Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,949 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
As a small local backyard bee supplier and person that posts regularly on facebook. I wanted to share a bit of my experiences this year.

This is the first year I am selling a few nucs. I also sell a small amount of locally mated queens. I post info and photos all year on my agricultural facebook page of what goes on in the beeyard, to help teach my methods-along with lots of photos of course :)

Most people who buy from me know in great detail what is going on here and what the product is.They really have no questions by the time they come here and have already seen what to do if they are beginner bee keepers. Facebook works really well to reach hundreds of folks with one posting, rather than answering the phone a hundred times to answer the same question over and over and over. Photos show exactly what I am talking about and make it easy to grasp.

Facebook allows me to have my privacy and to not be interrupted so I can work, yet gives people the information they want and need to be successful, to give them ideas and encourage enthusiasm.

Although I planned to wait until March to take deposits so I could accurately evaluate the strength of my overwintered stock, people wanted to get on the list so badly I took deposits for nucs early and was mostly sold out by January.

I made a list for queens with no deposits.

Western Washington Bred & Raised Overwintered Nucs were advertised, some to be ready sometime in April, most sometime in May. The last people on the nuc list would be getting newly made nucs with 2014 queen, ready by early June. Schedule would be Weather dependant.

I also warned them to have a back up plan for nucs in case I could not deliver. Since I had not sold nucs before, I wanted to let them know and not disappoint.
I gave them a few # for other local suppliers.

Deposits were non refundable..unless I could not produce. Then a full quick refund would be given.
2014 queens list was posted as queens ready Late May/Early June for the first batch. Weather permitting

Both lists were a first come first serve basis. If you paid your deposit for a nuc and were high on the list, you'd get an early phone call.
If you were at the bottom of the list you'd be closer to late May.


I've posted photos of my early queen rearing efforts and the excellent results I had this spring.
You can see some of that here in this thread:

http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?295832-Test-grafts

Problem is, when folks saw these postings, called or emailed starting in Early April wanting to know when they could pick up their nucs or queens. They didn't realize there were people ahead of them and the product needed to grow and mature a bit before it would be ready to go.

(First few rounds of queens went into the spring nucs that were for sale.)

I had to laugh at the enthusiasm and excitement of my customers. It's refreshing to see a grown man in his 50's or 60's as excited as a kid on Christmas. :)

I have to be careful though, when I post on facebook, to let them know the status of orders so they don't assume there order must be ready..two months in advance.

Things went well this winter and spring. I was able to easily make up all the nucs I planned and they were right on schedule, with the last few going out by the end of the month.

2014 Queens look great, but I am still gearing up into full production. It's still early and a producer, big or small has to be careful not to get too involved incase the weather takes an unexpected ugly turn. Mating nucs with queens that don't make it back can't be queenless too long or you have a bunch of dwindled laying worker colonies that are worthless..

I can't be pressured to produce super early queens and take the risk they will be poorly mated, just to accommodate the demand. And there is a tremendous amount of pressure to produce before the natural season.

"Is it ready yet?" "Is it ready yet?" "Is it ready yet?"

How many times have I heard this spring? From Adults? LOL It totally cracks me up. But seriously, the customer service end is a learning curve I also have to manage to keep everyone-including myself- happy.
Once I explain, they are content.

My customers are absolutely fantastic people. I've been very impressed and have enjoyed the experience. And I am not a real people lover...so that's saying a lot. It just seems like people interested in agriculture are so down to earth and pleasant.

I don't plan to sell nucs every year and it pained me to sell the bees I could be using for mating nucs. But I just had too many bees to handle that much growth in one year. Better sell a few to help pay for equipment than let them get away from me.

I worked all winter in sometimes bitter cold temps to make more equipment to house the ones I DID keep. It was all I could manage in one year.







I know there are a lot of you thinking about selling a few nucs. Just thought I'd post my experience to help you make your plans.

There were a few things I could have done last fall to make it a little easier on myself this spring. My biggest 'problem' was the overwintered nucs did too well, and had too many full frames. I couldn't let them go until I had capped queen cells to give what remained of the colony after I removed the existing queen and five frames.

Timing and scheduling are what I'm working on..so I can give more definite dates for products in the future.

My real goal with facebook is to help people to be successful in overwintering and learn to rear their own queens, make their Own nucs...NOT buy them from me. But until then, what I'm doing seems to be working for everyone involved.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,208 Posts
Thanks for the insight.
On another thread I was asking about holding (banking) and releasing virgin Queens for those that don't have incubators.
I observed a QC emerge..very exciting... And put the emerged Queen in a roller cage with a smear of honey in the candy end. I put her in a Queen right hive 2 boxes above an excluder between 2 frames. I also had a few Queen cells I had cut out in roller cages between the same frames. I have no idea if the QC are duds or developing.
The next day when I had nuc made up I went to get the virgin Queen and she was curled up and very dead.
How does one hold virgins and cut out qc if waiting for nuc placement?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,183 Posts
I also sold a few "nucs" this spring - actually 8 frame mediums, but roughly equivalent. I went about it differently than you did of course. I didn't take any pre orders or deposits, and I didn't even officially announce my intentions until April 1st - when I had a pretty good idea of when I would be able to have them ready. I just put names on a first come first served list, and sent out emails as the day approached. I told everyone that they would be welcome to opt out at any time for any reason - no hard feelings, no worries - but very few did. On pickup day everyone showed up cash in hand and eager.

