Brazoria County Beekeepers Association
Brazoria County Beekeepers Association

Adding Bee Resources to Your Apiary




  • March-May into June but its hot then.


Experience Needed

  • None to Full Blown Beek



  • Swarming Season Here

  • Lots of adult Drones

  • Nectar Flow

  • Warm but not HOT!



  •  Need or want to have more bees

  •  Well fed bees and Healthy

  •  Have treated for mites

  •  Remember! Strong,Best Colony,Traits

  •  Compact/Ready to Swarm

  •  Coroplast Nucs

  •  Wooden Nucs

  •  3-5 mile distant hive location


Ways to Increase

 Ask for a gifted nuc/colony


 Trap outs

  Purchase packages

  Purchase Nucs

  Purchase Hive

  Collect Swarms

  Forced Swarm Mode

  Walk Away Split

  Nuc the Queen/Walk Away

  Cut out Cells/create nucs

  Purchased Cells

  Purchased Queens

  Grafting and Raise your own Cells

  Raise and Breed own Queens

   OTS- Notching



Ask for a gifted nuc/colony


When someone is wanting bees just remember there are always someone who has bees and may be willing to gift you a nuc/hive. The hobbyist who has lost interest or a sideliner that may have too many to care for properly. Abandoned hives are common and new land owners or homeowners may not want the bees.




Cutouts can both be exciting and challenging but is a great way to gather bees or colonies to get”free” bees. Sometimes people with colonies in their homes believe that your payment will be the bees and try to get you to pay for them. Its long hot demanding work and can be hazardous with electrical fuel gas and water issues. Ladder work is almost always required so fall hazards are common. Insurance is also a great idea and exposure to bees will always be there to contend with no only for the beekeeper but also bystanders who are curious.

But also it is quite rewarding to receive a “thank you” and some compensation for a removal especially if the person is afraid of the bees. Excellent way to acquire great bees.



Trap outs


 This is probably the most challenging way to acquire a colony of bees but usually the bees are considered”feral” and may have excellent traits that the beekeeper desires. Sometimes a “cutout” is not possible or economically feasible. In that case a “Trap out” is the only way to rid the bees in a structure or tree. Once again it may involve ladder work and several long trips to and from the location.Trap Hives may be purchased from Mann Lake or Kelly's Bee Supplies and they come equipped with a small cone that is used to make a one way out situation and no way back in in the trap out structure or tree.Patience and perseverance is a must. Sealing the structure or tree so there is only 1 entrance and exit will also be key to a successful trapout. Wire, putty,tar,rags,glue spray foam,etc can be used to seal off all but the one entrance/exit.

Best to have a spare frame of eggs/brood in the trap box or hive to bring the bees out from the structure or bee cavity. The queen is extremely hard to coax her out but using the brood creates a pheromone that is attractive to her and makes her curious on why or could there be another queen in her home. Beeks have tried numerous times on some trap outs and finally have to give in and give the tree or structure over to the bees instead of poisoning them out. Trees are especially hard to trapout from. By far it's tough to get a colony out but fun can be had and so also will be a learning experience.




Purchase Packages


Purchasing bees is a great way to start beekeeping and purchase of a 3# Package with a bred laying queen is a time proven method of beginning an apiary. All the major bee supply vendors carry and sell packages. They accept orders in late winter or early fall so they may plan how many bees they will need to “shake” into the package which is usually 3 #s. Once weighed and feed and a bred queen is joined with the package they may be sghipped through the mail or UPS and picked up or even delivered to your door.

Be sure and have your apiary location selected and also a hive stand to accept the package. The box or cage will fit into a deep hive body along with frames of drawn comb or frames with foundation. Thats the 1st release emethod of getting the bes out of the cage and into the hive.

Usually overnight is enough time for the bees to make the escape. The queen and her attendents in the cage can be hung between two frames and a hole punched in the candy end so the bees can begin eating the candy to release their queen. Takes about 3 days.

The other method is to remove the caged queen and hang her cage in between two frames and then shake the bees out of the cage into the hive. Close the hive up and leave them alone and turn the cage close to entrance so any remaining bees will travel into the hive.

