Nucleus colonies, called ‘nucs” are a smaller version of a full-depth Langstroth hive. Such nucs might have three to five frames. Nucs can be made in Spring and Summer, and in warmer areas, in early Autumn.
Why use Nucs?
1) Having a nuc is a good way to keep your main colony strong.
Many people keep nucs as support colonies. The job of a support nuc is to keep your main colony strong and produce honey.
2) Having a nuc on hand allows you to deal with the untimely queen problem.
No matter how long you have been beekeeping, it is inevitable that your main colony will lose a queen or swarm in the middle of a honey flow. If your colony produces a surprise swarm or no longer has a queen, you can requeen using a nuc. Requeening with a nuc means you have a laying queen, with brood and bees immediately.
3) Nucs can help strengthen weak colonies.
If you have a weak colony, you can strengthen it by giving it bees and brood from a nuc. Conversely, if a colony is too weak to occupy a full-sized box, you can put it in a nuc box where it is easier to feed and manage.
Problems with Using Nucs.
Nucs require more attention than full-size hives. Nucs can exhaust their food supply, especially during winter. They should be monitored at least monthly for food supplies and fed if necessary. In Spring and Summer, their population can expand beyond the space available. Keep the population low by removing bees and brood.
Despite these issues, you will benefit from the use of nucs. Plan to make a nuc for your own beekeeping.
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