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  1. #1
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    Default Packages vs Nucs vs Prime Swarms

    I'm working my way through Beekeeping with a Smile and was curious if what I was reading was consistent with general TF beekeeping for increasing apiary size and/or making up losses. What I'm reading is:

    bees (with apologies to Orwell) - local bees good, imported bees bad

    packages:
    Pro: predictable availability
    available fairly early in the spring
    less to worry about in terms of disease

    Cons: quality of queen unknown
    made up of potentially unrelated bees of varying ages
    population will decline for three plus weeks before stabilizing and building

    nucs:
    Pro: predictable availability
    can be made up from your own apiary

    Depending on how the nuc is made up (over wintered vs spring split):
    population can represent what a colony needs
    quality of queen laying can be determined
    all bees in nuc potentially related

    Cons: some nucs are essentially packages installed on drawn comb
    potential unknown chemical contamination of comb
    may not have bees of all ages ready to perform all jobs
    may have comb related brood and other diseases

    Prime swarm from own apiary:
    Pro: population of swarm determined by the bees - what is needed for starting a new colony
    queen is known and presumably proven
    cost

    Cons: parent colony population reduced - may not produce surplus honey
    time consuming to watch for swarms and to catch them
    issued swarms may not be captured

    Some of what the author talks about doesn't translate well to my environment - for one thing I am not aware of a population of "local" bees. Swarming behavior is something beekeepers are generally taught to avoid (prevent if possible!), and some of the qualities sought from the prime swarm from your own apiary are met by an overwintered nuc from your own yards. Swarms that are not captured are reported to have low survival rates in the wild.

    Where I'm going with this is I want to hear from others - experiences, thoughts, potential strategies...

    I'm also starting to think about the notion that a good healthy honey bee colony does not necessarily have a huge population for gathering surplus honey - there are more consequences to that thought than even I want to think about...

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Packages vs Nucs vs Prime Swarms

    I started out beekeeping by catching swarms. For years it was the only bees I had. I had over 30 hives and never bought a single bee. I now buy a few queens a year just to try them out but I have not yet found treatment free bees better than the local swarms I catch.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Packages vs Nucs vs Prime Swarms

    I'm afraid I got a couple of those nucs that were really packages. The instructions involved letting the queen "mature" for 72 hours before transferring the nuc to its hive.

    Only one built up enough that I thought it had a chance of wintering successfully in northern NY. The other one I had to bring back to Florida to overwinter.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Packages vs Nucs vs Prime Swarms

    I have had bad experience with packages, so i wont even go there.
    Nuc's... buying a nuc outright.. you should buy from someone KNOWN.. Most areas in the US you should be able to find nuc's available that match your locality as far as winters and temps are concerned.
    I have purchased soutehern queens.. had them build up into BOOMING hives that produced a surplus of honey in their first year, been VERY happy with them, only to have them starve to death inches from reserves, while the local hives I had survived without issue..
    It IS my belief that LOCAL bees are more in TUNE with your weather.. texas, Georgia, Southern Cal bees can have no way to understand that the winter they are about to experience will blow anything their genetics have prepared them for out the window. I believe they were waiting for a break in the temps so they could move to reserves. When that break didnt come they died where they were. You COULD insulate the hives better, perhaps provide heat etc.. in hopes of getting them through the winter, but what have you gained come next winter?

    I love catching swarms and doing cut outs. I have spent considerable time finding feral hives in trees, old barns etc and place my swarm boxes in the area. I put the swarms I catch in their own yard and manage them there, and do NOT treat them. The bees in my home yard.. well, I struggle with them to keep them alive, hoping to find bees that are survivors.
    I lose hives at my feral yard, but, it SEEMS at this point that those losses are less. I will know more in a couple more years.. My goal is to determine which bees survive best. I have queens ordered, and nuc's from known sources ordered for this coming spring to populate (repopulate) my home yard. I intend to put out three times as many swarm boxes this coming spring to add to my Feral yard.. there is no guarantee that the swarms I catch will all be TRUE feral bees.. only time will tell me if they are superior in survivability...

    Packages... At this point.. I decline ordering packages unless i have a local queen to requeen the package with.. not impressed by southern bees in this climate. A package from a like climate may do fine.

    Nuc's. if from a KNOWN source of local bees seem more adapted to wintering. I have concerns for nuc's, packages and queens from the southern climates.

