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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Lake County Ill
    Posts
    329

    Default Timing of Package versus Nucs

    I have my choice of packages or nus for spring. I can buy nucs at the very end of May, or I can purchase packages during the beginning of April. This is about a 6 week spread. In terms of some hope of honey, should I wait for the nucs or go with the packages in April? I prefer nucs and feel they will be easier for me as a newcomer, but do not want to give up the possibility of some honey.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Palm Bay, FL, USA
    Posts
    2,312

    Default Re: Timing of Package versus Nucs

    How about some of each?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Seneca, sc
    Posts
    832

    Default Re: Timing of Package versus Nucs

    I don't know about your honey flows but if you are going to put the packages on foundation I don't think there will be much difference. It will take one of those six weeks for that queen to start laying. That is if she has a comb to lay in that quick.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    S Hadley, Massachusetts USA
    Posts
    686

    Default Re: Timing of Package versus Nucs

    I can only speak from my experiences this year. I have six hives. Two nucs I bought in early June and 4 packages that I started April 10th.

    The packages did well to a point but were not without problems (laying workers & supercedure from the start) and built up fine. It took a long summer of helping the bees along with giving frames of eggs and brood to weak hives. It was a lot of work and I feel good about the upcomming winter. I was able to take a frame or two of honey off the package hive for a taste.

    The nucs were far superior this summer. I harvested a medium super in mid-august from each nuc. I knew thing were going to be great when the nucs filled and capped 5 frames of honey in a week. Upon the last inspection in early October, the two nucs had two deeps full of honey, brood, and pollen. Each deep weighed close to 60 lbs each. They were so heavy I stole and upper deep frame of honey from each nuc. I roughly harvested 50-60 pounds of honey off a 5 frame nuc that I started in June.

    It all comes down to how healthy the bees were and are. Packages are a guess. Even the best suppliers have problems and those problems are shipped all over the country every spring. Not saying packages are bad but there is a higher risk of having problems. Also, the queens I find in packages are often poorly mated. I am sure that was the problem with early supercedures....The queens layed small poor patterns of brood even after the workers gathered frames of pollen and honey. I inspected the nucs with the owner and saw the bees before I bought them. 5 frames of packed bees with 90% brood on each deep frame. They were so packed in there that they would have swarmed if they had not been tranfered into deeps.

    I was so impressed with the nucs I placed a deposit on two more this spring.

    I agree with fish stix....a newbee should try both and see the differences first had. I am glad I did. Either way you will need to stay on top of things and react to problems before they become problems. Live and learn as they say. I inspected every two weeks to gain knowledge of what my bees were doing. As I get more knowlegable in beekeeping I want to limit my time in the hives to 3-5 times per year.

    Mike

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Lake County Ill
    Posts
    329

    Default Re: Timing of Package versus Nucs

    Thanks so much. This was very helpful to me. I am new to this but have done a great deal of research. None of the bee suppliers were selling queens that they had raised and wintered except the supplier of nucs. They use their own queens that have survived and they offer a class on the day that the nucs are picked up. Even the local bee clubs that purchase packages don't seem to know the source of bees or queens that they purchase.I am going to purchase 4 nucs and 1 package.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Alachua County, FL, USA
    Posts
    6,440

    Default Re: Timing of Package versus Nucs

    There is not much difference or advantage. It will take the package a week to draw comb, 21 days for the bees to emerge after the eggs are layed, a little over a week before they can fly, and plenty of sugar to make that comb.

    If you start four weeks later, you have bees already emerging, bees that have already emerged and flew, experienced foragers and no comb building required with the nuc.

    We make new hives with package bees and splits every year for new beekeepers at monthly workshops. Success and honey production has always been better with the four week headstart of the nucs. There are threads on the forum of beekeepers that bought packages and the bees and or the queen decided that was not their new home. Bees on brood will only leave when death is imminent.

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