How to build honey bee nucs

Written by frank whittemore
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How to build honey bee nucs
A nuc hive is a good place to start a new honey bee colony. (bees in honecomb image by Stanisa Martinovic from

To start a new colony of honey bees, keep a spare queen or capture a swarm, use a smaller version of the traditional Langstroth-style beehive. Known as a nucleus hive, or nuc for short, the hive holds only five frames, providing a smaller space that allows a small colony to get established. It also makes the hive easier for you to manage. Once the colony has filled out the frames inside the nuc, you can move them to a standard hive. A kit from a reputable beekeeping supply company is the easiest way to get a nuc started.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Breeze blocks
  • Carpenter's level
  • Nucleus hive kit
  • Clean rag
  • Hammer
  • Wax foundation
  • Drill with small drill bits
  • 2 inch nails
  • 1 inch nails

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  1. 1

    Glue the inside edges of the tabs on the ends of the front, back and side boards of the nuc hive. Insert the tabs into each other to form the body of the hive. Tap the pieces together with the hammer to fit tightly.

  2. 2

    Drill a pilot hole into each tab on the boards of the hive body. Hammer 2 inch nails into each of the holes. Allow the glue to fully dry.

  3. 3

    Place the top and bottom bars of one of the frames in the kit into the slots in two side pieces of a frame. Drill a pilot hole through the top and bottom bars into the side pieces. Hammer a 1 inch nail into each hole to hold the frame together. Repeat this step for the other frames in the kit.

  4. 4

    Place a sheet of wax foundation into the slits in each of the frames. Insert the frames into the body of the hive.

  5. 5

    Place the breeze blocks on the ground. Measure the blocks with the carpenter's level, and adjust them until they are level. Set the bottom board of the nuc hive on the breeze blocks.

  6. 6

    Place the hive body onto the bottom board. Align the corners of the body with the corners on the bottom board.

  7. 7

    Place the inner cover onto the hive body. Place the telescoping outer cover on top of the nucleus hive.

Tips and warnings

  • A nucleus hive painted with a good outdoor enamel paint will last longer than an unpainted beehive. Do not paint the inside of the hive. The bees will paint the inside themselves with propolis, a sticky, resinous substance that keeps the hive clean.

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