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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    Springfield, MO, USA
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    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
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    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 To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    moravia,ny
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    1,223

    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
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    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
    1,900

    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 07:55 AM. Reason: sp

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Springfield, MO, USA
    Posts
    102

    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    Thanks for the replies. We seem to be on the same page about most of this. I agree with Cleo that selling cull frame is unethical.

    I will take my beekeeping experience to the farm store manager and share some written standards for a nuc and how to negotiate those standards with suppliers. I help a lot of newbees every year and am very frustrated by the way they are being ripped off. As an industry, it seems we have more than our fair share of bad apples spoiling it for the rest of us....

    there is a new thread today about another person who was delivered poor nucs.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Neodesha, Ks
    Posts
    623

    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    Maddox65804, Please post the Nuc Standard that you come up with as it might help others. Thanks. Dale

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    My standard is when someone comes to get one whether I feel good about letting them have it or not. I don't sell a 5 frame nuc w/ a frame of foundation in it. All frames must be drawn out and occupied w/ honey, pollen, and brood of all stages. Plus plenty of bees to cover the brood and a laying queen.

    I start my nucs w/ a frame of honey and pollen, a frame of capped brood and a frame of brood including eggs. Then a frame of comb and a frame of foundation, so, as the nuc grows it doesn't over crowd and swarm before I can sell it. To that I add a queen cell or later on a queen. Some nucs started before I can get queen cells will make their own queen from the open brood. But there have to be plenty of bees for that to be successful. Not to mention mature drones in the area.

    Five frames of brood, bees, honey, and pollen. No frames of foundation. $100.00.
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Alamogordo, NM, USA
    Posts
    41

    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    See, I should have ordered from one of you guys instead. (see my other thread about the sad nucs I received.)

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    Danbury, CT
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    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    Sqk

    I meant to ask you if you were headed north on I-95 just south of South of the Boarder on May 1st...about 1:30 pm? I was headed south bound and saw a truck like yours loaded with Nucs.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    Was it an F-450 flatbed w/ a trailer loaded down w/ a Bobcat? Coulda been. I forget which day that was that I was traveling North. I know it was a Thursday.
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    Danbury, CT
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    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    It was an F series with a trailer behind it. But I think both truck and trailer had nucs on it... Didn't see a bobcat. The nucs were all different colors. Before I left I remember seeing a post by you saying you were headed back with Nucs, which is why I thought maybe it was you.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    Nope. Wasn't me.
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Springfield, MO, USA
    Posts
    102

    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    I am writing up a standard. Will post it here when I an finished. Thanks for the support folks. Glad to know there are others who sell quality nucs like mine, and who share my frustration with unethical suppliers.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    Be careful seeing others as unethical. It can be a trap one catches oneself in eventually.
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
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    3,070

    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    I just bought my first nuc. and from the perspective of the new buyer I woudl like to mention what this supplier did right as far as I am concerned. First I will say that what I did right was did my homework. Like anything else if I am going to buy something and need it to be good enough. I have to have the knowledge to know what it should be.
    First of all the supplier never even mentioned an exact date it woudl be ready. He gave me are range he was "Expecting" it would be ready and even added that still was dependent on the bees. If from that I formed some sort of expectation that was my doing not his.

    Second he produced a nuc that was so full of bees that when he opened it my first reaction was they where in desperate need of more room. Since that is exactly what I intended to do when I got them home it was all good.

    He also mentioned he had verified that there where eggs in the nuc before he called me. There where also larva and capped brood (2 frames in all) 2 frames of honey and pollen and one frame so covered in bees I never did notice what it was. Those last details are the ones I think a new person could get most shafted on. that and the issue of what is the number of bees you should expect to find in a nuc. I think I got a better than average population. a normal selection of frames. I don't really care if they are culls they will not likely be in my hive for more than one season at most. Btu upon transfer I did notice at least two frames where nice clean what seemed to me newly drawn comb. The brood comb was dark and I have no idea how old. Nothing about this nuc appeared to me a cull except maybe the waxed cardboard box that the supplier openly said he reuses if they are returned.

    Mainly the supplier told me in detail exactly what I could expect to find inside. and when I transferred them that was exactly what I found. This still leaves the question. was what was there what needed to be there? I will have to say even as the new person doing the buyer and at risk. That is my business to know and decide. I believe that most suppliers believe they produce a good product. Not all but most. That is not to say most suppliers actually do provide a good product. they just think they do. The only safeguard I have in that situation is myself and what I consider good. If I have no knowledge and can be taken to buy nothing more than a package dumped in a 5 frame nuc with a caged queen. well that is probably what I deserve.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  18. #18
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    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    Figuring out whether a nuc was right or worth the money is often best determined in the Fall when the season is over. I know that doesn't help one when purchasing the nuc, but, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Right? I am always impressed by folks who tell me how great the nuc was when I see them in the Fall or the next year.
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Danbury, CT
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    2,887

    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    What of this scenario?

    Your a producer of nucs for sale and you make a couple hundred up per year... When they all are up to the standard that you will sell them at you notify your customers that they are ready to be picked up... Most of the customers pick up on the first available day of pickup and carefully inspect and select their nucs. At the end of the day all that is left is the lesser in quality... More customers pickup over the next few days and the quality of what is left continues to decrease... A few over crowd and swarm and now are at a quality less than what you would typically consider acceptable, but this is no fault of the supplier and he has promised x number of nucs to customers.

    So do you call the last few people and tell them you are out of nucs and will not be able to fill their orders?

    Do you let them pick them up at their convenience and risk them being upset about the quality?

    Do you tell everybody that they cannot inspect the nucs, they get what ever you give to them?

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Stilwell, KS
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    1,859

    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Maddox65804 View Post
    I am writing up a standard. Will post it here when I an finished. Thanks for the support folks. Glad to know there are others who sell quality nucs like mine, and who share my frustration with unethical suppliers.

    How do you plan on enforcing this "standard"? I can see plenty of suppliers saying, "We don’t need no stinkin' standards. This is what I supply. If you don’t like it, bee off with you". That said, the same supplier could still be offering perfectly good nucs at a good price. Several people have posted what they think a good nuc should consist of and the descriptions are remarkably similar, but with slight variations.

    I am pretty new at the beekeeping, but I know what I am looking for in a nuc (thanks to reading threads like this on Beesource). A long as I get a laying queen, plenty of brood in all stages, frames(s) of honey/pollen, chock full of bees, and maybe even a frame that is fully wax- drawn but nothing is in it, or some variation of this - I am happy. I am also a big fan of the “over-wintered” thing.

    It is really up to the buyer to educate themselves first (by reading threads like this one). It is also up to the buyer to ask a lot of questions and find out exactly what they will be getting if the seller is not forthcoming with information. Also keep in mind that not all beekeepers/suppliers are particularly talkative. It doesn’t mean that they are crooks selling bad nucs, you just have to ask them what you should be expecting and how much it will cost.
    Honey Badger Don't Care ಠ_ಠ ~=[,,_,,]:3

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