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Re: e) Buying nuc vs. package bees

"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.
 

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Re: e) Buying nuc vs. package bees

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.
 

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Re: e) Buying nuc vs. package bees

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
 

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Re: e) Buying nuc vs. package bees

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.
 

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Re: e) Buying nuc vs. package bees

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.
 

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Re: e) Buying nuc vs. package bees

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.
 

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Re: e) Buying nuc vs. package bees

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.
 

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Re: e) Buying nuc vs. package bees

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.
 

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Re: e) Buying nuc vs. package bees

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
 

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Re: e) Buying nuc vs. package bees

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
 

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Re: e) Buying nuc vs. package bees

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.
 

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Re: e) Buying nuc vs. package bees

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.
 

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Re: e) Buying nuc vs. package bees

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.
 

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Re: e) Buying nuc vs. package bees

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....
 

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Re: e) Buying nuc vs. package bees

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.
 

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Re: e) Buying nuc vs. package bees

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.
 

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Re: e) Buying nuc vs. package bees

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....
 

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Re: e) Buying nuc vs. package bees

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.
 

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Re: e) Buying nuc vs. package bees

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.
 
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