare properly. I created a checklist:

  • I had already ensured the honeybee nucs contained laying queens
  • They had a good brood pattern
  • They had plenty of stores
  • They were disease free
  • There was low varroa
  • I had hive records
  • And I even added a page to the site giving advice to novice beekeepers to help ‘Brian’ in his first few weeks of handling the hives

I closed the nucs up the night before Brian arrived.

Job done right? I’d covered everything I need hadn’t I?

Well clearly not…

Nuc With Loose Entrance
Nuc With Loose Entrance

The Nuc-Selling Lesson

Whilst I had ensured my nucs were top notch, I had however forgot to think about the packaging. Yes when Brian and his young son (and trainee beekeeper) John came to pick up the nucs I realised that one of them had a nice tight-fitting entrance closer, the other entrance cover was not a tight fit. Not at all.

After trying pins and sticky tape our solution was to wrap cling film around the nuc including the entrance.  The nuc box had a mesh floor so oxygen could get in.  We checked our work and were satisfied, however, we clearly didn’t manage to totally seal the bees in as Brian and son discovered later.

As they left I remembered the car journeys at the beginning of my beekeeping journey with nucs and the hum of the bees providing excitement, thrill and joy. And then of course there was the nervousness….

Nuc With Loose Entrance
Nuc With Loose Entrance

Brian’s Story

“I left yours driving very carefully and taking your advice to head the shortest route to the motorway.

All was well, until we joined the motorway, when John counted five bees on the rear window. Deciding it was better to keep going, by the end of the motorway about 50 mins later, we had more than a hundred in the cabin with us. Mostly in the boot area but some on the back seat and door windows too.

Honeybees On Back Window
Honeybees On Back Window

I then had an idea – cool the car interior! So I used the A/C to chill the car. They duly stopped flying and sat quiet for the remaining 20 miles home.

Once home I suited up and took the polynucs to the hive frame, then returned to the car to try sweep at least a hundred bees from the rear of the car, with some success. Although I did get a couple of stings on the fingers – nothing too bad.

The sun is shining and they’re flying now. I’m at work with about 30 bees still in the car.”

Nucs Installed In New Home
Nucs Installed In New Home

I felt bad about the escaped bees and stings – but Brian is thrilled.  We have exchanged a few emails. His car is clear of bees and the bees are settling in!  I will source poly nucs with better entrance guards.

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14×12 Nucs & Beekeeping Equipment For Sale

14×12 Nucs & Beekeeping Equipment For Sale

Location: Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, GL12, UK

Every beekeeper must get to the point when they realise they have too much equipment … or too many bees!  My wife has also got to this point and I need to make some room in the house and garage.

I find myself with a surplus of 2 nucs of bees (in 14 x 12 poly hives) and because I am moving away from honey extraction to honey sections this has also made some of my equipment redundant to me.

I also need some cash to invest in some more racks of Ross Round sections.

I will keep this list up-to-date, so if it is here, it is still available.

  1. SOLD – Two nucs of bees (video and photographs below). Also, more info at My Apiary, they are referred to as the orange nuc and green nuc.  They are both in 14×12 poly hives and have been very active in recent weeks with the warm weather.  They are heavy when hefted – so plenty of stores.  Good quality nucs typically sell for about £250.  I’m open to offers.
  2. One honey ripener (photo below).  Similar to the one here: honey ripener at £134 from Maisemore. This has been extremely useful for jarring honey.  Will sell for £90.
  3. SOLD – 162 1/2lb honey jars and gold lids. Same as the ones from Compaq South at £13.50 for 32 jars. Hence, value of about £68. Will sell for £40.
  4. Five 30lb honey buckets. Typically about £3.40 each, hence £17 value. Will sell for £10.
  5. One 60lb honey bucket worth about £5.  Will sell for £3.

I am located in Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, UK.

Please contact me (via contact form) if you are interested and leave a phone number.

Videos & Photos Of Nucs On 21 October 2016:

Green Nuc - 21 October 2016
Green Nuc – 21 October 2016
Orange Nuc - 21 October 2016
Orange Nuc – 21 October 2016
Honey Ripener Fpr Sale
Honey Ripener For Sale

The Beekeeper

Beekeeper With Insulated Hives
Beekeeper With Insulated Hives

Advice On Over-Wintering A Poly Nuc

It is generally agreed that over-wintering nucs in poly nucs rather than wooden nucs is better due to the extra insulation and protection offered.

  • Handle the nuc carefully
  • Place your nuc in the spot where you will have the hive
  • I have put some advice on where to locate hives on the bee hygiene page
  • Open the front entrance and let them fly from that spot
  • Feed fondant over the autumn and winter – Abelo sell good value fondant.  I would buy the 12.5Kg box. On 21/10/16 both nucs were heavy when hefted (ivy honey) – but the nucs will need feeding over autumn, winter and spring as it has less storage than regular hive
  • When feeding – even if you think it is cold and they won’t fly out – always wear your bee suit, gloves and protective gear
  • End October – spin the disc at entrance so it has mouse guard in place. If there is not a mouse guard option on the disc, then use regular metal mouse guard pinned over entrance
  • Feed a thin sugar syrup come spring (see feeding bees).
  • Let me know how it goes

Feeding Green Nuc

  • The green nuc looks like this inside.  The integral feeder is on the right hand side with the entrance hole in front, as in the photo
Green Nuc - Integral Feeder
Green Nuc – Integral Feeder
  • Open the roof and you will find a sheet of plastic.  With your hive tool, slowly lift the side of the plastic sheet with the integral feeder and pop in some fondant, or if it is spring pour in thin sugar syrup into the integral feeder

Feeding Orange Nuc

  • The feeder for the orange nuc looks like this:
Orange Nuc - Miller Feeder
Orange Nuc – Miller Feeder
  • You can remove the roof and the bees cannot fly out (but do it carefully). The central section where the bees emerge to get food is covered with clear plastic. (Nice to observe the bees when you wish)
  • Feeding fondant – Carefully shift the clear plastic to pop in some fondant in the 1inch space either side of where the bees emerge at the centre of this feeder
  • Feeding syrup – This is easy. Just pour syrup into each side of the main body of the feeder and the bees can access the syrup from within the section covered by the clear plastic

Advice On Installing A Nuc Into Hive

  1. Install into a hive when daytime temperatures get to 16C
  2. Your nuc is in the spot where you will have the hive
  3. (Keep) open the front entrance and let them fly from that spot for a few days
  4. When you are ready, take the frames and bees from your nuc box one by one and place them in the centre of your hive brood box in the same order and orientation as you remove them from the nuc
  5. Shake remaining bees in the nuc box into the hive box.  (Any bees still left in nuc box, will fly into the hive within an hour or so)
  6. Fill out the remaining space with foundation frames
  7. Place feeder on top (I use jumbo feeders, see Roger’s 15 Minute Meals)
  8. Feed a thin sugar syrup to encourage the bees to draw the remaining foundation (see feeding bees)
  9. Place roof over the feeder (you might also need a super box if you have a small feeder)
  10. Continue to feed thin sugar syrup while the colony is establishing, being mindful to allow the queen adequate room to continue laying
  11. Leave the hive undisturbed for a week before a quick inspection to see how it is progressing.
  12. Your colony should expand quite quickly over the coming weeks once established.
  13. Finally – after the bees are no longer resident in the nuc boxes, I recommend you paint them with hive paint to preserve them