Always always begin heavy feeding them syrup to help the nurse bees create wax and gegin building comb for the queen to start her  laying.


Purchase Nucs


Great way to begin keeping bees as a new beek. Costs are comparable as that of a package and upon inspection before purchasing a beek can get their first inspection and meet their bees. Most new nucs are with a fresh young mated queen and either 4 to 5 frames of brood/honey/pollen. Nowadays more are also being housed in coroplast 5 frame deep portable, breathable, water tite and lightweight. Some vendors however will take a deposit on a wooden nuc box and the Beek may keep the box and forfeit his deposit or return to get the deposit back.

Early spring nucs will almost always have a frame feeder replacing one of the 5 frames. This assures the bees have been well fed and also will make wax and be more robust.

As any commodity the more you purchase the kless in price.Always check with vendor. You can also purchase in advance and have the vendor informed of when you want pickup and on what date. Early early morning or late late evening is preferred pickup time as all the foragers will be returned to the nuc so you purchase all the available bees.

Always demand a peep before pickup to guarantee you get what you purchase. Have your hive stand set up and ready to receive the nuc and if it's at night open up the nuc and put some brush or leaves or grass right outside the opening. This will tell the early risers that something has changed with their home and entry/exit so they will re-orientate to their new home and location.

Some vendors begin their nucs with a traited early buildup queen and requeening may be necessary to get longevity or any desired trait the Beek prefers.

A local vendor with local bee stock is almost always preferred. Also, traveling with closed up bees is a critical endeavor and the nucs must remain cool and well ventilated. Long distance using the coroplast nuc box is recommended. Request a wooden box with reinforced frame comb or plastic to make the trip.

Once setting the nuc in its new home give them a few days to a week before transferring to their permanent housing. Transfer is always best mid day when the foragers are out busy. Dr Pepper time between 10 and 2 and 4  is best.Be extremely careful so as not to roll the queen(smashed between two frames of comb when removing the 1st frame.) Always best to remove the feeder if present or an outside frame.

Feeder may be left in permanent hive body to continue or if the nuc was purchased during a minor flow remove the feeder to free up space for another frame.

Continue transferring remaining frames into hive and be as gentle and easy as you can be. After all the frames are removed check the bees left in the nuc and look for the queen. If you spot her than return one of the frames to the nuc and see if her and more of the left bees climb onto the frame. If she will not and you have practiced or are not afraid to pick her up than do so and place her in the hive.

Once she is known secure lift the nuc box and shake the remaining bees into the hive.

It is a preferred practice to keep all the nuc frames all together either to one or other side or directly in center. Place either drawn comb frames to fill out hive or frames with new foundation.

You may want to scrape any propolis on the frame edges to be sure bee space is maintained stating a new hive.(Good Practice to always do in any brood box). Once your hive body has required brood frames and extra frames push gently the frames together so all frame ends are touching.

Then eyeball the free space on each side to “center” the frames in the hive box. This guarantees proper bee space to allow the bees to manipulate between the frames to do what they do and also to maintain better brood temperature.


Purchase Hive with Bees


Many breeders offer full 8-10 frame hive bodies and usually with wll associated woodenware. This includes bottom, migratory top, extended top and inner cover. Some may have the frame feeder some may not. Usually these are sold after the 1st generation nucs become overcrowded and require placement in a full size hive or the breeder prefers to seell this way.

The costs are usually more but you are actually getting a “hive” that is no longer considered a “nuc”.

Sometimes the breeder is thinning his stocks down or just wanting to handle less 5 frame nucs and sell full size hives.

This is a great way to instantly get into the hobby or business and almost always a spare honey crop can be made the 1st spring in our area.

When purchasing this way be sure and have a spare hive body or two and possibly a few honey supers with frames and foundation to make a honey crop.

Placement of hive in your aoiary is exactly the same as placing a nuc. But this time no opening adding or manipulating is necessary.

Inspections are critical also and care must be taken to watch for a quick buildup of bees to lessen the chance of swarming.

If its extremely strong or builds up quickly and becomes crowded an split may be made or sometimes several .

When purchasing from breeder make sure a prior inspection is made, move late day or early morning and always open the front entrance fully with screen shoved in entrance or remove IPM board if predent to transfer the bees to your apiary. This will assure proper temops and ventilation for the bees.


