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Nucleus Colonies

A nucleus colony (often referred to as a nuc - and pronounced nuke) is a small colony that contains the queen, workers, brood and stores. As well as being the ideal way to obtain a colony, nucs are used by beekeepers to house 'spare' queens or as part of swarm control measures.

Our nucs contain a young queen, workers of all ages and brood of all ages plus sufficient food to last it for a week or two of poor weather although usually you'll be transferring it to a larger hive in any case. The nucs that we sell have 5 or 6 frames which have brood and stores and can develop into a full sized colony before winter if it's early enough in the season. 

Nuc of browston beesDon't plan to harvest some honey but you may be lucky! The queens are our own and not imported and they have been laying for at least 3 weeks in summer and usually will have been in the colony since mating. We usually supply the nucleus colony in a new plywood nuc box (confusingly also called a nuc) which can be stained and re-used afterwards.








(Above: Opened 6 frame nuc ready to go)


Buying a nuc.

If you are a new beekeeper you should ask to see the colony first and and self-respecting vendor should be happy to oblige. After all they are valuable livestock and could be a nuisance if not well-behaved. Take an experienced beekeeper with you if at all possible. You should be able to stand by the colony and not be worried by 'followers' which are bees that buzz around you - they shouldn't take much notice at all. Ask that the colony be opened up to see what's what.  Once you  have seen the colony and you agree to buy, arrange for a suitable time to collect it. The best time is at dusk once the bees have finished flying for the day. The colony can be sealed up easily at this time of day without too much stress to the bees. 



If you are unsure, ask us for advice on transporting it before you arrive to collect it and make sure that you have everything you need. Colonies find travelling stressful and don't like being shut-in so you should make sure that transportation arrangements are done that is best for them - your investment.

Early in the year we may have some over-wintered nucs, alternatively we can supply in early summer with the current years' queen. Please Contact us if interested.



Above: 5 frame nuc, upturned bin optional

Frame types

Nucs are supplied on Hoffman self-spacing frames suited for the most common hive type - the National and WBC's both these take the same frames. (The Deep 14 " x 8.5" frame). We can supply on Langstroth, Commercial (16 x 10) or 14 x 12 frames by prior arrangement only as these are less common and not usually used by us. The Deep (8.5") frame will fit into a 14 x 12 hive and can then be slowly 'retired' to the side and removed. The deep frames will also fit the larger Commercial hives with frame adaptors to stop brace comb being built. If in doubt, do get in touch.




Nucleus Standard

The following is based on the old British Standard BS:1372 of 1947 no less (!) and a more recent BBKA leaflet for nucleus colonies.

You would expect to see at least 3 frames of good brood (4 for a 6 frame nuc) and bees covering at least one frame more. (Remember that in the height of the day foraging bees will be out of the hive). There should be brood of all ages, pollen stores and honey stores to last the colony for a week of bad weather. There should be minimal drone brood and there should not be drone brood in worker cells and definitely no queencells. The colony should be disease free. The frames should not have wax that is too old and dark and all frames should be drawn. The queen should have a known provenance and be less than 1 year old and ideally marked.






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