From purchase to transfer, everything you need to know about bee cores

Published : 2019-06-10 11:53:34
Categories : Beekeeping Practice

From purchase to transfer, everything you need to know about bee cores

How are bees sold and how does a core have to be to be of quality?

And how do you transfer the core into the hive to make the bees grow?

Finally the day comes when we're going to pick up our first new core of bees and start our adventure in the beekeeping world.

We try to solve the classic doubts of the beginner beekeeper one step at a time.


nucleus of bees on 6 frames

Bees are generally sold as nuclei, i.e. small families with queen bee composed of about 30-40 thousand bees.

These bees occupy 6 combs, of which 2 are in stock and 4 are in hatching.

You can also find on the market nuclei on 5 looms, a little 'cheaper but less populated.

The best nuclei are grown in the summer and sold the following spring in mini-arnions of 6 frames usually in polystyrene to lighten the transport and facilitate travel.

In some cases beekeepers are willing to provide the core already decanted into your hive if it is delivered to them on time.

NEW OF BEAUTIFUL API OR NO? what we should evaluate for buying

Specially if we are at our first purchase the doubts are many: we have never opened a beehive and we have no experience to be able to "adjust" ... will be beautiful nuclei that we have seen on the Internet or that we propose professionals, or the scam is around the corner?

let's see what are the most important factors to evaluate a nucleus of bees:

-Quantity and compactness of the brood

A good core must have at least 4 brood frames, minimum 3 if we think of buying a family out of 5 frames.

Buying households with fewer broods requires more experience on the part of the buyer to raise the family successfully.

Remember that the price of the core is precisely the quality and quantity of bees and brood, as well as obviously the method of breeding (organic or conventional) and the selection of the queen, so expect well-populated nuclei.

The brood must be compact and not present symptoms of classic diseases of the hives: if you are at the first purchase get help from an experienced beekeeper, perhaps asking for photos of the nuclei.

- Amount of bees

A nucleus made as it should be presents combs entirely covered with bees, almost to be difficult to see the cells. If opening we do not see bees or extracting the frames the bees are scarce, better to reevaluate the purchase or negotiate on the price!

In the picture above you can see that there are already many bees at first glance by opening the core.

-Qualita' dei favi

Not to decide but not to underestimate the quality of the material used: frames and combs not too blackened give more and more confidence and guarantee of good beekeeping practices by those who raise and sell cores that are not old material and therefore unhealthy!

Some frames are always to be replaced, this is normal, but note that the combs are not all black and so are the wooden frames.


Supply that the polystyrene core holders have the lid closed tightly, perhaps with adhesive tape, and that they are flat.

You can hold the hinges in place with a parcel elastic or with weights to prevent them from tipping over.

Evite, of course, violent manoeuvres while driving:

Moderate your speed by paying particular attention to bumps and bends.

Polystrolies for the nuclei are equipped with spacers that are used to keep the looms still during the journey, but sometimes with time they break and may no longer perform their function at best: looms that slam between them can crush the bees but especially the queen and make us take home an orphan family!

Bees must be collected and transported early in the morning or in the evening after sunset for two reasons:

Giving the foragers a way to be all returned to the hive

closing the flight door in the middle of the afternoon would cause great damage to the quality of the nucleus: in fact, most of the foragers would remain closed outside: do not pretend then to go and collect the nuclei at 4 pm for reasons of work or laziness that are, you would cause damage on your own!

The core should therefore always be closed in the evening after sunset or early in the morning before the sun rises and transported as soon as possible to the new apiary of destination.

-Eviting the suffocation of bees

The best times for transporting the nuclei of bees are early in the morning or evening after sunset;

It is necessary to avoid that bees closed in a small space without being able to go out, die suffocated by the heat.

In this regard, the cores are usually transported with special mesh covers to allow greater aeration, such as the one you see in the picture

6-frame arniet with net for transporting bee cores

If the day is still very hot it is good to keep the car windows open and avoid unnecessary stops that prolong the journey time.

Bees do have a constant ventilation to keep the temperature in the hive constant, but they also have limits!


how to transfer the api nuclei

Many people do not know that bees lose their orientation if they are moved a few meters: the place where we place the core must be the final place where the hive will be placed, otherwise we will find disoriented bees that fly non-stop to find their home,


risking that they will die at nightfall from the cold and that the nucleus will be severely depopulated.

Once you have positioned the core, wear the protective clothing you consider suitable, turn on the smoker well and smoke in the nest of the core. Wait a few seconds for the bees to calm down and open the doors to release the bees.

Memorize not to pass in front of the flight path of the bees or be careful when you have to retrieve the doors.

Remove the ventilation grills that you used for transport and place the polystyrene lid.

I'll give you a little outline of how to place the polystyrene in an apiary to avoid any unpleasant misunderstandings.

On arrival in the apiary, the bee nuclei can be placed over the final hives


or next to it (fig.1 and fig.2)

arrangement scheme of nuclei in apiary

At the time of transfer, move the core to the side of the hive rather than to the ground so as to be at an ideal height to work without straining the back or risking punctures due to poorly executed movements, rather than to use a folding table to be used as needed (fig. 3)


Once the transfer is finished, if necessary place the hives exactly where the nucleus holders were placed (fig.4)

from the casket in polystyrene to the wooded air: how the new bees are transported and widened

Nothing difficult, read here and don't panic!

But above all know that the bees you buy cannot remain forever in a polystyrene drawer, they need space to grow and must therefore be "decanted", a bit like the plants!

It is not said that this operation should be done immediately in the days behind the purchase, it depends on how much the core is populated and if it is for this reason at "swarming risk": a good breeder will be able to tell you on delivery!

Below you can see a clear symptom of when the 6-frame drawer starts to ......stay tight!

Prepare the necessary material: lever, well lit smoker and a pair of frames with mounted wax sheets for each core to be decanted.

Make a funny smoke from the entrance door or directly into the nest as you climb over the polystyrene core door roof, so that the bees are immediately calmer and you can work better.

It is important to insert the frames in the same order in which we find them in the core holder, taking care to insert 1-2 sheets of wax to be built between the last brood frame and the sides containing stocks, as shown in the following figure:

scahema bees nucleus transfer into hive and addition of cereo sheet

Check that stocks are plentiful,

that is that the 2 lateral sides are beautiful full: it means that we must have difficulty to extract these frames that, if well filled with honey weigh about 4 kg each!

If they are not and you are not close to a large flowering (acacia, citrus, linden, etc.) provide for feeding.

we>recognize that the possibility of haute couture, even only 1, must be declared in accordance with art. 6 of law 313 of 2004

if you want to know what it is you can read it here

And now...

keep calm, everyone started here

you can do it too!


Share this content