For those thoroughly caught by the beekeeping “bug”, there are several ways to expand your operation. One such way is by buying nucs, or nucleus hives, from another beekeeper in your area. Nucleus hives consist of three to four frames of bees, brood (eggs, larvae, and capped), resources such as honey and pollen, and a queen bee, which can be caged or released depending on the supplier.
Some nucs are created and sold in small plasti-cell nuc boxes with room for only the four or five frames within, and may include a frame feeder. Others are nucs that have been placed inside full-sized hive equipment and then allowed to build out to the remaining empty frames inside the box, referred to as “frame swaps”. These are the kind that Spiral Horn Apiary prefers when buying nucs.
This past week we at Spiral Horn Apiary went through the final stages of buying nucs for our expansion. We transported all of the necessary equipment for 240 hives out to East Texas. Two loads of single hive bodies full of bee frames, bottom boards, and migratory covers on pallets made the one-way six hour trek beautifully through wind and less than favorable road conditions (because there is always construction on Texas roads). In total, the equipment for two hundred and forty hives was transported in the span of three days. Because we use eight-frame equipment rather than ten-frame, as most of the older commercial apiaries do, we remove the frames from our eight-frame equipment and place them into our supplier’s ten-frame boxes, to make the process of nuc creation simpler for them.
One of the most important things to remember when buying nucs is to know the beekeeper they are coming from. It is always a good idea to do a little research into the company or the individual providing them before buying nucs, or full-sized hives.