Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 20 of 78 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
178 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I've been thinking about this for a very long time and I was impelled to ask for counsel and advice from all of those who have had an experience similar to mine.

I began beekeeping last year with two nucs - top bar hives. I purchased four more from the same supplier. Out of the six nucs I started with, I have three left, and very likely they will not last the winter. I am in the middle of the section of New York State that is known as the NYC Watershed - pristine forage for hundreds of thousands of acres. Even with this dry summer, these girls should be making honey.

In the three dead colonies the queens were either old or failing. (And the bees these queens produced are as pissy as can be. I've gotten zinged at times standing twenty feet from the hives!) The signs of this were verified from a very experienced, local beekeeper, who has since become my friend. My present colonies have no surplus honey at all (I have not taken a drop) - thus the very real question of winter survivability.

I have been in contact with the supplier of these nucs, all the while updating him on what was occurring. As a beginner, I had many doubts that I had been doing all I could for my bees. But finally after speaking to other beekeepers I realized there was something very wrong. I emailed this supplier finally expressing my anger, frustration and disappointment at his "product". I asked what his intention was to at least come up with an idea to compensate me for my losses.

What I got was, "As you know there are no guarantees, no more so from me than the next bee provider. I still stand by my queens." Other older and much more experienced and knowledgeable beekeepers I have spoken to have completely disagreed. One just wrote me this morning, "Nearly all “bee men” stand behind their bees, and replace nasty queens, at least at a massive discount, if not for free."

So my question to you is this: What is your point of view? Is it, "Nice doing business with you. You're on your own." Or ought suppliers give support and take some responsibilities for a poor product and compensate their customers if their product fails? Or is it true, "There are no guarantees"? I can't hold a gun to his head - as the saying goes - for a refund - that much I know. But if indeed this is a question of poor ethical conduct, I can at least warn others not to do business with him.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
706 Posts
the supplier is correct. Sorry that you bumm bees. But as a Beek I look at if my queen is doing poor I pinch her and get a new one from a ver reputble breeder. If you have weak hives I would combine them to make strong hives. Now you said you use top bar hives? I do not know how to combine top bar hives. I am old school and only use Langstroth hives for the ease of things like this. I wish you all the best luck and yes their are no guarantees. chin up and if it was not so late in the year I would buy queens from koehen and sons. I buy my queens from them every year.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
178 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Yep. They sure are bum bees. And new queens are on the way.

Thanks for your input.

P.S. I'm going to all Langs next season. Have all the equipment on order already!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
77 Posts
Way to go for not outright accusing him and laying all the blame on him. It's not very often you see someone who waits to lay accusations until he get's all the fact's. Very refreshing to see, thank you!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
(This is all coming from a new beekeeper, so take it for it's worth.)

Top bar hives as I understand are not for the beginner, and the fact that you had a bad run of luck is not the supplier's fault. Some queens don't make it. Some ornery queens raise ornery workers.

Now, if the supplier wants to preserve good will he/she might consider replacement (for free or for a discount), but there really isn't a moral obligation to do so.

Chalk it up to bad luck, study up and talk to your local beekeepers, and try again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
706 Posts
Well stone I really wish you all the luck in the world. I know how fun Beekeeping is and it frustrating to see a person have a bad time with it. Again look in to who I buy my Queens from they are egg laying machines. and the workers are great. Now that said I hope you don't get bum bees from them too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,796 Posts
I think I would cast your dilemma slightly differently: A question of responsibility. There was a thread in the commercial forum a few days back much like yours but from the nuc provider's POV. How much responsibility should a provider have to see that you are successful? It is very hard to say. Some providers won't sell you bees unless you can show them that you know what you are doing.

I remember my first hive where my queen went missing after about 4 weeks - my nuc provider understood that I was a beginner and was great and helped me out. Of course he was very aware that he was getting a good long term customer out of the deal...

I think your best bet is to start fresh next year with a new provider, one recommended by your new friend. And to seek out as much knowledge as you can before next spring to help you be more successful.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34,542 Posts
Did you check out the Thread titled "On Selling Nucs"? This has already been hashed over.

But, at the risk of angering someone, I will ask a question. What are the responsibilities of the purchaser to know something about what they are doing before purchasing their first hive of bees? What did you know, Stone, before you took on the care of the bees you now blame someone else for not behaving as you think they aught to?

I have asked this of others, I will ask you now, would you buy a car and then learn how to drive? Would you buy a horse and then figure out which end the feed goes in or how to ride it?

Bees are wild undomesticated animals. Just like the Orcas that so many people are amazed about when they kill someone. Shoot, even domesticated animals like cattle will pin you down and break your bones if you don't know how to be around them.

Next, you have started down a path of continuing education. A path that doesn't end just because you have owned bees for X number of years. And education is expensive. No matter where or when you get your bee degree, be it the college or from a mentor or from the school of hard knocks, you will get an education and you will pay for it dearly. Some do this willingly and w/ understanding and others do it unwillingly and cast blame on others. Either way education happens, whether one learns anything or not.

So, to answer your initial question, unless the seller of the bees did something malicious and underhanded, like selling you AHBs or diseased bees and equipment, then the seller did what she/he was supposed to do and is not obligated, except by good will to do anything more for you other than perhaps answer questions and give advice, respectfully.

You, as the buyer have every right to ask for advice and the answers to questions about the bees and how best to handle them, respectfully, of course.

Have any of your "very experienced, local beekeepers" volunteered to be mentors to you? Volunteered to work your bees w/ you and you work theirs w/ them? If they don't think that you got what you should, have they volunteered to be of aid to you in this situation and give you one of their queens? Or sell you nucs?

Talk is cheap. And not knowing them, I can't judge their bonifides. How many more years than you have they been beekeepers?

Best of luck, learning.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
178 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
I think I would cast your dilemma slightly differently: A question of responsibility. There was a thread in the commercial forum a few days back much like yours but from the nuc provider's POV. How much responsibility should a provider have to see that you are successful? It is very hard to say. Some providers won't sell you bees unless you can show them that you know what you are doing.

I remember my first hive where my queen went missing after about 4 weeks - my nuc provider understood that I was a beginner and was great and helped me out. Of course he was very aware that he was getting a good long term customer out of the deal...

I think your best bet is to start fresh next year with a new provider, one recommended by your new friend. And to seek out as much knowledge as you can before next spring to help you be more successful.
How much responsibility should a provider have to see that you are successful? It is very hard to say.

A good point. And that's why I titled this thread "A Question of Ethics" - because it is a question I would like to give some thought to.

I remember my first hive where my queen went missing after about 4 weeks - my nuc provider understood that I was a beginner and was great and helped me out. Of course he was very aware that he was getting a good long term customer out of the deal...


This is an important point, as well. In my view, this was very poor business sense.
 

·
Registered
Bee Wrangler
Joined
·
742 Posts
Stone you said you bought 6 nucs, but had them in TBH.

I am assuming the nucs were either deep or medium langs?!?!

Can you explain how you made the transfer?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
178 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
sqkcrk,

The purpose of my post was not to "hash things over". I think this was a poor choice of words. My purpose was to try to see things better and to get other's points of view.

If it wasn't clear from my post, I'll make it clear now: I was unsure that my point of view was correct and I wanted other people's opinions. I wanted to KNOW more so I could understand. A teacher of mine told me many years ago, "The desire to know will get you out of all kinds of scrapes." I didn't 't want to make false assumptions. I want to respect myself for how I think of others.

As a teacher of science for nearly thirty years, I can appreciate what you say about education. That's what life is about, isn't it? We learn every day.

You say, "unless the seller of the bees did something malicious and underhanded, like selling you AHBs or diseased bees and equipment, then the seller did what she/he was supposed to do and is not obligated, except by good will to do anything more for you other than perhaps answer questions and give advice, respectfully."

That's very true. And that's what I'm just not so sure about. The drive to profit from others - at times because of their ignorance and at their expense - is very strong. We all know about that, don't we? It's a dark part of human nature. And good will is a beautiful idea. It's also part of human nature - bigger and better and more beautiful than the other desire. I'll give you a beautiful definition of good will I read some thirty years ago:

"Good will is the desire to have something else stronger and more beautiful, for this desire makes oneself stronger and more beautiful". This was written by the late American poet and educator, Eli Siegel.

And thank you for your concern. Yes, I've had many kind offers to help and many people have come to my assistance with their knowledge and experience.