    Prime swarms from FERAL bees seem supremely adapted to surviving winters.. Mite resistance is yet to be determined. Working on that still....
    Prime swarms ( Or splits) from your own colonies that survived the previous winter and bred with local drones.. I also find acceptable at least as far as wintering ability.

    As far as I know, there are no locations that have NO population of local bees..
    Perhaps there are areas with very low populations... i see claims often that there are no more feral bees, that they all died.. I personally know of several colonies that are still surviving. One in particular that has inhabited the same hollow tree since before I was born, since before my step grandfather went to serve in WW2.. Did they die and another swarm inhabit the tree??? POSSIBLE!!!! The fact remains, that I KNOW the tree has contained Bees every spring since I tried CLIMBING that tree as a boy.. I remember my grandfather telling me of when HE found that hive... I work hard to catch the swarms from that tree.. I pay attention to bee trees and bees in old barns and houses.. I LOOK and inspect them in the fall, and go back in the spring to see if they survived, and if they did, I put swarm boxes in the area, because the bees I do catch generally survive better, and winter better than anything I can buy.
    i am sure they are mutts, beyond sure, but I really dont care if they winter well. it remains to be seen if they die every three years and are replaced.. working on that as well..
    What defines a feral bee?? To me.. it means they swarmed, chose a new home, and have been caring for themselves for at LEAST a single winter, and survived it.. Three winters are preferable for me to call them TRUE Feral bees... bees are like Americans.. we came from EVERYWHERE, and thats what makes us strong!
    www.brokencrayoncrafts.com 6 yrs aiding 40+ hives 2 yrs personal. 17 hives (T, TF Goal) Zone 5a

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Packages vs Nucs vs Prime Swarms

    I know a commercial beek who installs two pound packages on a brood nest completely stocked with frames of pollen and honey in April. They are ready to produce a good crop by the main flow starting in June and sells them as shaker bees in October. I know many beekeepers who produce a great crop getting nucs that are five frames of brood and a caged queen in mid April from bees coming off the Almonds. No feral population here and swarms mostly come from a hobby beekeepers yards so no huge genetic upside generally.

    I have seen people fail to end up with a hive to produce a crop or take into winter from any of the above. I have seen people produce great crops off all three. In the final analysis--it is all up to you! The learning curve is steep. Just figure out what you need to do. Just bear in mind that foundationless, Top Bar Hives, and Warre hives are more time consuming and difficult than langstroth beekeeping; while you decide how you want to proceed. Your best bet is to find the old man or lady in your zip code who has kept bee successfully for years and slavishly follow his advice. When you have figured out what a full frame of honey and a solid frame of brood look like and you know which end of the bee stings, it will be time to get fancy.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Packages vs Nucs vs Prime Swarms

    SS1... interesting thoughts, but your dismissal of packages is based on a strange thought pattern. Southern Bees can't handle the north?? bees have been breed and in the south and raised in Canada successfully for 40 years. The reality is the queen is in a climate controlled box. and all the workers are dead by fall anyway. You may be confusing genetic traits with location. such as Italians having lots of bees and starving out early.

    Thats not a package fault.


    But back to the OP... I have been keeping lots of records for the last 2 years. Mainly dealing with honey production and survivial. Comparing Packages to Nucs to swarms. One thing I do different than most who claim packages are evil. I don't start them on nothing. A new package on undrawn frames will always be slowed down, just a swarm put on undrawn frames.

    But back to the point. so far in the last 2 (really crappy) seasons. Packages on averge have out produced Nucs and overwintered hives by about 25%. AS to survivibility, not ready to comment until this winter is over.
    Nucs when gotten in a 5 frame configuration, are not in a "Boom" mode. growth is more slow and steady. Packages seem to be in the need to explode mode.... They do replace queens more often than nucs, but it seems like its less than swarms.

    I don't have a lot of info on swarms as I try not to have any, and don't mess with enough to be statistical. My package vs nuvs, vs overwinter groups have at least 30 hives in all 3 groups.

    Keep in mind I am in no way against nucs. but so far the value is not there for me. Still trying to get better at overwintering so I haven't given up on them.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Packages vs Nucs vs Prime Swarms

    Vance.. I honestly believe that ONCE STARTED foundation-less is WAY WAY less work.. getting them started right CAN be a pain at times, but once they are, and you have drawn comb, it simplifies everything.. providing of course you use mediums Like I do.. wiring deeps wouldnt be fun. Getting them started right is a couple weeks of fussing.. after that you have years of no fussing, at least with that hive. cut out the wax on three or four frames and drop the frames back in, and they draw new foundation slicker than cow poo on a polished concrete floor..

    Yes GMCharlie.. as i posted, if you want to take the pains to LEARN how to winter those genetics up where its COLD in the winter.. I doubt highly that you could take bees from texas to canada, and winter them exactly the same as you do local Canadian bees.
    I am not the only one around here who feels that way.

    GMc says;
    You may be confusing genetic traits with location. such as Italians having lots of bees and starving out early.

    Thats not a package fault.

    Sure it is! If they cant break cluster to move two inches, while all the other bees in your Apiary do, what would you blame it on? Me not taking a heater out to them so they could be warm enough to break cluster and reach reserves?

    Having said that.. it IS opinion from my own observations, experiences and questions.. being WRONG is the best way to learn some things.. makes it harder to forget
    Last edited by SS1; 11-24-2013 at 07:08 PM.
    www.brokencrayoncrafts.com 6 yrs aiding 40+ hives 2 yrs personal. 17 hives (T, TF Goal) Zone 5a

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Packages vs Nucs vs Prime Swarms

    Vance.. I honestly believe that ONCE STARTED foundation-less is WAY WAY less work.. getting them started right CAN be a pain at times, but once they are, and you have drawn comb, it simplifies everything.. providing of course you use mediums Like I do.. wiring deeps wouldnt be fun. Getting them started right is a couple weeks of fussing.. after that you have years of no fussing, at least with that hive. cut out the wax on three or four frames and drop the frames back in, and they draw new foundation slicker than cow poo on a polished concrete floor..
    LIKE I SAID After you have a clue go for it. But how many hopeless tangles result from beginners immediately going foundationless. I stand by what I said.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Packages vs Nucs vs Prime Swarms

    Quote Originally Posted by Vance G View Post
    Vance.. I honestly believe that ONCE STARTED foundation-less is WAY WAY less work.. getting them started right CAN be a pain at times, but once they are, and you have drawn comb, it simplifies everything.. providing of course you use mediums Like I do.. wiring deeps wouldnt be fun. Getting them started right is a couple weeks of fussing.. after that you have years of no fussing, at least with that hive. cut out the wax on three or four frames and drop the frames back in, and they draw new foundation slicker than cow poo on a polished concrete floor..

    LIKE I SAID After you have a clue go for it. But how many hopeless tangles result from beginners immediately going foundationless. I stand by what I said.

    Not sure.. I had a few, but no more messes than I did with wood frames and plastic foundation.. and they were quite a LOT easier to fix than scraping the plastic.

    After I have a clue? What did I do to deserve that?

    720 foundation less frames in use, 1600 made, another 500 to build. 12 hives STARTED on foundation-less, five being converted as I convert the deeps to mediums. I know thats not a lot, but I dont think its quite clueless.
    Thanks Vance.
    www.brokencrayoncrafts.com 6 yrs aiding 40+ hives 2 yrs personal. 17 hives (T, TF Goal) Zone 5a

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Packages vs Nucs vs Prime Swarms

    HEY rewind! I was talking about people starting out in ways that require an advanced skill set which I believe TBH, Warre, and foundationless to be! I humbly ask you pardon as I absolutely meant nuthin personal to no one! Just said clumsily that new beeks should learn the trade before complicating their lives. That is my opinion only. I am not throwing stones. Good grief now I feel bad.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Packages vs Nucs vs Prime Swarms

    Quote Originally Posted by SS1 View Post
    Not sure.. I had a few, but no more messes than I did with wood frames and plastic foundation.. and they were quite a LOT easier to fix than scraping the plastic.

    After I have a clue? What did I do to deserve that?

    720 foundation less frames in use, 1600 made, another 500 to build. 12 hives STARTED on foundation-less, five being converted as I convert the deeps to mediums. I know thats not a lot, but I dont think its quite clueless.
    Thanks Vance.
    That makes sense now that I re read it in that context. Thanks for clearing it up. its hard to judge tone when reading. Need to remember my own advice to my wife...

    If I say something to you that could be taken more than one way.. and one of those ways hurts your feelings.. I meant it the OTHER way! (EDIT; "USUALLY")
    www.brokencrayoncrafts.com 6 yrs aiding 40+ hives 2 yrs personal. 17 hives (T, TF Goal) Zone 5a

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Packages vs Nucs vs Prime Swarms

    Funny, but I never thought that foundation less or TBH required an advanced skill set. I still don't. I would be more inclined to think that the simplest form of beekeeping would be based on never using foundation.
    DarJones - 44 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Packages vs Nucs vs Prime Swarms

    Quote Originally Posted by Fusion_power View Post
    Funny, but I never thought that foundation less or TBH required an advanced skill set. I still don't. I would be more inclined to think that the simplest form of beekeeping would be based on never using foundation.
    I honestly wish i had started that way.. but it is sort of hard for me to judge.. I helped my mentor when i was young, and I helped him for several years after I moved back before I had to start my own hives.. so.. I am technically a noob, with skills???

    I can imagine opening a hive filled with cross comb in foundation less, knowing nothing, and making a worse mess of it, so its a point I find hard to argue... On the other hand, I have had bees do it on foundation (plastic) and had to scrape it, clean it, and put it back in, (There is NO straightening buggered comb on plastic.) and that was a bit of a mess, as opposed to cutting out the bad comb with my pocket knife and dropping the empty frame back in.. or straightening it and dropping it back in. Two sides to every coin.
    I believe that a lot depends on determination and book learning..

    If you read a lot how to make something work, its easier to see where you screwed up when you attempted it yourself :P
    www.brokencrayoncrafts.com 6 yrs aiding 40+ hives 2 yrs personal. 17 hives (T, TF Goal) Zone 5a

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Packages vs Nucs vs Prime Swarms

    SS1.... your certainly entitled to that thought. Do you have any Data collection to back it up?? I have been working on that for (data that is) for a total of 5 years now. I keep spreadsheets every year. And from that is shows pretty clearly that the orgin of the bees does not matter.

    What does matter is beekeeper skills, and weather. It happens a lot that 1 Beeks get better with time, and then attribute it to bees. IE they buy a package or two and have issues and then buy a nuc and by that time they are 3 years in, and the nuc does better. usually because they now have comb and don't make the same mistakes.
    2 weather. if a beek buys a package and then runs into a really bad year, they die. then the next year they do something else and have a mild winter. and wa-la.. its the bees are so much better.....when its actually not true

    Now the reason I have been collecting data and discussing the point is simple. The successful large scale beeks use methods that are different, so i have been trying to decide with real facts, what works best in my area. Some guys are useing one method over the other, Most are useing packages, or almond splits which are basicly packages.

    The fact that your Package bees didn't break cluster or find the food, has nothing to do with where they came from. were that the case, the world of beekeeping would be totally different. statistical differences cannot be made with one hive...an issue most beekeepers fail to grasp.

    Whats is the downside, is that some people want to run one method or the other down, why?? in the end its all good. how you start your hive is a personal choice, and its all good. we should as a group be encouraging and relating real facts, not a bunch of noise based on opinions.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Packages vs Nucs vs Prime Swarms

    Quote Originally Posted by gmcharlie View Post
    SS1.... your certainly entitled to that thought. Do you have any Data collection to back it up?? I have been working on that for (data that is) for a total of 5 years now. I keep spreadsheets every year. And from that is shows pretty clearly that the orgin of the bees does not matter.
    My experiences started 8 years ago.. with my mentors opinions.. Yes, his thoughts, ideas and methods.. unscientific, I know. I dont claim scientific methods.. What i can claim, is OPINION, based on a lifetime of beekeeping before he passed away.. Personal experience to back it up of a whopping 6 colonies lost. four one winter, two the next.

    4 Packages, and 2 Queens.. Side by side with local bees of different sources, some cultivated, some feral. All wintered exactly the same. Two different winters..

    Nowhere near scientific.

    Packages built up fantastic, produced honey. Southern queen splits built up fantastic.. not a lot of extra honey, but full brood chambers.
    Beside them the local colonies are also building up.. two of those colonies are already established from local bees...
    Last checked end of November without opening hives.. just check to see if alive.. No day over 50.. no day over 40 until early March... 4 months pass...
    Packages deadouts Bees stuck head first in the combs in a large cluster. An empty ring around them, and honey outside that ring. Honey above them. Southern queens the following year.. exactly the same. Feral and local colonies ALL survived, every one of them. Some were into the sugar on top, some had not touched it, but all survived..

