BEFORE you pick up your nuc, have your hive equipment prepared and ready to go. If you are painting a hive, have it painted and aired out for a couple of weeks before you pick up your nuc. Set it up in the place where you plan to keep the bees, and have your safety gear ready.
PICKUP is typically done early in the day so that the bees do not have to spend too long in the closed box. We will have closed it the night before (or early morning, if weather is bad) so that you have the maximum number of bees.
TRANSPORTING your nuc and storing it before installation should be done at room temperature–not in a hot car or out somewhere in the sun. If you need to wait several hours or until the next day, set the nuc right next to your hive body with the entrance pointed in the direction that your hive body is also facing. Go ahead and open the entrance in the front of the nuc, so that the bees can begin to orient to the location. If you plan to install the nuc into your hive body right away, opening the nuc entrance is not necessary.
MAKE SPACE FOR 5 FRAMES in your hive, so that you can move the 5 frames out of the nuc into the center of your hive body. You should not have a second box or supers on the hive until the colony grows over the coming weeks.
SET THE NUC BOX by your hive body once you return with the nuc. Put on your suit and gloves, then start with an outer frame in the nuc box, gently and slowly lifting it straight up so you are not “rolling” your bees or queen with the help of your hive tool and placing it in your hive body. You can use a light amount of smoke from your smoker if you feel it is necessary.
PLACE THE REMAINING FRAMES in the hive body, in the same order as they were in the nuc box. You may be lucky enough to spot your queen as you’re doing this, but don’t worry about finding her at this time.
WHEN ALL THE FRAMES ARE INSTALLED, you can put on your inner cover and lid, and some 1:1 sugar water on top. A partial pollen patty is also a very good idea (small amount so as not to attract hive beetles). Let things alone for one week, then you can do your first hive inspection. You should see new eggs being laid by your queen.
FEEDING YOUR BEES a light 1:1 sugar water mixture is recommended, if you do not have existing, drawn out frames or a strong nectar flow has not started. This will help them build wax on the frames and get established as a larger colony.
WHEN THE COLONY FILLS OR DRAWS OUT ALL BUT THE OUTER 2 FRAMES, go ahead and add your next box with foundation.
REMEMBER TO KEEP TRACK OF MITE LEVELS and treat when necessary. Since you often do not have excess honey the first year (depending on start date for the nuc and weather conditions), you should consider mite treatment as soon as needed during the summer.