Is there a standard for nucs? [Archive] - Beesource Beekeeping Forums

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05-13-2012, 05:25 PM
Does anyone know if there is a "standard" for nucs put out by the ABF or other organization? Is there a definition?

I help many new beekeepers every year. This year the local farm store finally got rid of the horrifying person who was supplying the nucs (he took advantage of the newbees by giving them cull frames and trash bees he wanted to get rid of. Then he yelled at the customers). Unfortunately, the new supplier, although nicer, provided some of the poorest nucs I have ever seen. I recommended the folks ask for a complete refund.

These were sold as 5 frame nucs. They contained: 2 really poor frames (they should have been culled years ago), the 2 frames were not well covered in bees, the other 3 frames were new, plastic foundation, (so new they weren't even dirty yet), and a caged queen.

When I sell (or buy) a nuc, it has 5 fully drawn frames covered in bees, 2-3 frames have brood, and 2-3 have honey/pollen, the queen is fully accepted and laying.

The 5 frames should look like they were just pulled from full grown, active hive - that is why it is called a "nucleus". A nuc should need extra frames the day it arrives. Foundation can be purchased for 2 $/frame - why pay 25 dollars per frame for it in a nuc? Foundation in a nuc seems like a total rip-off.

I would like to work with the "bee guy" at the farm store (I'm not sure he even keeps bees) and help them work towards a more specific contract that spells out the condition of the nucs when they are delivered. I would like to provide them with some printable information from reliable sources, not just my word or 15 years of experience.

Does anyone know of this type of information from any of the organizations?
Thanks for the help.

05-13-2012, 06:09 PM
Does anyone know if there is a "standard" for nucs put out by the ABF or other organization? Is there a definition?
Does anyone know of this type of information from any of the organizations?
Thanks for the help.

No, but I think you have a good idea what a nuc fit to sell should be and look like. Sell what you would like to buy, you should be fine.

05-13-2012, 06:15 PM
there is no standard but a nuc should have 3 frames of brood and the 2 frames of honey. frame quality is a tough call but most should be some what drone free.

05-13-2012, 06:40 PM
Very few who sell nucs are not making them with culled frames.... I put cull frames into my nucs. I don't ask for a frame exchange so the frame really isn't part of the deal. My stipulations for what I will sell is that the frames have to be completely drawn, at least three need to have brood in all stages in them, the queen needs to be actively laying, and it needs to be packed full with bees... Anything less than that I will not sell.

My margins are a lot higher on nucs than packages, but I always recommend starting with a package. Especially for anybody who is new to beekeeping. Buying a nuc is the fastest way for somebody new to get ripped off.

05-13-2012, 08:09 PM
I know of no standard, with the exception of five frame nucs have five frames. I am used to two frames of brood, two drawn frames of honey/pollen and one frame for expansion (may or may not be drawn, usually not).

If I were in your shoes and wanted to interject myself into this situation, I'd draw up my own definition and share it with the farm store manager who is responsible for bees in the spring. This would set a localized standard that the manager may (or many not) enforce with any nuc supplier. Your experience and knowledge is an asset to many newbees hoping to get started on a fair and equitable plane.


Cleo C. Hogan Jr
05-14-2012, 05:36 AM
I sell 100 - 125 nucs each year, and my standard is one frame chocolate brood for quick expansion, one frame light colored brood to sustain the colony and to help insure the queen will be accepted. Two frames which may have some brood, but is covered with bees, one frame honey. I want the new queen out of the cage, and laying before I call the customer and tell them the nucs are ready for pickup.

I NEVER put cull or damaged frames in a nuc that I intend to sell. I believe this would come back to haunt you down the road. I also do not sell junk nucs (or junk 10 frame boxes, when I put 5 frame nucs in 10 frame equipment)

I do tell all my customers what to expect when I send them the invoice, and the projected availability date. If nuc suppliers are ripping off new beekeepers, they will not be in business long.


05-15-2012, 10:59 AM
Thanks for the replies. We seem to be on the same page about most of this. I agree with Cleo that selling cull frame is unethical.

I will take my beekeeping experience to the farm store manager and share some written standards for a nuc and how to negotiate those standards with suppliers. I help a lot of newbees every year and am very frustrated by the way they are being ripped off. As an industry, it seems we have more than our fair share of bad apples spoiling it for the rest of us....

there is a new thread today about another person who was delivered poor nucs.

