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The Story of my Flow Hive Nuc


Back in the spring I had a large mature colony. It filled a Jumbo British National plus an normal British National brood boxes. So that is about the equivalent of a Langstroth plus 3/4 Langstroth.
My intention this year was to use it to make increase. The colony chosen was very strong with about 16 full brood frames. It had been prepared early in the spring by feeding. So I went ahead…got some queen cells going and did my splits when they were sealed.
This left me with a much depleted colony. Down to three brood frames and they were the weakest ones. I had dummied these down in the hive with some celotex insulation blocks. This hive had 2 supers of OSR honey which was ripe for harvest at this time…so these were removed for instant extraction. I had to get that honey out of the frames immediately…no hanging about for this honey or it crystallises in the frame! So my mind was full of organising the extraction and I sort of forgot the small colony of bees.
Some weeks later…whilst doing an inspection…I realised they weren’t growing much…which raised the alarm. A moments thought had me reaching for a feeder. I made a few pints of syrup…1/1… That is 1lb of granulated white sugar to 1 pint of water. I made enough and warmed the mixture a little …gave it a good stir to dissolve the sugar crystals. Once it was clear…I left it to become tepid. It didn’t take long as I hadn’t heated it much. I used a rapid feeder for easy access for the bees. The next day…it had all gone…so now I could rest easy as I knew they had been struggling to find enough nectar. The weather here in the UK was poor…cold, windy and wet! Even when the bees could fly…the nectar they found would be thin and watery even if the flowers were releasing any…it was a bad time for bees.
During this bad weather…I thought about these bees. I had previously started a nuc for my Flow Hive…to be used next year…but I had parted with this well started nuc to a New Beekeeper who was very keen to get started with bees and I knew that particular nuc was a good one…it was headed up by a proven queen from good honey gathering stock.
Not long after this…the weather grew worse…high winds and storms. In a break…between rain storms I rushed out with all the equipment and transferred the four dummied down frames into a nuc. This enclosed them in a thick polystyrene brood box…so much smaller than the big Jumbo brood box they had been in. They were well protected from the weather. I still hadn’t decided how to replace my Langstroth nuc. The weather was poor, it was hard to get queens adequately mated…everyone was screaming for queens as failures became apparent. I let a few queens go to help out nearby beekeepers.
Then I remembered this old Nuc. Inside was my best queen…my favourite…a Carniolan queen from last year. Hugely prolific and good honey gatherers…and very important to me…quiet on the comb…easy to handle. I didn’t need to use smoke for these girls at all.
I set about converting it to a Langstroth. The British National frame is shorter than the Langstroth so I took some batons cut to size and used plastic ties to secure the brood frame to it…perfect…conversion done…all the frames now fit my Langstroth nuc. Plus 2 extra plastic frames which I had coated with wax. I fit the feeder and filled it again. The extra feed helped to settle them and as the weather was appalling I knew there would not be much flying time for the bees.
The weeks went by and the nuc grew…soon it needed more space. I didn’t have a Langstroth brood box…so I added another nuc body above. It was my double decker nuc! It sits next to my tower block of supers on another hive…by the pond. An idyllic location. Now I await the delivery of my Flow Hive…sometime later this year.
On inspection a few days ago…the nuc is growing…brood on about 8 frames now…but I hope they will soon build wax on the last few frames. The weather plays such an important role with bees. If there is a flow of nectar on …they build like crazy…but the weather has prevented this in many parts of the UK this year. We are just beginning to hear about starvation of the bees. A colony dying out as it just can’t forage sufficient food to feed itself. This is where the beekeepers role is so important…this is the time to step in and interfere. A few pints of syrup can literally be a life saver for a colony. However, dont feed so much that the bees store it in all the brood comb or then the queen will have nowhere to lay!
So my bees have had a little syrup to tide them over to when the weather improves…we have plenty of potential nectar flow…but only if the weather improves.
I will be keeping a close eye on my colonies…to ensure they are safe and still growing despite the adverse circumstances.
In some parts of the UK…all is good and bees are gathering honey and the supers are being piled on…it just depends on your local weather …which being an island can vary immensely. The last few days have been sunny…so perhaps my girls will be able to replenish their reserves with something better than the syrup which gave them a chance to survive.


