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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    45,949

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    I have put a lot of thought and consideration into what to sell nucs and hives for and had input from Dee Lusby on the market for natural sized (small cell) bees. (see http://www.beesource.com/ubb/Forum13/HTML/000038.html )

    I have recieved inquiries on the price of Queens. What is the opinion, especially Dee's opinion, on the market value of a small cell, clean, feral suvivor stock, laying queen. Early in the spring I would be taking them from overwintered nucs, because I usually don't have enough drones to raise them until mid May. So I suppose I would have a drop in prices after I can have some that were raised that spring and didn't have to be overwintered. Since the work of packaging and taking them to the post office is similar for one queen or three queens, I am thinking of a price schedule something like this:

    Early queens (first part of April until the end of May?)
    First queen $x.xx
    Susequent queens $x.xx (less than the first one)

    After May
    First queen $x.xx(less than the overwintered ones)
    Subsequent quens $x.xx (less than the first one)

    Plus whatever the shipping costs are.

    Any suggestions on what is a fair price?


    [This message has been edited by Michael Bush (edited May 31, 2003).]

    [This message has been edited by Michael Bush (edited May 31, 2003).]

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    michigan
    Posts
    393

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    I believe that anytime you are trying to price something you need to figure out some basics such as what your market is, how you fit into that and most importantly what is needed to turn a profit.

    You have probably thought about most if not all of this but just some thoughts---

    First I think you need to get a good idea of the cost of queens from the large suppliers since that basically sets the price range for the country regardless of race or small cell/not small cell. Those prices are what are advertised in the magazines and what sets the expectations in minds of the people.

    Generally, there is a spring and summer price so I think you have a good idea for a sliding scale. Everyone wants early queens/colonies.....the first warm day in the spring and people start getting the spring bee fever. So I think it is reasonable that early queens should command a premium.

    From there, where do you fit in? From the limited info I have, I would say that you are basically trying to sell to a small, niche market which probably allows a premium price that could perhaps be set above the national pricing level. How much is that premium....I have no idea. In real terms it is whatever the market you are trying to reach will bear. Do you add 25% above the national average? Seems like most queens are about $10-15 in the spring....Can you get another $5 for a queen, $10, how about $12, are there any takers? You might not know until you start experimenting. Just make sure that you have an intimate knowledge of your costs and that you are covering them.

    How are you going to sell the queens? Advertising, word of mouth, club/associations? Will you try to stay local? If you advertise, what is your supply ability, how many queens will you have available? Do you have all the shipping supplies and make sure you have arrangements for shipping them. The only reliable shipper I have experienced is UPS priority but the cost is fairly high. Keep in mind that the USPS isnt real thrilled to be shipping bees.

    From my point of view, I generalize folks into two camps.....those who consider a queen a queen and those who are rather picky about genetics and specific traits. I know lots of people ranging from hobbyists to commercial who fall on both sides of that fence....it is just a matter of perspective. I think you are aiming much more at the second camp. All customers have certain expectations and I think your niche market may be wanting very specific information regarding..........

    how many years the line has been on small cell, what size small cell, how many years untreated/treated for tracheal mites and varroa, what is your fall mite count, what comprises your drone source, how secure and isolated is your mating area, are you trying to maintain specific lines or are you allowing everything to blend together, have the queens been tested the prior year or were they raised in late summer, etc.

    Now not every customer asks those questions, some ask nothing in fact but be prepared to have that info readily available.

    My last thoughts on the subject are ask yourself if you really want to deal with the public when it comes to selling queens. The answer may be yes.....but make sure you ask the question. I have to say that having sold nucs and queens over the years, it isnt always that pleasant and I will only sell to a very select group anymore.

    I never answered your question but hope I gave you something to think about.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Ames, Iowa
    Posts
    97

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    Hmmm, now that's a hard question. There is a lot of work envolved, I don't think I would even consider doing it on your scale for less than $ 25 / ea + shipping of course. Personally I think I would focus on nucs and splits and keep the queens for that purpose for atleast next season and see how it goes. Plus if you wait you'll have second/third ect. generation queens that have been on small cell for awhile. Plus if we're talking about the same ferral stock you might not fully know the extent of their over-wintering capabilities (mild winter ect.).

    Either way I think I'll have to bring in some new drones to out-breed some of the aggressive bees! Hope you're not finding too many mean hives.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    45,949

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    I had two mean hives out of twenty and they are both requeened now and are fine. Most of the others are fairly nice, but of course I've already picked the gentlest and (lucky for me) the most productive of the bunch for a queen mother.

    Some of the bees were small bees when I got them, which leads me to believe they had been feral survivors for some time and have been small cell for some time. All in all the "breeding program" has been done by Mother Nature. The weak ones already died before I got them. It is true though, that the results of breeding queens from feral stock is still a bit of a gamble. Mother Nature was breeding for survival, which is a good trait and usually includes good enough production (for winter stores) and good mite and disease resistance, but I have to pick for gentleness and better production and still it's hard to say what traits will pass on and what won't. But I suppose it's the same with all queens and more so with the Russians.


    [This message has been edited by Michael Bush (edited May 31, 2003).]

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    michigan
    Posts
    393

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    Hello

    A few more ramblings.........

    The odds are you won't have inbreeding problems at first unless you have exceptional mating control. I don't know how many other beekeepers and colonies are close. My gut feeling is that there must be something given that you are at least in the general area of SueBee but I am not familiar with that area at all. Secondly, even if all of your colonies were feral at one time and if you could mate to only them, I can't imagine that they have the same genetic background. I think you would be ok initially. Dee could give you much more insight on inbreeding. I have such a diverse background of bees and so many other beekeepers to contend with that it has never been an issue.

    For the most outstanding end product....your mated queen....you need to control both sides of the equation with superior breeders and drones. Again not knowing what is around, I would be much more concerned with getting mating control and having enough exceptional drone colonies to mate the daughters of your best gentle/productive breeder. Only 20 or so drone colonies in my part of the world would require alot of other work trying to find the drone congregation areas in order to begin to give mating control.

    I think using your top queen as a breeder is a good first step. Even if the drone colonies arent initially quite as good, I have seen daughter colonies that were better than the mother or drone colonies. And there could be some exceptional traits in those drone colonies that are being overlooked right now. That is generally how the SMR trait was discovered.......bees which could survive for multiple years with no intervention but couldnt make more than about 25-50 pounds of surplus honey a year. The initial stuff was bees you would never consider good in anyway other than they kept living.

    After that, I would be looking for another queen to graft from in order to boost the drone numbers surrounding you.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,949

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    The only bees around when mine weren't around (first because I just moved here and this spring because they died out last winter) are small black feral bees that are similar in description to the ones that Dee says may be native bees. The best I could hope for is that they will mate with some of those. But who knows.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    medesto,indiana,usa
    Posts
    257

    Post

    Id say 25.00 a queen would be a fair price for survivor stock queens that had gone several years without chemical treatments on small cells and wintered ok.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, United States
    Posts
    397

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    Michael,
    I have been following this discussion. You would be better to work with nuc broodnest conversion packages for best money.

    Figure 5 frames drawn comb with laying queen and brood,honey, and pollen stores.

    Within another year Europe will be into such and/or instead package bees with small comb included for the newbee wishing to size down by purchasing regressed bees with accompanying queen.

    This will help to push market in USA as the sales begin. So maybe, watch and then price accordingly as we see what the market will bear. Also with the Euro being worth more then USA currency, then remember to figure the conversion difference in the USA for higher (by 1/3 right now).

    Regards,

    Dee A. Lusby

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