Collect Swarms


Capturing swarms is the time tested reliable most fun method for creating new colonies. Swarming is the natural trait that our bees do to continue their population. Its their natural order of reproducing. The worker bees sense that its time so they begin feeding their best possible canidate larvae to become queens.

They usually find a more vertical larvae cell to feed the RJ diet for natural queen production. Most of the times the vertical cells are close to bottom of the frames and where there may be fresh wax comb. Once the cells or cell gets to a certain age or whatever the bees go by insnstincts by the mother queen will fly away and a portion of the hive inhabitants go with her. Meanwhile remaining bees wait on a new queen to hatch and bbreed and begin laying her eggs.

When the bees leave scouts supposedly look for the best place to begin their new home. Lots of times they will stay withing a few hundred feet of the mother hive and lamnd closeby until suitable home is found.

The scouts look for whatever they feel is a better home. Beeks always like to set a swarm trap out in their favorite areas to capture a swarm to nuc or hive in their apiary.

Most beeks face there trap entrances due south. Guess the bees expect that or maybe because of orientation of the sun.


We are now coming to a more dedicated and more detail manipulation of increasing your colonies and having enough bees at any time where you have to resort to a hard purchase of bees from a vendor or breeder


Forced Swarm Mode


During each spring of the year which is an idea time to increase your apiary hive counts for whatever reason the beek is intending. Planning on number and how to accomplish your goals can be made and follow a path for increases.

If you come into spring with healthy well fed bees and mite loads are low and you like and want to keep traits from your favorite pick out 1, 2, or even a dozen colonies that suits what you like.

Continue feeding them syrup and pollen if they will take it and crowd and compact the bees into an overcrowded hive condition. Once you do 5 day inspections will be mandatory. With the colonies instinct to swarm expect to see swarm cells starting and have larvae in them. Due diligence is the utmost importance when they are in this stage.

Have several nuc boxes either 2,3,4,5 frame boxes ready and with a feeding system to help the bees.

Once you see a capped cell or cells on any frames remove that frame with the capped cells and place in a nuc. Be sure and double sure that the queen is not on that frame or any frames removed.Also place more frames to round out the nuc with food and maybe 1 frame of capped brood. Or enough bees and hatching bees to keep the capped cell and the brood warm.Replace the removed frame with a frame of foundation so the bees will pull out the wax. This is a great time to build out several frames of valuable drawn comb.

Remove the new nuc and take it 2-3 miles away. Feed heavily and leave it alone for 2-3 weeks without inspection. With luck the bees will hatch the new cell or cells and the virgin queen will mate and return and begin laying.

You now have a new colony.

Every 5 days without fail and as long as the mother hive is strong and producing brood inspect for newly capped cells and repeat the new nuc process.

Usually once you get down to just a fewer amount of bees and less frames of brood the last nuc you should remove the queen and place her into a nuc box and then remove the last capped cell and last made up nuc and take the cell and nuc away.

Place the nuc with queen thats left in the original hive position so that queen will continur laying and her genetics and traits stay in your apiary.

Meanwhile after the new nucs have eggs and a good queen laying you may now bring hat nuc and nucs back into your apiary to have replacement queens, brood and bee resources to add or help struggling colonies.

This method relies on the traits that bees want to multiply and swarm.


Walk Away Split


Timing should be when there are plenty of drones, a minor honey flow, and at swarming time. This makes best chance of success.Walk away split is just that. Make a frame resource division and walk away leaving the bees to raise their own queen. Its kinda like a forced swarm but lot less work.

If the colony is hived in  two hive bodies then place another botm board down on hive stand next to the hive to be split.

Begin splitting the colony frame resources. A proportional split is what the beek is after. If you have 6 frames of brood,capped and uncapped than place 3 in the spare hive body. If you count 8 frames of pollen and honey and brood than place 4 of them in the spare.The remaining frames may be honey frames or even drawn comb not yet being used. Split those up also the same manner. Be sure and place the brood either all to one side or in middle of each. This keeps brood warm.

Place top on split hive and walk away.