Yes, I agree, "talk is cheap". But not matter if one agrees or disagrees, one can always learn from the opinions of others. And that is why I thank you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
533 Posts
We all lose hives, especially when you are just starting. I lifted the lid, and lost one today. And I have been keeping them for 15 years. You will have to lump it and move on. Best advice I can give : Go to Langs and start with a single. Try to get some drawn comb thrown in the deal. You stand a much better chance of success. Start with production Italians and build up fast. You can always requeen later. Also, could you PM me with the name of the supplier? I know a few guys in your area and am curious who it was. Are your bees near forage? Within a mile or two? Your pronunciation that you are in the NYC watershed means little. There are pockets of good forage all over, but it can be tricky... Do you know when your flows are? When in the season did you get them? Early? Did you feed? They are probably testy because they have no forage or honey. My bees are irritable too, and they have stores...Do not try to blame someone else, even though the hand you are dealt may not have been as fair as you would have liked. Of the 100 nucs I bought this spring to cover some winter losses, about 25 were garbage right off the top. You are going to have to suck it up.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
178 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Actually, this supplier only deals in top bar hives so I didn't have to do any converting. There is a way to convert by "chopping and cropping". If you're interested I can send you a link with a video. I doesn't seem difficult at all, although I haven't done it myself.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
178 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Hey All,

At this time there have been 255 views to my post. Really surprising why more people haven't expressed themselves yet. Any ideas why not?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34,542 Posts
sqkcrk,
And thank you for your concern. Yes, I've had many kind offers to help and many people have come to my assistance with their knowledge and experience.

Yes, I agree, "talk is cheap". But not matter if one agrees or disagrees, one can always learn from the opinions of others. And that is why I thank you.
Well,Stone, i thank you too for taking in my passion and not throwing it back at me. You are a better person than I. I get tired sometimes.

What were your expectations? Were they, perhaps, unspoken and larger than what was realistic? Was the seller the "Leader" of the BAND? If so, he is someone that you should be able to talk to and get satisfaction. From what I know of him.

I believe that what is right between a seller of bees and a buyer of bees is that they both communicate what is being offered and what is being expected and how these two come together in mutual benefit and satisfaction.

The seller of your bees can't charge you a fee for the bees that would make it worth his while selling you junk, not that you called it that. You wouldn't pay him enuf to make it worthwhile for him to use and abuse you once. Once bitten, twice shy. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. (no matter what Bush said, whatever that was).

Anyway, my point about what was charged for what you got and whether it was "right", is this, If I could get you to pay enuif for a nuc, enuf to really make a difference in my life, it would have to be pretty extravagant. And then you would be in a position to expect all sorts of things, like a new queen, if the original didn't take, after a month, me coming over to your house and leading you by the hand and etc, etc.

But you would not pay me $500.00 for a nuc, or $400.00, or $300.00 or even $200.00, would you? what did you pay for what you got? What did you get? What did you expect, after the sale?

I sell nucs for $80.00, which includes 5 frames of brood, of all stages, some honey and a new laying queen. By new I mean, purchased that year, that spring. And usually laying for a cpl of weeks.

I could take that same nuc and put it in my own equipment and make 60 or 100 lbs of honey from it, which I could sell for $1.50 to $3.00 per pound. Or on the low end, both ways low, I could make $90.00 from that nucs and not deal w/ customers. On the high end, both ways, I could make $300.00 from that nuc.

But I like dealing w/ people. I'm not a recluse. So, next years price will be more worthwhile. $120.00. Or, maybe I should stop selling nucs. Then there would be no dissatisfied customers, except for those who bought bees last year and expected to get more the next year. Now that's a thought.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
668 Posts
The thing about it is: The supplier you bought bees from can probably produce dozens of customers who love his bees and come back year after year for queens and nucs.

In my view and as far as purchasing bees is concerned, the supplier has a responsibility to provide you with the agreed upon products (be they nucs or packages or queens) in good condition at the point of sale only. If you agree to purchase a 3lb package with a laying queen - then you should get 3lbs of bees and a laying queen. Who knows why the queen won't lay more than 10 eggs a day and the bees won't draw foundation once they are in your equipment?