05-15-2012, 01:09 PM
Maddox65804, Please post the Nuc Standard that you come up with as it might help others. Thanks. Dale

05-15-2012, 02:50 PM
My standard is when someone comes to get one whether I feel good about letting them have it or not. I don't sell a 5 frame nuc w/ a frame of foundation in it. All frames must be drawn out and occupied w/ honey, pollen, and brood of all stages. Plus plenty of bees to cover the brood and a laying queen.

I start my nucs w/ a frame of honey and pollen, a frame of capped brood and a frame of brood including eggs. Then a frame of comb and a frame of foundation, so, as the nuc grows it doesn't over crowd and swarm before I can sell it. To that I add a queen cell or later on a queen. Some nucs started before I can get queen cells will make their own queen from the open brood. But there have to be plenty of bees for that to be successful. Not to mention mature drones in the area.

Five frames of brood, bees, honey, and pollen. No frames of foundation. $100.00.

05-15-2012, 03:38 PM
See, I should have ordered from one of you guys instead. :( (see my other thread about the sad nucs I received.)

05-15-2012, 04:08 PM

I meant to ask you if you were headed north on I-95 just south of South of the Boarder on May 1st...about 1:30 pm? I was headed south bound and saw a truck like yours loaded with Nucs.

05-15-2012, 04:30 PM
Was it an F-450 flatbed w/ a trailer loaded down w/ a Bobcat? Coulda been. I forget which day that was that I was traveling North. I know it was a Thursday.

05-15-2012, 07:52 PM
It was an F series with a trailer behind it. But I think both truck and trailer had nucs on it... Didn't see a bobcat. The nucs were all different colors. Before I left I remember seeing a post by you saying you were headed back with Nucs, which is why I thought maybe it was you.

05-15-2012, 07:57 PM
Nope. Wasn't me.

05-15-2012, 08:06 PM
I am writing up a standard. Will post it here when I an finished. Thanks for the support folks. Glad to know there are others who sell quality nucs like mine, and who share my frustration with unethical suppliers.

05-15-2012, 08:09 PM
Be careful seeing others as unethical. It can be a trap one catches oneself in eventually.

Daniel Y
05-15-2012, 08:11 PM
I just bought my first nuc. and from the perspective of the new buyer I woudl like to mention what this supplier did right as far as I am concerned. First I will say that what I did right was did my homework. Like anything else if I am going to buy something and need it to be good enough. I have to have the knowledge to know what it should be.
First of all the supplier never even mentioned an exact date it woudl be ready. He gave me are range he was "Expecting" it would be ready and even added that still was dependent on the bees. If from that I formed some sort of expectation that was my doing not his.

Second he produced a nuc that was so full of bees that when he opened it my first reaction was they where in desperate need of more room. Since that is exactly what I intended to do when I got them home it was all good.

He also mentioned he had verified that there where eggs in the nuc before he called me. There where also larva and capped brood (2 frames in all) 2 frames of honey and pollen and one frame so covered in bees I never did notice what it was. Those last details are the ones I think a new person could get most shafted on. that and the issue of what is the number of bees you should expect to find in a nuc. I think I got a better than average population. a normal selection of frames. I don't really care if they are culls they will not likely be in my hive for more than one season at most. Btu upon transfer I did notice at least two frames where nice clean what seemed to me newly drawn comb. The brood comb was dark and I have no idea how old. Nothing about this nuc appeared to me a cull except maybe the waxed cardboard box that the supplier openly said he reuses if they are returned.

Mainly the supplier told me in detail exactly what I could expect to find inside. and when I transferred them that was exactly what I found. This still leaves the question. was what was there what needed to be there? I will have to say even as the new person doing the buyer and at risk. That is my business to know and decide. I believe that most suppliers believe they produce a good product. Not all but most. That is not to say most suppliers actually do provide a good product. they just think they do. The only safeguard I have in that situation is myself and what I consider good. If I have no knowledge and can be taken to buy nothing more than a package dumped in a 5 frame nuc with a caged queen. well that is probably what I deserve.

05-16-2012, 03:49 AM
Figuring out whether a nuc was right or worth the money is often best determined in the Fall when the season is over. I know that doesn't help one when purchasing the nuc, but, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Right? I am always impressed by folks who tell me how great the nuc was when I see them in the Fall or the next year.

05-16-2012, 06:17 AM
What of this scenario?

Your a producer of nucs for sale and you make a couple hundred up per year... When they all are up to the standard that you will sell them at you notify your customers that they are ready to be picked up... Most of the customers pick up on the first available day of pickup and carefully inspect and select their nucs. At the end of the day all that is left is the lesser in quality... More customers pickup over the next few days and the quality of what is left continues to decrease... A few over crowd and swarm and now are at a quality less than what you would typically consider acceptable, but this is no fault of the supplier and he has promised x number of nucs to customers.

So do you call the last few people and tell them you are out of nucs and will not be able to fill their orders?

Do you let them pick them up at their convenience and risk them being upset about the quality?

Do you tell everybody that they cannot inspect the nucs, they get what ever you give to them?

05-16-2012, 07:41 AM
I am writing up a standard. Will post it here when I an finished. Thanks for the support folks. Glad to know there are others who sell quality nucs like mine, and who share my frustration with unethical suppliers.

How do you plan on enforcing this "standard"? I can see plenty of suppliers saying, "We don’t need no stinkin' standards. This is what I supply. If you don’t like it, bee off with you". That said, the same supplier could still be offering perfectly good nucs at a good price. Several people have posted what they think a good nuc should consist of and the descriptions are remarkably similar, but with slight variations.

I am pretty new at the beekeeping, but I know what I am looking for in a nuc (thanks to reading threads like this on Beesource). A long as I get a laying queen, plenty of brood in all stages, frames(s) of honey/pollen, chock full of bees, and maybe even a frame that is fully wax- drawn but nothing is in it, or some variation of this - I am happy. I am also a big fan of the “over-wintered” thing.

It is really up to the buyer to educate themselves first (by reading threads like this one). It is also up to the buyer to ask a lot of questions and find out exactly what they will be getting if the seller is not forthcoming with information. Also keep in mind that not all beekeepers/suppliers are particularly talkative. It doesn’t mean that they are crooks selling bad nucs, you just have to ask them what you should be expecting and how much it will cost.

Cleo C. Hogan Jr
05-16-2012, 08:00 AM
I'll tell you how I do it, Perhaps it will help others. I split and sell 100 - 125 nucs, have now for several years. (mostly in 10 frame equipment) (some in 5 frame wooden nucs), I send an invoice, but collect no money until nucs are picked up. The invoice will tell the customer what to expect when they pick up the nucs. I give an estimated date they will be available. After the split and the installation of new queen, I wait until the queen has layed and new brood is capped. I then call (or e-mail) the next person on the list. No need to call if the nuc is not ready. If the customer confirms that they still want the nuc(s), I place their name on the nuc, and they can come and get it at their convenience. There is virtually nothing else I need to do to them once they are ready for pick up. As more nucs are ready, I call or e-mail the next names on the list. Everyone gets a good nuc, or I would not have called them to say they are ready.

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

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

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

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



05-16-2012, 02:06 PM
What do you get price wise? Do you charge more for the 10 frame nuc than you do the 5? Do you throw in the extra 5 frames to the person who picks up the 5 frame nuc in a 5 frame nuc box?

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

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

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

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

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

05-16-2012, 02:59 PM
Do you tell everybody that they cannot inspect the nucs, they get what ever you give to them?

There is a trick to making them strong enuf to sell and weak enuf not to swarm. I know nuc producers who make them up and deliver them ready for pickup w/out inspection. Selling 1500 nucs takes a lot of time and patience if people want to pick thru them, opening, pulling frames and rejecting. Queens get rolled and bees crushed by inexperienced handling.

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

Cleo C. Hogan Jr
05-16-2012, 03:15 PM
My price for 5 frame nuc is $125.00. That is a wooden , box jointed deep brood 5 frame nuc chamber, detachable bottom board, migratory cover, all new, all painted white, hole drilled for top feeding, and feeding jar cap with holes, . My nucs contain 2 or 3 frames of brood. Typically, one chocolate for quick build up, and one light colored for queen acceptance, two additional drawn frames covered with bees, one frame of bees with honey. New queen.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Cleo C. Hogan Jr
05-16-2012, 03:28 PM
sqkcrk...You are right, there is a big difference in the small nuc supplier, and the large nuc suppliers and brokers. It would not be feasible to have people going through 1500 nucs and picking out the one they want. YOu would have thousands of angry bees in the yard, queens would be rolled, bees killed, honey dripping, etc. After a few years, large and small, will establish a reputation, and this will guide most buyers. Buyers should do some research, and if they are concerned, ask for references.

