Installing a Honey Bee Nuc

You may have noticed in some of our previous posts that we have 2 sets of hives in our yard, but we’ve only been showing pictures of bees in one of them. That’s because up until now, only one has been occupied.

But no longer…

Honey Bee Nuc -

Enter the Nuc!

What is a nuc? Good question. When ordering bees, there are primarily two different ways of transferring them: one is a “package” (which can you learn more about in our post from earlier this year), the other is a “nucleus” or “nuc” for short.

With a package, you basically get bees, and that’s it. With a nuc, you’re getting not just bees, bust also frames that the bees have already begun to establish. The idea is that since the bees already have been storing honey and laying eggs, they’ll have a better chance of survival.

We honestly wanted to try installing both a package and a nuc just to see which process we liked more. What’s the verdict? Keep reading to find out 🙂

Honey Bee Nuc -
We had a few bees that found there way out of the box. Not nearly as many as were hanging around our package when we brought it home though.

As you can see, the nuc is basically a cardboard box with some frames inside. Once you crack open the box, you can see that the bees have been busy…

One of the downsides of installing the nuc was that the bees are already so well established. So that means there’s tons of burr comb that’s on the inside of the box and holding some of the frames together that we needed to remove and pull apart. It’s a shame to be wasting their efforts like that…
Burr Comb -

The other downside is that we were installing the bees at night. The idea is that the bees may be calmer and easier to move. While this is true in theory, it also makes it more difficult to see exactly what they’ve been doing.

Honey Bee Nuc -

Most of the time when taking pictures my flash came on automatically, which unfortunately doesn’t give you the best pics. But we were able to capture some of the bees “eating” out of some of the burr comb on the inside of the box.

Check out their “tongues” going in and out of that comb! Pretty cool stuff.

Honey Bee Nuc -

Honey Bee Nuc -

Once we moved all of the frames into our boxes, we setup a feeder just like we did with our other hive, and closed it up for the night. There were still a TON of stray bees that were on the inside lid of the box and inside the box itself, so we left it sit overnight so the bees could find their way in to their new home.

So now that we’ve installed both a package and a nuc, which one did we think was easier?


Honestly, the package was easier. I know, we were surprised too. The original thought was “oh yea, just take some frames from here, move them over there, no problem.” and while it wasn’t difficult, it definitely felt more involved and seemed more stressful for the bees than the package was. Considering the packages cost less than nucs as well, we’ll likely be ordering them in the future should we need more bees.

What do you think? Packages or Nucs?