Sounds like you have had terrible weather! We have had rain the last week or so - today is beautiful. all my bees are bringing back stores but seem to have eaten some of it in the cold weather last week. Hopefully we get some better weather in August.

Being inland our weather has been a bit more stable, some days we have just had showers.My Elder, Blackberries and Raspberries have kept my girls going.

I have have a batch of seeds come today - I’m looking at converting more of my garden over to flowers specifically for bees.

All I have to do now is work out a planting schedule.

Hope your weather improves


Here in Wales the weather has been poor. We had a good early start which encouraged early swarm preps; too early. Then it got cold wet and windy. Queens are poorly mated and I have one colony where I am sure there is no queen, one that has a test frame in for the same reason and one with N. ceranae that is being sprayed with thymolised 1:1. Luckily I have two swarms, both laying well, to unite with the duff colonies. However, both of these are being fed. Of the four colonies I would hope to give me some honey I have only 30lbs so far. They have eaten their way through 3 supers worth of honey each. The bad weather has annihilated the bramble and I’m seeing bees visiting tired flowers in the garden which is never a good sign. We have Himalayan Balsam here which may give me a little more honey and plenty of Ivy for the bees winter stores hopefully.


Yes it has been difficult here in Wales. However, a beekeeper friend of mine lives in the centre of Cardiff about 10 miles from me…and she has a stack of 6 supers on one hive…and has already harvested about 80 pounds of honey. So you can see how localised nectar flows can be. The last couple of days have been much more like summer…so I’m hoping for some honey from the Himalayan Balsam too…last year they were still bringing it in during october! Little white ladies every one! No sign yet that they are working it though.
I have one colony…which is superceeding so hope the new queen gets mated. Another colony looked like the queen had turned into a drone layer but today…there was a larger patch of worker brood and she was busy laying next to it.
It has been strange…she had almost stopped laying…I fed the colony and the little bit of foraging they have done yesterday seems to have turned her around…so a stay of execution and I will see how she gets on.


Gooday Horse Hill Honey ,
I like your story from afar -so here is one back - when I am not the captain , I am
’ lost the plot ’ !
Hi it’s the Captain from Down under here , How’s it /they ? hanging .
I reckon you ought to ditch all your nukes, nationals and anything not standard langstroth . The only exception is to run some smalls 1/2 langstroth depth if you can not lift a full box or if you want a varietal honey and can fill two halves -better than a whole .
Now that we have simplified your gear and can make all frames/boxes interchangeable ,regarding NUKES , you need to modify your bee entrances’ in the following way - creating a variable size /multi- nuke box that can expand .(trust me ,you will thank me in a couple of years ) out of a full size langstroth .
Build a pollen trap for all your brood boxes ,particularly your strongest hives . Keep excess pollen .
Put a removable central divider into a full langstroth box ,to fit enabling 4 x frames each side .
Put a bottom entrance bottom left x 3
frames wide only
Put a top right hand entrance at 3 x frames wide only .
Don’t worry about the bees they can walk around corners .
You now have a double nuke box that you can easily convert back to a full box if needed at any time .
If you put extra guides for your divider in between frames 3-4 , plus 4-5 plus 5-6 ,you can run a 3 x frame and a 5 x frame nuke with the same gear . also grow your nuke with minimal disruption !
Add an extra divider , and you can start with 2 x 3frame nukes and move the divider, adding a frame as the colony expands . Great for keeping an active queen or two up your sleeve .
Taking this a step further , Try a 10 x frame box (if you must ) and make 2 x3 frame nukes and 1 x 4 frame nuke from the same box . - AHH HA YES You might say where can I put the 3rd entrance - well out the back , top or bottom it does not matter . This non traditional set up only takes a handy man to whip up the necessary conversion lid and base modifications or you can simply buy them - I can send you a link .
So what is the pollen trap for - Now here is the kicker -
Store excess pollen in the freezer , further modify your lid and base to accommodate internal syrup and pollen feeders , add fresh and stored pollen as needed and you can build your hives totally independent of the weather . Excess pollen and plenty of food will rapidly build your colonies . Restrict one while expanding the other in the same box is great for control and would suit queen and nuke sellers also .A couple of spare queens is great if you have a failure anywhere as you can re-combine a queened nuke to a full hive with a failing queen in a few days using the old newspaper trick /using a new super on top with empty frames to fill the spaces . I would probably move two outside bottom frames up to the new super with no bees on them when doing this manipulation , be mindful of any brood and locate them to nuke colony appropriately ? .
close up your bee entrance’s to 1" for cleansing flights and you have a closed system . Your bees will thrive and build quickly .
I would buy in mated queens -order them for a date . They will lay almost immediately , and you will build quickly .Getting good traits . Let them go 10 days then inspect .Check hive bee movements as robbers will be about till they settle down - another good reason to reduce entrance sizes .
The versatility and cost savings will be quickly apparent , this also enables you to sell the odd spare nuke giving another income source .
Should you catch your best hive just pre swarm , Do some splits and put two of your own new queen cells in each . They will sort it out and you will save yourself both time and money by producing your own queens . You might prevent a swarming . If not you will probably at least delay it and build your nukes and queens at the same time . This simply gives you more options and control of all your bees for longer .
Too late she cried , try and catch your swarm , still pinch a spare queen cell and split . If your split builds queen cells good . Personally I do not open the hive till my waters feel right -7-10 days . as an afterthought, by putting the queen cell beside an observation portal, you can watch without disturbing .
great fun Enjoy !!! I will do this and I might even watch a bitch fight >
cheers from The Captain .


