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Feeding pollen to nucs

I have been feeding my new nuc sugar water for a few weeks which has helped them with building comb. I have now found a local supplier with pollen supplement but im not sure how much to feed them of how to put it in the hive? My nuc has only 2 drawn fames, 1 with brood and 1 of honey. They are working on the other frames atm. I am yet to pick it up but i think the pollen is dry packaged.

Hi Robert. I’m down Byron way and have only very limited experience.
But for all I know, even up in Rockhampton your trees and plants should have plenty of spring pollen and nectar. My bees are going bonkers in bringing it all. Rockhampton should be similar?
A nuc with just 2 frames is not really a nuc. Do you have plenty of bees to cover those frames? Is there a queen?
If you purchased a nuc, this time of year you shouldn’t have to feed them really, unless the weather is off and we have a cyclone with rain for 3 weeks. Happens.
Talk to your supplier and ask for an additional frame of brood at all stages.
A properly sized nuc around here should be able to do real well around this time.
Are you sure you have a queen, and can you see uncapped brood?

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Watch your bees coming in. Are they bring hind leg bags of pollen in ? Are those two frames covered wall to wall with bees ?

By Normal Nuc standards up here … that might be a bite small … that’s more little a breeder start n not a Nuc. Normally we get 4 to 5 full deep frames here in the States n I’m sure even down there that’s a weeee small to get much going …

As Webclan asked, have you seen the Queen ? And do or can you see a progression of babies (eggs to capped) on that one frame ? We usually get one nearly full capped (lbith sides) brood then at least one if not two progressive brood frame, one frame of mixed pollen, nectar, honey n mixed brood then a frame of capped or uncapped honey. If not sometimes the come with a frame feeder. I prefer the homey in comb as the bees have comb n honey to help build on n in.

I guess that’s a start but going to be a rough GO to get to a 8 or 10 frame hive by end of the season. If you can find a willing beekeeper nearby. I’d plead for a another frame of brood to give that colony a boost if possible.

Good luck … it’s always a challenge n learning experience. A good mentor close by is always wise n helpful.



getting hive ready for winter up Stateside.

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Hi webclan, i am in Maryborough queensland and we have a small flow on atm. The bees have a queen that i saw last weekend. She is laying but because the hive is so small its taking some time to get going. I have asked the supplier for another frame of brood but he made two splits from his one hive and doesnt have any spare frames of brood left. I think i need to find another beekeeper to get brood.

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In that case, a small baggie with sugar water could help them build up. Good luck!

I checked my small hive today and have found the queen laying well. The sugar syrup has worked. I checked my better hive and was disappointed… they were making queen cells. Last week when I inspected it I must have rolled my queen !! They have made two queen cells, 1 is capped but it’s only small and the other is still under construction. As I have two small hives will the new queen be able to find a drone to mate with? Would I be best to move that hive close to other hives in the area.?

Don’t worry, your new queen will find a drone way away from your hives. Nature of things, and preferred.
Ouch, my greatest nightmare after any inspection. Did I roll the queen? I don’t find my Italian queens often, so I worry. But after watching the hive for an hour, you’d know if you did roll her.
Never happened to me, but hey, if it happened, they’d made a new one in a flash.
Just leave them to It and don’t disturb or interfere.
I think it may have happened with my very first hive, but not sure. Turned out well back then.
Hmm, is your stronger hive maybe preparing for swarming rather than replacing a queen you may have rolled?


I agree with @Webclan, you don’t need to worry about drones. It is actually very unusual for a queen to mate with drones from her own hive. She will usually fly a couple of miles to a DCA (drone congregation area) which is a kind of gigolo hangout for drones. There seems to be some pheromone mark on the area, and drones will gather there for years. Thomas Seeley did some experiments where he marked the top of a yacht mast with the pheromone - drones would congregate around it for years afterwards, waiting for a passing queen. :blush:

The way to know whether you have rolled the queen is to look for eggs and young uncapped larvae. If you can see larvae no bigger than the ones in this photo (you will need to click the link to see the correct photo), you had a queen less than a week ago:

If you saw larvae that small, and a queen cell, then as @Webclan says, they may be getting swarmy and you might want to make a split.

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Thanks Dawn, there was only capped brood and no new eggs or lavae. The capped queen cell was only small compared to others i have seen, about 10mm long. Will that mean the new queen may be small and not as strong? On another note is stevia toxic to bees? I made up a pollen pattie with what i thought was normal white sugar and gave it to the nuc. A couple of hours later i made a cup of tea and realized it was “smart” sugar which has a small amount of stevia in it… i quickly removed the pattie which they had already started eating. Hopefully it wasnt in there long enough to cause any problems.

Emergency queen cells are typically short. The reason is that swarm cells are built at the edge or on the surface of the comb and an egg is placed in the base of the cell, allowing them to reach full length (around 2.5cm). Emergency cells are built around a larva which has already hatched and is in a cell within the comb, but less than 3 days from hatching from the egg. If you roll (kill) a queen, they may well build emergency cells, but usually they will build more than 2 cells, which is why I am cautious about assuming your queen is dead.

Short emergency queen cells do not mean you will have a small, ineffective queen. She is just bent over in a kind of L-shape before she emerges to reign over the hive. This has no permanent consequences as as far as I recall. In fact, it has actually been studied, and I believe that @Michael_Bush has some references to support this.

As with most beekeeping things there are always studies on both sides of any issue, but I have some quotes from some of the “greats” of beekeeping saying most of the myths about “emergency queens” are not true:

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A virgin queen will fly further than the foraging range for her mating flight. Moving the hive will more likely not be any help and just disturb the colony unduly.
I’d have thought you would be going well up there with a flow on now?.

Not so sure about this Pete.
How far do drones fly?
How long does a mating flight take?
What is the forage range?
Of course all this is conditional to the topography and weather.
From my novice research drones fly less than 1km so mating flights only need to be more than this.
Mating flights take between 10-30 minutes. If a qbee flies 24 kmh then a maximum 30 min trip is 6 km each way and if it takes 10 mins to boogie then it’s 4 km each way. This is also provided it’s not windy, hilly and she flies directly to the dca.
This seems logical to me but I have also seen 17 km quoted as a mating distance and I’m not a bee.

I have heard between 1 and 2 k’s pulls a drone up.

I doubt it has ever been timed :thinking:

It seems the popular accepted range is up to 5K’s, but it would all depend on the pollen and nectar flow of course.
One thing that baffles me is hearing claims that the virgin queen flies straight to a DCA, that seems a bit suspect given a virgin queen hasn’t been there before and it is probably out of the range of scout bees to give her the location; yet another bee quandary. maybe someone has a theory. I seem to recall 8 to 10 K’s for the mating flight so she gets new DNA.

I heard its pheromones from the drones, also that queens can tell pheromones from her own colony.
Here’s some reading for ya. :wink:

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Lots of serious reading there mate. I’ll have to read it several times to get it sunk in. Too much information for a single read for my grey matter.:thinking:
Thanks for sending it through.

Mate if you can read it just once you’re doing better than me. :flushed:

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How far do drones fly?
Anywhere from above the bee yard to a mile or two away, but typically 1/4 mile to 3/4 mile (.5 km to 1 km?)
How long does a mating flight take?
According to Huber a couple of hours.

What is the forage range?
According to Huber bees consistently forage 1 1/2 miles. But occasionally as far as 8 miles.

The problem with all of these is that the range varies a LOT. Typically a queen flies between a mile and two miles. But People have managed to document her flying as far as six miles.