Buying nuc vs. package bees [Archive] - Beesource Beekeeping Forums

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Barry
10-10-2008, 07:50 PM
The pros and cons of nucs and package bees for first hive.

RayMarler
10-10-2008, 09:19 PM
packaged bees are mostly not related to each other and definately not related to the queen, and they have no brood for a boost in population.

nuc has bees related to eachother and to the queen and has brood to give them a good boost in population and usually has a frame of stores to boot.

nucs work better more often than packages.

Tom G. Laury
10-10-2008, 09:26 PM
Packages won't have any sealed brood for at least 10 days allowing a great opportunity to impact mite population

Michael Bush
10-11-2008, 12:32 PM
The first issue is that with a package you have your choice of equipment (mediums, small cell comb, top bar hives etc.) where with deep nucs you're limited to what you get.

All other things (such as choice of equipment) aside, I think you get a couple of week head start with a package, but then you often get the nuc two weeks later anyway. :)

Ruben
11-11-2008, 03:33 PM
When I started beekeeping with packages I enjoyed watching and learning with bees as they started out the colony. Seeing the progression from nothing, and having new white wax and easily removable frames ( no propolis ) helped me being when I was a newbie. I think I would have missed some of this starting out with an established colony.

JohnK and Sheri
11-11-2008, 04:21 PM
Depending on the part of the country you are in and when you get your bees, you might have to feed a great deal to get a package to the point of self sufficiency, especially if they are started on bare foundation. For someone who is not familiar or not yet too comfortable with bees, a nuc, which is a bit closer to autopilot, can be a good choice.
In addition, the queen has been proven in a nuc; she is laying, not something always to be taken for granted in a package. The beginner can see all stages of bee development and see what "normal" actually means.
Timing of the first major honey flow can also be a determinant. If the flow is early a nuc might better take advantage of it but if the flow is later in the season a package may do just fine.
For those with experience, installing on drawn comb, the cheaper price of the package may well be the determining factor.
We normally recommend nucs for beginners.
Sheri

Ruben
11-11-2008, 05:40 PM
I can see your point Sheri. Myself, I was eager to learn and I started out with two packages and went into them once a week the entire first season. Mainly so I could learn. They made plenty of stores and both made it through the winter. I have bought established hives and caught swarms and made splits since then.

albee
11-11-2008, 05:41 PM
Packages can show up dead or half dead. I think about 5% abscond. You have more drift. You have to take the package back for deposit.

Michael Palmer
11-11-2008, 06:02 PM
I think about 5% abscond.

And 30% supercede.

Michael Palmer
11-11-2008, 06:04 PM
I think you get a couple of week head start with a package

Really? Why? I would think it would be the other way around.

albee
11-11-2008, 06:28 PM
And 30% supercede.

I'm Glad you said it. 2 years ago I had that happen. Last year the packages had Hawaiian Queens and they were good.

Michael Bush
11-12-2008, 04:39 AM
>I think you get a couple of week head start with a package
>Really? Why? I would think it would be the other way around.

Brain fart. Sorry.

I think you get a couple of week head start with a nuc over a package. But you often get the nuc two weeks after the package. :)

bleta12
11-12-2008, 06:53 AM
There is nuc and nuc and then there is Overwintered nuc.
Not all nucs are created equal.

Gilman

GRIMBEE
11-12-2008, 08:49 AM
I'll take one of your overwintered nucs over a 4 pound package- all day every day. Esp when they are local Northeast bees, slim chance of AHB.

Michael Bush
11-12-2008, 08:39 PM
My overwintered nucs usually make my strongest colonies.

Docking
12-30-2008, 07:55 AM
Can a Nuc be pushed hard enough to draw out 2 deeps and a med of honey in their first year?
I'm purchasing a Nuc this spring. I'm dropping off a deep -4 frames. he will feed 6 qrt. of syrup while the queen cell is hatching. Then 6 qrt more while she breeds and proves herself. I should get the hive back by the first week in April if not a little before.

sds888
12-30-2008, 09:09 AM
This from a new beekeep so take it for a grain of salt. My nuc this last year I got in late may early june. I fed and fed and until they filled up two deeps but they would never go into the medium after that. I think it depends on your flow. We are in an extreme drought here and flow this year was really bad at least that is what the beekeeps are saying around here.

Michael Palmer
01-01-2009, 06:40 AM
Can a Nuc be pushed hard enough to draw out 2 deeps and a med of honey in their first year?

I would think so, but I don't know Alabama. My over wintered nucs fill a broodnest of 2 deeps and a medium (drawn comb) and most make 100-120lbs of surplus...often including a super of cut comb.

