Mountain Sweet Honey

Feral Honey Bee Study by University of Georgia Honey Bee Lab

It was approximately a year ago, that we started to see these elevated nuc boxes appearing in the Chattahoochee National Forest here in Northeast Georgia. 

Let me explain what you are seeing.  These are Nuc boxes which have drawn out foundation, on the inside, from another hive at another site.  The drawn out foundation acts like a magnet for swarming honey bees.   

How does this happen?  Prior to swarming, the scout bee senses the smell of wax foundation and some scent from a prior queen that has been in the foundation previously.  The scout bee then inspects the Nuc box and sees that it is acceptable and flies back to the hive and bids against other scout bees as to what future “hive home” is better.  In this case, we hope the feral bees choose this Nuc to swarm to. 

You will also see that each Nuc has a second Nuc box on top.  The top Nuc acts like a super.  This is extra room to accommodate larger swarms.  In some cases, swarms can be so large that they would not select this size of a double Nuc.  If this were to happen, the large swarm would need a larger future hive. 

You will also see that the Nuc hives are elevated from 15 ft. to 30 ft. in the air.  These nucs are elevated by “rock climbing” rope.  The rope is then tied to another tree to keep the Nuc from sliding back down to the ground.  One reason these are elevated is to keep the black bears at bay.  This area is well known for black bears! 

The University of Georgia Honey Bee Program is using these Nucs to evaluate feral honey bees in the Northeast Georgia Mountains.  Knowing the genetic makeup of feral honey bees is important in understanding the feral bees and how they are either surviving or thriving here in the area.  In all, we counted six of these UGA Nuc boxes. 

Keep up the great work UGA!