    Quote Originally Posted by gmcharlie View Post
    What does matter is beekeeper skills, and weather. It happens a lot that 1 Beeks get better with time, and then attribute it to bees. IE they buy a package or two and have issues and then buy a nuc and by that time they are 3 years in, and the nuc does better. usually because they now have comb and don't make the same mistakes.
    2 weather. if a beek buys a package and then runs into a really bad year, they die. then the next year they do something else and have a mild winter. and wa-la.. its the bees are so much better.....when its actually not true
    So your saying that because all the rest of my hives did fine is not a factor? If, as you said we were talking about 1 hive, I would completely agree.. In talking with other beeks nearby. I learned that they ALSO had similar experiences.. So I know I am not alone in this thinking..


    Quote Originally Posted by gmcharlie View Post
    Now the reason I have been collecting data and discussing the point is simple. The successful large scale beeks use methods that are different, so i have been trying to decide with real facts, what works best in my area. Some guys are useing one method over the other, Most are useing packages, or almond splits which are basicly packages.

    The fact that your Package bees didn't break cluster or find the food, has nothing to do with where they came from. were that the case, the world of beekeeping would be totally different. statistical differences cannot be made with one hive...an issue most beekeepers fail to grasp.
    OK, lets talk method.. I winter all the hives the same.. I am not sure why you keep referring to statistical differences on one hive? Anyhow.. all hives are wintered the same.. ALL the southern bees died the first winter, BOTH southern hives died the second winter.. My other hives survived.. Northern packages, northern queens, Feral colonies I caught, and cutouts I performed...
    Granted.. 17 hives is not a huge statistical difference in general comparison..

    8 hives one winter, four die.. the four that die were the southern.. 12 hives next winter.. two of them southern queens installed to replace old queens.. Both die, no other losses... Going into this winter with 17, all splits or feral hives/cut outs etc.., will see if it goes any better.

    My METHOD has not changed.. It was how I learned to overwinter, and I KNOW it has worked for 40 plus years... However... Is my METHOD incorrect for the southern bees?
    Well... If those bees were the only choice.. I would probably try to change my method so they survived. TRY to figure out how to help them... but so long as i can get bees that winter well from more northern sources I will probably do that instead, so i dont have to struggle as much, pray as much, or be as sick if they die..

    I have posted my method in a few places.. Is what I do different than what you do GMC? Your in Illinois, temps shouldnt be terribly different.. wind?

    I am always all about learning!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by gmcharlie View Post
    in the end its all good. how you start your hive is a personal choice, and its all good. we should as a group be encouraging and relating real facts, not a bunch of noise based on opinions.
    Reading what I have experienced, and posted... is it noise based solely on opinions? No, it is based on PURE personal experience, which IS FACT to me...
    To me, YOU saying they do just fine IS noise based on opinion, because I cant prove it personally..

    Thats the problem with beekeeping.. I have several sources near me that back up my experiences. They swear never to buy southern bees again. This re enforces my beliefs and findings..
    Where you are, YOU have people near you that SWEAR by those southern bees, and so you do too because they have done well for you... So now what?

    I can only offer the advice I know is right from my experiences. IF.. No one in this area had the same problem, I would probably offer no advice until I knew what "I" did wrong, but that is not the case...

    I have bees that overwintered themselves for two years with no care, and no treatments. No wrap, no insulation on the roof, no insurance sugar on the top bars and no reduced lower entrance... Would they have survived much longer? Its hard to say.. Only a few of those hives that were abandoned still occupied the hives. Would those southern bees have made it? My experience says they would have died in the first weeks of the first winter....

    Previous to being left alone, they were ALL wintered as I wintered my hives, as that was where I learned to winter them.. 40+ hives.. losses were three or four hives a winter, and those losses were not due to starvation.
    All any of us can do is run with what we know.. I have posted only what FACTS have taught me.

    Quote Originally Posted by gmcharlie View Post
    Whats is the downside, is that some people want to run one method or the other down, why??
    I agree one hundred percent! What have you just done?

