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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Roseville, CA
    Posts
    109

    Default Nucs versus Packages?

    I know, an age old question and it certainly depends upon the person and the goals of their apiary.

    I am growing my beeyard from 3 to 20 this year and I wanted to get some opinions on one versus the other.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,804

    Default Re: Nucs versus Packages?

    Nucs will have drawn comb, which is a big plus for some that do not have a store of drawn combs to start a package out on.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    2,940

    Default Re: Nucs versus Packages?

    I'd go with a Nuc as well. Established queen, easier to deal with, ready to go.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Warrior, Alabama
    Posts
    1,069

    Default Re: Nucs versus Packages?

    Try to find a supplier who supplies true nucs. That is a nuc with a queen that has been resident with those bees in that nuc.
    If you can find "over-wintered" nucs that is the best.

    Some make up nucs on Monday with some bees and drop a queen in. On Friday they sell it as a nuc. These are rip offs because the queen will be superceded just like most packages.
    Old Guy in Alabama

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sweetwater,TN
    Posts
    28

    Default Re: Nucs versus Packages?

    I agree with nucs are an easier and better way to start because of drawn comb and what should be established, acquainted bees. But if numbers are all you are wanting to increase and you are worried about getting honey this first year you can get more packages for the money. My first couple of years all I did was packages and I didn't have a very high survival rate but that could have been rookie mistakes. One plus of packages over nucs is you are starting fresh on new comb. Most honeybee disease is in the comb and when you buy nucs you are hoping they are disease free but ask questions because you don't want to introduce something bad into your bee yard. Maybe that sounds like I am pro package I'm not I like nucs but just giving you something to think about with fresh wax and clean slate.
    Major

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
    Posts
    2,218

    Default Re: Nucs versus Packages?

    How much do you want to spend? You should be able to expand from 3-20 just by expanding those overwintered hives, taking splits from them and adding queens.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Bozeman, Montana
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Nucs versus Packages?

    Quote Originally Posted by Major View Post
    I agree with nucs are an easier and better way to start because of drawn comb and what should be established, acquainted bees. But if numbers are all you are wanting to increase and you are worried about getting honey this first year you can get more packages for the money. My first couple of years all I did was packages and I didn't have a very high survival rate but that could have been rookie mistakes. One plus of packages over nucs is you are starting fresh on new comb. Most honeybee disease is in the comb and when you buy nucs you are hoping they are disease free but ask questions because you don't want to introduce something bad into your bee yard. Maybe that sounds like I am pro package I'm not I like nucs but just giving you something to think about with fresh wax and clean slate.
    Major
    You also have control over the type and condition of the frames involved.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Bristol,MA,USA
    Posts
    728

    Default Re: Nucs versus Packages?

    In 1962, I was in your situation. I ordered what is probably called Old World Carniolans nowadays, NOT the modern New World Carniolans, the former swarmed more than any other race at the time, very hard to control them. The New World Carniolans no longer have that prodigious swarming tendency. I was able to increase in one summer from 3 hives to 18 just by splitting and their natural swarming tendency. Am suggesting that since there are some queen breeders that seem to be offering lately that old Carniolan stock, (not sure if they still have that "awful" swarming tendency) that you might try them. You can always switch back to the New World Carniolans or some other race when you no longer need the swarms. OMTCW

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Corvallis, OR
    Posts
    223

    Default Re: Nucs versus Packages?

    Nucs are a more "secure" way to start - less chance of absconding, supercedure, faster buildup due to presence of brood, etc. That said, large packages hived into drawn comb can expand almost as fast. Nucs seem to have a bit of inertia to overcome - they have adapted to life on five frames, and it takes them a while to realize they have more space and start expanding. Packages, with enough feed, draw comb like gangbusters.

    Packages are also a bit more standardized than nucs. A 3# package will have three pounds of bees. A five-frame nuc will have five frames, but might be jammed with bees or have only enough to cover two frames.