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


05-16-2012, 04:05 PM
Not sure I agree with, "a good nuc will draw that extra frame in hours".

I have had to pull a frame from nucs that got too strong and replace it with an empty frame... With a good flow on or syrup I have seen many that would have that frame drawn the next day.

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

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

Cleo C. Hogan Jr
05-16-2012, 04:28 PM
bluegrass... I think we probably do them a lot alike, except I use and sell mostly 10 frame equipment. April in Kentucky is not a great honey flow month, (this year is the exception) Since mine are in 10 frame equipment, I don't have to worry about swarming from overcrowding. I make mine up about 4 - 6 weeks before I call for pickup. The first split is made from overwintered brood stock, and new queen added. Those five or 6 frames grow to 9-10 frames, with the new queen, then I remove three or 4 frames from them, put a new queen with the 3-4, and then the original 5- 6 is ready to go. By this time, the new queen is in high gear, and with one or two chocolate brood, one light color, and three frames of bees, the customer gets a good 5 frame nuc in 10 frame equipment. By this time I can see how good (or not) the new queen is.

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


05-16-2012, 07:56 PM
Wow guys! This is the most informative thread that I have ever read about nuc production and purchasing. Everything is covered from small outfits to people that produce hundreds or thousands of nucs, and everthing in between. Views from both buyers and sellers. :thumbsup::thumbsup:

Keep the info coming.:popcorn: How do we get this nominated as a sticky thread?

jim lyon
05-18-2012, 04:16 AM
When I sell nucs it is never with the promise of what they will be, only with the definition of when and how they will be made up. If it is a small number I will confirm that there is a laying queen. With larger orders (say 50+) I tell them that in addition to the make up info that I will check them back and rebuild as needed with no guarantee that the rebuild has a laying queen. I consider feed costs mine only up to the delivery date. To promise a certain size is pure guess work as to what the conditions will be. It really all boils down to the integrity of the seller.

Ozarks Honey Company
06-01-2012, 03:51 PM
I think the big issue with these nucs that Maddox is talking about is they were considerably sub standard. We both belong to the same beekeeping association and have dealt with quesitons and comments from many frustrated new beekeepers. After reading everyones comments, I dont feel two frames of brood, some with a caged queen, some with released queen, some with dead or dying queen and three frames of foundation, these could be considerd a five frame nuc by anyone's "standard".

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

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

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

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

Jeff ( (

Daniel Y
06-01-2012, 07:43 PM
On the issue of actually writing and setting a standard. I am all for that. I don't agree that what the suppliers think of it necessarily need be part of the issue. Not really any more than a contractor is consulted as to what UBC (Uniform Building Code) will be. It is what they are required to meet not something they agree would be good enough. In the case of nucs no supplier would be required to meet any standard. Btu it would serve to support claims that what was provided does or does not meet the standard. So if I buy a nuc from Joe and it does not meet the standard I have some grounds and support when I call up Joe and tell him I don't think I got what I paid for. The details can then be worked out with both parties having a common description as to what a nuc is. If Joe says he does not care about what any standard says I can then decide if I will remain a customer. But I am not at the mercy of every individual supplier telling me what they think a nuc is.

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

06-08-2012, 08:08 AM
Setting a standard across the nuc selling industry is problematic, in my mind. Nucs are time sensitive. If they don't get sold they may swarm, if they hit a nectar flow.

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

06-09-2012, 01:01 PM
Does anyone know if there is a "standard" for nucs put out by the ABF or other organization? Is there a definition?

The Ontario Beekeepers' Association has a "nuc buyers guide".

The Ontario Bee Breeders Association attempted to standardize the definition of a nuc some years ago and came up with the following criteria for a 4 frame nuc:
- Queen bee
- 2 frames of mostly capped brood with adhering bees
- 1 frame of feed with adhering bees
- 1 frame of foundation
- A few shakes of extra frames of bees to fill the box so it is bubbling with bees.