    Quote Originally Posted by gmcharlie View Post
    in the end its all good. how you start your hive is a personal choice, and its all good. we should as a group be encouraging and relating real facts,
    I agree one hundred percent! I did that, and believe you did as well.


    Quote Originally Posted by gmcharlie View Post
    not a bunch of noise based on opinions.
    This is where we have the problem...
    As I said.. being WRONG is a great way to learn.. I never ever claim MY WAY is the only way.

    I might explain how my experiences differ from yours. How my methods differ, but I would never tell you that what you said or did was Wrong, or, in this case, Opinionated noise. I HAVE reasons for what I believe. I expect if you have different reasons that you would explain them without insult in order to change what I believe.. I respect your experience, even if MY OWN is different. I STAND by what I said!!!! Give me reason to change my mind and I may, but at this point, all I see is the final sentence. It pretty much erases everything else said from my mind.
    AM I jumping the gun? Did I take this wrong? Please explain.
    Last edited by SS1; 11-25-2013 at 10:33 AM. Reason: being nice
    www.brokencrayoncrafts.com 6 yrs aiding 40+ hives 2 yrs personal. 17 hives (T, TF Goal) Zone 5a

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Packages vs Nucs vs Prime Swarms

    SS1, no worries its actually a great discussion. Your comment on all hives are wintered the same is not quite right. No matter your methods, some hives are tighter, stacked different or have different wind levels or sun, even hives on the same pallets South exposures do better than northern. ETC not to mention ventilation, mites food stacking etc..... so samples of 1 or 5 is not really helpful.
    Which way the rain hits and how big the cluster is are much larger issues. Where the bees came from shows absolutely no bearing in any of the seasons i have kept records so far. Heck even what the bees foraged on matters more.

    What hugely interesting to me is that a few hobbist and sideliners claim one thing, and yet the pros who run 1000's of hives do it for the most part differently. if one was more cost effect than the other, then you can bet the farm (cause they do) which one is probably more right.

    One of the outfight myths is that southern queens and packages can't hack in in the north. Sounds good at the bee meeting, but doesn't hold up in both serious thought, or real world experience. the queen never again leave the hive. the workers all fade off. Genetics from most of the queens is actually northern in base. I know 3 of the big 5 in GA actually keep hives in MI for queen stock.

    Then the west coast... your realize that around 2 MILLION queens are shipped from HI to Canada every season?? and they do just fine...why are queens not raised in Canada?? too cold to get many queens breed timely.....

    I am all for your local queen population and the way you propigate. but Lots of past and continued testing is showing me so far that the "Local" queen stuff is all hot air.. I wish it weren't I wish local queens did better. so far the only detail thats panning out of local queens is the brood break. Local queens are breed later and have less time first season to develop mite issues. on 40 hives this summer (20/20 split ) I put in "local suvivor" queens and southern queens.... so far not a lick of differences. Mites levels in the fall were virtually identical, honey production and storage was dang close. we shall see what the winter holds for die offs, but last years numbers were a wash, no differences. I do see some differences in Itialians vs carnies for survivbility.

    Pacakges/ nucs/ swarms all work equally well for teh most part. it seems AVALIBILITY and how you start them are a much bigger factor. Do you have comb? can you wait for swarms> is June to late for a nuc?? are either even avalible on your schedule? these seem to be the real issues. Not that your queen vibrates with a southern drawl.......a good queen is a good queen, and a bad one is a bad one....

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Packages vs Nucs vs Prime Swarms

    Thats more like it. I can learn from that... NOW... to be perfectly honest.. I have ordered 5 southern queens again.. different source.. JUST to test it.. I have a lot of growing to do come spring. If I can manage it... I have ten "local" nuc's ordered. I intend to split the hives I put those southern queens in.. (Southern being relative.. They are coming from Tennessee) 50/50 splits. So that all things will be considered equal..
    I agree, every hive is different. The whipping winds hit every one differently. I am going to do my best to insure they each have similar positions, wind breaks etc.. Even that will not take out all the variables, like the local queens I split from will be in their second year, and the new ones will be fresh and young.. but hopefully will give me good basis for comparison. I will also have the local nuc's to compare by, and the hives I will be attempting OTS queens in.(Mel Disselkoen) I cant count on catching Feral swarms or cut outs, but am sure there will be a few of each. I do need to learn to graft, but that will be another year or three away.
    With luck.. i will go into fall with 30ish hives...
    I DO have prior prejudice against southern bees from my mentor, but I do intend to give these bees every chance. I will NOT do anything to them I do not to my local hives...
    Hopefully..,, though STILL not scientific, it will give me better grounds to stand on.. OR, a big hole to fall into..