@David_Smith, we mainly have Nationals here in the UK - If you already have your equipment it is a bugger to switch mid stream.

I have a Langstroth Double Poly Nuc, I split my Queen cells Saturday morning just before they emerged. They are divided down the middle with a board so 3 frames either side.

One side seems OK the other… not sure. I’m going on a Queen rearing course next weekend and they let us have a queen in a breading box (Mini Nuc) so the other side of my Lang may yet get a Queen.

Today I just got a Poly Nuc top feeder, 2nd division board and 2nd Poly Brood body so - I can build upwards. Wont need that for a week or so, so they got painted today ready.

If the 2nd queen comes good I have a second Poly nuc but National - which I have scrubbed down today and it will be ready and waiting if needs be.

So going into winter I will have 2 hives and a double nuc possible a second nuc.


Hi Valli,
Sounds great you have part of the system in place that I think is so versatile . . In two years time you will have more hives by the sound of it and will help others along the way . Herein lies an opportunity for you to either change or standardize your equipment .
Having all your boxes interchangeable and nearly all your frames the same size makes life simpler and cheaper in the long run particularly if you start to have hives in different locations . I have 5 x active sites for my bees and another 3 x in waiting .
my 120 acre permaculture farm location is a veritable " garden of Eden " 100 + mixed fruit trees ,pasture clover + mixed grasses , surrounded by giant eucalyptus trees to 120’ with 80’ crowns , into which I intend to plant 5000 manuka tea-trees plus varietals .( currently seedlings in a local nursery ) -do you want some cold climate seeds ??
The honey is fruity , mixed flavour full bodied but not any particular specific flavour yet .
Into this area I am hoping to build to 30 x hive static apiary with all year available pollen and nectar.
We have a large open shed to conduct bee classes and a health certificate approved commercial kitchen .
We have cold wet winters interspersed with some crisp fine days . The Apiary component is a 3-5 year project at this early stage .
So you can see the need to standardize hive sizes yet use up some old 10 x frame boxes for milti-nukes
the odd 5 x frame nuke might sneak in for swarm gathering ease but often we need 2 x full langstroths to fit them all in or just a bloody big carton and an even bigger blanket .
Make hives while the Veroa is not here I say .
Another tip I will try this coming summer is to produce some nukes above an existing colony with just a queen excluder between colonies .they might stay warmer over winter and be ready to go in early spring into full size langstroths from say 4-5 frame nukes -worth a try , gives me queens when I need them !!
Cheers from down under cheers The Captain


What seeds have you got - do Manuka Seed? I’m an Aussie and miss my Eucalyptus, that is one of the hardest things for me - Brought home an Olive self seedling from Melb in April - it didn’t survive and Gardenia cutting my sister was starting, which is taking off really well - I love Gardenia’s my absolute favourite.

I’m bucking the trend locally, most of our club have Nationals but because I’m starting with Flows I bought Langstroth parts/hives. I only have the national by circumstance. Not sure if I will get any more as moving is a pain.

