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Right Way To Transfer Bees From Nuc To Hive





Transferring Bees From Nuc To Hive

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Bees purchased are first kept on a nuc. Then after a certain period of time, beekeepers have to do nuc to hive transportation.

So, you must have questions like When and how to transfer your bees from Nuc to a beehive.

That’s what we are going to learn in this particular beekeeping guide.




What Is A Nuc Of Bees?

A nucleus hive or nuc box is a smaller version of a beehive. Which is usually used to keep bees temporarily for safe transportation.

Bee Nuc
P.C. Edward Terrana


The nucleus hive is much smaller than the full-sized beehive. It can contain only a few limited amounts of bees. 

The main purpose of the nuc is to create a new colony from a large colony and produce a new queen. It is used to catch swarms or to create a new house for bees.

Because of its small size, it can provide good ventilation and can control moisture. Thus provides a suitable environment for the growth of brood bees.

If you want to make a new colony from an existing colony then you can also use this.

  1. Make or purchase an empty Nuc box.
  2. Then put 2 or more bee frames inside the nucleus hive.
  3. Add a queen cage.

These frames should contain some drone bees, bee larvae, and eggs. 

If you don’t have the budget to purchase a nuc, you can get bees to kick off your beekeeping journey by catching a cluster of bees from trees, walls, and any other places.

Make sure you didn’t transfer the frame containing the queen to the nuc. Otherwise, your previous colony will be destroyed or your bees might swarm away. Because no honey bee colony can survive long without a queen.

The drone bees will make a new queen from the existing bee larvae or eggs in the bee nuc. Then a new colony will be produced.

If you don’t know how to identify broods and larvae inside a beehive, you may check this article.




How Long Can Bees Stay In A Nuc?

A nuc is a temporary home for especially brood bees. They must be moved to a full hive within a certain amount of time.

Usually, bees can stay in a nuc for up to 21 days. The range can vary from 14 days to 21 days depending on various conditions.

This period of time may be different for different regions and for different seasons. This period is mostly long in the winter which is approximately 3 weeks.




When To Transfer A Nuc To A New Hive?

You can transfer your bees from the nuc to the hive in a sunny and warm day. You must wait for a few days after having the nuc. Usually, bees are moved from a nuc to a hive within 7 to 14 days.

If you are making the nuc by yourself, then you should transfer your bees from the nuc to the hive within 10 to 20 days.

If you are purchasing a nuc box from anywhere else, it will require a few days to reach your residence.

When you pick up your nuc box, keep it in the right and suitable place for at least 24 to 48 hours. Inspect them very carefully and identify the queen. Usually, the queen comes in a cage.

To learn about different types of bees in a colony you can read this.




Ideal Temperature For Nuc To Hive Transportation

The ideal temperature for nuc to hive transportation is 34°C to 36°C. Bees try to maintain this range of temperature inside the hive. So, you should maintain this temperature during the nuc to hive transportation.

In low temperatures, your brood bees and queen can die. As a result, you will lose your entire colony before they start growing up.

During spring, the right time to move your bees from the nuc into a beehive is when the bees start bringing flower pollen. 

Usually, you will see this behavior 15 to 20 days after settling them into the nuc. When you see this behavior and identify the queen you are ready to move your bees to the full-sized beehive.

Remember to consider the situations when you shouldn’t open your hive. These can include the following.

  1. A cloudy day.
  2. If there is rain and even drizzling.
  3. If there is a chance of a storm make sure you keep your nuc box in a safe place.

You should do the transportation of bees from nuc to the hive on a nice warm sunny day.




What Is The Right Time Of The Day For Moving Bees From A Nuc To A Beehive?


As I already told you try not to open your nuc below the temperature of 15 degrees Celsius. The right time for transferring your bees from nuc to hive is when the atmosphere has a temperature of 34 to 36 degrees Celsius.

I prefer the right time of the day for bees to be moved from nuc to hive is from 12 pm to 2 pm of the day.

At such time of the day, the sun is just moved a little to the west from the center of the sky. This nice, chill, and warming atmosphere is suitable for nuc to hive transportation.

In the spring and winter seasons, make sure the temperature is at least 18º Celsius.

At mid-day in winter and autumn, the sun will be at the center of the sky. This will provide sufficient warmth that will be suitable for your bees to be transported.




How To Transfer A Nuc Into A Full-Sized Beehive?

