How to transfer bees from a 5-frame nucleus hive

How to transfer bees from a 5-frame nucleus hive

Welcome to beekeeping! You’ve got your bees.
Here is what you will need, to transfer the bees into a beehive:

  • Hive stand
  • Hive floor and entrance block
  • Brood box
  • Six DN4 Hoffman deep frames and foundation, or five if using a WBC hive
  • Crown board
  • Empty super to hold a contact feeder, or a frame feeder (which I prefer)
  • Dummy board or a frame feeder
  • Roof
  • Sugar syrup, mixed 1kg granulated sugar to 1 litre water.
  • A hive record card
  • Bee suit and gloves, smoker and hive tool
  1. Collect your nucleus hive of bees in the evening, when the bees have stopped flying.  Make sure no bees can escape during the journey
  2. Place nuc hive in position on the hive stand.
  3. Open the entrance.
  4. Leave the bees to fly and to settle down for a few days.   Do not be tempted to transfer the combs to a hive straight away.  The bees will be furious!

Decision….. Do you want to run your hive warm way or cold way?
Warm way, with the frames parallel to the entrance allows you to work the hive easily from behind. Cold way requires you to twist if working from behind.  I only use warm way.

  1. Choose a warm sunny day when the bees are flying well.
  2. Move nuc hive to one side and place your new hive on the stand, with the entrance block in place to reduce the entrance.
  3. Place empty frame feeder and one frame of foundation in brood box at back.
  4. Open nuc hive and gently smoke your bees.
  5. Lift out first frame of bees and place in hive, next to the first frame of foundation.
  6. Continue to transfer frames of bees, making sure that they are the same way round as in the nuc hive.
  7. Add one frame of foundation at front. Push all frames towards the back, leaving a gap at the front. Fit a dummy board in the gap, up against the frame of foundation.
    Note: The picture shows three frames of foundation at the front and two at the back. It is better to add frames gradually, as the bees build up in numbers, or the bees will struggle to keep the brood warm.
  8. Shake any bees still in the nuc hive into the new hive.
  9. Fit crown board and empty super.
  10. Fill in a new hive record card.
  11. Fit the hive roof.
  12. The same evening, give the bees a feeder full of syrup, 2 x 1kg sugar mixed with 1½ litres of water. If you feed when the bees are flying you may cause other bees to rob the hive.
  13. Continue feeding until the bees have drawn out all the frames of foundation.





Aftercare….. Be aware that if you are using a nuc provided with a queen raised last year your nuc could make preparations to swarm, long before they have built out the brood box with drawn comb.

Peter McFadden, Conwy BK, updated May 2018


These notes are also available to download.

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