What is the difference between a nuc and a hive?

The nuc box, also called the nuc, is a smaller version of a normal hive, designed to hold fewer frames. A smaller space makes it easier for bees to control the temperature and humidity of the colony, which is vital for raising offspring. A core typically consists of 4 established frameworks. It will contain two honey frames for feeding and two breeding frames for expanding the hive.

It will also have a laying queen. A core box is a small hive box for housing a core colony. These boxes contain fewer frames than standard 8- and 10-frame hive boxes. A core colony, more commonly known as a “nuc” or “split”, is one of the easiest ways for beekeepers to start a colony in a new hive.

Cores are nothing more than comb frames that are removed from an established hive. Because they come from a successful colony, the nuclei contain honeycombs with developing offspring at various stages of development. In most cases, they also contain cells with honey and pollen stored by the original colony. If possible, buy core hives if you can.

They are better than bundles in almost every scenario. But remember, kernels aren't better than bundles if they're not available. In the right hands, packages can outnumber population cores for the first year. Still, that doesn't negate the negatives that come with a package.

Starting a new hive with core frames gives bees an edge over packed bees and swarms because it's essentially a small but fully functioning hive already. They have drawn honeycombs, babies, food and a laying queen. This means that the population will begin to grow after the installation. The bee package is manufactured by beekeeper supply companies in volume, and the adult bees in the package can be combined from half a dozen different colonies.

Kernels can provide resources to colonies in need of help, quickly replacing a lost queen or providing additional bees to a weak hive. Remove approximately six of the frames from the box to make room for the frames you are going to take out of the core. Traditional cores are comprised of Langstroth frames, which are not compatible with Top Bar or Warre hives, unless major frame surgery is performed. As a complete colony, a nucleus has a laying queen, a relatively small number of bees, as well as frames with covered offspring at various stages of development, pollen, nectar and possibly some honey.

As such, the new beekeeper should only consider a core if a Langstroth is the hive of choice. The core hive will come with a mated queen who actively lays eggs, 4-5 frames with fully developed honeycomb, about 10,000 adult bees, enough honey to survive transport to the beekeeper's new yard, and many bee eggs that will hatch in the coming weeks. Nucleus hives are small, functional bee colonies with everything bees need to establish a strong colony. The basic steps to divide a hive involve transferring some combination of frames with bees, brood, and food from a healthy, established hive to a nucleus to create a new colony.

A typical Nuc contains 4 or 5 frames set up with 2 of the frames containing honey bread or pollen for feeding, and at least 2 breeding frames for colony expansion. In addition, if you are looking for a modest honey harvest during the first year, Nuc during the winter are your best option. One of the key characteristics of a bee package is that the queen comes from a different line than the rest of the bees in the package. The cores come with offspring (baby bees in capped cells) that most likely have breeding varroa mites in them.

Kernels are available from several sources, including bee vendors who will also sell bundles. It has a small number of frames (2-5, with 5 being a typical option) and these frames are taken from the core and placed directly in the hive. .

Erika Shipley
Erika Shipley

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