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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We're just sitting here twiddling our thumbs and waiting. I realize things are running late this year due to the nasty winter and late spring, but things are blooming all over, our mentor is getting 3-pound weight increases per day on his hives, and we feel like we're missing the party. Plus, our plans are on hold because when the nucs are ready, we must be as well.

It took a while but we finally broke the code. Our bee supplier is using frames of bees returning from the almonds to populate the workers in our nucs. The queens are "California girls", Carniolans with hygienic habits and, I suppose, a tan. We expected nucs "mid April" but the last word was that they would get the frames of bees on April 23. I presume that means they inspect, drop the frames in a nuc box, and add a queen. Which I guess means they'll free her in about 3 days. And they supposedly verify that she's laying. Yet somehow they still maintain we'll get our nucs "mid to late April."

So, can you integrate a new queen into a nuc in 6-7 days and be sure she has been freed, hasn't been killed, and is laying? Would that be enough for a good supplier to say the nuc is ready?

Kinda wished I'd looked for the fine print, but I'm sure overwintered nucs are more expensive and harder to find.
 

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We're about an hour from you in WV. Drove through Manassas today. Last year our 6 nucs arrived on Memorial Day, and we spent the previous 6 weeks feeling like we "missed the party". Probably for the best, since if we had received them earlier, we may have pushed them to give us a honey crop their first year, but instead we focused on establishing strong hives for the winter. All 6 survived the tough winter and several are super strong and will be our production hives this year. We also got 10 packages this year, on 27 March. In the future, I would go with packages, or splits, over nucs. Since we had drawn comb to give the packages, they got off to a quick start and will be way ahead of where our nucs were when we got them last year.

Sounds like you are getting a quality product. Good luck with it, when it finally arrives!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the encouragement. That was a tough winter. We are not planning to harvest more than a taste of honey (not even that if they're struggling), unless they're unexpectedly productive. We figure two medium supers per hive for honey ... if those get full we might start pulling a frame or two at a time.

We lacked the foresight last year to observe bloom dates, and are regretting it. Hopefully they'll have good opportunities all summer, and we know we have a great variety of good wildflowers in the fall. But the first night in their new home we hope they're pleased to find a rather large feeder in the attic of each hive, with a touch of flavor added to encourage feeding. Lots of new comb to draw, which must be the priority.
 

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The thing about a nuc as you have described is they really are not too much more than a package in a mini hive body. They do have the advantage of some drawn comb for the queen to lay in. and offer a sort of pre establishment feature in that they are settled in. I would let them build and not really monkey with them Until they are ready to place in a hive. Although not terribly this is a little later than I usually like to get hives started, I do most splits, and package installs in late march, Of course this year it was the first week of April because of weather. allow them to build and grow and leave any adjustment that will be major setbacks until later. possibly next year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The thing about a nuc as you have described is they really are not too much more than a package in a mini hive body. They do have the advantage of some drawn comb for the queen to lay in. and offer a sort of pre establishment feature in that they are settled in. I would let them build and not really monkey with them Until they are ready to place in a hive. Although not terribly this is a little later than I usually like to get hives started, I do most splits, and package installs in late march, Of course this year it was the first week of April because of weather. allow them to build and grow and leave any adjustment that will be major setbacks until later. possibly next year.
Exactly. Nothing like what we'd discussed for the locally-produced club nucs. But they should be good bees, easy to install, they say with brood ready to emerge. A full 5 frames, which is a very nice head start.
 

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A real nuc is bees in all stages of development that are offspring of the installed queen. It does not sound like that is what you will be getting based on the time frame you described. It takes time to evaluate the queen's laying pattern and 21 days to get worker brood in all stages of development. A nuc ought to be a cohesive unit of bees, all ages, and all roles being filled (house bees, foragers, etc)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
A real nuc is bees in all stages of development that are offspring of the installed queen. It does not sound like that is what you will be getting based on the time frame you described. It takes time to evaluate the queen's laying pattern and 21 days to get worker brood in all stages of development. A nuc ought to be a cohesive unit of bees, all ages, and all roles being filled (house bees, foragers, etc)
And that's what I thought was described to us when we ordered them back in January. But if that were the case, the queen should have been introduced weeks ago. That's why I'm trying to figure out just what they meant when they said "we expect to get the frames of bees on the 23rd".

There's a field on our way to and from our WV site, off Rt 50, where about two weeks back a huge number of palletized hives were seen. Nothing but pallets there now. I presume those were the almond bees, and that gives us an idea of when they got home.

Communications in this case are a bit weak. They maintain a website and a facebook page. The website is rarely updated ... we know they are sold out of nucs but will be making more. They still say to expect our nucs in mid to late April. The Facebook page has frequent posts, but no news on the nucs. We know what the nucs are made from from the website. But it is frustrating not being able to make any plans. If, in fact, the bees will be delayed a month as suggested above, that's a month left hanging in which we can make no other plans because we have to be ready to pick them up. It is a small family operation and I don't want to be bugging them daily, but durn, we're on pins and needles here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Finally! Bugged the supplier and they say they were about to start calling people to let them know they could pick up their nucs. Evidently May 5 is mid-April.

