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Introducing Nurse Bees to a Hive

This is my latest favorite strategy. One way is to move the lid slightly back creating a small gap before shaking nurse bees, minus the queen onto the lid. The flying bees will return to the hive they came from, leaving the nurse bees behind. It doesn’t take long before the nurse bees make their way into the hive, as in the photo.

The ledge of the Flow crown board slowed them down slightly, however once they got a whiff of the colony inside the hive, there was no stopping them. Nurse bees are readily accepted by any colony.


Nice demonstration @JeffH. Why did they need a donation of nurse bees?

Hi Dawn. It was a nuc I sold to a bloke with a Flow hive. The nuc with a young queen only covered 2 frames. I only included one of their own brood frames, with 3 other brood frames from 2 other colonies. In order to boost the numbers, I decided to introduce nurse bees from 2 other colonies. This nuc was made up of contributions from 5 hives, including the original 2 frames of bees with the young queen.

Another person chasing some nucs requested photos of the frames we provide before placing an order, so Wilma took some photos while we put bees into this Flow brood box. The owner was impressed with the nurse bees moving into his hive. The lady requesting the photos was happy & placed an order.

This is the queen that went into the Flow hive. Is that an egg I can see in the photo?



Great little strategy there Jeff, I tried a different method recently with a nuc I was trying to setup. i put an empty super on top of the parent hive over a queen exclude with the frames of open brood to encourage nurse bees to climb up. I might try this one next time, looks like it may yield a better and quicker result.

Hi Fred, it is the easiest & quickest way that I can think of to introduce nurse bees to a weak colony. Especially if it’s done before the weak colony gets taken away because I found that I think some nurse or the non flying bees, to be more precise have done orientation flights & therefore return to their original hive.

I’ve been wondering if a lot of the non flying bees can’t fly at that point on account of not enough fuel in their stomach to actually fly. With that in mind, maybe a few puffs of smoke beforehand will insure that the bees that have done orientation flights will be able to fly back, leaving purely nurse bees behind.

A couple of weeks ago I tried this trick on a customer’s hive that still had the smell of fresh paint. The bees were VERY slow at moving into it. All I could put it down to was the smell of fresh paint overwhelmed to smell of the bees inside.

More recently I tried it on another freshly painted hive (maybe not as fresh as the last one I talked about), however this time I placed a lid up flush with the entrance, resulting in the bees instantly marching straight in, without even a one second delay. That hive owner was VERY impressed.

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When I have a hive or Nuc on the ground I’ll shake the frame near thee entrance with the same result.