2nd year, buy packages or Nuc's
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  1. #1
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    Apr 2015
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    Sonoma County, Ca
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    Default 2nd year, buy packages or Nuc's

    I started in the spring with 3 packages, they are doing well so far and I am hopeful that I will get them through the winter. I want to get to 10 hives total, and was thinking about starting 3 more this spring from scratch. Should I buy packages again or is it better to buy nuc's now that I know a little about what to expect throughout the year?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Humboldt Co., California
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    557

    Default Re: 2nd year, buy packages or Nuc's

    I would buy Nucs if you can afford them and they are available. I am assuming they were overwintered Nucs. Probably cost a little more than packages but they are likely to build up faster and deliver a crop of honey. Randy Oliver sells Nucs and some of the people who bought them this year were able to get them before packages were available.

    If your hives make it through the winter in good shape, you can also split them.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Williamsburg, Virginia
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    273

    Default Re: 2nd year, buy packages or Nuc's

    I think based on your experience from this year I would get packages. Take the money saved by not buying nucs and buy additional boxes, frames and hardware as needed to support the 3 additional packages. Since you had good success this year you will have some frames of brood and maybe some left over honey and pollen from the existing hive to give the new girls a head start. If not at least you can give the new hives some drawn comb to save them that effort.

    We'll hope you have good success this winter.

    Myself this year I started with one hive, added another a month later. Lost one to mites this month, won't make that mistake again, but next year I am starting with one package and a nuc from a local keeper.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Benton county, Arkansas
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    838

    Default Re: 2nd year, buy packages or Nuc's

    Why not split? If you are happy with what you got split or wait till they try to swarm.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
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    Sonoma County, Ca
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    Default Re: 2nd year, buy packages or Nuc's

    Quote Originally Posted by jcolon View Post
    Why not split? If you are happy with what you got split or wait till they try to swarm.
    I am not opposed to splitting and most likely will if they come through all right (maybe a 3:5 split). I would like to add some new colonies though, and try to get to 10 by the end of the year, as I have plans to do this with my children and make enough honey for them to sell locally for some business training.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Southern Pines, NC
    Posts
    55

    Default Re: 2nd year, buy packages or Nuc's

    Why not "split" the difference?

    Make splits from 2 hives (assuming you overwinter well) and pick up 2 nucs? If nothing else, for the experience. That would get you close to your goal and you might even get some honey. If you have existing drawn comb (say if a hive or two does not make it), then you could save some money and get packages. Even early packages can do well with drawn comb.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Atlanta, GA, USA
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    195

    Default Re: 2nd year, buy packages or Nuc's

    Much better to start from Nucs. You get 5 frames already drawn, couple of frames of brood, a proven queen, some stores and a pile of bees. Way ahead of a package. If you get your order in early enough to receive the Nuc early in the spring, should make some honey.
    It is what it is!

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Honey Hive Farms, Winfield Missouri
    Posts
    274

    Default Re: 2nd year, buy packages or Nuc's

    Buy packages, new queen (if buy packages from the correct person) the queens lay up to 15 days.
    Nucs, you never know what the foundation has been through, and we believe after 3 years the mites within the hive / frames is higher...
    Just my thoughts., best of luck either way.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Dickson TN
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    1,943

    Default Re: 2nd year, buy packages or Nuc's

    Quote Originally Posted by Honey Hive Farms View Post
    Buy packages, new queen (if buy packages from the correct person) the queens lay up to 15 days.
    Nucs, you never know what the foundation has been through, and we believe after 3 years the mites within the hive / frames is higher...
    Just my thoughts., best of luck either way.
    If is a mighty big word nowadays in regards to package bee queens.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Clinton, Iowa
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    6,034

    Default Re: 2nd year, buy packages or Nuc's

    You'll learn so much more building from your own and you're less likely to get over your head.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    7,861

    Default Re: 2nd year, buy packages or Nuc's

    Buy the 3 package of bees this season. Then use those
    bees to increase your production colonies bee numbers to get you
    some honey for your kids. Watch out for swarming though.
    Then put the old queens in a small 3-way nuc so that they are
    in a temporarily holding place. Just before the flow is over you can
    even out the hives and prepare for the coming winter. When
    you have a very strong hive you can make a small split so that
    they can raise a new queen too. Or you can make the new splits along
    with a new order mated queen. There are so many ways to do this if you
    know how. I like the flexibility and creative side of beekeeping.
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Alexandria, Virginia
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    810

    Default Re: 2nd year, buy packages or Nuc's

    Provided you have been monitoring your colony health going into winter and especially varroa and treated them accordingly, you may not have any bees in the springtime to worry about OTHERWISE. you will be hard pressed to keep up with making splits until you have enough bees to drive you nuts....

