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Learners will acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to confidently install a nucleus colony.


Key Takeaways 


  1. Smart Purchasing: When buying a nucleus colony, ensure you ask the apiary for proof of inspection by a provincial inspector. Verify the age of the combs to avoid purchasing colonies with old and unhealthy comb structures. Also, inquire about the supplier’s integrated pest management strategy to ensure you start with healthy and disease-free bees.

  2. Safety During Installation: Prioritize safety during the nucleus colony installation process. Prepare all necessary equipment, wear protective clothing, and use a smoker to calm the bees. Take your time to gently transfer frames and avoid rough handling to minimize stress and agitation among the bees.

  3. Beginner-Friendly Installation Guide: The blog provides a step-by-step installation guide suitable for beginner beekeepers. From preparing the hive box to transferring the frames and finalizing the installation, the guide ensures a smooth and successful integration of the nucleus colony into its new hive.

If you’re new to beekeeping and ready to start your journey, one of the first steps is acquiring bees.” A nucleus colony is a small, functioning bee colony that typically consists of a queen, worker bees, and brood (developing bees).

Purchasing a Nucleus Colony: What to Ask the Apiary

When purchasing a nucleus colony, it’s essential to ensure that you are buying healthy and disease-free bees from a reputable source. Here are some questions you should ask the apiary:

1. Proof of Inspection: Inquire if the supplier’s apiary has been inspected by a provincial inspector and request to see the proof of inspection and inspection report. This documentation will help you determine if the bees are sourced from a safe and well-maintained apiary.

2. Age of Combs: Combs play a crucial role in the health of a bee colony. Ask the supplier about the age of the combs they are selling. Combs that are too old (usually six years or older) may affect the colony’s well-being. Ideally, combs should be cycled out every four years to maintain the colony’s health.

3. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Strategy: Inquire about the supplier’s approach to managing pests and diseases. Some beekeepers use antimicrobials prophylactically, which is illegal in certain regions. Ask if their bees have been treated for any diseases, the specific diseases treated, and the reasons for treatment. This will help you make an informed decision about the health and management of the nucleus colony you intend to purchase.

Safety Tips When Installing a Nucleus Colony

Once you have acquired your nucleus colony, it’s time to install it into its permanent hive. This process can be exciting yet nerve-wracking, especially for beginner beekeepers. Here are some safety tips to ensure a smooth installation process:

1. Prepare Your Equipment: Before installing the nuc, make sure you have all your beekeeping equipment ready. This may include the nuc box, foundation frames, a smoker, a hive tool, protective clothing (such as a beekeeping hood and apron), and the hive where you plan to install the nuc.

2. Wear Protective Clothing: As a beginner beekeeper, it’s advisable to wear protective clothing, including a beekeeping hood and apron, to protect yourself from potential bee stings.

3. Let Bees Relax: After transportation, bees may be agitated. It’s a good idea to let them relax for a day or two before attempting to install the nuc. Ensure the nuc box is covered to protect it from the elements.

4. Use a Smoker: When ready to install the nuc, gently remove the lid and use a smoker to calm the bees. Smoke disrupts bees’ ability to communicate through pheromones, reducing their aggressive behavior and making the installation process easier.

The Installation Process

With your preparation complete, it’s time for the installation process.

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