Before transferring bees from your nuc to a hive you must prepare your beehive. Select the best time as you do for a hive inspection. Then follow the steps below:

  1. Nuc Placement: Set up your nuc box exactly parallel to your hive and keep it for at least 24 hours or more before you do the transformation. After 24 hours you are ready to transfer your nuc into a hive.
  2. Beehive Placement: Open the top cover of your beehive and place your beehive in an empty space having sufficient light and air movement.
  3. Remove Unnecessary Frames: Take out some of the frames from the middle if has. This will make space in the middle of the hive to put new bee frames. The number of frames to be removed from the middle of the beehive depends on the number of frames to be inserted inside the hive.
  4. Clean The Hive: Clean your beehive if you find any germs inside it.


I have used a 5-frame nuc box and a 10-frame Langstroth hive. Then transfer those bee frames from the nuc into a complete beehive. Exactly how I like to do the transformation is going to share with you now.


Transferring Bees From Nuc To Hive
P.C. Edward Terrana



Nuc To Hive Transportation

When your beehive is ready for transportation you can start transferring your nuc into a beehive. For nuc to hive transportation follow the steps below:

  • Step-1 Remove Top Cover: Open the top cover of your 10-frame beehive and keep the hive top open for the entire process of transferring the nucleus of bees to the hive.
  • Step-2 Remove All The Frames: Take the 10th frame from your 10-frame beehive and put it beside the hive. We will use this at the end. But now do this to make the transformation more comfortable.
  • Step-3 Smoke Upon Bees: Now take the smoker and smoke the entrance of the nuc box so that your bees keep calm a bit.
  • Step-4 Open The Nuc Box: Now open the rooftop of the nuc box and keep smoking to your bees.
  • Step-5 Take Frame Out Of The Nuc: Now take the hive tool. Use its end part to bring out each frame from the nucleus box. Do this as follow:
  1. Use the smoker as required to calm your bees.
  2. Hold your hive tool comfortably in your hand. Then use its end part to get the bottom section of the top part of the nuc frame.
  3. Now try to lift up a bit one side of the frame just like you are trying to lift a pin from a wood using a chisel.
  4. Then try to lift up the other side of the frame a bit just like the frame came above a little from the nuc box.
    The entire process should be done very slowly and very carefully.
  5. Now our one nuc frame is separated from the nuc box. Now lift the frame from the nuc box by your hand slowly.
  • Step-6 Place The Frame In The Hive: Now you have to put your nucleus frame into your beehive.

Remember your frame will go inside the beehive in exactly the same direction it came up from the nuc box.It should be placed face to face and put the nuc frame very slowly and carefully in the first position of the empty space in the middle of your beehive.

  • Step-7 Now Transfer All The Frames: We have successfully transferred our first nuc frame into a 10-frame beehive. Do the exact same process for the entire remaining frames.
  • Step-8 Carefully Transfer Frame Containing Queen: Be careful about the frame that contains the queen bee. You might see there will be a queen cage if you purchased your nuc from a beekeeping expert company. If it is empty you can remove it carefully from the frame.
    Make sure you didn’t smash her because she is the heart of the entire colony. Be nice and careful and place that frame very very carefully inside the hive.


Transfer the entire 5-frame whatever your nuc has into your beehive by exactly the same process. Just make sure no frame collapse or even touches the frame that contains the queen bee.


The entire process should be done very slowly and very carefully. Make sure you keep calm for the entire time.

Congratulations you have successfully transferred your entire 5 frames from nuc to a beehive.

But wait!!! This is not the end.

At the beginning of the process, I told you to put the 10th frame beside the hive. The reason for this is to make our nuc to hive transformation comfortable for our bees.

  • Step-9 Check If Frame Has Enough Space: Using your hive tool make sure each of the 5 frames that you put inside your hive has enough space, nice and comfortable.
  • Step-10 Place The 10th Frame: Now you can put the 10th frame inside your beehive at the last position right against the wall that you kept beside at the beginning.

This will protect your bees from squishing and provide extra shelter.


Step By Step Process Of Transfering bees from nuc to hive
Step By Step Process Of Transfering Bees From Nuc To A Full-Sized Beehive


  • Step-11 Close Top Cover: Finally close the top cover of your beehive. Make sure the frames from the nuc are placed in the middle of the beehive. It should have empty frames on both sides.

Now you will see a lot of bees left in the nuc hive. And it is common to see some of them have died. So, don’t be disappointed with that.

Now I have 2 tips for you to transfer the remaining bees from the nuc box to their new home.

