What Is Bee Nuc? Design, Features, DIY at Home for Beginners

Nuc hives for bees are an extremely useful thing in the apiary that allows working bees and queens to spend the winter comfortably. For every beekeeper beekeeping equipment, knowledge is important before starting beekeeping.

What Is Bee Nuc? Design, Features, DIY at Home for Beginners

Table of Contents

what is a bee nuc? (Nucleus)

The word nucléus is Latin for “Nuc”. This term refers to mini-hives for bees and queens (both fetal and infertile). Inside the Nuc bee hive, there are 1 or 2 frames with brood and the same number of frames with food. The nuc is mainly needed to preserve the queen and her brood during the winter, when they may not survive.

Note ! For proper care of the bees, it is recommended to paint the frames of each nuc hive in different colors. This will make it easier for you to separate the bees from each other.

Nuc Bee hive Design features

In order to find out what the nuc bee hive is and what it is used for, it is necessary to understand the features of its design. Inside the hive there are 1-2 queens, as well as 500-1000 working bees. The hive may have frames. To install 6 such frames, they are located along, and for 12 – already across. If you need to fit multiple frames, you can split the hive in half to accommodate 2 bee colonies.


There are many varieties of nucs, the simplest option is an ordinary converted beehive. For this, as we have just found out, the Nuc bee hive is divided into compartments. Professionals do not recognize such designs, but many beekeepers still do not want to give them up.

Such Nuc hive has the following advantages:

  • ease of maintenance;
  • cheapness;
  • ease of manufacture;
  • possibility of use for the smallest bee colonies.

But if you use low-quality materials (loose, too loose), then bees can gnaw through the notch and get out. Therefore, it is better to give preference to individual pieces of plywood with insulation – say, chipboard or polystyrene foam. The nucleus can be made in the form of a square or a rectangle, while the dimensions can be, for example, as follows: 57x45x45 cm. There should be a letok on each side so that you can separate bee colonies.

Which poly nuc? Best polystyrene types

When choosing a material for creating a nuc, you can give preference to polystyrene foam, which is made from polystyrene. 

It has a number of advantages:

  • does not allow bee colonies to freeze in winter, in such a design it is always quiet and warm;
  • it is durable and light enough;
  • EPS nuc is easy to maintain;
  • it is easy to transport;
  • the material does not crack, warp, rot or absorb moisture.

Styrofoam Nuc

Styrofoam hives are not the same as Styrofoam Nucs, but they are somewhat similar.

how many bees in a nuc?

Families are very important in beekeeping. The formation process begins with the selection of individuals. Healthy and strong bees are selected that will be able to create a viable nucleus. Moreover, the selection should be carried out in the swarm or pre-swarm period, preferably in the first half of the day (at this time, all healthy bees fly to bribes, and therefore it is easier to select suitable bee colonies). When completing the hive with the required contents, the climatic location is taken into account.

In the southern regions, one frame with brood and two frames with bee bread and honey is enough for the nucleus. In total, up to three hundred bees gather in such hives. As for the northern regions, they put two frames with bee colonies and two with food. The number of bee swarms can reach six hundred individuals. Moreover, the minimum amount of feed is 2 kg. For the nucleus, an unopened and mature brood is selected.

Expert opinion

When transferring frames with bees, you should make sure that you have not transferred the uterus. Instead of the removed frames, waxed frames are placed. After the selection of bees is completed, the structure is insulated, and a notch is also created (its dimensions must be such that only one bee fits). Due to this, only young individuals will remain in the frame.

Only a mature mother liquor is installed in the hive. Over the next 5 days, the bees need to put clean water. During this period, the entire brood will hatch, then the frame must be removed, and instead installed with young individuals. After another 5 days, a frame with larvae is placed it should be there until the queen bee lays eggs.

how to build a nuc at home?

For self-production, you will need a simple scheme and, of course, all the necessary materials. It is important that the inner part fits the size of the frames, and it is also necessary to have a stop for installing the frame grooves. The lid can be without fasteners, overlapped. Take care to accurately fit the partitions, down to the millimeter, so that they are well held and removed if necessary.

how to build a nuc at home: Diagram 1
how to build a nuc at home: Diagram 2

Note! The nucleus should have at least 3 divisions – for one empty dry frame, for wetted with water, for a frame with brood and for a frame with honey.

