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Installed nuc - seems like its kinda slow on takeoff


So I installed a nuc three weeks ago. The nuc was a little weak at first due (I think) to die-off during transport.

There is been significant activity on the 4 nuc frames that came in the nuc. However, there has been NO comb development on the 4 empty frames.

Is this lack of drawing down comb normal? I see many here showing significant comb development after a mere 2-3 weeks, and I wonder what (if anything) I should be doing to encourage them …


Are you feeding them?


1:1 syrup, yes… was doing some digging on the internet by Don the Fat Bee Man who uses some essential oils to give an extra oomph to the bees…


Make sure to feed them so that hundreds of bees can feed at the same time.


So my bucket feeder (which seems like a very common method) isn’t adequate?


My opinion:

Bucket feeders and the like SUSTAIN bees through a dearth.

Top feeders where hundreds of bees feed all at once simulate a strong nectar flow (hundreds of foragers returning to the hive with groceries every few minutes, GROW hives.

I only have my own experiences to go on. I made nucs in September in New Jersey. I fed them with Brushy Mountain top feeders and they exploded with new comb and population and came through winter.


If you have an active queen and no robbing then its probably a dearth in which case you feeding will help. Just keep them fed and watch out for a burst of activity when a flow starts.

Now, I have no experience with varorra but they don’t have too many of the little buggers on them do they?



I haven’t tested for Verroa – the installed nuc is merely 3 weeks in. That being said, there were SEVERAL SHB which have shown up at weekly inspection times. I’ve killed the ones that were corralled, and have ordered some beetle blaster traps. I’m also going to build a SHB bottom board measure which will help cut down on the re-colonization. I can only assume that, with SHB, there are also varroa. I have a OA vaporizer on order and will treat when it arrives. This breed is supposed to be “mite resistant”, which means little to nothing, I’m sure. :slight_smile:

In defense of the activity of the colony, the nuc was highly stressed due to heat prior to its installation. There was significant die-off in the nuc box when I got all the frames out. I was worried that the queen didn’t make it, but apparently she did as I found her doing her job at the 2 week inspection point. At the week 1 inspection point there was little sign of activity (due to my inexperience I didn’t notice some of the signs) and little capped brood. The two week point showed significant patches of capped brood and larvae on 2.5 of the 4 frames moved into the hive from the nuc. The population was notably greater at the two week point. I didn’t assess population or “nuc frame” status during the third weekly inspection as I didn’t think it was useful – over stressing the bees isn’t the goal as the queen has been sighted, was doing her job and didn’t need my help. The three-week inspection was merely to assess anything happening with the 4 empty frames installed with the nuc. Needless to say, that inspection didn’t show me what I wanted to see. The bees apparently don’t care about what I want, either… :slight_smile:

Two ideas have been espoused in this thread so far. Both are predicated on the idea that “doing something” will spur activity in the empty frames. 1) use a larger feeder 2) [implied] test/treat for varroa.

My setup has the 4 empty frames on the outside of the hive:
E= ‘empty’, N= Nuc/populated frame:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

I’m wondering if moving that around a little might help?
Don the Fat Bee Man espouses the use of essential oils to promote brood development as well.

Another question for the group: Has anyone noticed if using a foundation yields faster results than using a foundation less frame?

Thanx for the advice! I don’t have anyone local whom I can connect with easily for advice…



If you have the skills and bits then try making a five frame nuc so they only have one extra frame. Its hard for them to get going when they have been weakened and suddenly given a lot of space to protect. The beetles will get a run on but if you put them in a small box with a small entrance they will get going better. It would mean keeping a constant eye on them but when things pick up moving them into an eight frame box would be OK.



Hi Michael,
Regarding your feeder, is it an external feeder or internal? As Rob is suggesting, robbing is a major issue with external feeders and can start a frenzy on your hive if the colony is weak and its very difficult to know
if its happening and they won’t stop till the hive is drained of stores. It is also the best method for transferring pests such as varroa and disease. A top feeder is the way to go where only ‘your’ colony from inside the hive can access. But feeding is the way to go and be patient with them.


I use a 1 gallon bucket feeder in top of an inner cover.

It has been opined that this only sustains the bees by allowing a few to feed at a time. The solution to this would be, I presume, something like this feeder..

Again, this is predicated on the idea that I actually need to do something other than wait…


If you are going large capacity, I prefer this feeder, but only for established hives if you don’t have ants, or you have anti-ant measures in place:


Generally though, I think a one gallon bucket is plenty for most colonies for at least 2 weeks. I just had a new colony drain such a feeder in less than 2 weeks. For most new colonies, I want to inspect after 2 weeks, so I don’t really need the 2-3 gallon capacity.


Here in Texas, ants are a constant battle. That is kind of why I went to the bucket feeder.

My colony is sucking t down fairly well, but they just don’t seem to be taking off the way I read of other colonies in a similar tineframe.


Hi, I installed my colony on 1st June, today 21st June I did my second inspection.
Of the 3 empty frames the bees have drawn out one third of the first and are just starting on the second, the third is still empty. Fingers crossed on my next inspection in ten days or so they will be drawing that one out.
I have a mini crown board feeder and am also feeding 1:1 syrup and they seem to be doing fine, I just top the feeder up daily when I go to say good morning on my dog walk, it doesn’t disturb them.
They are laying brood, the colony is increasing considerably and the honey stores are multiplying.
I’m guessing yours will start drawing the frames very soon :blush: