Nuc installation and first inspections

Karen installed her nuc last week and I went up to her place on Friday to have a look. The bees were nice and busy, I spotted the marked queen but they were building comb under the ventilated cover. A lot of it. We debated flipping the cover but this would only increase the bee space and likely make them build more comb. So instead, I moved the still unworked foundation between the brood frames, they should start building these out. The hive had at least 3 frames of brood with a frame of honey. The queen was petite, I believe she’s a Kona Queen.

Connie and I checked her hive yesterday, they looked really good. They had 4 frames of brood, AND Connie spotted the unmarked queen! She was seriously elusive. I brought my marker and queen catcher in case we saw the queen, but trying to catch her was impossible, she kept scurrying around to the opposite side of the frame. It was quite maddening. I kept jumping from one side of the frame to the other, it’s terrifying to think I was going to squish her just trying to get her marked. Finally, I just took the marker and followed her and tried to dab her as she ran around. I actually got her! At least I didn’t flood her like I did my own queens, who thankfully survived. I’ve decided to practice picking bees up by the wings, drones actually since they don’t sting. The queen catcher is too nerve-wracking. We also staggered the unworked frames in between the worked frames to encourage the bees to build them out.

When checking these nucs for the first time you generally are looking to see how much brood there is and if they’re working on any of the frames. If they are using the new frames, then you add more, if not you can stagger a couple of the unworked frames in between to encourage them to use the frames. But you don’t want to give them more space than they can defend.

One issue we had in Connie’s hive (I have the same but not quite as bad), is the shear number of earwigs nesting under the outercover. Hers were actually under the edge of the ventilated cover as well. Since the population is still small in this hive, they don’t have as many bees to fend off the intruders. This will change in the coming weeks but in the meantime, Connie sprinkled something around the edge of the grass/stone (away from bee contact) to kill off the earwigs.




  1. Hi Anna,
    We have never marked our Queens to be honest, we have marked a lot of drones for practice.
    I don’t really see the point in marking Queens, just seems like a risky operation we would rather just look for eggs/Larva to proved the hive is indeed Queen right.
    See ya…Gary

    • I agree Gary. I only look for evidence of the queen via eggs, young larvae when I go into the brood chambers but I think marking the queen is handy to keep track of how old she is and whether her longevity and productivity is something you would want to keep around for a while. Plus, if my bees built up quickly in the spring I would be curious to know if it was because of the old queen or a new one. I don’t plan to requeen on a schedule, just let the bees do it as they see fit. This will help me keep track.

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