The Nucleus Hive - The Beekeepers Most Versatile Tool


The full-frame nucleus hive, in its various forms has many uses. One of the most popular designs is the five frame nucleus box, and there are variations on this design to accommodate fewer frames.

The nucleus hive can be used for collecting swarms, dividing a colony about to swarm, making increase, accommodating a few brood frames during colony inspections, and as a mating hive.

The five frame nucleus hive can also be used to transport grafted larvae. This is useful when another strain of bee is to be introduced.

This method is more successful with accepted grafts, which have been given brood food by the bees. This occurs very soon after the grafted larvae have been inserted into a queen less starter colony. Examination after one-hour will reveal some queen cups that have had the larvae removed, and others that have had brood food given.

The frame of grafted cups can then be inserted into the middle of the nucleus box, the space having being left for this when the nucleus was made up earlier.

A variation on the five frame nucleus hive is the Marburg swarm box, this in addition to being able to be used as a nucleus hive, can also be used to filter out drones when making up mini nucs that are to be taken to a mating site, where it is important only to have drones from selected stocks.

Another design uses a divided brood box to give two nucleus hives, the floorboard also having a division to keep the two colonies separate, and of course two cover board's are used, but only one roof. The entrances being on opposite sides of the brood box. The advantage in using such boxes is that very little special equipment is required, and the boxes can easily be converted back to normal brood boxes.

Thus divided, the boxes are useful to over winter nucleus colonies especially if additional protection is given by insulation to reduce heat loss. Insulation in the roof is the most important, but additional insulation can be given in the sides of the brood boxes.

With a National hive the recesses on the sides of the boxes can be filled with three-quarter inch polystyrene, and covered with plywood. Further insulation can be given by fitting a sheet of polystyrene inside the front and back walls of the brood box.

These need to be covered by plywood to prevent the bees from nibbling the polystyrene, and entrances must be provided through this insulation of course. This reduces the number of frames that can be accommodated in each of the nuclei by one frame, but four frames of bees will over winter successfully provided the frames are well filled with stores, and the bees are "winter bees", that is bees that are hatched in August and September.

Without doubt nucleus hives should be part of every beekeeper's equipment, for there are so many occasions when the use of a nucleus hive will overcome a problem.

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