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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Springfield, MO, USA
    Posts
    102

    Default f) Is there a standard for nucs?

    Does anyone know if there is a "standard" for nucs put out by the ABF or other organization? Is there a definition?

    I help many new beekeepers every year. This year the local farm store finally got rid of the horrifying person who was supplying the nucs (he took advantage of the newbees by giving them cull frames and trash bees he wanted to get rid of. Then he yelled at the customers). Unfortunately, the new supplier, although nicer, provided some of the poorest nucs I have ever seen. I recommended the folks ask for a complete refund.

    These were sold as 5 frame nucs. They contained: 2 really poor frames (they should have been culled years ago), the 2 frames were not well covered in bees, the other 3 frames were new, plastic foundation, (so new they weren't even dirty yet), and a caged queen.

    When I sell (or buy) a nuc, it has 5 fully drawn frames covered in bees, 2-3 frames have brood, and 2-3 have honey/pollen, the queen is fully accepted and laying.

    The 5 frames should look like they were just pulled from full grown, active hive - that is why it is called a "nucleus". A nuc should need extra frames the day it arrives. Foundation can be purchased for 2 $/frame - why pay 25 dollars per frame for it in a nuc? Foundation in a nuc seems like a total rip-off.

    I would like to work with the "bee guy" at the farm store (I'm not sure he even keeps bees) and help them work towards a more specific contract that spells out the condition of the nucs when they are delivered. I would like to provide them with some printable information from reliable sources, not just my word or 15 years of experience.

    Does anyone know of this type of information from any of the organizations?
    Thanks for the help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    28,275

    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Maddox65804 View Post
    Does anyone know if there is a "standard" for nucs put out by the ABF or other organization? Is there a definition?
    Does anyone know of this type of information from any of the organizations?
    Thanks for the help.
    No, but I think you have a good idea what a nuc fit to sell should be and look like. Sell what you would like to buy, you should be fine.
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    moravia,ny
    Posts
    1,259

    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    there is no standard but a nuc should have 3 frames of brood and the 2 frames of honey. frame quality is a tough call but most should be some what drone free.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Danbury, CT
    Posts
    2,887

    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    Very few who sell nucs are not making them with culled frames.... I put cull frames into my nucs. I don't ask for a frame exchange so the frame really isn't part of the deal. My stipulations for what I will sell is that the frames have to be completely drawn, at least three need to have brood in all stages in them, the queen needs to be actively laying, and it needs to be packed full with bees... Anything less than that I will not sell.

    My margins are a lot higher on nucs than packages, but I always recommend starting with a package. Especially for anybody who is new to beekeeping. Buying a nuc is the fastest way for somebody new to get ripped off.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Jackson, MO
    Posts
    1,858

    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    I know of no standard, with the exception of five frame nucs have five frames. I am used to two frames of brood, two drawn frames of honey/pollen and one frame for expansion (may or may not be drawn, usually not).

    If I were in your shoes and wanted to interject myself into this situation, I'd draw up my own definition and share it with the farm store manager who is responsible for bees in the spring. This would set a localized standard that the manager may (or many not) enforce with any nuc supplier. Your experience and knowledge is an asset to many newbees hoping to get started on a fair and equitable plane.

    Grant
    Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: https://www.createspace.com/4152725

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Park City Ky
    Posts
    1,944

    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    I sell 100 - 125 nucs each year, and my standard is one frame chocolate brood for quick expansion, one frame light colored brood to sustain the colony and to help insure the queen will be accepted. Two frames which may have some brood, but is covered with bees, one frame honey. I want the new queen out of the cage, and laying before I call the customer and tell them the nucs are ready for pickup.

    I NEVER put cull or damaged frames in a nuc that I intend to sell. I believe this would come back to haunt you down the road. I also do not sell junk nucs (or junk 10 frame boxes, when I put 5 frame nucs in 10 frame equipment)

    I do tell all my customers what to expect when I send them the invoice, and the projected availability date. If nuc suppliers are ripping off new beekeepers, they will not be in business long.

    cchoganjr
    Last edited by Cleo C. Hogan Jr; 05-14-2012 at 08:55 AM. Reason: sp

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    York Region, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    56

    Default Re: f) Is there a standard for nucs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Maddox65804 View Post
    Does anyone know if there is a "standard" for nucs put out by the ABF or other organization? Is there a definition?
    The Ontario Beekeepers' Association has a "nuc buyers guide".

