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Thread: nuc vs. package

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    lewisberry, Pa, usa
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    I have ordered alot of packages but have never ordered a nuc. On another post it was commented about the advantage of nucs in recieving brood of all stages. Looking for someone to help with the following:

    Is there a distinct advantage of a nuc over a 3lb. package?

    I have always been amazed how fast 3lbs. of bees can draw and raise brood. Also like the idea of starting new hives with new foundation and not bringing in other peoples problems into my hives. Also, 3lb. packages have been cheaper than nucs. May be easier(?) to transport/install but like I said, never had a nuc.

    Anyone want to convince me one way or the other?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    All other things being equal, you have at least a three or four week head start with a nuc over a package. You have emerging brood adding bees all along, you have all stages of brood, you have comb for the queen to lay in, you have them already organized. Let's take a package from installation to the state that a nuc is already in:

    Day 1 install:
    Day 2-4 clustered and getting organized, maybe drawing some comb.
    Day 5 Maybe if they have drawn enough comb the queen might start laying, but it's doubful unless you put in drawn comb.
    Day 7 The queen is probably laying, but she's pressed to find any open drawn cells to lay in, plus there are no stores so a three day rain can kill all of the brood. (In a nuc there would be some stores to get through this)
    Day 28 if the queen started laying on day 7, which is most likely, that brood is now emerging, but there is still probably less of it than in the nuc.

    The package has now almost caught up to where the nuc started.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Belmont, NC, USA
    Posts
    38

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    a local master beekeeper told me recently that the queen can lay eggs on foundation and the bees are able to draw out the comb as the egg/larva develops. Still takes a couple days for the workers to free the queen from her cage though. Personally, I am a big fan of nucs.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Fremont, New Hampshire, USA
    Posts
    695

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    What are you really getting when you buy a package of bees?

    A box with a couple of pounds of bees arrives at the post office. It’s five o’clock in the morning and they’re on the phone demanding that you come get them!

    The bees arrive in a wire and wood cage. Stuck in the middle is the queen, hopefully alive within her own cage. The package has been bounced around for a few days; the bees are in an unnatural environment and probable very hungry. They have been through a tremendous amount of stress and subjected to who knows what during their travels.

    Nucs are sold locally.
    No expensive shipping charges or undo stress.

    Bees adapted to the region.
    The bees in a spring time nuc are the third or fourth brood cycle from the over wintered hive. These bees are accustomed to the region. (Born and raised, as they say!)

    The beekeeper is not going to sell you bees from an unhealthy hive. Since most of the beekeeper’s nuc business is local, they have to have a reputation of being reliable and have a quality product.

    You can inspect the bees before taking them home. Don’t even think about returning a package of bees!

    The bees arrive at your home alive. No need to deal with the post office and dealer if the package or worst yet, the queen arrives dead.

    Arrangements to pick up your nuc are at your convenience, not during normal post office hours.

    Guarantee: Package dealers will often send a one replacement package or refund your money. Either way, the delay will probably be enough that the bees will not produce enough comb or honey for the first year. Nuc dealers will always offer a replacement colony if the nuc does not develop.

    Packages through the mail are under a tremendous amount of stress. Nucs are settled into a familiar environment and are going about their chores.

    Advanced state. A nuc is approximately 30-45 days advanced in development than compared to a package.

    Shaken Queen- Sometimes a package will arrive that contains a virgin queen that was shaken in with the rest of the bees.
    Say good bye to that expensive hybred queen
    you though about introducing.

    Supercedure! Often after installing a package, the bees will allow the queen to lay a few eggs. The bees will then go about making preparations to turn one of those eggs into a new queen. Often times a new beekeeper will not recognize this and destroy the queen cells. The hive then continues to try a raise a new queen. Often this ends with a dwindling hive that does not recover. Having some brood frames in a hive seems to prevent this from occurring. There are no brood frames in a package.

    Packages dwindle during their first few weeks. Older bees are dying off faster than their replacements emerge. The first replacements in a package are in 21 days, after the queen lays her first eggs. Sometimes the package dwindles so much; it can not recover and then dies.

    A nuc has brood emerging while you’re taking it home. Nucs don’t go through a dwindle, they can only grow!