The rest is here

06-13-2012, 09:48 AM
You guys are making me feel a little guilty. I sell just a few nucs every year. They are made off of swarm cells off my hives, which are all feral caught, and never medicated (at least not in my yard - I know there is some debate on "feral" - but I can say I don't have a single hive that has what looks like straight run Italians) I've been selling nucs this year with 3-4 frames fully drawn. I wouldn't say they were cull frames, but since I have a mix of plastic and wood, I give the nuc boxes the best frame content available - good mix of pollen and honey as well as capped brood. We had a very mild winter, but every nuc I sold last year made it through the winter with no chemicals. I have talked with almost all my former customers and they are all thrilled. They don't know it, but if I ever had someone complain, I have a guarantee policy that I'm not even going to share with you guys)

Anyway, the nuc boxes are painted plywood this year, and I suggest customers keep the empty box inside this year, and hang them in a tree as a swarm trap next spring. That's what they were originally built for, but then I got too busy to put them out as traps.

So, even though I don't think I meet the requirement for a ful 5 frames, so far, every hive has been a complete success, and I offer free consultation over the phone for as long as the customer remembers my number. I usually follow up by email with tips on feeding, how to put them in the box, and most times I give them a hands on lesson when they come into my beeyard (the 2 this weekend we went in, me and the customer, no gloves or veils into hives and I explained how to look for eggs and brood and queen cells), and I send them links to the closest beekeeping group to where they live (we're fortunate to have about 5 within 25 mile radius.

A guy that I sold to last year has become a great friend, and I have a few repeat customers. So, I guess I trade mentoring for the extra 2 frames. When I do a cutout or trapout, I leave the customer with a bottle of honey as well, even though they pay me for the job. There is something about "free" that really wows people - even if they paid hundreds of dollars for the service.

Next year, I may do some early queen breeding, and make some packed out nucs. It's getting late this year, but people still want nucs because a breeder near here backed out at the last minute, so people are sitting with empty hive bodies they purchased and painted and have no bees. I'm apprehensive about selling anything this late in the year though, but I feel sorry for these folks, but I don't want them to have a bad experience. I have a couple new hives I started for myself (results of some trapouts or swarms) that I could pack into a 5 frame, but even then, it seems late. Swarms draw out good, but the queens are not 1st year queens.

I've even gone so far as to hand my customers an entrance feeder and a pollen patty on the way out the door just to make sure that they're successful.

I'd rather sell service than just drop a pallet of nucs off. My ROI is probably not as good, but I just enjoy the hobby so much more doing it this way. I'm not running a business, I'm running a hobby I enjoy, and meeting people - who I get to see later show up to the meetings. And, if they're lousy beekeepers, they end up having their hives swarm, which ends up being a swarm call or a cutout for me next year.

My 2 cents.


06-13-2012, 10:06 AM
I sell 4 or 5 frame nucs.

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

Cleo C. Hogan Jr
06-13-2012, 02:32 PM
They come from Louisiana. Bordelon Apiaries , Lafayette La. I get Minnesota Hygenic.

I have had very good luck with them.

I also buy Italians from Kelly Bee Company when they start selling queens in April. I keep hoping someone in the local area will start producing good queens. There are some trying. I would certainly use them.


Ben Franklin
07-02-2012, 07:30 PM
Some one said Packages are good for beginners, and nucs are a good way for beginners to ripped off. While I agree, I will promote Nucs over packages any day.
Weather or not we have a Standard, we all should make standards for our selves as to what we expect and what we will accept. I was very pleased on the Nucs I received from Justin Cheesman. Just picking up the Nucs I could feel the weight was good. On further inspection I found brood in many stages. Honey and pollen in all the right places.
I talk to a lot of people about starting beekeeping and I recommend Nucs.

07-17-2012, 07:18 AM
A relative of mine bought a few nucs this year off of a very reputable producer and then last minute decided add a forth hive and bought a package from me. The package has far surpassed the nucs and is in two deeps and a medium now... The three nucs do not even have two deeps drawn out yet. These are all in the same apiary in central VT. He picked up the Nucs the week before I delivered the package. While I did not see the nucs when he got them and can't comment on how good they were, given his source I suspect they were high quality.

Rob Hughes
07-17-2012, 09:58 AM
Very interesting thread.

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

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

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

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


10-30-2012, 02:38 PM
Out of seven that sell nucs 3 will shaft u one is the cheapest but u get a start for 50 bucks and its a cage queen two frames of brood and 3 of syrup and pollen and the good ones are
not ready for ten frame box they sell them faster than they can getem. But id rather take the cheap route. Oh and the poor ones get 115 a nuc and the honest ones get 100