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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Litchfield county, CT USA
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    27

    Default feasability of selling nucs

    Not sure if this should go here or the commercial forum so here goes. I currently have 7 hives and am working to grow to 20-25 production hives over the next couple of years. I am treatment free and working to convert to small cell and foundationless mix in all mediums. My question is what are your opinions on the idea for a sideline business?

    I would like to sell my honey and produce 20-40 overwintered nucs with locally raised queens from my stock annually (a combination of Russian Carniolan and whatever drones are also in the area). These would be northern local bees and have survived at least one winter. The nucs would be available either in a standard wooden nuc box or as a single deep with 5 empty frames added. Do you think there is sufficient demand for non-treated nucs in CT/New England area to make a small profit off of this. I also make my own wooden ware and have a very cheap source of wood so equipment is not a large expense for me.

    The plan is to start nuc sales in about 4-5 years. This would let me concentrate on my process, honey production and getting solid established stock prior to starting sales.

    Thanks for any feedback
    Mat

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,644

    Default Re: feasability of selling nucs

    Plenty of market for that, you would have no problem selling all you can overwinter. Keep in mind its not as easy as it sounds, so don't take orders until you know what made it. selling out of nucs is easy. just don't run down the other sources of bees in order to promote your nucs.....

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    975

    Default Re: feasability of selling nucs

    Mat - As the "pure" Russians have unique characteristics, there is high demand for them. I'd get that line going as well, if I were a northern beekeeper. Same goes for any of the Baton Rouge USDA Lab VSH / SMR bees that have overwintered up north - the pure strain has a lot of value as they tolerate mites better than most.

    Yes, the nucs will sell. You might wish to build your apiary up a few more hives than 25, though. I find 50 is not enough to select from.

    I'd also consider sending some queens & drones out for I.I. and charge for the extra cost! Now that Glenn Apiaries has retired, there will be demand for them, and the price is good. Best of luck to you!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Millbury, MA, USA
    Posts
    1,852

    Default Re: feasability of selling nucs

    i have no problem selling overwintered nucs. I'm not that far from you. I could have sold 100 this year I believe if I'd had them. there is a strong demand for nucs and some will pay a premium for overwintered ones.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Litchfield county, CT USA
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: feasability of selling nucs

    All, thanks for the input, I totally agree about not running other sources down. This is just something I have been thinking about and was hoping there was a demand out there. We are working to set up a side business that I can convert to full time after I retire from the military in a few years. We also do maple syrup, soap and are looking into Alpacas for fiber. I really enjoy working the bees and their slow times allows me to focus on a couple possible income sources such as the maple syrup in the winter months.

    Kilocharlie, I am interested in sending out drones and queens, I had never heard of that before. I would like to run more hives and will after I retire but as of now the full time job limits my time. I may increase as i go, it will just depend on how well i can manage everything.

    Cam, I have moved to eastern CT but still not far, i am glad to hear that this might not be a hair brained idea.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    975

    Default Re: feasability of selling nucs

    If you read Harry H. Laidlaw's book, Contemporary Queen Rearing, there are photos and discussion of shipping cages for 3 queens and 50+ drones and attendant workers and queen candy. The cages are basically a block of wood with 3 three-hole queen cavities and a "40-hole drone cage" with a ventilated, sliding top. I include this sliding top feature in my 5-hole queen hatching cages so they can double as shipping cages. I made a few large 8" x 11" x 7/8" drone shipping cages as well.

    Dr. Susan Cobey offers honeybee insemination, as does Dr. Joe Latshaw, and some of the universities.

    The big trick is to get it all done as rapidly as possible - you don't want virgin queens sitting in cages too long! Get Laidlaw's book, make your cages up ahead of time, contact your I.I. lab person, ship the bees RUSH!, and have your nucs ready upon getting them back. Anything less renders disappointing results. Do it right, they will be your best queens you've had, and offer you progress toward a genetic goal every year.