    Installation is much easier. No need to shake the bees into an unfamiliar environment, inducing more stress. Often times a nuc is made using your supplied equipment so you don’t have to transfer the frames.

    Drawn combs for the bees to continue to work upon. Packages usually start out on foundation, which must be drawn out. Considerable amounts of energy and resources are needed to complete the comb building process, not to mention the stress of having to build all of this comb.

    A package will delay building comb if the weather is extremely cold. The bees will cluster to protect the queen and will not expend resources to build comb.

    Nucs come with several frames of serviceable comb that the bees are already working. Any additional foundation in the hive does not introduce any additional stress.

    A nuc will contain all of the nutritional needs of a colony. Frames of honey, honey/pollen and water will be already in the hive. If the weather is cold the bees will not fly for water or pollen. Package bees do not have such resources unless a pollen substitute has been added.

    Queen acceptance. With a package you take your chances that the bees (which were shook from several hives) will accept the new queen. The beekeeper making up the nuc is responsible for queen acceptance. They won’t sell a nuc if the queen is not accepted.

    Queen is laying. With a package, there will be a delay in egg production. One factor is that the queen will need a few days to get back into the egg-laying mode. This may take up to a week maybe longer depending on the weather. Another factor is that the hive does not have drawn cells for the queen to lay eggs in. In a nuc, the beekeeper insures that the queen is laying before releasing the unit.

    Less initial feed required. With a package, sugar water must be added to the hive for as long as the bees require it. Nucs usually are made with a frame or two of capped honey. Some of the cells will also contain pollen, which is needed to feed the young emerging bees.

    Honey yield the first year. Although the primary goal in establishing a nuc is that they gather enough honey to make it through the first winter, chances are that the bees will produce a surplus. This surplus is what the beekeeper can harvest.


    Just a few thoughts.


    ------------------
    Dave Verville
    Fremont, NH USA

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    >a local master beekeeper told me recently that the queen can lay eggs on foundation and the bees are able to draw out the comb as the egg/larva develops.

    She will lay on foundation that is not complete drawn out, but she will not lay on undrawn foundation. When it's only about a third of the way drawn she will. And, yes the bees will then draw it out as the egg/larva develops as long as there aren't several rainy days and they get behind and have to give up on it.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    brown county,indiana,usa
    Posts
    571

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    if you happen to get your nuc on a busy and rainy week,it's no problem letting them stay in the nuc until you have the time to transfer them out.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lewisberry, Pa, usa
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    I waited a few days see the response, and it looks like nucs are the overwhelming winner. Thank you for the responses as some were very detailed and helpful.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Wyoming MN
    Posts
    406

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    I need to give a few comments about packages here. In class at the U of M, they are recommended over nucs,for beginners especially. The chance of getting diseases or mites is a lot less when you start with a package. I know that most who sell nucs are responsible, but as a beginner, it is hard to know. You also have the option of knowing your frames are all chemical free when you start with your own foundation. Also, although a nuc will build up faster, for a beginner, sometimes that extra time is nice. To be able to work the hive a few times before it is 3 supers high and full of bees is a good thing. If you have to release the queen (from a package) you know you will at least get one good look at her before she disappears into the hive.
    After 3 years, I would now consider nucs, but when I was starting out, I think I would have had a much harder time with them. Too much, too fast.
    Michelle

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Wyoming MN
    Posts
    406

    Post

    I need to give a few comments about packages here. In class at the U of M, they are recommended over nucs,for beginners especially. The chance of getting diseases or mites is a lot less when you start with a package. I know that most who sell nucs are responsible, but as a beginner, it is hard to know. You also have the option of knowing your frames are all chemical free when you start with your own foundation. Also, although a nuc will build up faster, for a beginner, sometimes that extra time is nice. To be able to work the hive a few times before it is 3 supers high and full of bees is a good thing. If you have to release the queen (from a package) you know you will at least get one good look at her before she disappears into the hive.
    After 3 years, I would now consider nucs, but when I was starting out, I think I would have had a much harder time with them. Too much, too fast.
    Michelle

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,138

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    I think for a beginner there advantages both ways. Certainly there is less chance of getting a brood disease from a package as there is no brood or comb. But mites aren't any more or less likely in a package or a nuc. Certainly a nuc can tolorate more mistakes.

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