    The Ontario Bee Breeders Association attempted to standardize the definition of a nuc some years ago and came up with the following criteria for a 4 frame nuc:
    - Queen bee
    - 2 frames of mostly capped brood with adhering bees
    - 1 frame of feed with adhering bees
    - 1 frame of foundation
    - A few shakes of extra frames of bees to fill the box so it is bubbling with bees.

    The rest is here
    http://www.ontariobee.com/index.php?...uying_Nucs.pdf

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Richmond, VA UNITED STATES
    Posts
    163

    Default Re: f) Is there a standard for nucs?

    You guys are making me feel a little guilty. I sell just a few nucs every year. They are made off of swarm cells off my hives, which are all feral caught, and never medicated (at least not in my yard - I know there is some debate on "feral" - but I can say I don't have a single hive that has what looks like straight run Italians) I've been selling nucs this year with 3-4 frames fully drawn. I wouldn't say they were cull frames, but since I have a mix of plastic and wood, I give the nuc boxes the best frame content available - good mix of pollen and honey as well as capped brood. We had a very mild winter, but every nuc I sold last year made it through the winter with no chemicals. I have talked with almost all my former customers and they are all thrilled. They don't know it, but if I ever had someone complain, I have a guarantee policy that I'm not even going to share with you guys)

    Anyway, the nuc boxes are painted plywood this year, and I suggest customers keep the empty box inside this year, and hang them in a tree as a swarm trap next spring. That's what they were originally built for, but then I got too busy to put them out as traps.

    So, even though I don't think I meet the requirement for a ful 5 frames, so far, every hive has been a complete success, and I offer free consultation over the phone for as long as the customer remembers my number. I usually follow up by email with tips on feeding, how to put them in the box, and most times I give them a hands on lesson when they come into my beeyard (the 2 this weekend we went in, me and the customer, no gloves or veils into hives and I explained how to look for eggs and brood and queen cells), and I send them links to the closest beekeeping group to where they live (we're fortunate to have about 5 within 25 mile radius.

    A guy that I sold to last year has become a great friend, and I have a few repeat customers. So, I guess I trade mentoring for the extra 2 frames. When I do a cutout or trapout, I leave the customer with a bottle of honey as well, even though they pay me for the job. There is something about "free" that really wows people - even if they paid hundreds of dollars for the service.

    Next year, I may do some early queen breeding, and make some packed out nucs. It's getting late this year, but people still want nucs because a breeder near here backed out at the last minute, so people are sitting with empty hive bodies they purchased and painted and have no bees. I'm apprehensive about selling anything this late in the year though, but I feel sorry for these folks, but I don't want them to have a bad experience. I have a couple new hives I started for myself (results of some trapouts or swarms) that I could pack into a 5 frame, but even then, it seems late. Swarms draw out good, but the queens are not 1st year queens.

    I've even gone so far as to hand my customers an entrance feeder and a pollen patty on the way out the door just to make sure that they're successful.

    I'd rather sell service than just drop a pallet of nucs off. My ROI is probably not as good, but I just enjoy the hobby so much more doing it this way. I'm not running a business, I'm running a hobby I enjoy, and meeting people - who I get to see later show up to the meetings. And, if they're lousy beekeepers, they end up having their hives swarm, which ends up being a swarm call or a cutout for me next year.

    My 2 cents.

    Rob.
    www.mongrelbees.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Park City Ky
    Posts
    1,944

    Default Re: f) Is there a standard for nucs?

    They come from Louisiana. Bordelon Apiaries , Lafayette La. I get Minnesota Hygenic.

    I have had very good luck with them.

    I also buy Italians from Kelly Bee Company when they start selling queens in April. I keep hoping someone in the local area will start producing good queens. There are some trying. I would certainly use them.


    cchoganjr

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