Roe Valley Beekeepers Association

Beekeeping Advice

Colony Building

A Master class in building your colony numbers

Follow Leo RVBKA master beekeeper build bee colonies starting with a 4 frame nuc in April and creating six colonies by June!

There are several methods available for increasing colony numbers. Leo’s method is tried and tested, works with the bees instincts and avoids the need for costly equipment, or artifically manipulated queens. Members will know that in 2009 on behalf of RVBKS Leo created 22 new colonies for our new members starting with a handful of overwintered colonies. This is how he did it:

By mid May, the club nuc had expanded  from brood covering 4 frames to eight. At that time the decision was made to add an additional brood box. By the end of the first week in June the second box was almost filled, and in mid June both boxes were full and ready to begin the process. The Apiary Manager found the queen (no small task in a double brood chamber with new beekeepers watching over his shoulder), and she and several frames and a couple of 'shakes' of bees were placed in a nuc box and removed to 2-3 miles away. The remainder of the hive was reassembled. We now have a hive with plenty of eggs, larvae and brood at various stages, but no queen. The emergency queen cells created will initially be sealed around older larvae, and these should be removed after 5 days so that the younger larvae fed from the beginning on royal jelly, will form the source of our new queens.

After a few more days the frames containing queen cells were taken out to form new nucs with enough bees, brood and supplies of pollen and honey to start them off. This should be enough to create half a dozen colonies. It's then just a matter of patience whilst a queen emerges, destroys any other queens on that frame that are yet to hatch, matures, undertakes mating flights and begins to lay. The net result will be new nucs with sealed brood visible after three weeks.

The final result? six nucs with mated queens ready for autumn buildup and overwintering..