Sure, some queens are duds. I have had packages that went into hives and literally raced to see which would die first. Just this spring, I received two, otherwise identical packages from the same supplier. One went gangbusters and the other is a disaster - they are probably sister queens. How can the queen breeder control that?

Typically, (in my experiences) the small scale breeders will extend themselves to make it right. The bigger ones have been generally less inclined when I have run into this.

The bottom line (again, in my view) is that the learning curve can be steep and expensive. I keep a detailed file on queen and package suppliers along with my experiences with them and their bees performance for me. My experiences with some suppliers haven't always agreed with those posted on the forum. But, that is the nature of beekeeping.

I bet that I have gone through about a half dozen package suppliers and another half dozen queen breeders trying to get stock that does well in the north. I have finally found two package suppliers and two queen producers who produce bees that do very well for me - you can bet that they get all my business now!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34,542 Posts
Hey All,

At this time there have been 255 views to my post. Really surprising why more people haven't expressed themselves yet. Any ideas why not?
I started two new Threads this morning. Each has had more than 50 peeks and no replies. There must not be anything to ask or make comment on or they are not interested. I thought that alot of people would be interested in Tropilaelaps clareae, another mite, possibly being found in the U.S.. Ya never know.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
168 Posts
I would definitely make sure that the supplier's name was known (this forum might not allow that, but there are many ways to get this info out). I received poor Nuc's from a local provider this year (one had a frame and a half of bees! ha!). Some would have immediately confronted the fellow and dealt with him in that manner (and sometimes I do that, but I decided that I would try my hand at dealing with this Nuc for the experience of it.)

But, I can guarantee you that I have spread this experience far and wide. Beekeepers that I meet (especially new ones) hear about my experience with this fellow.

As it so happens, several other folks have commented about similar bad experiences with this guy. The next time that I see him, I will let him know (although I will take no more bees or rebates from him - I am done with him.)

I have no idea if you received 'bum' bees or not. The only way to know that this outfit is poor is to find others that have had similar experiences. If you find that most folks have had a positive experience with this guy, then I would assume that you received good bees and it was something else. Otherwise, if I found others with similar tales, I'd make sure his business suffers for it by shouting it from the mountaintops.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34,542 Posts
I respect Stone for not coming right out and saying that Mr. Frank R. Beekeeper of Whoknowswhere, NY sold me bum bees. This is the responsible way of inquiring, looking for more info.

I don't know stone. Perhaps he is a new beekeeper, a first year beekeeper. maybe he bought bees thinking that he would learn and bees can and have gotten along w/out humans for millenia, so if I just bought them and didn't do anything they aught to be okay. I don't know what he thought in getting bees. I'm surmising, not critisizing.

So, if any of this is true or almost true and especially if Stone hasn't had much experience so they have some basis of comparison of what is a good hive and what isn't, it would be wrong for him, or any new beekeeper, to be over critical of the seller and advertise his/her name.

It could be considered slander. Couldn't it? I believe that we need to be cautious about complaining about what one buys from a fellow beekeeper.

One reason I am so passionate about this is that this just happened to me. I have since met w/ the agrieved party and we have come to an understanding, a new beginning.

When I get a complaint, my first thought is "What did I do wrong?". And if I feel I did all I could to deliver what was ordered, then I think, "What happened after I did all that I could? I delivered the product and now after it has been in someone elses hands for this period of time something appears to be wrong. I did my part. Did the reciever do theirs?"

I always look at myself first and then at others. If I have a good cxrop of honey I take the credit. If I have a poor crop, except in cases of really poor weather like last year, I take the blame. I must have done something wrong, that I could have done differently.

I think that Stone is going about this wisely, by not naming names. It would only matter to a localized group of people and as much as beekeepers talk and news gets around, most of those who need to know probably already know.

Stone, maybe you aren't getting a broad set of respondents because I'm hogging the Thread space. Sorry.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,711 Posts
"..hogging the Thread space. Sorry."-sqkcrk.

Well, you know more [experience] about making up and selling bees/nucs. The majority here aren't selling bees/ nucs--maybe in commercial.

Maybe a question that was missed,.Stone? >
"When in the season did you get them? Early? Did you feed?"--mythomane

Dealing only in Top -bar-hives is a little unusual, isn't it? And selling TBH nucs?
 
1 - 20 of 78 Posts
Top