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  1. #1
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    Question Nuc vendor terminology: "laying queen" = cage inserted?!

    Got some nucs from a new vendor this year, on the reassurance that they would have "accepted, laying queen". The pickup was disorganized and poorly-run. The nucs were well-provisioned and packed with bees, but all had a queen cage still inside. Only one in three had eggs, the others had capped queen cells. One of these, purchased as an Italian, had about 15 lemon-colored bees and the rest were dark carni-looking workers.

    Maybe I'm too literal (and I'm not familiar with nuc production norms), but if you know the queen is "accepted and laying", that necessarily means you've examined the colony after release right? And why would you NOT remove the queen cage if you really did that examination?

    Didn't I get nucs that were made up and just had queen cages dropped in a couple days before they were sold? And is that typical when you pay for a "laying, accepted queen"?
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  2. #2
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    Jan 2011
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    Clay Count, Missouri, USA
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    Default Re: Nuc vendor terminology: "laying queen" = cage inserted?!

    Seems like a lot of folks are calling a package of bees in a hive with a caged queen a nuc. I've always considered a nuc to be five frames of bees, with brood, eggs larva, stores and a released laying queen. Ya, maybe the queen in your package with frames (? nuc) was laying before they caged her.

    Maybe that was the point you were making. Nucs are often not what they should be.
    Try living life with the attitude it's not about what you want to do but what you should do!

  3. #3
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    May 2009
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    Garland, Bladen County, NC, USA
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    Default Re: Nuc vendor terminology: "laying queen" = cage inserted?!

    Who ever is doing this is not selling nucs, they are selling frames with a newly introduced queen. It is not a nucleus hive... yet. I have heard some cage the queen for transport... we have not seen this to be necessary either.

  4. #4
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    May 2009
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    Palm Bay, FL, USA
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    Default Re: Nuc vendor terminology: "laying queen" = cage inserted?!

    Lots of nuc sellers cage the queens to keep them from getting mashed on the way home. If you had a problem with this you should have asked before accepting them. I have all Italian colonies and some have those dreaded dark bees too. And get this; some of them have Cordovan queens, bright yellow, and still have dark workers. With open mated queens it's common to have multi-colored bees in a hive.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Nuc vendor terminology: "laying queen" = cage inserted?!

    Quote Originally Posted by fish_stix View Post
    Lots of nuc sellers cage the queens to keep them from getting mashed on the way home.
    Wasn't aware of that... so I asked . And naturally there'll be color variation, but for a no-recent-brood-colony, and a queen that ostensibly has been laying, I thought some appreciable portion of the workers at least would be colored to her phenotype (I'm not familiar with a dark Italian strain?).
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Nuc vendor terminology: "laying queen" = cage inserted?!

    There aren't really any "pure" strain of honey bee here in the USA. Cordovan Italian is as close as it gets to a light colored honey bee, and then only if she is "pure" Cordovan and mates predominantly (or entirely) with Cordovan drones, which is a difficult thing to accomplish unless mating in a very isolated breeding yard or through I. I. (Instrumental Insemination).
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  7. #7
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    May 2002
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    San Mateo, CA
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    Default Re: Nuc vendor terminology: "laying queen" = cage inserted?!

    Quote Originally Posted by fish_stix View Post
    Lots of nuc sellers cage the queens to keep them from getting mashed on the way home. I
    Who would have the time for that?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Nuc vendor terminology: "laying queen" = cage inserted?!

    odfrank,
    It is true that I do not appreciate the extra time it takes to find those queens and cage them, but I find it even more frustrating when customers claim their nuc was queenless and they need a replacement (they may be correct - things happen). Sure, I've been a customer too, and I certainly don't begrudge them the replacement. But, it is easier for me to find and cage those queens than to replace the nuc/queen.

    - - - - - - -

    So these days, unless my customers ask for me not to, I have taken to caging the queens in my nucs just as, or just before my customers pick them up. These queens are not foreign to the bees in the nucs, they are the queens that belong there, were usually emerged from their cells, mated and began laying in these nucs - with some rare exceptions (though they are all well-accepted and laying).

    I cage the queens in JZsBZs plastic queen cages, and pin them to a center top bar - this way if the frames slap together during transport, only some workers will be injured. Since I began doing this, no customer has had a nuc that was queenless on arrival.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  9. #9
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    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Nuc vendor terminology: "laying queen" = cage inserted?!

