local-honey-bee-suppliesRJ Honey Farm

Nuc Babies

So the Royal baby is in the news this week. Big deal. RJ Honey has a bigger deal. The nucs are just about done.

Here are the details on how they came to this point. This is the 'long form' method of making a split. These were over-wintered splits. We also do traditional spring splits. This will be a follow up post.

Last summer, in June, we made a split. A split is taking frames of bees out of a healthy and strong hive to make a new one. A frame of eggs and open brood and a frame of open and capped were put into a nucleus hive box like those you see. Three other frames plus a frame feeder were added. Bob Anderson, a local queen breeder, provided us with queen cells which we put in each nucleus hive. The queens hatched out, mated and started laying in her new hive.

Not all made it. We started with 24. Five of the hives went queenless. She might have gotten lost. A bird or dragonfly may have eaten her. The hive may not have accepted her. So we were at 20 nucleus hives.

Then we fed, fed, fed 1:1 sugar water. It is a weak hive with few resources. This is our investment in helping them build their home. They use it to build new wax and feed young larvae.

Once they built out to four frames of bees we added another nucleus hive box with six frames. And we fed. By the fall we had a two deep nucleus hive full of bees.

Then we fed 2:1 sugar water. This is to bulk them up for the winter. The bees store this away. Then we waited. Waiting and wondering if the bees are going to make it through the winter is torture. Two died. Eighteen were left.

Taking advantage of the very few warm days we had this spring Richard and I went through each hive to find the queen. She was separated out into one of the two hive boxes with her bees. The other box of bees had a queen added from OHBees. RJ Honey has used these queens for years with excellent results.

The box with the new queen was moved away to another yard miles away. Bees orient to their hive. They know where home is. If we didn't move it the forager bees would go back to the original hive weakening the new one. The hobby beekeeper doesn't have to do this. We are selling our nucs and want to provide the best product we can.

After several days we returned them back to the home yard. They'd forgotten their original hive and they will reorient to their new location. That's the picture you see.

When it gets warm enough and not raining (Monday or Tuesday?) each nuc will be checked for queen-rightness. Is the queen in the hive and laying? We may not see the queen, two thumbs up if we do, but the presence of eggs and young larvae is evidence she's there.

And then they are ready for you!