Some beeks like to take one of the hives to another bee yard and let all the foragers return to the original colony hive location. This is idea but not necessary. Leaving it side by side there may be one that receives more foagers but thats okay.

Begin feeding both.

If the beek is lucky they may spot the queen on one of the frames when doing the proportional split. If this happens than just place her in a small 4-5 frame nuc with 1 frame of brood an empty drawn frame and a frame of honey and pollen. You want the majority of bees in the remaining colony to have plenty of nurse bees and capped hatching brood to keep it stronger.

These type splits have been done for decades and if the split becomes weak or a new queen does not begin laying in 3-4 weeks than combine the two back together. Try again in a few weeks.Its almost impossible to fail and the queens will be good traited and with the same as the original colony.


Nuc the Queen/Walk Away


As mentioned in the walk away split if a beek comes across the queen than a split is almost certain to work and is also an invaluable way to be assured of a split.When doing inspections on your best hives and with numerous resources a beek can either look and seek out the queen to do the split. Or be lucky enough to find her. When looking always best to have another person preferably a young person with good eyesight. But finding queens is an acquired exercise and is quite rewarding especially if she shows when you least expect her.

This type split the queen must be found.

When found place her and the frame she is on in a 2,3,4, or 5 frames nuc. Give the nuc a honey pollen frame and an empty drawn comb and the rest with frame of foundation.

A two frame nuc needs at least 1 frame of brrod and a partially empty comb with some honey and pollen in the normal crescent shape.

Regardless begin feeding both as in the walkaway.

Alwyas, always, be aware if you come across the queen and always have a spare nuc when doing inspections during the spring honey flows.

Remember, these are your bees and in your area and will make great colonies.


Cut out Cells/create nucs


This increase is a great free way to make increases but does take some caution and a little more work and thoughtful thinking. During main swarm season a beek can make inspections almost every 5 days and and increase their colonies every 5 days. Most swarm cells will be on bottom of frames but sometimes so will supercedure cells will be there also when the bees want a new queen to replace the old one for several various resons.

Once again always have a corroplast nuc box or a wooden one. Or a “queen castle” type hive body.

Start inspections on a strong colony or any colony and if you see capped cells than a decision will have to be made. Sometimes there are more and usually these will be swarm cells. Supercedure cells maybe two at most.

If you see several frames with cells each frame may be placed in a nuc along with resource frames as mentioned ealier in other type splits.

Or if using wax foundation and not plastic foundation the cells may be indivgaullu cut out and placed in the nuc instead of on the frame. Be sure each cell or frame there are enough bees and resources to keep them warm and fed.

As always feed them.

Each capped cell is a possible mated queen in 2-3 weeks so they are valuable to the beek.

Remember you are after enough nucs and resources to have available year round in your apiary to be a successful sustainable beekeeper.

So cells should and need to be considered a “queen” and worth the 25-40 dollar bred queen price.

If you do have failures and mess up and roll a queen or the queen is not performing than recombine the weak nuc with a strong colony to make the stronger colony.

Always remeber, combine weak ones with strong ones to make tghe strong one ultra strong especially nearing the major honey flow and in our area is Tallow Tree beginning in mid may to mid june.Sometimes earlier.


Purchased Cells


Taking note of last increase diection concerning cells a beek may live close enough to a queen breeder and sell you some capped cells. Or someone doing inspections has more than they can handle. Always always have other beeks to help mentor and share resources if needed. These cells  you will know their orgin and what kind of traited bees will they become. Once again make up a 2,3,4,or 5 frame nuc and enough bees and resources to keep them warm and after 2-3 weeks a laying queen ftrom the hatched cell.

When placing a capped cell in a nuc on a frame pick a frame of resources that have lots of nurse bees to keep the cells warm Place the cells about 2-3 “ down from top of frame and its actually better to indent the wax on the comb so the cell is not damaged when removing or installing the frames.


Purchased Queens


By far the leading way for increases,brrod breaks for mites,improving stock traits. Ridding aggressiveness or other unwanted traits. Improves chances of success to boost colony production and longevity.

