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Installing Nucs: Checkerboarding?


I have one weak hive and one empty hive.
This week I’ll be purchasing two “super nucs” with 8 frames each.
I’ll combine one nuc with the weak hive using the newspaper method (fingers crossed) and just install the other nuc in the empty hive with a single body.
I’ll be feeding both.

I want to attempt checkerboarding frames from the nucs with empty foundationless frames. How soon is advisable? Or is it NOT advisable at all in that I may be losing the advantage of the established population in the contiguous frames?

Thank you.


No replies?
Is this post from this noob just too off base to comment on?

Thank you.


Hi @Jstrano, as a new beek you should just follow the advice of your mentor, or at least a reputable bee book. You need to have a clear idea of what will happen when you install your nuc/s and what the colony’s needs are. My advice is to not try something you have read on the internet… ie. don’t run before you can walk.

Your new bees will need to be able to cluster and if you put empty frames, or large spaces, between their brood frames you will potentially be splitting the hive/colony and, again potentially, they will end up ignoring half of the brood. This brood might chill/die - of course this can depend on your location and the climate.

Look after your bees traditionally to start with, then branch out when you have experience.

Also, don’t combine your weak hive with a new nuc quite yet - give the new girls a chance to get established for a week or two. Do you have a queen in your weak hive? If you do, and you are planning on combining them with another hive, you will have to kill that queen. But don’t do that until you are certain the new colony is functioning well. Then kill her and give it a day (at least half a day) for the weak colony to realise they are queenless before uniting them with the other hive - you want to avoid a huge fight!

Hope that helps, Paul


Also, forgot to mention that if you are planning on combining hives, you need to be certain that you don’t have AFB in the weaker one or you will just be transferring that to the stronger one. Disaster… you will lose the lot.


Good advice from Sting, if you are bringing in new colonies, let them get established and ensure a quarantine from your weak hive. Do you know why it is weak? This is a very important step, and if you are 100% sure the old hive is clean, then combine. I hate killing young queens and only do so as a last resort. Generally I cage her with some candy and a few attendants and offer her to any takers on Facebook. There is always someone in need somewhere.


Checker boarding is for strong established hives in spring build up. I did mine a few weeks ago - 8 Frame Flow Brood Box - but they are strong and a good laying queen.

Yesterday when I checked them, Emerald was up laying in the top box so I have about 12 frames now with brood but would not recommend this for a nuc.

You need to have all the frames covered in Bees and Brood to Checker-board.

Most beeks in UK run Brood and 1/2 if they do more but because mine are on an 8 frame Flow Brood box they can go up to Double brood because it is the same as 11 frames on a national size wise as a 1 + 1/2 Brood.

Let your bees build up and check the lesser box for disease and mites


Hello! Opening up the conversation again…

What would you recommend as the lowest night time temperature for checkerboarding? I’ve never done it but have some early spring thriving hives!