For readers who live in areas of the country with winters as harsh as those in Northeastern Pennsylvania, colony loss is expected in the spring.
As we try to grow our apiary from year to year, winter losses are always a disappointing setback. Two years ago we decided to not just replace the hives lost over the winter, but to purchase an additional ten hives to help boost honey production. We have a friend in our bee club who has one hundred plus hives and winters them in warmer climates in order to make splits to sell in the spring.
We have always had good luck with the hives we have purchased from our friend. The nucs we purchase are four frame nucs, and our friend will actually let us pick out which ones we want to purchase if we meet him at his bee yard. I prefer to select the bees myself as I can choose the most robust hives and actually see the queen, brood, and eggs. However, returning his nuc boxes became an inconvenience, since he lives just about one hour away.
My wife had a very good idea to help with this issue, and I actually listened to her for once!
We do not care to use his nuc boxes to transport the newly purchased bees home, as we then have to return the boxes, which is another two hour round trip. To help with this dilemma, my wife suggested putting the four frames of bees from his nuc boxes along with five empty frames we bring from home, into a hive super where they will live in at our apiary.
I should listen to my wife more often as we tried her idea and it worked great!
Not only did we not have to return any nuc boxes, it was much gentler and easier on the bees once we arrived home. Instead of removing the four frames of bees and shaking the bees remaining in the nuc box into the hive super, we just placed the hive super we used as a nuc box onto the other hive super in our yard, since we use two hive supers per colony.
The process was actually very easy, using just about everything we already had to make a complete hive. All that is needed is a hive cover, a hive super box with five frames, an inner cover, and some screen and duct tape to cover the opening in the inner cover.
Using some type of mesh, such as an old screen from a window, cover the center hole of the inner cover, allowing the bees air while they are in the hive box traveling to your apiary. If you cut a slot in your inner covers as I do, make sure the slot is turned upward. Using the duct tape, secure the screen to the inner cover, making sure you do not tape across the opening.
Turn the hive cover upside down and place the hive super with frames inside the cover. You are now ready to transfer the frames of bees from their original nuc box into your bee transport box. Once all the bees have been placed inside your super, securely fasten the inner cover to the hive box using 1″ screws for the bumpy ride home. It is helpful to have the screws started as you see in the above picture.
Upon reaching the destination in your bee yard, carefully lift and place the super with bees in it on top of a ready and waiting frame-filled super in your apiary. Remove the screws and tape from the inner cover and place the hive cover on top of the hive. Your bees are now ready for a happy and productive life at their new address!
We have found that using this method of transporting does not disturb the bees any more than transferring them from a nuc box. Plus, once you see the queen safely placed into the transport box, you can be sure she is in your hive at your apiary.
Hope this method of transporting bees saves you some time and aggravation.
Thanks for reading and until next time, Keep Them Buzzing!!!