I guess it would matter how long before the main flow that new queen began laying, and how long the flow lasts.

chillardbee
01-16-2009, 01:09 PM
I'd always go with a nuc.
A regular type nuc usually has 4 frames of bees (of which usually has 2 of the frames has brood) and a laying queen. If the brood is in all stages and have a lot of emerging brood, it'll fill a single to good strength less then 5 weeks.
With a package, 2 pounds of bees doesn't even cover a full 3 frames and for the time it takes to intro the queen and for the first brood to hatch, not to mention the stress and suseptability of disease, it's almost twice as long to get a single fill to strength.

BGhoney
01-19-2009, 08:07 PM
Theres pros and cons with both, we recommend newbies start with packages to watch the growth. Here the packages seem to catch the nucs, not sure why.

We also call the dumping of 4 frames together and a queen a ( nucage )

Not even close to a wintered nuc in production.

I've purchased nucs and found painted queens 2 years old, from a big seller.
Also a few of the frames were and can be pretty scary, fazed them out right a way, into the wax melter.

I just ordered a few packages, to stuff into my kenya and long hives. here comes spring :)

KSbee
02-16-2009, 04:07 PM
'Tis the season for nuc transactions- 1st timers/hobbyists looking to buy and folks in the industry hoping to fill the buyers need while efficiently generating another source of revenue from their bees.

Hobbyist / Newbee Point of View- This is great deal. One can get some established bees on drawn comb with a laying queen for approximately the same price as package bees and since they've got a month’s head start on a package, one might even get a honey crop.

While POV above is true, do you really know what you're getting when buying a nuc? There are more variables to take into consideration when buying nucs than buying package bees.

Here's a few, maybe others will have more things to look for.

We'll start with the obvious-
1. Bees- How many? Some ads clearly state how many frames of brood, honey, pollen, drawn empty comb, undrawn comb, etc. will make up the nuc. Other ads simply reference the number of frames, i.e., 5 frame nucs.

2. # of Frames- 5 frame deeps are probably the most common but there are also 4 framers and medium frame nucs.

3. Frame exchange or not?- Some sellers want to trade frames, i.e., your new frames/foundation for their drawn drawn frames in the nucs. Other sellers simply offer the nuc including the frames.

4. Frame Transfer- If the buyer must travel a distance to pick up the nucs, he/she had better plan on either buying the nuc box, transferring into their equipment at the pick-up location, or having prearranged for the seller to have placed them in cardboard nucs.

Now, the not so obvious-
1. Bees- Where are they coming from? Splits straight out of almonds or other pollination? How long have they been together, i.e., functioning as an individual colony. Ideally, about 3-6 weeks to allow for the queen to have built the population up with young bees and the colony to have proven itself. In my mind any less time than that isn't much less risk than package bees with a recently mated, unproven queen.
Who knows, there may even be some sellers out there selling their old queens with the nuc as a way to recoup some of their initial investment in the queen. Probably, O.K. as long as it's disclosed to the buyer. How can you really tell?

2. Queens- Where did she originate? Where was she mated? Is there a chance she could have been mated to africanized stock, was she imported from Hawaii, grafted from a pure breeder queen? What breed is she, e.g., Minnesota Hygienic? Is she really MH or did the keeper purchase some MH stock years ago and now claim all stock is MH and just place some open brood in a nuc and let them raise their own queen of unverified breed.

2. Condition of frames and comb- This one's a biggy... There are many keepers out there realizing the benefits of keeping newer comb in the brood nest, what with all the hype about chemical retention, nosema and other contaminations. Also, after many rounds of brood, the cells eventually become shallower and smaller, to the point of not being attractive to the bees for brood production or anything else for that matter.
To the enterprising seller, it would seem much easier to stomach recouping some salvage value from their old frames and comb by selling them in nucs, rather than destroying them. For the buyer, taking a quick look at a frame will tell you its condition. Black comb with shallow cells is a give away that it's been around a long time. Again, as long as it's disclosed to the buyer there shouldn't be a problem.

3. What other creatures are lurking in the boxes?- If coming from areas with small hive beetles, africanized bees and who knows what else, all of the above are certainly an option. Although probably not an option that one would select.

In my mind, all of the above potential detriments are o.k. as long as they are fully disclosed. Ultimately, what does all of this lead to if everyone is honest? Probably, valuing the nuc based on its make-up.
Something like-
$50- Old comb (black, 5 frames drawn both sides), questionable queen, recently made up. Minimum 2 frames open brood.

$70- Decent mid aged comb (is there such a thing? 5 frames, drawn both sides), new queen, 3 weeks since make-up, 4 frames drawn comb covered both sides w/ bees. Minimum 2 frames sealed brood.

$85- New comb (1 yr old or less, 5 frames, drawn both sides), new queen of verifiable breed (4-5 weeks since make-up, 5 frames covered both sides with bees. Minimum 3 frames of brood, 2 sealed 1 open.

$110- New comb (1 yr old or less, 5 frames, drawn both sides), new queen of verifiable breed, mated where there's no chance of ahb drones, 5-6 weeks since make-up. Stuffed with bees, nearly ready to swarm.

$????- Overwintered nucs- probably the same categories as above?

Other considerations- small cell, chemical free, originated from non-shb area, other?

Lastly, all of the above are based on some casual observations from having purchased nucs and sold nucs. It is intended to educate buyers and foster discussion.

Prices are given to demonstrate differences in value based on nuc make-up and not intended to suggest what actual pricing should be. Obvisouly, location, demand, overhead, profit margins, etc. will determine actual price.

tecumseh
02-16-2009, 05:22 PM
interesting analysis ksbee... there are of course several means/methods of establishing value.

it would seem you considered the material side of making up a nuc, but perhaps not the human (ie beekeepers) side so much??? does beekeepers 'care' and attention to quality not count for something?

snip..
4. Frame Transfer- If the buyer must travel a distance to pick up the nucs, he/she had better plan on either buying the nuc box, transferring into their equipment at the pick-up location, or having prearranged for the seller to have placed them in cardboard nucs.

of course if a newbee has some time (perhaps several hour + travel) this transfer can represent an opportunity for a very short hands on bee school. cost 0, value perhaps priceless?

KSbee
02-16-2009, 06:17 PM
does beekeepers 'care' and attention to quality not count for something?

of course if a newbee has some time (perhaps several hour + travel) this transfer can represent an opportunity for a very short hands on bee school. cost 0, value perhaps priceless?

Sure it does, good point.

Jeffzhear
02-19-2009, 06:19 PM
I agree with all those that responded with the answer "NUCS." I would recomment NUCS, from a climate similar to yours, and from someone reputable.

Truchaos
06-20-2009, 06:05 PM
Having used both, I'm a big fan of nucs.

Why do I like nucs?

Simple, they're already established and you don't have the many potential problems of a package installation. No queen rejection, death, etc. Just drop the frames into the hive body. I screen the entrance for a day or two if it isn't too hot.

I've never had a nuc failure within the first year that wasn't my fault.

The Honey Householder
06-21-2009, 02:03 PM
I've been in the bee business all my life. I'm a second generation comm. beekeeper. I work my bees to the fullest each year. I buy a 2# package around the last week in March. The combs I run are 70-100 year old combs. I spray full 5 of the 9 frames full of HFCS- sugar blind. They start out with 2 emply frame and 2 frames of pollen. With in 5 weeks (which would be around the first of May) I'm making splits for myself and shaking packages for local beekeeper.

Now I buy 2# packages for $42 each, and nucs are selling for $80-110. What should I buy.:scratch: I'm in it for the money and to make honey you have to have BEES. I feel if you have the suppies and equipment for the bees, then it's up to the queens.

The question should be where to buy the SUPER QUEENS at. It's the queens that make it or brake it. I've had super queen produce me 10-13 honey super, and that was started with a 2# package. I've had super queens make me 5 boxes of comb honey, and that was from splits from my 2# packages.

KNOW WHERE AND WHAT YOUR BUYING WITH YOUR QUEENS.

Nucs are problem better for those just getting started. It's one way to get already drawn combs.

This is just my 2 cents, what do I know I've only been buying packages for the last 19 years.

Ron:popcorn:

spunky
06-21-2009, 04:07 PM
I am only in my 3rd yr, never had any problems with my packages. All the bees I have now came from an original package from WTK. The only nuc I ever bought died its first year.

If I could get a nuc in 1 hrs drive ; I would probably do it.

I let the bees do their thing, and just split, and try to add new queens ( genetics) to my yard

I am probably one of the few people on here, whose dogs work harder than my bees, in the sense, my bees are more pets than my 4 dogs

Hillside
06-22-2009, 06:25 PM
In some parts of the country, nucs can be hard to find without taking a really long drive to pick them up. The closest nuc supplier that I'm aware of in my area is about a 2 hr drive, one way. There are several folks close-by that bring truckloads of packages in from down south. I'll take a nuc any day, but most days, I can't get one.

suttonbeeman
06-23-2009, 04:32 PM
I am going to have to question how kc arrived at his values....one I dont think you can discount old comb that much, two lets take for example the 5 frame nuc with new comb, 3 frames brood min. with two caped and nuc started 4 weeks ago. In three weeks all three plus frames brood has hatched and you should now have 8 or more frames bees with 6 or more frames brood. This hive is getting close to honey making size. Now if it were all old comb you could cull out old comb for a cost of new frames/foundation for about $8.00 or less than a quart of honey(bet they make more than a quart over a package). If it is new comb no culling. Now if you had purchased a package four weeks later you have 2 frames of brood with some hatching replacing dying bees received. It will be another 3 weeks before you have a hive with 5 frames of bees and brood. and another 2-3 weeks to get where the nuc was a month ago. How much will you pay for a three lb package? queen has been caged....we all know queens do better not caged or at least until they lay a couple of weeks. Looks like to me that nuc is worth at least $100.00 as compared to a package. see chart below.

package 5 fr nuc

3 weeks after rec. 2 fr bees/brood 8 plus frames bees 6 fr brood

6 weeks after rec 5-6 frames bees 14-16 plus frames bees 10-12 frames
21 days to honey brood READY to make honey
If honey flow is on you miss three weeks honey production....a good flow of 40 lb week....120 lb honey lost with package! even with 20 lb a week production...loss is 60 lb honey at $3 lb = $180.00 loss of production with package!!

mythomane
06-24-2009, 01:22 PM
Nucs are a safer way to go -- just beware that there are many sellers out there who will take advantage of a new beek, or sell something that is not worth it out of ignorance or greed.

I have been keeping bees for 15 years. Sold out a few years ago and decided to start over with small cell. Someone advertised on this forum that they had 5-frame nucs for sale. Located a couple of states away. At $120. Ok.

I called and they said they could possible arrange delivery or meet me halfway. Great. Called again to put down my deposit, and they said no delivery available now. Well, ok. I will just drive the 20 hours. Gave them my $500 deposit. Lets go.

Found out a few weeks after that...they are selling 5-frame MEDIUM nucs. Not deeps. It is getting late in the season. They already have my money and it doesn't look like I am going to get it back. Lump it. I run all deeps so this is going to wrench my operation, but I buckle down and buy mediums/frames, etc and assemble. Ok.

A week later and they tell me that I will have to bring my own equipment or pay them another $25 for a nuc box.

I was wondering at this point if queens were included or not with these "nucs."

They then inform me that the bees will not be ready for another week or so after the date they gave me. Fine. I even give them a few extra days so I will get a nice fat nuc when I arrive!

I get there and...Surprise...the nucs are not ready yet. Many weak, some missing queens. Everyone is sold out for the season at this point, and I am in this yard (his front yard) in the middle of nowhere. I try to exercise some damage control. He agrees to give me a few "beefed up" (6-7 frames of freshly drawn medium box nucs) to make up for the weak hives. Ok. Fine. We have to now transfer to my equipment, so I am losing some of the field force on top. He brags to me that the nuc boxes he builds (oddball sized and made from scrap wood) cost him 8 cents each. These are the same boxes that he was going to charge me $25 for.

He then "helps" me by not nailing a few of the boxes completely shut, so I lose bees all the way home. He assures me that if any of the queens do not take that he will replace them. I figure he is good on that score anyway as queens cost virtually nothing to raise.

After a few weeks, you guessed it. 3 queenless hives (none of the queens were accepted) and another 4 too weak to continue on. I call and ask for the replacement queens. He assures me they are on the way. I, of course, never get them. I just combine what I have and feed like hell. When I ask about them he states that he does not have a tracking number. Of course not.

Anyway, hope someone learns from this.

Did I mention that his is a "cash only" business?
Could I have walked away at any time? Yes. Would I have taken a loss any way you look at it? Yes. I decided to suck it up and move forward. The bees that I have left are doing fine and I try not to remember where I got them. Know what exactly you are paying for and from whom. Try to avoid deposits if at all possible. Buy from a reputable/experienced seller. Seems simple doesn't it?

pbudd72
06-24-2009, 02:40 PM
I am extremely new but I bought two nucs (for comparison sake). They came came with some extras. SHB, tracheal mites or nosema (some of my bees can't fly), an old queen, and a queen that likes to hide under some malformed comb. One nuc's wax might need to be appraised on Antiques Roadshow (it is almost black) and the other is old but not that old. I paid $87.50 a piece.

The nucs were open when I arrived and the beekeeper taped them shut just before I got them. Shouldn't they be closed the night before to insure the most bees?

The point I am trying to make is A good nuc maybe better than a good package (according to some) but wouldn't you be better off with a good package over a bad nuc? (especially for a newbe) It all seems subjective.

Next year I might get package bees to see what a new clean hive looks like. Or know to ask more questions and look in the nuc before hand.

MasterBee
06-24-2009, 08:40 PM
The Only down side to NUCs is that the frames may be infected with something

fatscher
06-27-2009, 11:50 PM
...wouldn't you be better off with a good package over a bad nuc?