    Expect things to go wrong the first time or two - chalk it up to learning curve. After you get everything dialed in, shipping queens and drones for I.I. will become routine and valuable. Always get some for yourself, not just for your customers (=have bees, hives and nucs ready). Also read Dr. Cobey's website www.honewybeeinsemination.com

    Best of luck.
    Last edited by kilocharlie; 06-22-2013 at 03:45 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    4,168

    Default Re: feasability of selling nucs

    We also overwinter several nucs & don't have any trouble selling them localy come April.
    Dan

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Liberty, Indiana, USA
    Posts
    167

    Default Re: feasability of selling nucs

    Camero7: how do you price your nucs of treatment free bees? I sold some this spring, but think I was selling them too cheap at $140. By treatment free I mean NO TREATMENTS FOR ANYTHING AND NO FEEDING EITHER.

    Any input would be appreciated.

    Jason Bruns
    Jason Bruns
    LetMBee.com YouTube

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Millbury, MA, USA
    Posts
    1,852

    Default Re: feasability of selling nucs

    I priced them at $165 this year. However, since I lost around half I am going to treat this fall. I also put fondant on them in the winter. Price will be the same next year.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Liberty, Indiana, USA
    Posts
    167

    Default Re: feasability of selling nucs

    Camero7

    4 or 5 frame nucs...?
    Jason Bruns
    LetMBee.com YouTube

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Millbury, MA, USA
    Posts
    1,852

    Default Re: feasability of selling nucs

    5 frame deeps

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    975

    Default Re: feasability of selling nucs

    After this last winter, 5-frame deeps (4 frames of bees + decent laying pattern on 3 frames in spring) should go for about $175 to $200. Queens will be going up, too, they should be hard to find under $20.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,956

    Default Re: feasability of selling nucs

    Keep in mind too that selling nucs particularly to new beekeepers involves providing post sale support. And while new beekeepers love the idea of treatment free they are not going to necessarily be prepared to deal with issues that are routine to long time TF beekeepers - particularly if the nuc doesn't thrive under the newbee's care.

    I know of at least one provider who will not sell over wintered nucs to new beekeepers because of swarming issues and the need to make sure the brood nest does not become honey bound and/or otherwise congested. I am not saying that you shouldn't sell over wintered nucs to new beekeepers, but instead be prepared for the types of questions and scenarios that go with the territory. Plan to be one of the good providers, building a customer base of satisfied consumers.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Millbury, MA, USA
    Posts
    1,852

    Default Re: feasability of selling nucs

    Queens will be going up, too, they should be hard to find under $20.
    Good ones already are, even in moderate quantity.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

    Default Re: feasability of selling nucs

    This year's price was $125 here at Parker Farms for a 5-frame deep nuc. Same price for a medium, though all the medium orders were cancelled. $35 for a queen. Next year's price will be $150 and 40 respectively. These are for treatment-free bees with a ten year pedigree.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    975

    Default Re: feasability of selling nucs

    Quote Originally Posted by camero7 View Post
    Good ones already are, even in moderate quantity.
    The cheapest ones are going for about $20 around here - I don't expect to get them for less than $30 next year. Yes "good" queens go for $50 and up already...I.I queens with recessive traits such as hygenic and mite mauling behavior go for well upwards of $350. Might as well buy the whole colony with her and get a decent split, along with the lowered chance of rejection, swarming, etc.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Litchfield county, CT USA
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: feasability of selling nucs

    I am also very interested in the prices I was thinking lower as I just starting but I think it might be better to stay in the average price range and not under sell myself or labor.

    Andrew, I like the idea of providing follow up support, one of my daughters is going to college to study film making and we were kicking around making some short bee videos. Might think about providing some printed material and a DVD down the road to help newbies get started with treatment free. Maybe a link to Michael Bush's web site with the Nuc??

    I think this is a good idea and helps with long term sustainability for small scale bee keepers in New England. Now I need to get my bee yard built up and get things rolling.

    Thanks everyone for the feedback, I really appreciate the help.

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