    My choice would be to use packages to repopulate deadouts (or any hive with drawn comb) and nucs/splits to establish new hives on foundation.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    proctorsville, vermont
    Posts
    152

    Default Re: Nucs versus Packages?

    GOOD LORD there you have it. almost 50 ways to have bees. and we are just getting started.
    thats the way i roll.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Danbury, CT
    Posts
    2,887

    Default Re: Nucs versus Packages?

    17 Packages $1615.00
    17 Nucs $ 2210.00

    $600.00 difference to end up with the exact same thing....enough said.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Farmington, NM
    Posts
    736

    Default Re: Nucs versus Packages?

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrass View Post
    17 Packages $1615.00
    17 Nucs $ 2210.00

    $600.00 difference to end up with the exact same thing....enough said.
    Plant Hardiness Zone 6B, 5300 ft., Bee Zone A/B, Proverbs 24:13
    https://www.facebook.com/mobileprotection#!/2RBeeFarm

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Hartford, CT
    Posts
    607

    Default Re: Nucs versus Packages?

    Actually 1 5 frame nuc can be split into 2 hives so you would only need 10 nucs to make 20 new hives. Also I WOULDN'T by all the nucs from the same yard. Better to get a mix of genetics up in there.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: Nucs versus Packages?

    I started beekeeping with both a package and then a nuc last year. I experienced some pros and cons with both.

    The first package came with most of the bees drowned from too big holes in the syrup can. The seller didn't give me any problem and replaced the package but it meant I got a very late start (which really mattered last year with an early spring and then summer drought). The queen that came with the package was not much of a layer and by time I replaced her it might have been too late. The bees went into winter with a fairly small cluster and I am not sure they will make it (I already ordered a replacement package just in case).

    The nuc I purchased for pickup in late summer and while they are great bees, it came with SHB and wax worms. The bees and I fought those but because of the SHB I had a hard time giving them pollen supplement (which they were low on and needed to raise brood) and they too went into winter with a small cluster. I am not sure this hive will make it through winter either but they seem to be doing well so far. Better than the package, but these bees were supposed to have great genetics so I am hoping they show it and survive.

    This year, to avoid having the same issues with the package I found a producer in my state and will drive to pick up the bees.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    collbran, co
    Posts
    546

    Default Re: Nucs versus Packages?

    i always order packages if there not biting the cage or stinging which i never seen i let her out so she can lay as soon as possible.the times i let the bees release her they supersede her.i figure they think shes not a good egg layer caged too long..my two cents..

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Danbury, CT
    Posts
    2,887

    Default Re: Nucs versus Packages?

    Kelley may not give the deposit back, but their supplier probably would if they were willing to store them and give them back to them. The deposit is only 1.50 this year so for somebody who only buys a few packages it probably isn't worth returning them, but some of my larger customers return them and I take them back. The deposit is worked into the price so most people don't know it is there.

    If a customer contacts me within two weeks of getting a package and need a replacement queen I send them one. All the package producers I have worked with have sent extras with the load in case of failed queens. Except in 2010 because they didn't have extra's available. Last year I had nearly 30 queens left over...

    Yes you can get mites with a package, but there isn't extra brood for a second generation of mites in with the package Also there was a study in 97 I think about foul brood in Nucs... They were comparing why it wasn't a problem with package bees and their results indicated that the shaken out bees did not have enough spores in them to infect a newly established hive, where the brood from a nuc did.. I will try and find that source.

    Cleo: Wish I had the opportunity to meet you while I was still in KY... Looks like I moved out about the time you joined the forum... Your reputation had preceded you though
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Park City Ky
    Posts
    1,911

    Default Re: Nucs versus Packages?

    Bluegrass...Yes, I know about the reduction of mites in packages. And that is a plus for a package. AFB is also an increased possibility with the nucs, and reduced with packages. Guess the new beekeeper just needs to weigh their options and then decide which will work best for them.