This is sort of like saying "a bad day in the bee yard is better than a good day at work." Which definitely applies in my case :D

I and others have had total misery with packages this year. I even gave a package I got in March a booster frame (with uncapped and capped brood) and now I have laying workers, and I'm a dilligent, caring beekeeper!

Unfortunately you waded into an area (buying nucs) without much experience, but your gut told you some things...


...The nucs were open when I arrived and the beekeeper taped them shut just before I got them. Shouldn't they be closed the night before to insure the most bees?

Nucs must be inspected by a state apiarist before sale here in my state...do you know if this happened in yours?

I got a nuc this year with chalkbrood...it was discouraging at the time but cleared up in a jiffy. This nuc started as 5 frames in mid May. 6 weeks later it is chock full 20 drawn frames in two deeps. Nucs are the way to go, but you got a stroke of ill fate.

tecumseh
06-29-2009, 06:20 AM
mythomane writes:
Did I mention that his is a "cash only" business?
Could I have walked away at any time? Yes. Would I have taken a loss any way you look at it? Yes. I decided to suck it up and move forward. The bees that I have left are doing fine and I try not to remember where I got them. Know what exactly you are paying for and from whom. Try to avoid deposits if at all possible. Buy from a reputable/experienced seller. Seems simple doesn't it?

tecumseh:
although I take deposit (primarily to insure the buyer shows up at or about the 'ready' date) I also have no problems taking a check. but of course you are right the 'cash only' should have set off an alarm bells in your head.

I think every newbee should reread your post twice prior to buying any form of bees (package or nucs). Believe me the same shuck and jive could have taken place if you had purchased a package.

pbudd writes:
The nucs were open when I arrived and the beekeeper taped them shut just before I got them. Shouldn't they be closed the night before to insure the most bees?

tecumseh:
maybe yes and maybe no. weather would somewhat effect this decision as would just how certain (or uncertain) the beekeeper might be as to whether the customer would show at the appointed time... add to this the scheduling challanges during a very busy part of the season. on most occasions I do not.... I typically am much more concerned with what is IN the box and don't loose much sleep worring about losing a few field bees.

mike bispham
07-06-2009, 02:52 PM
'Tis the season for nuc transactions- 1st timers/hobbyists looking to buy and folks in the industry hoping to fill the buyers need while efficiently generating another source of revenue from their bees.

(rest below as it was a while ago - post #21)

I can't help noticing there has been no discussions of bee vitality in respect of resistance to varroa - which I image all agree is the main threat. (I may have read too quickly, in which case I apologise)

So my questions is: do suppliers make claims of varroa resistance, and, if so, how should we use that information?

Mike

Ian
07-16-2009, 04:55 PM
Packages are nice when a beekeeper has experienced a loss and needs to fill boxes.

One tip,

keep an extra queen on hand just in case of a dead one in the package, it happens. Usually with larger orders, there is an extra supplied.

Also figure on at least one or two percent queen failures. It happens, and can be remided if you check up on the queen within a week and then two. That extra peak might just allow you to find a problem, requeen the hive and have it alive to winter in the fall rather than taking it as a complete loss in the spring.

Gene Weitzel
08-13-2009, 06:19 PM
When I pick up nucs, I arrange for a late afternoon pickup. I always buy nucs priced without the nuc box, this way I get the opportunity to inspect them as I transfer them into my boxes. Then I set my boxes where the old ones were and wait until dark to shut them in, load them up and leave.

hummingberd
08-15-2009, 11:48 AM
Cons:

The bees that come in a package are southern, and for a Northern beek looking for local stock, that's not an option.

Packages come, way too early for northern beekeepers in my opinion.

No guarantee that your queen is laying.

Bees starting from scratch, no drawn comb, brood, honey, pollen etc.

Pros:

It can be a confidence booster to take 3-5# of bees and dump them into a box.

"practice" for working with swarms. Generally a swarm will be starting from almost nothing as well.

either can help expand the genetics in your yard which could be good or bad depending on the genes

For what it's worth, I bought a package 2 years ago from Dave Smith, and it's my strongest hive! The only one producing excess honey so far. They don't seem to want to swarm either which is interesting. Nice bees to work with, queen still laying strong and doing well.

I also like what Michael Bush mentioned about being able to choose equipment size with a package of bees. Every nuc i've gotten has been on deep frames and that makes it tough to stick with medium boxes, which I prefer.

:)

EastSideBuzz
08-16-2009, 12:32 AM
Only dumb question is one not asked. Seems like a fair question that I do not know the answer to, and wish someone would answer. Thanks!

Thank you for saying it. I enjoyed this post. Did not know much about NUC's. I started with packages and just did some splits into NUC's. Did not really know you could buy them. Not sure if I would still. But, thanks for the info on it.:thumbsup:

greengecko
05-02-2010, 01:25 PM
A beekeeper told me the other day he recently heard of a club in the Midwest that sold nucs made up from bulk bees delivered from almond groves combined with cage queens. The day before the nucs were delivered to the buyers they were assembled and the caged queens were added. The buyers were told to be sure to treat them with Fumagilin because all of the nucs had nosema. :eek:

camero7
05-02-2010, 05:21 PM
"Packages come, way too early for northern beekeepers in my opinion."

My best packages this year were my earliest ones, 4/1. the last one 4/20 is the worst performer so far. I think early packages are good if you feed them constantly.

Old Buzzard
05-03-2010, 09:32 AM
I would say for an absolute beginner with no experience, packages, marked queen, on new foundation. They are docile, easy to handle, and as your experience and confidence grows, the hive grows. Checking the hive frequently will allow you to see their progress and as a beginner you will check it frequently, you won't be able to help yourself! You will first see eggs, then unsealed brood, then sealed brood. If you have read a few books, and asked some questions, you will know if it is a normal time frame. Failed Queen? Yes, that happens, sometimes, over the years I have had few in packages, that were promptly replaced by the supplier.But most beginners would probably recognize it quicker in a package than a nuc, because the nuc already has multiple stages of development. The beginner may not know if what they are seeing is normal. With a package a beginner does not have to evaluate the condition of old combs, then worry about how to work them out of the hive, if they are not acceptable, if they even know what is acceptable. I've seen packages that were duds, I've seen nucs that shouldn't have been hauled home. I personally prefer package, then I know what to expect with no surprises, and can create my own problems, without buying them. Should a person never buy a nuc? That is not my position at all. A GOOD nuc is a definite head start, but in my humble, but correct ;) opinion you need to be able to tell if it is good nuc. If you are confident you can tell a good nuc, then buy it and dance away with glee. If you are not confident that you can honestly evaluate a nuc, then package. I personally look at either as an investment for next year, with no plans of a crop from either the year they are started, but have been fooled , when they turned into boomers, and have supered for late crops. The one biggest piece of advice when starting either is FEED,FEED,FEED. Heavy going to winter is always better than light. My late Father taught me how to keep bees, his philosophy was simple when it came to honey harvest. Plenty for the bees,some for me, then some for others. In that order, always.

woodedareas
12-29-2010, 05:27 PM
The nucs that I am purchasing won't be ready until the 3rd week in May. Is this too late?

brushmouth
12-29-2010, 05:39 PM
The nucs that I am purchasing won't be ready until the 3rd week in May. Is this too late?

That would be late for Northern WI, which make it very late for your location.
IMO of course.
BM

Michael Bush
12-29-2010, 08:44 PM
Timing is everything, but you have no real control over what matters like when it gets cold, when it gets warm and when the first blooms happen. Some years it all falls into place where the earlier packages do better because it's just cold enough long enough to keep them from all drifting and then it blooms soon enough that they get a good kickstart and then it stays warm enough they can keep moving forward. Other years it blooms too late, stays too cold and it's a struggle just to keep them alive and then the later ones do better. It's all in the details and you have no control over most of those details.

jim lyon
12-30-2010, 07:47 AM
The nucs that I am purchasing won't be ready until the 3rd week in May. Is this too late?

Depends on what you are purchasing, if they are 4 or 5 combs I would say they are a tad late, if they are a single full of brood and bees they would be perfect.

Honey-4-All
12-30-2010, 09:02 AM
The preceding post by Jim is perfectly correct if you plan on making a crop in the summer. Late splits have a harder time making it through the winter also.

allenbham
01-07-2011, 08:51 PM
In Georgia, I got a package of bees in 2009, in late May -- this was way too late and they didn't do well because they had completely missed the major nectar flow. In 2010 I got two nucs in April and they both did great; they hit the ground running because they already had brood going, and quickly build out frames of comb and produced honey.

jim lyon
01-08-2011, 07:45 AM
MB nailed it in post #46. Most years, though, a "well timed" nuc will not only out produce a package but quite often out produce a strong overwintered colony which is prone to issues of swarming and queen aging.

Ted Kretschmann
04-03-2011, 02:56 PM
Since I produce nucs in Alabama, I will answer an earlier question on this thread. I sell four frames of bees, brood and a free ranging laying queen. This is in its own wooden box. The person buying this little box of bees should transfer it into their hive replacing four frames. Most of the people buying them are brand new to beekeeping. So all they have is five frames of foundation around the four frames of drawn brood comb. I tell them to force feed the bees all they will take in the form of a 1-1 sugar syrup. Even if there is a flow I tell them this because I want them to get their bees across the box in about two weeks. Once across the box I tell them to put their first two supers on. The first one is for the bees for a food chamber and the second one is theirs. Usually, these people have very good luck by producing a super of honey the first year. Thus they come back and buy more nucs the next year. That is what it is all about--happy customers. TK

Reid
04-09-2011, 01:17 AM
If you have someone local selling overwintered nucs in the early spring (April or early May), there's no way I would suggest a beginner turn that down. Those bees have proven themselves geneticaly as survivors and would have a lot more going for them than a package of unrelated bees that might kill off the equally unrelated queen. Last year our club had horrible queen acceptance from the southern bred stock. It seems that over 50% of the queens were lost (balled, stung, spontaneously died, or superceded).

