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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Park City Ky
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    1,837

    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    I'll tell you how I do it, Perhaps it will help others. I split and sell 100 - 125 nucs, have now for several years. (mostly in 10 frame equipment) (some in 5 frame wooden nucs), I send an invoice, but collect no money until nucs are picked up. The invoice will tell the customer what to expect when they pick up the nucs. I give an estimated date they will be available. After the split and the installation of new queen, I wait until the queen has layed and new brood is capped. I then call (or e-mail) the next person on the list. No need to call if the nuc is not ready. If the customer confirms that they still want the nuc(s), I place their name on the nuc, and they can come and get it at their convenience. There is virtually nothing else I need to do to them once they are ready for pick up. As more nucs are ready, I call or e-mail the next names on the list. Everyone gets a good nuc, or I would not have called them to say they are ready.

    To my knowledge, I have never had a nuc to swarm. There have been times that the five frame nuc in ten frame equipment will have 7, 8, 9 or even 10 frames filled by the time the customer picks them up. If a five frame nuc gets overcrowded, I may have to put it in a 10 framer, and give the customer another 5 frame nuc.

    I have not had complaints, but, if I did I would want to make it right. If you don't, you won't be selling nucs very long. I close the entrance on nucs before daylight on the day the customer is coming for pick up, (in order to get all the bees) so the customer doesn't see the nuc until they get home, but, they have the invoice which tells them what to expect. Unless they know nothing about bees, they will be able to see if the nuc they receive, is what I told them to expect.

    Of course things can go wrong after pick up, but, I don't feel I have ever been rooked by anyone. Of course I have replaced a few queens, over the years, for whatever reason did not perform as the customer thought they should. I have replaced a nuc or two in the past, but I have never had a customer that I could not work with, because I would want to work with them, even if it hurt me. Anything short of that and you risk getting a bad reputation.

    This has worked for me, hope it may help others to see the supplier and customer side of the nuc business. Granted, I am a peanut size nuc supplier in relation to the big guys. But, your reputation is your greatest asset. You earn that, it is not given. If it is lost, it is difficult to get it back.

    cchoganjr

    cchoganjr

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Danbury, CT
    Posts
    2,887

    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    Cleo:
    What do you get price wise? Do you charge more for the 10 frame nuc than you do the 5? Do you throw in the extra 5 frames to the person who picks up the 5 frame nuc in a 5 frame nuc box?

    I think part of the reason a Nucleus doesn't have a standard is because it is defined in its name. The nucleus main function is to mediate replication. It only has to contain the main components of the colony to do this. It can be 1,2,3, or 10 frames... as long as it has the queen, brood, a workforce and food, it can accomplish what it is designed to... Even a really poor nuc can expand and create a really good colony.

    I am not well read on the origins of the Nuc, but I would surmise that as time progressed we have changed it some. Originally I would guess that it would have been the removal of the original queen with part of the brood nest and a couple of frames of brood. Literal removal of the Nucleus of the main colony in order to create a new colony. The natural reproduction of the main colony with the head start of having drawn, brood and food go with it. A new queen would have been left with the old colony just like in a natural swarm.

    A few things that I would not ever let influence my decision when purchasing a nuc is claims of "overwintered", or "treatment free". Neither can be verified by visual inspection. The definition of both can be broadly interpreted. "Overwintered" can mean that the nuc it's self was over wintered with its original queen, or it can mean it was split from a colony that was over wintered and re-queened with a purchased queen. Treatment free can mean that they are full of disease and will die in a few weeks.

    I am not sure it really needs a standard. Just like a package can be 2 lb, 3lb, or 4 lb. As long as the supplier defines what they are selling it really shouldn't matter. I think a 5 frame nuc with 2 frames of brood, 2 of stores and an un-drawn frame with foundation for 100.00 is a much better deal than a 5 fully drawn frame nuc with 2-3 frames of brood and 2 frames of stores for 125.00. A good nuc will draw that extra frame in hrs and a person saved 25.00.

    If I were purchasing a nuc I would be more concerned with the diseases that are coming in it than what the quality of the wood frames are. I don't want to see K-wing, chalk brood, etc in something I purchase...