Are you in Melbourne? My Old stomping ground - Cheltenham growing up -

I was thinking of doing this down the line or this year if my queens don’t have enough brood to go through the winter


Mated and laying I hope.
Watch the wasps on your little colonies.


I’ve been out Wasp Wacking today!!


Hi valli ,
my old stomping ground was Hampton , not too far from Cheltenham .
I have SEEDS OF leptospermum - scoreopermum ( NZ-TAS-QLD ) - MANUKA
There is a national evaluation program happening in Australia at the moment . Bee-keepers are invited to submit samples of honey from tea-trees for scientific analysis . We have many varieties of tea tree IN THE OZ and even more varietals from them ! - some are more potent than NZ manuka -most are not ,but all have some medicinal value , some 100 x more potent than others .
I am interested in this validation of empiric knowledge and watch on as a fascinated bystander bee keeper -with my little toe in the bath.
Enough I must sleep- my email is davisandsmithjeweller@gmail.com.au
cheers , I will send you some articles I have written if you like -cheers David
There are plenty of eucalyptus in spain- imported from Australia over 100 years ago .
I think Tasmanian varieties may survive in the UK as they are somewhat COLD acclimatized , they also have a high quarantine status because of their relitive isolation down there .
It is the medicinal applications some teatree exibits along with its potency that gets me really excited . Studies have found an antiphlogistic and anti-bacterial action on skin diseases . Somatic bowel complaints ,bowel complaints,bladder ailments ,common colds ,skin diseases and wounds plus a preventative /curative for stomach ulcers are among its uses .
Latley there were findings that the flavonoidsin manuka leaves had an action on GABA benzodiazepine receptors by which the antiolytic and sedative action can be explained .
The measurable potency of manuka honey is called its (UMF) unique manuka factor and is graded in +5 through to +25 in increments of 5 for labelling .
Honey batches go to a lab and get tested in petre dishes against known pathogens and its killing power is measured . If you look up manuka honey on the internet ,there you will find several articles that explain in much better detail how it all works .
The bottom line is it works against over 250 bad bugs including golden staff , the higher the rating , the quicker and better it works . It is a boom market at the moment with staggering prices being paid -w/s $60.00 a kilo is not exceptional . (retail in china) , it is bringing $300.00 a kilo plus .
THATS WHAT THE FUSS IS ABOUT . It may not taste the best but it works and it is working well .
People are making fortunes from it !!! !chow


Thank you for reading my Nuc Story.
As Valli has said…here in the UK we mainly use British National size frames and hives. Some people run Langstroth.
I have started my Langstroth for my Flow Hive.
My other hives are mostly Poly Nationals…some on deep frames(14"x12"). The deep frames are the equivalent to Langstroth deep. Just a different shape. I run 4 Long Hives with the deep frames.
The poly Langstroth nuc can be split into two. So I could put 3 frames on each side…if I wanted to use it for splits in the future.
I will stick with the National size as that is what everyone around here uses…there are many variants available.
My aim is to turn the Langstroth colony into a Langstroth long hive…but using poly instead of wood. ATM you can buy these…so it will be my own invention…ha ha.
You can overwinter nucs above a main colony but you run the risk of them starving rather than moving to their stores away from the warmth of the colony below. Also it can lead to cluster irritability…where the cluster keeps breaking…they use a lot more stores during this time…so may lead to starvation.
Lots of great info in your postings…I will be going back for another read!


OK This is going to sound weird - I just had an email from Ian (Streetsbrook) - I know who you are - but when I emailed you back it bounced - Try empting your email boxes as your box is full Thanks for the info


GOODAY horsey -neeeyyyy ,
stop horsing around with any non langstroth size boxes . KISS is the go . standardize the gear and you can swap around everything . Go 1/2 langstroth for top super if you can not lift a full box of capped honey . You can still have some specialized frames for queen rearing , buy / make them in langstroth sizes and you can easily swap around . We are no doubt spoilt here with single colonies producing 300+ kg in a 7 x month continuous mono-flowering cycle , I know you need quite unique topography and continuous sequential flowering . We achieve this by planting up a steep hillside deep valley where the leatherwood sequentially flowers up the hillsides in 200’ increments above sea level . The bees just keep working it . There is a broad pollen source , which keeps the bees healthy .
Now all your old gear can be sold to new bee-keepers full of bees . this will maximize your return and should turn a healthy profit after you replace with new .Just sell one full box at a time for the same price you would pay for one from an apiary supplier . - base brood box and super -lid and bee colony to boot .
You might even offer to service the hive for the new owner and split the produce for your trouble . A win win situation . Then split the hive or rob the honey .These deals work . Lots of people pay a swimming pool cleaner to clean there pools - so what is the difference ??
Cheers from the Captain .