Bred laying queens can come from overseas, local,and pretty well anywhere with modern shipping techniques. Gives the beek to improve their apiary with selected better queens. Its now suggested that locally bred VXH traited bees will outperform northern bees or bees that cannot handle the heat and rains we get here in Brazoria County.

When ordering be sure you awill be prepared for what you want to do. If you plan delivery just right to replace a nasty queen isolate her or mash her in preparation for the new caged queen.

If making up nucs have them ready as well with plenty of empty preferably drawn comb or foundation. Begin feeding also.

Find other beeks in your uimmeditae area that need or want queens and buy in quantity for better pricing and improving on shipping costs.

When receiving your caged queen immediately place her in the hive no matter what the weather is or even late night. Just gear up and do the placement.

I like to take a ⅛” drill bit or 12p nail and enlarge a hole or path in nthe candy end of the cage. This speeds up the queens nurse bees and hive bees chewing out the candy to release her.

Br sure and use wire or string to hang the cage between frames or press tghe cage into the frames allowing the screen part to be in the bee space.

Discussions have gone on for years about placing candy up or candy down. I prefer up and let the cage rest about in the middle of the frames where her entry is below the top bars and where she will be certain to be fed and taken care of.

Up means if her caged attendents die they will not block the escape hole once the bees chew an opening.

Inspect the hive after 3-4 days weather permitting and see if she has been released. If not enlarge the hole more or just enough that she squeeze through.

I never have liked to direct release her but lots will do with great success.

So its up to the beek and patience when to have the queen begin laying.

The sooner the better. But a few days wont matter if there is danger of not being accepted and if the beek has the patience.


Grafting and Raise your own Cells


Raising your own quen cells is extremely rewarding and extremely thrifty to make increases  and have all the new queens that you would or need to use. It takes a large amount of resources.

A strong robust starter is needed to begin the cell building process. This can be done several ways either with a cloake board, removing a queen from a strong colony or dumping nurse bees in to a hive body and frames either closed or opened for bees to forage.

Always have plenty of food in the starter and lots of pollen also.

Make the starter up a day or two before introducing grafts.

Pick out a mother queen that has the characteristics that you want to have in your apiary.

Find an egg frame with 36-48 hr larvae and floating in a good amount of RJ.

Have either wax cups or plastic cups to begin transferring the small larvae into the cups.

Keep them warm and moist with waterered towels or rags.

Place grated larvae into starter and in 5 days tghe cells should be capped and can either saty in the starter or moved to a queen right hive above a queen excluder. Or placed in an incubator set at 93degF.

In 11-12days place the cells into a nuc or hive that is queenless.

Wait 3-4 weeks to check for a new laying queen.


Raise and Breed own Queens


You may want bred queen that are laying to use or sell or give away.

Start as you would and continue as above BUT place cells into a mating nuc or queen castle with about 2-3 cups of nurse bees and also a feeder and pollen patties or a pollen/honey frame.

Here you will let the bees take care of the queen while she mates and comes back to begin laying. A good laying pattern is what you are after after having bred. Once she does than the beek can cage her and then sell.use,give a bred laying queen to requeen or start a nuc.

Marking her is also value added to some beeks but not necessary.

Practice on drones 1st.


OTS- Notching


This method was developed by Melvin Disselkoen and is called On The Spot(OTS) queen rearing.  It works and works well for any beek inspecting a robust colony and wanting to do increases or have a brood break or to keep a production yard going and at same time make increases.

We used this several times at QBI and a few members had success doing this as well.

Basically while doing inspection find the queen and place her in a nuc with some resources.

Then find all the frames that have 3-4 day old larvae on them and identify them all. Once they are found begin “notching” the cells with your hive tool by indenting with the tool in the lower ⅓ part of the cell and go in twith the hive tool until the foundation is treached or the btm of the cells. Then push the cell walls down about an inch. This gives the bees a means to heavy feed the larvae and also to begin a vertical queen cell construction similar to a grafting cup.

Do as many as you want but usually about 4 on each frame both sides.

Close the queenless hive up and come back in 5 days and remove the frames that have the cells and plavce each one in its own nuc with frames of resources OR cut the cells out and place in a nuc that has enough bees to keep the cell warm and raise the cell up to hatching.

The following pages are explanations of the method.






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