    WARNING: 1st year is a snap until your 2nd spring ( 2016) when you have to deal with SWARMING.

    Forget buying anything at all.

    If you don't learn about swarming and how to make splits and introducing mated queens or making your own queens you will be in for a WORLD of hurt. Will you be harvesting honey next year?

    I would start making your equipment or buying your equipment NOW, enough for 3 more hives and stuff to make or raise NUCs. MARCH will be here before you know it....wait FEBRUARY will be here before you know it and you will be playing catch-up and then WHAMMMm!!!!

    Hate to ask...but what are your mite counts for each hive right now?

    keep us informed
    Last edited by vdotmatrix; 11-19-2015 at 12:06 AM.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Bellflower, Montgomery,Mo,USA
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    629

    Default Re: 2nd year, buy packages or Nuc's

    The saying goes you can make bees or you can make honey. The reality is that you need lots of bees to make extra honey for you. If you start feeding the bees pollen sub and sugar in Feb for a while before your early flowers start they will get lots of bees who will get you lots of honey. You need to keep on top of them so they don't swarm and you lose your extra workforce. Split after the solstice for your #'s increase. If you buy nucs or packages you can have your 10 hives next year that are strong enough to split some of them and keep some as honey producers. As you see everyone has their own strategy and you get to pick the one you want to try this year. Good Luck.

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Cazadero, California
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    364

    Default Re: 2nd year, buy packages or Nuc's

    Set out some bait hives. Catching a swarm is way more fun than buying!

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
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    Alexandria, Virginia
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    810

    Default Re: 2nd year, buy packages or Nuc's

    He is a first year bee owner until he comes through winter. Catching feral colonies may be fun if you have some notches on your belt but not when one is first starting out.
    Quote Originally Posted by larryh View Post
    Set out some bait hives. Catching a swarm is way more fun than buying!

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: 2nd year, buy packages or Nuc's

    Like I said beekeeping is very flexible. The 3 to 5 lbs. package of bees should instantly
    boost the hive population into foraging mode. The hives that does not build queen cells will
    be use for production hives. The ones that build the swarm queen cells can be use as splits for
    another nuc hive. Dedicate one hive for honey production. This will teach you how to spot the swarm cells every week or so. Keeps everything small and
    manageable.
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    7,861

    Default Re: 2nd year, buy packages or Nuc's

    Agreed! No need to run when you need to stabilize yourself first.
    Need to get all the basics under your belt before attempting
    the next level. Don't be like me killing more bees in my first
    year than raising them and dealing
    with the aggressive bees thinking that that was what beekeeping should
    be. There are more gentler bees I can keep that I learn later on. Walk before you run!
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
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    Cazadero, California
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    Default Re: 2nd year, buy packages or Nuc's

    Double posted

  20. #19
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    Default Re: 2nd year, buy packages or Nuc's

    Quote Originally Posted by vdotmatrix View Post
    Catching feral colonies may be fun if you have some notches on your belt but not when one is first starting out.
    Why is that?
    I guess I missed class that day

    I caught my first bees before my packages arrived last spring. Not true.. my very first bees were a cutout I did the week before.. I don't recommend doing a cutout before you've even handle a frame, but I don't regret it in the least. They are doing very well BTW.
    In my experience, the caught bees have been easier than the bought bees. I hope to never buy packages again.

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    7,861

    Default Re: 2nd year, buy packages or Nuc's

    Larry, not all new beekeepers are like you the first time.
    Some are a bit scare when it comes to keeping bees for the first time.
    They do not know how to set up a swarm trap not to mention keeping their
    first hive alive through the winter time. It is too overwhelming just worrying about
    the one or few hives they have already. Many are struggling because they
    simply do not know and nobody is around to guide them through. My first 2 hives
    died before the early winter. I was at zero bee knowledge at that time. Didn't even know what nurse bees was. Yes, knowing what I know now I can do many but not
    before. The first season new beekeeper need to take the baby steps in order to learn the how to first because not everybody learn at the same pace like you do. When problems arise they don't know how to handle them without someone to guide them along. If it is so easy to trap bees using a bait hive then we don't need to buy bees anymore. Someone once mentioned all season long and he did not get a swarm but set out many traps for them. So not all locality have the swarms for you to trap either. For me to trap them I have to drive 30 minutes away into the bee farm country but not in the inner city. Just no way to see any swarms here.
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

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