    Quote Originally Posted by fish_stix View Post
    Lots of nuc sellers cage the queens to keep them from getting mashed on the way home.
    So, what about all of the other bees in the nuc box? They don't cage them too, do they? What are the chances that a queen will get crushed in transport? How many bees get crushed in transport?

    Are you saying that a bkpr will make up nucs, add a queen or cell, get it established, then go in the nuc, find the queen and put her in a cage? Seems like alot of extra work to me. I'd want Top Price for all of that extra work.

    Maybe that is what I should have done for the person who, a month later, said I cheated him. If I'd only known.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Nuc vendor terminology: "laying queen" = cage inserted?!

    The other bees in the nuc box aren't as valuable or as vulnerable as the queen. One comb slap and the queen could be fatally injured. It is very difficult to predict or prevent all "comb slapping" when hives or nucs are transported - even when wedged tightly.

    I only do what I'd appreciate the vendor doing for me. If I can immobilize the frames, by placing them in the customer's hive, then driving small wedges against the sidewall and end bars, I do (in that case the queen and bees are likely as safe as possible). Or if I send them in a wooden nuc box I will sometimes do likewise.

    I only produce a few dozen or so nucs each season, why not make them as customer-friendly as possible.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  11. #11
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    Jul 2008
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    Philadelphia, MS, USA
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    Default Re: Nuc vendor terminology: "laying queen" = cage inserted?!

    I have sold about 40 nucs this year and they were made up with honey, capped brood and a queen cell. I don't sell them till the new queen has at least two frames of her capped brood. I also know people who make up a nuc with honey and capped brood the day before delivery and hand you a caged queen to put in when you get home. Both will work but you need to know what you are paying for before pickup.

    Johnny
    "Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." - Mark Twain

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Nuc vendor terminology: "laying queen" = cage inserted?!

    From the long break in brood age, it seems to me that these were not laying queens caged for transport. And I'm not asking the vendor for anything... just a data point for next year! Though one of my students who also bought a nuc did have a good dollop of chalk in his that I asked the seller about.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  13. #13
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    May 2009
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    Garland, Bladen County, NC, USA
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    Default Re: Nuc vendor terminology: "laying queen" = cage inserted?!

    Guess there are a lot of ways to sell nucs that had not occurred to me. we grow ours out for about a month or until they have to go into a hive. We also feed them to push them along. We always have at least 3 frames of brood.. sometimes 4. It seems like the thing is to make sure the customer knows what he is getting. Most do not seem to care. I am glad we do not have to cage the queen each time we sell a nuc... that would be a real pain, but it all depends on how many you sell.
    If you take 5 frames and stick them in a box and add a caged queen, then sell immediately - that does not sound like a nuc to me.... ought to be another name for that strategy.... ie PreNuc or something.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Nuc vendor terminology: "laying queen" = cage inserted?!

    Perhaps, "Nucleus-like assemblage".
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  15. #15

    Default Re: Nuc vendor terminology: "laying queen" = cage inserted?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Clemens View Post
    I cage the queens in JZsBZs plastic queen cages, and pin them to a center top bar - this way if the frames slap together during transport, only some workers will be injured. Since I began doing this, no customer has had a nuc that was queenless on arrival.
    Ditto! Customers are advised of exactly what's in the box. Sometimes for the novice I add 1-2 foundationless wooden frames so they can see pierco vs. wood for exposure to variety in aiding frame choice down the road. It takes less than a minute, each nuc, to find her, and cage her. She's not "newly introduced" and has been part of the hive since the start. Customers also get a chance to see her prior to their first working the hive. A win-win for everyone. Well worth it!

    Nothing stunk more than a phone call two hours later, and you have to reply with; "there was one last I checked". (how many days ago was that), Not a very confident customer service response.

    No right or wrong, imo, if she is caged because she was just introduced, yes that's not a traditional nuc by definition or preference. If a seller cages her for safety, that's assest protection.

    Enjoy
    Last edited by BeeBrothersApiary; 05-31-2011 at 06:13 AM.

  16. #16
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    Jan 2009
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    Clifford Township, PA
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    Default Re: Nuc vendor terminology: "laying queen" = cage inserted?!

    If all but one had capped queen cells on the frames, the seller didn't cage the queen for shipping. He slammed together frames, threw a queen cage in and said good enough. Not my idea of a quality nuc.

    Time to look for a new supplier.

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