That I can live with. But my speculation above is correct ... they stuck a queen in maybe a week ago, and will just make sure she's "accepted". I read that as "they let her out and didn't kill her." Two frames of brood were put in so emerging brood are not her offspring. One frame of honey. 2 + 1 < 5. Somebody check my math.

I'm quite confident this is NOT what we were told when we ordered. It will probably work out OK in the long run, but I feel a bit used. And I will take a bee suit and ask to inspect them. I think I should see eggs and first instar larvae, with a gap in larvae age, but hopefully some capped brood and possibly 3-4th instar from the previous queen.
 

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Phoebee - I'm looking over your math and it would seem that you may end up with a NUC like so many do that have "Extra Space" for the bees to work. This means you get a total of 3 drawn frames and 2 frames that are most likely foundation. You may want to ask your supplier if that is fact. If it is fact then you may be getting the raw end of the deal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
And we'll take them, because at this late date, what else is there?. But word of this will get back to our association. This particular apiary came highly recommended.

A lot will depend on just how many other suppliers are giving poor measure. The club had absolutely horrid experiences with package bees last year. Senior club members have been asked to raise nucs for new beeks in the bee class. We would have participated in that eagerly except for the state-to-state transfer. So instead we're getting West Virginia bees fresh back from California, with a brand new queen from the other end of California.

The extra space will translate to "plenty of extra space" that evening when they go into the 8-frame woodenware. Hope they're deeps like we ordered, but if not we've got the medium supers on hand and won't be up the creek. At this point nothing will surprise me.
 

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Phoebee - what's the problem with the state to state transfer? Here in WV all you have to do is have the State Apiarist come out and certify them as non-pest containing - SHB in particular. Is there something worse on your end in VA?
 

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Welcome to the world of beekeeping and ordering bees. A nuc is exactly what you're getting, it's a small, hived colony of bees with a laying queen. Everything else is just fluff and semantics when it comes down to brass tax. People talk about evaluating brood patterns etc... big deal on a queen that's just laid up those frames on that established 3 week old nuc..., she could be a dud in a month or so just as well, that's beekeeping for you. I'm just here to paint the reality of the situation, demand is high so this is about par for the course.
 

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Welcome to the world of beekeeping and ordering bees. A nuc is exactly what you're getting, it's a small, hived colony of bees with a laying queen. Everything else is just fluff and semantics when it comes down to brass tax. People talk about evaluating brood patterns etc... big deal on a queen that's just laid up those frames on that established 3 week old nuc..., she could be a dud in a month or so just as well, that's beekeeping for you. I'm just here to paint the reality of the situation, demand is high so this is about par for the course.
What you describe is not a nuc to me - and unless there is an extreme bee shortage and presuming I "need" bees and unless I can't get packages or a bona-fide nucs, I'm not buying. It's the old willing buyer - willing seller type thing. Makes me understand why regionally people inspect nucs at pickup. Sad.

I don't doubt JRG13 that you are accurately describing what is sold as "nucs." Where we disagree is on what the definition of what a nuc ought to be.

Receiving something with brood in all stages of development is key to my understanding of what a nuc ought to be.

I know of one beekeeper locally who purchases nucs such as you describe, has them build up for 2-3 weeks and then resells them. There is great disparity in strength among the initial product. What gets delivered to the end customer is uniform.
 

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Andrew,

I would agree on what you think a nuc should be, don't get me wrong, I was just sort of playing Devil's advocate. The main issue is there aren't enough 'nucs' overwintered to meet demand in spring for local demands in certain areas. I personally ask myself sometimes, if I were to overwinter even 100 nucs, if I could sell them here come January before almond blooms. After almonds is tougher for us as a lot of full hives are available for cheap whereas other parts of the country are chomping at the bit to get nucs as early as possible.
 

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There is a guy here locally selling nucs for 140.00 and I just found out that he is just throwing 3 frames of bees and comb in there with some brood and putting a virgin queen in there and a couple of drawn frames. To me that is a joke. He is Selling them like crazy though. Only to people that dont know any better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Oh, this last bit is really rich. We're not to come pick up our nucs during regular business hours. No, they'll leave them with our names on them along the driveway, along with plugs to seal the entrances. We're to come at 8 PM, after the foragers are all back inside, find the nucs with our name on them, seal them up, and take them.

Well, there goes the idea of inspecting them at pickup.

I have never heard of this nuc pickup scheme before. I thought it was more common for the supplier to seal them the night before and you pick them up the following day. Is this common practice?
 

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After business hours with no one there to talk with or watch over the nucs. Something sounds fishy....... I always have folks come when i'm available, and I want every customer to inspect their nucs before leaving my place with them, for 2 reasons, 1 being I want the customer to see exactly what they are getting,4 frames of brood, laid by the quieen in the nuc, and a frame of stores. No foundation, no empty comb. 2- so that the customer cant come back and way well they were queenless, brood disease, only on foundation, etc, which is all avoided with a 2 minute inspection with the customer. Customer is happy, Im happy, and word of mouth advertising is way better than spending cash to advertise.
I wouldnt be dealing with the folks that you are getting nucs from, jmo
 

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It's not fishy, but sealing them up in the morning can cause issues if you're late and it's a warm day or maybe they're not going to be around the next day.
 
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