I am looking to increase the number of hives that I have. I will be buying 10 - 12 packages or nuc's depending on whom I buy from. I was wondering were you all are getting your queens and packages from.
I have ordered them mail order. If you do try to find the closest supplier because bees don't always fare well being shipped. The best is to find the closest bee club and ask them. Usually they will either arrange or know of supplier who arranges to bring in a truckload of packages. These usually arrive in much better shape than the ones from the Post office.
Of course if you can get nucs somewhere local you have several advantages over packages. You'll have a month head start because they already have comb and brood, and if the nucs were overwintered locally then you have bees that already survived one of your winters. A local bee club, again, would be the ones who would know about nucs being available.
You did not say howmany hives you have but if you have 10 then you can do devides from these hives and have them make new queens or order new queens and install them into the splits and you don't loose as much time or money.
just South of Lansing Michigan
Beekeeping sence 1964
As Clinton suggested you can make up splits and if you time them right, you can still have a good honey season.
You can split each hive at least once and double your colonies.
What I have done to make early splits that raise their own queens is the following.
21 days or so, before my area¬ís swarm season starts, I make up my splits. This ensures that there are drones for open mating.
42 days before I make my splits, I start feeding syrup and pollen / pollen substitute. This jump starts the queen, and provides (2) brood cycles and ensures there are enough bees to make the splits strong and healthy.
If any of the hives are really strong, you can wait 3 weeks and split them again. This allows for another brood cycle to take place. This split will be done about the time that swarm season starts.
So approximately 63 days before you want a queen going on her mating flights, the process begins.
If your question is where to get bees/queens, try this page - http://www.beesource.com/suppliers/usbees.htm
I like Shumans for queens.
Never a problem.
I tried some from Kona (Carni) and I was disappointed so I'm going back to Italians.
Probably not the best choice for my region but I've come to understand thier behavior and have adjust my keeping for them.
IMO the best time to do splits is two weeks before the main flow. Leave all the capped brood and one frame of open brood with the old hive and let the old hive raise a new queen and make lots of honey and put the queen, all the open brood (except the one the old hive needs to raise a queen) in the new hive with all the honey.
You will get twice as many hives AND more production.
[This message has been edited by Michael Bush (edited December 15, 2004).]
Having bought both nucs and packages I would advise packages. If you feed them they take off fast and a month later will be at the same place as nucs. Obviously it helps to get them early.
Then you are sure of no residue in the comb and no disease spores in the comb.The likelihood of small hive beetle coming to visit is smaller and while the mites travel on the bees their accomodations are poorer . Try to buy from someone that doesn't use Terra as a preventive. If I do it again I'll give the package an O/A treatment while they are broodless.
Just my 2 cents,
I haven't seen much difference between the 2 pound packages I've gotten and 4-5 frame nucs. It seems only about 6 weeks till they are exactly the same. Depending on the timing of your flow it may make no difference.
tarheit and all,
I just ordered my first packages (I have been collecting swarms and bought one hive.) They are supposed to be shipped in April, I understand. While that is pretty early here, considering that you mentioned the flow, my concern is that they willl still be too late for our big flow. Here, many keepers will extract at the end of April. I understand that package suppliers would wait until "swarming/ splitting" season to sell. But wouldn't that put their packages to arrive after the flow for most buyers?
the main flow around here is in april so im getting my packages in march, if you look hard enough you will find a few sellers that sell in march, most dont sell until 1st of april. I'm getting mine from Weeks Work's here in georgia , they start 1st of march for georgia packages and 1st of april for ohio package's.
The adult population of a package colony declines for the first 3 - 4 weeks, as the older bees die off.
Then the adult population if all went well with the queen, the will grow as the brood emerges.
As this brood emerges, it will free some of the older bees up to forage.
But, it takes approximately 42 days to go from egg to forager.
Suppliers will make up packages / nucs as soon as they can.
They don't wait for swarm season or flows. The weather where the supplier is located is the driving force as to when packages and nucs are ready.
Suppliers may put limits on how early or late they will ship packages north based on survivability due to weather.
Whether or not a package or split will build up to the size necessary to put away a normal honey crop obviously depends significantly on when your main flow is. In some areas the flow is so early as to make it just about impossible to get packages or splits early enough to expect a honey crop from them the first year. Other areas have much later flows making a crop from packages or splits the first year normal. We are fortunately in that respect to have a June-August flow and even May splits do well.
I agree completely.
We have a strong spring flow, that coincides with our swarm season, and it goes till mid June or so.
We then have a strong fall flow that starts mid August and goes till the frost.
The summer flow is steady and fairly good if there is enough moisture.
But, as with so much of beekeeping, it depends on your local situation.
[This message has been edited by MountainCamp (edited December 18, 2004).]
Thank you every one for all of the information.