Local beeks rearing their own queens and overwintering nucs to sell to local beeks solves this, and other, problems.

Don't get me wrong, package installation is a good skill, but I hope to never purchase one again.
~Reid

Jeremy_K
06-30-2011, 08:36 PM
I picked up a nuc from Everything Honeybee on 6/11/11 and put them in an observation hive in my house. They are doing very well and the queen was laying even as I was transferring them to the ob hive. Most packaged bees I have seen on "pick up day" had many dead and they still have to draw out comb before the queen can start laying. I prefer nucs.

utahbees
08-02-2011, 11:59 AM
[QUOTE=Docking;379137]Can a Nuc be pushed hard enough to draw out 2 deeps and a med of honey in their first year?

I started with 2 nucs this year. My first Nuc was mid May and was established on Medium 10 Frame Boxes. I purchased the Nuc (which had 4 brood 1 egg 2 honey and the rest drawn comb) with 3 extra Med Boxes all with drawn comb. I just put on my 5th 10 Frame Medium Box this week. They will fill it out at the rate they are going so I should have 3 full Med Brood Boxes and 2 Honey Supers (I hope). I fed them only a gallon of sugar syrup at the start.

My second Nuc was purchased on June 1st and consisted of 5 deep frames 3 brood 2 eggs and honey - no other drawn frames. I transferred the Nuc into my own deep brood box with 5 additional frames. I now have 2 full deeps and 2 honey supers on this colony. Half my frames have been foundationless and half have been plastic pierco frames. This hive fills out the foundationless so fast its crazy! They love it... I have already harvested a frame from this hive and have a little more than one full honey super that is about 50% capped. The rest of the frames in the honey supers are almost complete and most are filled but not capped.

In my part of Utah we have had more rain than usual which caused a slow start and cold spring but has resulted in a lot more honey flow than normal I think.

Saltybee
02-16-2012, 12:35 PM
I am not experienced enough to advise whether packages, OW nucs or spring nucs are best. It may well come down to the weather.
The hardest thing for a newbie with no bees to overcome is the SOLD OUT sign. The OW nuc ordered in Feb may end up dead in May or used to replace the sellers own losses. Spring nucs may still be available for a longer drive, maybe not.
For good or bad the package will come. At least hedge your bet the first year or two.

CaBees
02-17-2012, 09:53 AM
There was a discussion at a meeting last night in No. Cal. of how some beekeepers ordered 75 nucs last year. Over 50% of them were africanized. So I guess that could be one more reason to not buy a nuc unless you know for certain where it came from. Probably local will always be better then out of state....

bluegrass
02-23-2012, 08:07 PM
In AFB areas Local is going to be the greatest risk. Bees that are shipped from out of state have health inspections done and while not specifically looking for AFB traits, if the inspectors suspect AFB they will not issue the certificate.

beyondthesidewalks
02-23-2012, 10:21 PM
Over 50% of them were africanized.

I have to ask how it was determined that the bees were africanized. It's not uncommon for bees to replace their queen. If their queen was a hybrid then her offspring may tend to get mean. It seems like everytime someone runs into hot bees, they claim they are africanized. If you don't have paper from a lab confirming that bees have AHB genetics than it is irresponsible to claim bees are AHB. Sorry, I'll step down from my soap box now. That topic does get under my skin and the bees in question may have truly been AHB. I have to ask every time because there are so many irresponsible claims that hot bees are africanized.

CaBees
02-24-2012, 04:56 PM
The woman giving the presentation said they knew they were because they were not only very aggressive, but would follow people over 200 feet from the hive and not stop the attack. That is all I know....

jim lyon
02-24-2012, 05:06 PM
In AFB areas Local is going to be the greatest risk. Bees that are shipped from out of state have health inspections done and while not specifically looking for AFB traits, if the inspectors suspect AFB they will not issue the certificate.
I am not aware of any states that give AHB free (I presume you mean) certifications. Texas used to but I think they quit.

Buzzsaw2012
02-26-2012, 06:57 PM
should a bee keeper worry about bringing in diseases or pests when purchasing a nuc that comes from many states away and /or on dated frames?
or is there equal chance of contamination by purchasing pkg bees?