Before following those steps make sure your queens have been transferred to the hive. If you find your queen isn’t transferred to your hive and remains on the nuc. Then you have to move her to the beehive.



Transferring The Queen From Nuc To Hive

As the queen is the heart of a colony, you have to be careful while transferring her. Follow the steps below.

  1. Separate the queen from the nuc box and close the nuc box.
  2. Put a sugar syrup pot at the entrance of the beehive. This actually attracts the queen bee to enter the hive on her own.
  3. If she didn’t go on her own you can tap her inside the hive.



Transferring Remaining Bees To The Beehive From The Nuc

Now for the remaining bees that don’t contain the queen bee, you can follow any of the following 2 methods.


This method is followed by the majority of beekeepers.

  • Open the entrance of your beehive and tilt the nuc box face to face to the entrance of your beehive.
  • Keep this as it is for 1 to 2 days. The remaining bees will go inside your beehive very soon. Because these bees will be attracted by the pheromones of the queen which will force them to join the colony inside the beehive.
  • You can boost up this process by adding a sugar syrup container at the entrance inside the hive if it is possible.




Most beekeepers don’t like this. But I love to do this each time I transfer new nuc to my beehive.

  • Take your nuc box right above the hive.
  • Invert it slowly so that it faced toward the top of the beehive.
  • Now make one solid tap to the nuc box or shake it for a while. In my case, one solid tap is enough to transfer almost all of the remaining bees from the nuc to the hive.

If you do this properly you can trust me it won’t hurt or kill your bees.

Now you have successfully installed your all bees from a nucleus hive to a new beehive.




Why The Nuc Entrance Is Very Important?

Because bees are attracted by new places suitable for the colony. They don’t care about the type of box are using for the Nuc. But they do care about the entrance spot of the nuc.

Bees usually remain inside the nuc at night and when there is rain or low temperature. When the weather is warm they will come out from the nuc. And look for a suitable place that attracts them.

When the weather is warm, nice, and suitable for transportation. Bees from a Nuc will fly and move to the beehive on their own through the beehive entrance.


Nuc Entrance
Nuc Entrance




What To Do After Transferring Nuc To Hive?

The most important step after transferring your bees from a nuc to a beehive is feeding them. There are various methods beekeepers use to feed bees to adopt them in a new home.

I personally used to feed my new bees in the beehive by placing a ply Ashforth feeder inside the hive. Because the ply Ashforth feeder makes the feeding process very easy. But if you wish you can put a rapid feeder or crown board.

Make sure you feed them continuously with one-to-one sugar syrup until they cover at least 80% of the frame inside your brood box.

But don’t overfeed them. Because if you overfeed your bees they will swarm away and leave your beehive.

My recommendation is to put not more than a couple of liters of sugar syrup in the feeder.




How Many Days It Will Take For The Bees To Be Used To Their New Home?

Usually, it takes 7 days for the bees to be adopted to their new home. But it can be very for the different bee colonies.

Inspect your colony regularly. Feed them properly. Take necessary care of them they will love their new place.




What Can We Do With The Nuc Box After Nuc To Hive Transportation?

After transferring your bees from Nuc to a beehive the Nuc box doesn’t become useless. So, don’t through it in the garbage box or anywhere else.

You can use this nuc box to catch a new swarm or to make a new nuc from an existing colony.

Nuc boxes are designed and suitable for attracting bee swarms. So, you can put the nuc box in a tree or in a garden where bee swarms might be present or come. Thus you can use it to create a bee swarm trap.




Frequently Asked Question


Do bee nuc have a queen?

In most cases, bee nuc contains a queen. In most cases, the worker selects and develops the queen from the existing mated eggs. Sometimes a developed queen is introduced in a cage to the nuc.

What is the purpose of a nuc hive?

The nuc is especially needed for fast brood development. It is to kick off a honey bee colony from a few workers and larvae.

Can you put new bees in an old hive?

Of course, you can use an old hive for nuc to hive transformation. If the old hive is in good condition and reusable you can put new bees on it.




Final Thoughts

To start your beekeeping journey you can’t directly catch a swarm and put them directly into a beehive. Because beekeeping is undoubtedly not rocket science to be successful In one day.

It has a systematic way to do it. Having a nuc of bees is the first step to kick off beekeeping.

Then transferring them into a full-sized beehive is the next step of starting a happy and successful colony. This should be done at the right time and following the right way 

Hopefully, now you know when is the right time and how to transfer your bees from Nuc to a complete beehive. Now you can check my article on how you can reuse an abandoned beehive.

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