Getting an August Honey Bee Nuc

Honey bees at the entrance of one of my late summer nucs. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Honey bees at the entrance of one of my late summer nucs. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

“Hi, I’m getting my first bee colony this August, it’s a nuc and I am SO EXCITED! What advice do you have for getting them ready for winter?” — Sammy

Getting an August Honey Bee Nuc

Hi Sammy, congratulations and welcome to the adventure that is beekeeping!

Your first goal is going to be to grow this colony so they can fend for themselves over winter:

  1. If not all of the frames have wax pulled and bees working on them, that will be your first goal to get them expanded enough so they can move into larger accommodations.

    To get them to pull wax, feed them 2 parts water to one part sugar with a dab of food grade lemongrass. That will simulate plant nectar that triggers their wax glands to pull wax.

  2. Once they have wax pulled on all 5 frames, move them to a larger box, which is usually either an 8-frame or 10-frame hive. In mid-Missouri many beekeepers have the brood box in deep boxes topped with a medium or three mediums. The smaller sizes are easier on the beekeeper’s back.

  3. Once in the larger hive, feed them a second sugar mixture of 2 parts sugar to one part water with a product like Honey Bee Healthy, which provides additional vitamins.

  4. Since you are starting so late in the season, monitor the colony growth. If we have a good fall nectar flow they may be able to collect, store and dehydrate enough nectar to have winter food. If not, sugar patties will come in handy to help supplement feed them.

  5. Starting a nuc this late in the growing season will mean you may have to feed them through winter but then come spring, the little colony should rapidly grow.

    To make any of the sugar syrups, mix sugar cane sugar with hot water, stir and allow to stand until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemongrass or Honey Bee Healthy and allow to cool before pouring into jars or feeders.

    I use glass jars on Boardman feeders inside the hive to cut down on robbing.

    Good luck and let me know how you’re doing with your new tenants!