    I can see why the small beekeeper would not fool with the deposit,($1.50). But, if you were buying 500 packages that would be $750.00, and that is significant. I learn something every day. I didn't know there was a deposit on packages. I am just a very small peanut in the world of bees and Nucs.

    Colleen O ..... Small hive beetles are certainly a problem with Nucs, and to a lesser degree packages, (but, it is there also), only good management practices will take care of this problem. As for Wax worms, that is an indication that the nuc was not strong. You will not get wax worms unless your nuc/hive is weak. This would not be your fault, as the producer should not be splitting a hive that is weak enough to have a wax worm problem. You won't get wax worms with strong nucs or strong hives. It is amazing how many problems can be traced to weak hives. Keep your nucs/hives strong, don't give them excessive wax that they cannot guard.

    As for supercedure.... Every year I get numerous calls from all over the country, about people seeing queen cells in nucs they have purchased. This is totally natural. If a nuc is made up in Georgia and a new queen placed in the nuc in a cage, then trucked to Illinois, the bees realize very quickly that they do not have a queen that is laying for them and they take matters into their own hands, and start queen cells to insure their survivability. They only have a limited number of days to do this until there are no viable eggs left to make a queen. If the new queen gets out of the cage and starts laying, the bees will take care of those queen cells before they emerge. Ideal situation is to have the queen laying before they are delivered to the customers.

    I think I joined the Forum in 2010. I retired from the Army in 1978 and I said I did not want anything to do with computers, but, in 1995 I realized that I should stay up with the World. I had not heard of the Forum until Kelly asked me to answer some questions for them. Glad I found it. Barry does a great job on this site. There are a World of GREAT people on this site.

    I learn something new, virtually every day. I learn something, even if a post is not totally accurate or filled with bias. As they say in Intelligence Gathering, "A lie, when you know it is a lie, is often just as valuable as the truth". (Don't know who made that comment).

    If you, or anyone else are ever in Kentucky, around Exit 48 on Ky. I-65, Mammoth Cave Kentucky, you are welcome to contact me and I will be happy to show you my little operation, talk about bees.

    Everybody, Have a great day.

    cchoganjr
    Last edited by Cleo C. Hogan Jr; 01-10-2013 at 08:30 AM. Reason: additional Info.

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

    Default Re: Nucs versus Packages?

    Cleo: Just out of curiosity what is your price difference between a nuc where you transfer into the customer's box and one where they get the nuc box.

    Last year my nucs were 125.00 plus 20.00 for the box if they needed it. I only had one person take my boxes and pay the deposit on them, he has not returned them. Everybody else did a transfer like you mentioned above for the 125.00 price.

    Thanks for the invitation, if I ever get back down that way I will contact you.

    No need to be good at math really.
    A deep sheet of foundation is mechanically printed with a consistent cell size, so you just count the cells in a square inch (24) and multiply by the size of the sheet. A sheet is 16 3/4x8 so 134 sq inches per sheet. That gives you about 3300 which you multiply by 2 to account for both sides of a comb.

    The weight of the average worker bee you can just ask your smart phone or google and I get an answer of 90 mg. So convert mg to grams and you get 11 bees per gram and grams to lbs to get 5044 bees per lb. So one deep frame of brood will hatch out about a lb of bees... Of course that does not take the honey along the edges into account.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    9,858

    Default Re: Nucs versus Packages?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colleen O. View Post
    I had a hard time giving them pollen supplement (which they were low on and needed to raise brood) and they too went into winter with a small cluster.
    I am wondering why they needed pollen if it was an established nuc. Is pollen a problem in your area at the time you got the nuc?
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: Nucs versus Packages?

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    I am wondering why they needed pollen if it was an established nuc. Is pollen a problem in your area at the time you got the nuc?
    It was this past year with the major drought we had. The nuc had at least half a frame of pollen when I got it but there wasn't much new pollen coming in and they used it all. Every time I tried to give them supplement SHB would get into it and I had to remove it.

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