Northeast US Beekeepers: Nuc or Packages?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Butler, Pa, USA
    Posts
    26

    Default Northeast US Beekeepers: Nuc or Packages?

    Hi All,

    This past year was my 5th year beekeeping & I lost my colonies to waxmoths. I am essentially starting over new. I removed all the frames and burned them - leaving just the empty hive bodies out all winter and the weeks of sub zero temps should kill everything and anything around. Will install new frames & foundation when bees arrive.

    I had great success my years prior to this one - and this will be the first time I've had to buy bees in several years.

    I live in Western PA. Should I get packages that will arrive in early April, or order Nucs that will arrive late May/Early June? I know Nucs will take off way faster - that said, late May/early June seems a little late to me.

    I appreciate the feedback!

    -KP

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Schenectady, NY, USA
    Posts
    399

    Default Re: Northeast US Beekeepers: Nuc or Packages?

    If I were faced with those choices I'd go for the early April packages. Hopefully the first week of April. But...are you prepared to have at least one deep filled with frames and foundation before then? And will you be prepared to feed 1:1 sugar syrup until all frames are drawn? This could easily require 5 gallons per package, fed at no more than 2.5 gallons at a time.

    If you can't meet the equipment and feeding requirements it would be best to go with the nucs.

    Good luck,
    Lloyd Spear

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Butler, Pa, USA
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: Northeast US Beekeepers: Nuc or Packages?

    Thanks for the input Lloyd. Yes I have already started on the frames & foundation so they are ready by spring. I have an assembly jig which makes assembling frames a breeze. When I originally started beekeeping I bought packages and fed 1:1 syrup for most of the entire spring & summer until fall nectar flow kicked in.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    washington, vermont, USA
    Posts
    368

    Default Re: Northeast US Beekeepers: Nuc or Packages?

    I would probably go with the packages given that choice or maybe a couple of each depending on what you're willing to spend

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Suffolk Co, NY, USA
    Posts
    3,626

    Default Re: Northeast US Beekeepers: Nuc or Packages?

    Only you know what conditions to expect in your local after receiving the packages in early April or the nucs around June 1 and
    the amount of work it will take to establish them.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Isle of Wight, VA
    Posts
    2,763

    Default Re: Northeast US Beekeepers: Nuc or Packages?

    my preference is to start out with the earlier packages to take advantage of the local spring nectar flow, and then replace the package queens in June with locally supplied survivor queens. (preferably ones made by your local bee club to help more beekeepers become familiar with queen rearing)

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Williamsport, PA
    Posts
    470

    Default Re: Northeast US Beekeepers: Nuc or Packages?

    nobody around you sells local nucs? The local places here start selling nucs in April. They are already on Craiglist.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Schenectady, NY, USA
    Posts
    399

    Default Re: Northeast US Beekeepers: Nuc or Packages?

    I have never personally bought nucs from Craiglist, but I know others who have. Without exception, the sellers have been misleading or worse. We have locals selling April nucs that come from the Carolina's. We have one reliable nuc supplier that sells nucs in April that were overwintered locally but those are not available until late April.
    Lloyd Spear

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Williamsport, PA
    Posts
    470

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
    I have never personally bought nucs from Craiglist, but I know others who have. Without exception, the sellers have been misleading or worse.
    That's unfortunate. The local apiaries advertise on CL.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Butler, Pa, USA
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: Northeast US Beekeepers: Nuc or Packages?

    Hi Steve,
    I've yet to have any luck looking around here...a couple suppliers within a couple hours of here but so far I can only find Nucs with a first date of May/June. Are you able to say where you get your bees from?

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Derry, New Hampshire
    Posts
    2,295

    Default Re: Northeast US Beekeepers: Nuc or Packages?

    I havent noticed any difference between nucs and packages. Some good some bad. Last year i had packages in late march. I split several of them in July. All seem to be doing well so far.
    Terrence

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Covington County, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    1,509

    Default Re: Northeast US Beekeepers: Nuc or Packages?

    I sell nucs via CL. We are not all bad people. However, you need to be careful. If you can't talk to them over the phone and have them spend a little time with you explaining their processess and timing, then I would probably look elsewhere. You can figure out on a 5 minute phone call whether you are dealing with a beekeeper or a hack trying to make a buck.

  14. #13

    Default Re: Northeast US Beekeepers: Nuc or Packages?

    You've got a few years under you so I would not hesitate with packages. I would get rid of the queens in June for your areas queens. The packages that early many times have poorly mated queens and even with the best queens they supercede so often. I never recommend a new beekeeper start with packages. Bees live 45 days average. Bees shaken and get to you fastest 2 days. Wax starts and queen not released for 3 days. Queen starts laying eggs. 21 days till first worker emerges. Another 20 days till that first days eggs are at field bee age. If all of your package bees were one day old, and we know that's not true, they would all be dead by the time your first new field bees are going to work. The package is in constant decline and the queen gets blamed and killed adding more days of decline.