    A small test of splits, Nuc's (Feral swarms/cut outs) and southern queens, if not Packages. hmmm... maybe a couple packages from Heritage? Though talking with Tim.. his packages did pretty well.. maybe I should sneak over to his place and take pictures of his secret wintering methods?
    Last edited by SS1; 11-25-2013 at 02:24 PM. Reason: quoting
    www.brokencrayoncrafts.com 6 yrs aiding 40+ hives 2 yrs personal. 17 hives (T, TF Goal) Zone 5a

  18. #18
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,674

    Default Re: Packages vs Nucs vs Prime Swarms

    See were not that far apart! I got burned many times trying to make judgments on what happened the season before. Jumping to conclusions... it used to be a pastime! I have figured out that the timing of installing that queen and the mite load is a MUCH bigger factor than anything else I can prove... still working on that issue... drives me nuts.. some do great with high mites. some die off.... some have little to no mites and still dink out... this year was terrible for weather, and yet I had more bees and stronger hives than ever......

    When if you start a package, just give them a fair shake, don't compare a new hive with no drawn comb, to one that was a nuc, or a late season swarm put on comb or brood. Thats the Flaw that a lot of comparisions make. Drawing comb is a HUGE deal to a new hive.... the amount of resources it takes, coupled with the limiting of brood rearing is a huge factor.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,492

    Default Re: Packages vs Nucs vs Prime Swarms

    My opinion changes over time as the quality of packages keeps sinking and has now reached the point where I can't see the point. Hard to beat a swarm, but it's hard to count on catching them. A local overwintered nuc on the kind of combs you want (e.g. cell size, frame size, etc.) is by far the best reliable source if you can find them. But you have to ask anymore as a lot of people are selling "nucs" that are just packages installed that spring and then sold, or nucs that are shipped from another climate entirely different from the one you are in. The nucs from another climate still will probably beat the packages just installed that spring... but we still have the issue that a lot of people, hearing that nucs are the way to go, and having already decided on a top bar hive, a warre' or all mediums, find themselves with deep frames that don't fit... a package would resolve that, but so would a swarm. A local shaken swarm from a local beekeeper would be best in these situations if you can't find a nuc that is the frame size or cell size you want.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Richland Iowa USA
    Posts
    148

    Default Re: Packages vs Nucs vs Prime Swarms

    I have a couple of advantages I didnt have then, one of them being dawn comb. I cant fill all the hives I intend to split, buy etc with full comb, but I can give them a few frames each so the queen isnt sitting around waiting while all new comb is built.
    Nuc's have that advantage over packages, but the price usually reflects it.

    What I believe as far as southern stock has been beaten in for a long time. the problem with that is when I try to bypass that knowledge and have it reenforced, or rather, beaten into my forehead to the tune of a couple hundred dollars and dead bees..

    THEN.. I hear the same thing locally.. When i start the story saying.. I bought four packages from Georgia..... I get cut off right there..... with;

    "Theres your first problem."

    I AM a product of my environment...

    I agree with pretty much everything you have said, but Skepticism is easy for me at this point, but I am going to try once more..
    I will ensure they have exactly what the original queen from the split has.. I have TWO hives left on full deeps I am going to rotate out.. the queen and half the bees will get one deep, brood, pollen, honey, and a medium on top with four or five drawn frames, the rest empty frames. The new queens will get exactly the same. The only difference is, they will be moved to my other yard for a few days, and then returned to this yard.. I have NO doubt of their viability through the summer. I have already seen that.. what remains, is if they will winter...
    They are from a different source, the owner claims he has bees in NY etc that do well.. we shall see!
    I may also call Tim and order a couple of packages just to make this more interesting.

    My feral bees are a few miles away in my other yard, so it will be interesting to see the differences. I'll try to document and take pictures of the buildup...
    Unfortunately for the op's question.. it will have to wait a year...
    www.brokencrayoncrafts.com 6 yrs aiding 40+ hives 2 yrs personal. 17 hives (T, TF Goal) Zone 5a

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