Gooday Wasp wacker ,
TRY THIS – I got a new variation TO WASP GATHERING FOR YOU - Buy an old Electrolux vacume cleaner from the opp shop for very little money , attach your flexible rubberized doover sucker to the end and suck your wasp problem away . Works a treat on blow flies and mozzies , no pollution ,cheap and in a weird way - . fun .
Going a step further , you can build a swarm gathering sucking device by creating a mesh covered vacume inlet inside a box . Attach another inlet in the diagonally opposite corner . Then outside the box you attach your extendable flexable vacume hose . Then you can just suck-up a swarm . This works great where swarms are in long grass or difficult to reach places . You need power , but between leeds and a little genny , you can go anywhere you have the length of vacume hose to reach .I use fixed interlocking metal tubes with a soft rubber sucker head . Aa 20’ vertical reach is my limit while standing on the ground !!!
PS to stop the bees splattering inside the box when they arrive abruptly , I put a little soft foam bouncy bed inside , and as they all survive the Dr Who travel in space and landing , it works .
If you got really creative , build it in a langstroth box with an airtight escape board down to an airtight brood box containing a frame of warm brood-no bees .
Suck your bees in , wait a day then remove the vacume box and escape board , pop a lid on top of your bottom brood box and away you go . Add a Queen if they struggle with supersedure . also add a capped frame of honey and some pollen and you have done it easy . Remember to build closure devices into your vacume box for ease .
Now here is the kicker - get your build guru in your club to build one for the club . Then just borrow it when you need it and you there you have it . Great idea , you don’t have to build or finance it and everyone benefits . - Cost you less than a sausage sizzle at the local hardware shop .
Cheers from the Captain


ps put a clear Perspex lid on it and watch the action , the bees are a bit dizzy but most survive well .


Cap’n your crackers or very clever. what was in those weeties this morning??


Ha ha…I dream of nectar flows like you get!..our weather patterns are varied, temperamental and sometimes downright cruel. In the UK…almost everyone uses British Standard frames and brood boxes. Not a big market for Langstroth. I run some long hives…the frames are a slightly different shape to langstroth but the same area of brood.
There are a few commercial beekeepers but most of us are hobbyists. Some have enough hives to sell some local honey. I use my honey as Xmas gifts. My family is big so we eat a lot of honey!
Occasionally we get good weather and a good nectar flow…we may make about 70-100 lbs of honey with a strong colony.
The beekeeping here is different…very challenging. Mostly we are lucky to get 30 lbs per colony.
There aren’t huge tracts of land sown with nectar producing plants or trees. I am sure you would find it very strange. If we are very lucky…we get a season from April to the end of August…but for much of this time the weather may prevent nectar flows even when the flowers are there.
So mainly a hobby…with many difficulties getting queens mated and laying, starvation mid summer, varroa, and so on.
I understand what you are saying…but if I want to sell nucs or colonies…they need to be on British Nationals. I am only interested in selling a few nucs…the extras…you see. But thank you for all the information.
Beekeepers across the world are many and varied…just the same as the climates they live in.


Quite a few of us are on 14x12 frames to accommodate more prolific queens.


Yes 14x12 frames are still British nationals. I have 4 Beehaus(14x12) and a Paynes poly hive…which is a jumbo and takes 14x12 frames too.
My queens are mainly Carniolans but I have one buckfast queen. So need the larger frames and hives for them. That is why I use Beehaus …as I can extend the brood nest as is required rather than having to use stacked boxes…which I find heavy to lift and I hate splitting the brood nest so as to inspect. In the Beehaus…I can just slide the frames along until I get to the brood nest…far less trauma and I only lift the cover boards as I move along the hive.
So I have both size British national deep and extra deep frames and now a Langstroth hive for the Flow Frames. I can see there may be confusion in the future!
Although have all one size frames has it advantages…having several different sizes means you can help more people.