    We sold over 1100 nucs last year and much of it on craigslist with only 6 replaced. Of the 6 only 2 were our problem. The other 4 were new beekeepers not doing what they should, like putting them in a real box. You see it all when your selling bees.

  15. #14
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Bucks County PA
    Posts
    351

    Default Re: Northeast US Beekeepers: Nuc or Packages?

    The very first colony was a package...and it took three queens to get it going. Since then any purchased colonies came as local NUCs. Others, Alison started from splits and let them "build their own queen".
    Humble assistant to beek Alison as well as family purveyor of luxury Bee condominiums and Paparazzi activities...

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Westmoreland county Pennsylvania
    Posts
    39

    Default Re: Northeast US Beekeepers: Nuc or Packages?

    Steve Repasky at medow sweet apiary. Last year I got a couple nucs from him mid April. Beautiful nucs that built up quickly. Pick up has in the past been in sewickley which is not far from you

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pepperell, MA.
    Posts
    6,095

    Default Re: Northeast US Beekeepers: Nuc or Packages?

    A lot depends on what your plans are. If you want honey the firs year, you're better off with a nuc although a lot of nuc suppliers sell later than you can get packages. Overall, a nuc has a better chance in colder climates. That being said, I still prefer a package mostly due to price and availability. BTW, wax moths move in on weak hives but they are typically not the cause of hive loss. It's likely some other factor that made the colony ripe for exploitation. While I doubt that whatever killed your colony is still lethal, it might be worth thinking it through so that you don't shake a package onto diseased frames.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Pennsylvania/Florida
    Posts
    456

    Default Re: Northeast US Beekeepers: Nuc or Packages?

    First off you didn't lose your bees to Wax Moth, something else killed them and wax moth moved in.

    Second why did you burn the frames? Scrape them down and reuse them as long as the wood wasn't damaged to far.

    Nucs are available in April, beekeepers in PA will have them imported just like the packages. What outlets have you used to find april nucs? I see a few listed in the PA State Beekeepers Newsletter in the Pittsburgh region.
    Meadow Sweet Apiaries 412-445-7872
    Bedilllion's 724-747-4645

    If you had kept your frames this would be an opportune time to utilize packages over nucs, if the price was right.

    In the last few years the prices of packages have been getting very close to nucs. It used to be get 2 packages or one nuc, at that rate packages would have a slight advantage price wise as you were more than likely to end up with more beehives. But now that i see packages going for $125+ and nucs are around $175 it makes the nuc worth more bang for the buck.

    All that being said mite monitoring/treament is still my number one strategy for bee survival. I don't care what trait, sub-species, or locale the bees come from, keeping the mites under control and the bees healthy have a much bigger basis to whether the bees survive than anything else.

    Then Supplement feed as necessary is second.

    Aaron

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    Knoxville, Tennessee
    Posts
    73

    Default Re: Northeast US Beekeepers: Nuc or Packages?

    Quote Originally Posted by AstroZomBEE View Post
    First off you didn't lose your bees to Wax Moth, something else killed them and wax moth moved in.

    Second why did you burn the frames? Scrape them down and reuse them as long as the wood wasn't damaged to far.

    Nucs are available in April, beekeepers in PA will have them imported just like the packages. What outlets have you used to find april nucs? I see a few listed in the PA State Beekeepers Newsletter in the Pittsburgh region.
    Meadow Sweet Apiaries 412-445-7872
    Bedilllion's 724-747-4645

    If you had kept your frames this would be an opportune time to utilize packages over nucs, if the price was right.

    In the last few years the prices of packages have been getting very close to nucs. It used to be get 2 packages or one nuc, at that rate packages would have a slight advantage price wise as you were more than likely to end up with more beehives. But now that i see packages going for $125+ and nucs are around $175 it makes the nuc worth more bang for the buck.

    All that being said mite monitoring/treament is still my number one strategy for bee survival. I don't care what trait, sub-species, or locale the bees come from, keeping the mites under control and the bees healthy have a much bigger basis to whether the bees survive than anything else.

    Then Supplement feed as necessary is second.

    Aaron
    I was waiting for that response . Well said Aaron!

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    53,768

    Default Re: Northeast US Beekeepers: Nuc or Packages?

    Over the years the packages do worse and worse. My criteria would probably be more on the lines of what I can get and what I want. If I want bees on medium frames or in a top bar hive and I can only get nucs in deeps, then I would buy a package. Likewise if I want small cell and the only nucs available are large cell, I would buy packages. If the nucs are on the frame and cell size I want, I would prefer the nucs. There is less risk of them failing or moving next door or abandoning the queen with a nuc.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Butler, Pa, USA
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: Northeast US Beekeepers: Nuc or Packages?

    Thanks Chipsbees - that's definitely close to me! I will keep him in mind.

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