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    27,036

    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrass View Post
    Do you tell everybody that they cannot inspect the nucs, they get what ever you give to them?
    There is a trick to making them strong enuf to sell and weak enuf not to swarm. I know nuc producers who make them up and deliver them ready for pickup w/out inspection. Selling 1500 nucs takes a lot of time and patience if people want to pick thru them, opening, pulling frames and rejecting. Queens get rolled and bees crushed by inexperienced handling.

    Personally I consider a 10 frame box of bees a single story hive, not a nuc. A 5 frame nuc in a ten frame box is not a nucleus colony, unless there is a 5 frame nuc w/ 5 frames of foundation with the buyer fully aware of the extra price above the 5 frame nuc on its' own. But that's just me. I don't sell that way. Yet.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Park City Ky
    Posts
    1,837

    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    My price for 5 frame nuc is $125.00. That is a wooden , box jointed deep brood 5 frame nuc chamber, detachable bottom board, migratory cover, all new, all painted white, hole drilled for top feeding, and feeding jar cap with holes, . My nucs contain 2 or 3 frames of brood. Typically, one chocolate for quick build up, and one light colored for queen acceptance, two additional drawn frames covered with bees, one frame of bees with honey. New queen.

    The ten frame equipment is all new, painted white, and has 5 additional frames of foundation, and a new inner cover, and fiberglass telescoping cover. Same bee info as above. For this I get $150.00

    If a customer wants the 5 frame nuc arrangement , I do not throw in 5 extra frames, but they pay less. The nuc costs less than 10 frame equipment, and it does contain a new inner cover, nor does it contain a new fiberglass telescoping cover.

    I send an invoice at the time of order and the invoice states exactly what the customer will receive.

    I really believe there is already somewhat of a standard. Most people have a good idea what a good nuc should be, and what they are receiving. If they are in doubt, they should ask. If I believe the customer is a newbee, I try to make sure they know what they are getting, and what they need to do.

    Not sure I agree with, "a good nuc will draw that extra frame in hours". It would take one fantastic nuc to draw out a deep frame in hours. Days would be more like it, because the nuc is starting all over, they have to get the queen out, and even with a jam packed nuc, the normal duties of a new nuc, will not leave a lot of bees for drawing comb, until the first brood emerges.

    But, in my case that does not come into play, because, I don't call or e-mail the customer until the queen is out, she is laying, and the nuc is ready to go. I call as the nucs are ready and I simply hold on to the nucs until they are ready, then call the next name on the list. Again, keep in mind I am only splitting and selling 100 -125 per year. A small potato in the world of nuc suppliers. Not sure that it would be feazible for big nuc suppliers, or nuc brokers to follow this procedure. But, it has worked for me for several years. I am very near Kelly Bee Company, and newbees find out about them before they find out about me. As soon as Kelly sells out of Packages, and Nucs for the year, they often recommend me, and people then call me. I am normally sold out by 1 June.

    cchoganjr
    ,

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Park City Ky
    Posts
    1,837

    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    sqkcrk...You are right, there is a big difference in the small nuc supplier, and the large nuc suppliers and brokers. It would not be feasible to have people going through 1500 nucs and picking out the one they want. YOu would have thousands of angry bees in the yard, queens would be rolled, bees killed, honey dripping, etc. After a few years, large and small, will establish a reputation, and this will guide most buyers. Buyers should do some research, and if they are concerned, ask for references.

    I sell most of mine as 5 frame nucs, in ten frame equipment, and it does include the extra five frames of foundation, a new inner cover, and a new fiberglass telescoping cover, and it costs $25.00 more.

    cchoganjr

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Danbury, CT
    Posts
    2,887

    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cleo C. Hogan Jr View Post
    Not sure I agree with, "a good nuc will draw that extra frame in hours".
    I have had to pull a frame from nucs that got too strong and replace it with an empty frame... With a good flow on or syrup I have seen many that would have that frame drawn the next day.

    I think I may do things differently than you. I make up my nucs about 6 weeks before they are sold. Some times I have to add a second box to them for extra space before I sell them. At the time of sale I remove the second box, add a new queen and make another nuc.

    Quantity wise I am far below what you are producing. I only do a couple dozen per year and only as a convenience. I get package customers who want to do a nuc and package side by side... this is primarily who I sell nucs to.