I am still learning on bees , but I do know people who always buy cattle, hogs and poultry at sale barns have a lot more problems with disease and pests.
so far I have not found any local stock pkg bees or nuc's for sale only migrating bees.

bluegrass
02-27-2012, 05:28 AM
Buzz

IMO the risk of disease is less with packages. Packages only come from commercial producers, it is very easy to research what sources people have good luck with and what sources to avoid. With a nuc it is more important to get a good recommendation for a supplier... Anybody can raise a nuc and they may be full of disease.

If I wanted to purchase a nuc as somebody who was new to beekeeping I would ask on here who to go with. Buy from the members who have a long history on the forum and frequent posts. It shows that they have a reputation with the forum which they value so they are less likely to sell a bad product that word of will resurface on the forum. Members with few posts and/or a short history can just as easily sell a bad product and then resurface under a new user name.

Avoid searching for random websites when looking for nucs... you never know what you will get. I know of one person selling "Northern Survivor" stock at a premium, but on their website it states that their mother queens come from a supplier in Southern California. There are all kinds of shady deals out there... which is why I would only go with good recommendations from either this site or your local bee association.

bluegrass
02-27-2012, 05:33 AM
The woman giving the presentation said they knew they were because they were not only very aggressive, but would follow people over 200 feet from the hive and not stop the attack. That is all I know....

I agree with Beyond the sidewalks. I have had bees that would follow for a lot farther than 200 ft and most certainly were not Africanized. Many hybrids are often that aggressive, 2nd and 3rd gen Buckfast are often un-manageable because they are so hot.

jim lyon
02-27-2012, 06:56 AM
I have dealt with Africanized genetics in the past, they were pretty unmanageable. I have also dealt with an occasional mean hive which often mimicked AHB pretty closely. I would mark them as a hive that needed requeened but often it would not even be noticeable the next time it was opened. A number of factors can trigger mean behavior in a hive such as skunks, weather, shade, how often they were opened or even how they were opened. The only way I know for sure if a hive has AHB genetics is a lab test but a pretty good guess can be made by observing a hive for a period of time taking into consideration the likelihood that AHB could be present in your area.

soupcan
02-27-2012, 09:08 AM
My thoughts also as to who conducted the tests to confirm the AHB??
And how is it that package bees can not or could not have a queen mated with AHB drones?

SmokeEater2
02-27-2012, 09:31 AM
Over the years I've bought Nuc's and packages and I'm convinced a Nuc is the way to go. (just my personal opinion of course) Most of the packages I've bought have suffered a lot during shipping and are weakened coming out of the gate and have a lot to overcome just to get ready for winter.

However, I purchased a package of Carni's from CF Kohnen (sp?) and they are one of the best hives I've ever had. They built up the first year into a booming 2 deep colony and brought in plenty of stores for themselves and a little for me too. They are doing great this spring too and I'm planning a split of that hive soon.

I think one of the best bee deals is to contact the local bee keeping club. There is almost always someone in the group that sells Nucs and you get bees accustomed to your area and ready to work.

westernbeekeeper
05-10-2012, 11:05 AM
Nucs are great because of fast buildup, and the good possibility of surplus honey the first year. The con(s): Possible harboring of diseases/mites, and can be a bit more expensive than a package.
Packages are great too. No brood, so little to no mites, and the likelyhood of disease is almost nothing. Lower prices than nucs most times. Con(s): Slower build up, and having to introduce the queen to these "strange" bees. :)

Risky Beesness
09-23-2012, 10:16 PM
All I can say is, in my two years, the hives started from nucs and splits have prospered, and the ones started from packages have dwindled. That's just my experience.

volare71
04-25-2017, 07:49 AM
One thing package buyers need is a drawn frame of comb to get the colony off to a good start. Putting a package into a hive with empty frames is a real stress producer. The package also needs syrup to feed them immediately.

volare71
06-11-2017, 03:17 PM
Depending on the part of the country you are in and when you get your bees, you might have to feed a great deal to get a package to the point of self sufficiency, especially if they are started on bare foundation. For someone who is not familiar or not yet too comfortable with bees, a nuc, which is a bit closer to autopilot, can be a good choice.
In addition, the queen has been proven in a nuc; she is laying, not something always to be taken for granted in a package. The beginner can see all stages of bee development and see what "normal" actually means.
Timing of the first major honey flow can also be a determinant. If the flow is early a nuc might better take advantage of it but if the flow is later in the season a package may do just fine.
For those with experience, installing on drawn comb, the cheaper price of the package may well be the determining factor.
We normally recommend nucs for beginners.
Sheri


packages need at least one frame of drawn comb preferably 3. this will make all the difference between success and failure.