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Buying Nucs


I am eager to take the leap into beekeeping, and have found someone locally that is raising bees organically, and offering fall nucs with mated queens. I want to get 2 nucs and 2 Warre hives. I think I’ll be picking up the nucs within the next 2 weeks. What questions should I be asking before purchasing a nuc? How do I move the bees from the nuc to the Warre hive?





Thanks for your post! I’m glad you’re jumping into beekeeping - I think you’ll enjoy it immensely!

Regarding nucs: I highly recommend against attempting to install a nucleus colony into a Warre. It is generally a difficult process that often leads to frustration and potential failure. Since the frames are significantly longer than Warre boxes, you’d either need to cut the frames and comb down to fit, or somehow attempt to slowly transfer the bees down into the Warre with an adapter board. The easiest method to transfer bees from a nuc is to simply shake them all off of the Langstroth frames and then either give the frames to a Langstroth beekeeper, or use them yourself in a Lang. None of these options are easy for an experienced beekeeper, let alone a beginner.

Instead of nucs I would recommend local swarms. They are generally free and in our apiary, our strongest colonies. As a last resort I would go with packages.

Please let me know if this makes sense and if I can answer any other questions!




Hi Matt,

Thank you so much for the detailed reply!

I was thinking of the nuc as a way to get started right away, but maybe that’s not a good idea. If I took the nuc bees minus the frames and dumped them into a Warre hive, well, I’m guessing that they’d have a hard time being prepared to overwinter at this point?

The nuc I was looking at is foundation-less frames, but they are for deeps, and though I have seen video of cutting these down to fit in top bar hives, I don’t think I want to start with that.

I can’t imagine that I will find myself in a position to score a swarm any time soon, so that probably means looking for package bees for the spring.

Thanks again,




If you live anywhere near the Portland area we do catch swarms, confirm that they have healthy, laying queens and then sell them to customers in the hive type of their choice (Warre, top bar or Lang). Otherwise I’m sure you can find someone in your area willing to help you catch a swarm.

You are correct: At this point the colony would most certainly die if you were to dump them into a combless Warre hive! Without a strong nectar flow (or tremendous feeding!) they will not build comb. Your best bet is waiting until Spring 2012 to start.




HI Matt,

I live in Seattle, is that close enough?