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Park City Ky
    Posts
    1,837

    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    bluegrass... I think we probably do them a lot alike, except I use and sell mostly 10 frame equipment. April in Kentucky is not a great honey flow month, (this year is the exception) Since mine are in 10 frame equipment, I don't have to worry about swarming from overcrowding. I make mine up about 4 - 6 weeks before I call for pickup. The first split is made from overwintered brood stock, and new queen added. Those five or 6 frames grow to 9-10 frames, with the new queen, then I remove three or 4 frames from them, put a new queen with the 3-4, and then the original 5- 6 is ready to go. By this time, the new queen is in high gear, and with one or two chocolate brood, one light color, and three frames of bees, the customer gets a good 5 frame nuc in 10 frame equipment. By this time I can see how good (or not) the new queen is.

    It takes a little longer on the second split for the 3 - 4 frames to build to 9-10 frames and split again. Usually get about 3 splits by early to mid June, and by that time I have my 100 -125 and I am done for the year. Original overwintered brood stock will produce some honey, but, honey is a by-product of selling bees.

    cchoganjr

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Stilwell, KS
    Posts
    1,817

    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    Wow guys! This is the most informative thread that I have ever read about nuc production and purchasing. Everything is covered from small outfits to people that produce hundreds or thousands of nucs, and everthing in between. Views from both buyers and sellers.

    Keep the info coming. How do we get this nominated as a sticky thread?
    Honey Badger Don't Care ಠ_ಠ ~=[,,_,,]:3

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,364

    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    When I sell nucs it is never with the promise of what they will be, only with the definition of when and how they will be made up. If it is a small number I will confirm that there is a laying queen. With larger orders (say 50+) I tell them that in addition to the make up info that I will check them back and rebuild as needed with no guarantee that the rebuild has a laying queen. I consider feed costs mine only up to the delivery date. To promise a certain size is pure guess work as to what the conditions will be. It really all boils down to the integrity of the seller.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Rogersville, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    68

    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    I think the big issue with these nucs that Maddox is talking about is they were considerably sub standard. We both belong to the same beekeeping association and have dealt with quesitons and comments from many frustrated new beekeepers. After reading everyones comments, I dont feel two frames of brood, some with a caged queen, some with released queen, some with dead or dying queen and three frames of foundation, these could be considerd a five frame nuc by anyone's "standard".

    I agree that writing a standard may be difficult for some suppliers to swallow, but I offer that any supplier worth their salt should already have their own. It clearly sounds like most do and based on the responses here, I would say that it is pretty clear that 3 frames of foundation would not even come close.

    What it looks like so far (and we are still surveying our members to determine) is that either this individual or his supplier may have spread himself too thin and supplied what could possibly have been decent nucs, but in an attempt to cover all the orders created marginal nucs and tried to pass them off as standard. Another big issue with this delivery is that there seems to be a large gap in communicaiton before, as well as after the sale. I think that communicaiton about what the supplier intends to sell as a nuc (and then making good on that promise) is crucial to having a satisfied customer. Case in point, last year I bought a "nuc" of MHs from an individual. Based on my quesitons and also his candidness in telling me what he was providing, I knew going in that I was basically buying a package of bees that had been released into a nuc box ten days prior. Not exactly what I would call a nuc, howerver, I was OK with it because I knew waht I was getting and I wanted it for several reasons other than it being a "true nuc" Having said that, it was by far the best hive I had at the end of the summer and overwinterd incredibly well. I was actually able to split it on March 5th (probalby could have split it a week sooner). Now we did have a mild winter, but even with that most people were not splitting until late March here in SW Missouri.

    Cleo makes some excellent points and again seems to hover around good and also timely communicaiton and also not delivering the product until it is ready. Sure wish I could come and see you at Kelly's Summer Field Day tomorrow. I know that your insights in swarm harvesting, making splits and hive management would be invaluable to learn! Maybe we can get you to come and speak at one of our clubs meetings sometime in the future.

    In short, I think that communication goes a long way in selling any product especailly with someone new to something. Not, just from a vendor stand point either, as Daniel Y points out, it also requires the purchaser asking the right quesitons and that is also something we intend to address in our beekeeping classes this fall and next spring.

    Jeff
    www.ozarkshoney.com
    www.ozarksbeekeepers.org
    Last edited by Ozarks Honey Company; 06-01-2012 at 04:26 PM.

