Well, they’re actually nucleus hives, or nucs for short; they’re not radioactive or anything. These are small hives that we have been experimenting with this year. They are housed in a hive that holds 5 frames, or half the number of frames of our regular hive body. This means less space to heat and cool and defend. We set these guys up and let them make their own queen and work on building their hive. This gives us a kind of insurance policy. So without a nuc, if we were to loose a queen in a large hive there would be three options to choose from:
1 Do nothing. The hive would likely die and we would loose any honey/pollen/nectar that was stored due to robbing.
2 Order a queen. She would take a few days to get here and take a couple of days to start laying, so for about $30 we would only have about 5-7 days of no production of new bees.
3 Let them make their own queen. This takes some manipulation time on the beekeeper’s part, but is doable. It takes a hive about 30 days from starting to raise a queen ’till she starts laying, then another 25 days or so until the eggs she laid start hatching.
With a nuc handy, as soon as I realize there’s no queen in a large hive, I can use the queen from the nuc and put her in the hive that’s missing one and get them right back on track. While it may not seem like a huge difference in choices, if your honey flow is only 30 days long like it is some spring seasons, you can’t afford to miss any days of production or you could miss out on honey for the entire year!
This is how we use our nucs as another tool in our management practices.