Nucleus colonies are an important component of our beekeeping operation. Nucleus colonies, or nucs, are functioning colonies with all the components of a normal colony only on a smaller scale.
These nucs are valuable for many uses to the beekeeper. They are used to house extra queens for the apiary, to act as mating colonies for virgin queens to become established, as resource producers to support our queen rearing, to salvage colonies with problems, to reestablish colonies after losses, or to sell to other beekeepers. They can be created to alleviate swarming in established hives, and they are an excellent way for beekeepers to expand their colony numbers using their own bees to make splits. Depending on the time of year, one third to two thirds of our colonies are nucs.
The pictures below show a variety of configurations for nucleus colonies. All of our colonies, including the nucs, are in medium depth boxes. Most are 5 frame in single, double, triple, or quadruple configurations. The nucleus colonies winter just as well as the larger production colonies.
If you are interested in making nucs, there are many resources on the internet. Check out Michael Palmer's YouTube videos, especially those listed as The Sustainable Apiary.