  11. #31
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    2,958

    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    On the issue of actually writing and setting a standard. I am all for that. I don't agree that what the suppliers think of it necessarily need be part of the issue. Not really any more than a contractor is consulted as to what UBC (Uniform Building Code) will be. It is what they are required to meet not something they agree would be good enough. In the case of nucs no supplier would be required to meet any standard. Btu it would serve to support claims that what was provided does or does not meet the standard. So if I buy a nuc from Joe and it does not meet the standard I have some grounds and support when I call up Joe and tell him I don't think I got what I paid for. The details can then be worked out with both parties having a common description as to what a nuc is. If Joe says he does not care about what any standard says I can then decide if I will remain a customer. But I am not at the mercy of every individual supplier telling me what they think a nuc is.

    Suppliers as a whole may reject any standard as any sort of authority. Which seems to be exactly what they are doing now. Basically it is a nuc because the supplier said it was. and nobody can really say otherwise.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  12. #32
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    27,036

    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    Setting a standard across the nuc selling industry is problematic, in my mind. Nucs are time sensitive. If they don't get sold they may swarm, if they hit a nectar flow.

    So, the stanbdard for a 5 frame nuc should be that which responsible providers provide and what customers are satisfied w/ or not. An educated/experienced consumer is a good thing.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  13. #33
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    York Region, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    47

    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

  14. #34
    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

  15. #35
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    VENTURA, California, USA
    Posts
    3,604

    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    I sell 4 or 5 frame nucs.

    4 or 5 frames of brood with bees covering the frames. If need, additional bees are shook into the nuc. No frames are older than 2-3 years of age.
    The queen is shown to the customer as I transfer the frames into the customers hive body.
    No frame exchange.
    No foundation.
    No honey frames.
    Cash or certified funds upon delivery.
    Ernie
    My websitehttp://bees4u.com/

  16. #36
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Park City Ky
    Posts
    1,837

    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

  17. #37
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Kingsville, OH
    Posts
    959

    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    Some one said Packages are good for beginners, and nucs are a good way for beginners to ripped off. While I agree, I will promote Nucs over packages any day.
    Weather or not we have a Standard, we all should make standards for our selves as to what we expect and what we will accept. I was very pleased on the Nucs I received from Justin Cheesman. Just picking up the Nucs I could feel the weight was good. On further inspection I found brood in many stages. Honey and pollen in all the right places.
    I talk to a lot of people about starting beekeeping and I recommend Nucs.

  18. #38
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Danbury, CT
    Posts
    2,887

    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    A relative of mine bought a few nucs this year off of a very reputable producer and then last minute decided add a forth hive and bought a package from me. The package has far surpassed the nucs and is in two deeps and a medium now... The three nucs do not even have two deeps drawn out yet. These are all in the same apiary in central VT. He picked up the Nucs the week before I delivered the package. While I did not see the nucs when he got them and can't comment on how good they were, given his source I suspect they were high quality.

  19. #39
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Upper Kingsclear, NB, Canada
    Posts
    78

    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    Very interesting thread.

    This is my first year with bees, my reading indicated nucs were a better bet to start with than packages....so I ordered 3.

    Delivery date was a frustration --I was told 'end of May ' when I ordered but it was the third week of June before the call came -and this despite a very early season here. I appreciate some flexibility is needed but I was getting impatient. People kept asking 'have you got your bees yet?' and I would have to keep saying no. Gettting information and details was a general issue. I asked many questions but answers were sometimes vague -what type? Italians -or maybe Carniolans. Will the queens be marked -no. They were.

    You guys S of the border seem to get a better deal than we do around here, where the nuc "standard" appears to be 4 frames. Mine came in rather well-used boxes which had to be returned, with an assortment of frame types, net price was $105 each. So to get a 5-frame nuc in a proper, new painted box to keep for the same price?! Looks like a great deal.

    The frames in my nucs were spaced rather far apart leading to 'comb spread' which has caused some manupulation difficulties. One pair of nucs came in a double box which also created difficulties installing -but I know better next time. I have learned a lot. Each nuc has developed differently, one is lagging, but catching up. I have no other points of reference so can't really say how good they are, although they all had viable queens.

    Rob

  20. #40
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Rutherfordton nc
    Posts
    79

    Default Re: Is there a standard for nucs?

    Out of seven that sell nucs 3 will shaft u one is the cheapest but u get a start for 50 bucks and its a cage queen two frames of brood and 3 of syrup and pollen and the good ones are
    not ready for ten frame box they sell them faster than they can getem. But id rather take the cheap route. Oh and the poor ones get 115 a nuc and the honest ones get 100

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