So, for the manufacture of the nucleus you will need:

  • Styrofoam
  • Stationery knife
  • Universal adhesive (quick-dry)
  • Screwdriver
  • self-tapping screws
  • Roulette
  • Pencil
  • Ruler

The thickness of the expanded polystyrene for the housing must be at least 30 mm. But for other parts, 20 mm is enough. Sometimes a thicker material is used, but in this case the external dimensions of the nuc will increase markedly.

  • Step 1 . Mark up on sheets of material, then cut out the necessary details with a clerical knife. Glue one corner of them first, then the second, then glue the bottom to the sidewalls.
  • Step 2 . Additionally, fasten the joints with self-tapping screws (3-4 pieces for each joint) to increase the stability of the structure. Use the same knife to cut square or round notches.
  • Step Inside, form the folds on which the bee frames will be installed. Then proceed to create partitions. The latter should have the same height and be well fixed – so bees can get into various compartments of their temporary housing.
  • Step In the same way, assemble the cover using an approximate diagram and taking into account the tolerances on the sides (that is, first glue, and then fasten with self-tapping screws). Be sure to leave a few millimeters of tolerance for the fabric you will be covering the frames with.
  • Step As for carrying handles, it is better not to install them if the polystyrene foam is thin. Dry the finished structure and, if you want, paint (fortunately, the material allows you to do this).

Making Nuc from plywood

For work, you will need about a square meter of unpolished plywood, as well as about 30 ÷ 50 cm of a 2×4 cm wooden lath. The plywood should be thick enough, at least 10 mm. So you can assemble the structure without arranging a wooden frame. Small nails are needed to connect individual parts. As for the necessary tools, these include a grinder, a jigsaw, and a manual circular saw.

Dimensions are shown in the image. All blanks are straight, and therefore you can easily draw them on a sheet of plywood. Be sure to leave a tolerance corresponding to the width of the slot, plus 1-2 mm for finishing grinding. Make sure that all paired sidewalls are the same, and the corners are rectangular.


When knocking down the sidewalls, do not use large nails, otherwise the plywood may split. If there are small screws, it is better to use them.

Nail inside the nuc 3 horizontal parallel slats on which the canvas will be laid. The diameter of the holes for the notches should be 12-13 mm (no more needed, otherwise bumblebees can penetrate). Seal the joints with putty, which, by the way, can be prepared independently from sawdust and PVA glue (the mixture should resemble fatty sour cream inconsistency). Remove excess putty immediately before it dries completely. Finishing, in this case, is not required, except that you can treat the outer surfaces with drying oil or sunflower oil. Dyes based on chemical solvents cannot be used bees are likely to leave such a nucleus immediately after settlement.

Preparing Nuc for winter

In order for the bees to survive the winter, remain healthy and strong, take care in advance of preparing the nucleus for wintering. First of all, prepare the food. Use high-quality honey for this, because if there is an admixture of honeydew in it, then the bees will get sick. Separate the upper and lower parts of the hive with planks or plywood – this is how you insulate the structure.

Preparing Nuc for winter

Leave no gaps between planks, as bees are known to survive the cold by keeping each other warm. Move the frames closer to keep the bees warmer. You can additionally insulate the bottom of the structure – this can be done using a box made according to the size of the nucleus. Place sawdust, dry leaves, moss in this box, and install the hive itself on the received stand. All this will contribute to the preservation of heat in the winter.

Burlap is usually used to insulate the sides and top. They make a “pillow” out of it, which is filled with a safe and light material. Such “pillows” cover all the walls of the structure.

Expert opinion

Beekeeping is a fairly common hobby. Even a beginner can make a nucleus for bees using the drawings given in the article. Of course, nuclei are also sold in specialized stores, but is it worth paying a beekeeper who knows how to use tools for them?

FAQ about Nuc Bee hive

What are nuclei used for?

The nucs are mainly needed to keep the queen and her brood alive during the winter, when they may not survive.

What is the best material to use for nuc?

If you use low-quality materials (loose, too loose), then bees can gnaw through the notch and get out. Therefore, it is better to give preference to individual pieces of plywood with insulation say, chipboard or polystyrene foam.

What is the easiest way to make a nucleus?

The easiest option to manufacture is the expanded polystyrene nuc.

What output of fetal queens to expect?

If you believe experienced beekeepers, then the plywood nuc described above provides at least 80% of the yield of fetal queens.