My nucs were spring splits with over wintered VSH queens from a high quality local producer who is a friend - they babysat mating nucs over the winter, so I got them around April 12 when he placed his first batch of cells. On May 3 I sold them in superable wooden boxes which I built over the winter - on pickup day I also had supers and frames - both assembled and unassembled for sale at a reasonable price for anyone who needed them.

They were almost too strong by the scheduled date, but I think everyone saw that as added value. I advised that management would be required to prevent swarming.

As far as I can tell everyone has been very happy with the quality, and I only Had to replaced 1 queen (which i was prepared to cheerfully do) that got squashed when a plastic frame stuck to the lid. Cost of doing business.

So my impression is that it's way easier money than honey - especially since it looks like a good honey crop is coming in despite splitting out all that brood. All of the sold comb has already been replaced (which was a concern going in) and my wife thinks a lot more of my hobby since I gave her 1/2 of the door. Definitely will go again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,486 Posts
Lauri,

How do you deal with the woodenware for nucs or are you using the cardboard ones? I can't decide what's harder to part with, the boxes and frames or the bees yet. I suppose deposits could be held on return of boxes but it still ties them up for a bit and you never know if it's really coming back or not. Sounds like your initial foray into selling nucs went well though, congratulations. Seeing all the white boxes still saddens me... LOL
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,949 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the insight.
On another thread I was asking about holding (banking) and releasing virgin Queens for those that don't have incubators.
I observed a QC emerge..very exciting... And put the emerged Queen in a roller cage with a smear of honey in the candy end. I put her in a Queen right hive 2 boxes above an excluder between 2 frames. I also had a few Queen cells I had cut out in roller cages between the same frames. I have no idea if the QC are duds or developing.
The next day when I had nuc made up I went to get the virgin Queen and she was curled up and very dead.
How does one hold virgins and cut out qc if waiting for nuc placement?
You can bank a virgin queen in a colony that is familiar with the cells, such as a queenright finisher with cells ripening above an excluder. But if you try to place a virgin in a roller cage in a different queenright colony, they will be very aggressive towards her. But it's likely she died from getting honey on her.

If you bank her in the hive that is accostumed to her, the bees will feed her and you don't need to add feed to the roller cage. Placing honey with a queen can kill her quickly unless she has a few attendants to keep her clean.

Here is a good example.
This study focused on the difference between banking virgins in wooden cages VS plastic cages. The difference was alarming as the study apparently showed virgins banked in plastic cages perished at a higher rate than those in wood cages. It concerned me since I use almost all plastic queen and roller cages.

It alarmed me momentarily though, until I saw at the very end of the study it was apparent they had ether inexperienced or careless people doing the study that had let queen get slimed with honey which was added to the cage. That was the reason for the higher mortality, not the components of the cage.

http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0050150

(I hate to criticize studies, but I found this to be an overlooked or weak point in this one)

This photo shows about what I would expect when I place a virgin queen on a queenless colony. Generally there would be Some interest, but not overly so.




In comparison to a virgin placed on a queenright colony.



What happened here is I was checking for cell hatches & mated returns and couldn't find the queen in this mating nuc. When I place a virgin on top like this, they tell me if the hive is queenright or not. When they attack the roller cage I know I've just missed the queen somehow. Sometimes still out on mating flights and not IN the hive, but queenright just the same.

Adding feed to a roller cage needs to be done with care. Slightly Crystalized honey is best and you need to put it down in the grove of the cap and carefully wipe off any extra.



In the photo above, you see the bottom of the roller cage and the groves I place feed in. In this case I put some royal jelly & honey in to see if there was a difference in consumption or queen quality. I found no difference and feed only honey.

But you can see how feed is deep in the groves so none gets on the virgin. I can keep her for two days with an additional drop of water, but if I keep her in longer, I give her a few attendants.

I've found that virgins banked in colonies are not treated equally. Some are favored and well fed, some can be totally ignored. I prefer to short term bank in the incubator. They all come out fat and strong and treated equally. I've never kept them for more than 3 days before placing ..except a batch I didn't like the looks of and kept them in for 5-6 days before I culled them, just to see the effects.

Having a small incubator gives you extreme versatility..like the other day I was makign up mating nucs and had some robing issues. WIth capped cells ready to hatch, I had no worries and could wait to place them for a cooler day when I got the robbing under control. In that case I made stronger nucs, smaller entrances and placed a 5 gallon bucket slow drip open feeder far away from the nucs to distract any hungry bees away from the new nucs.
I'm about 1- 2 weeks away from my main flow and it's a little lean here at the moment.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
213 Posts
My biggest 'problem' was the overwintered nucs did too well, and had too many full frames. I couldn't let them go until I had capped queen cells to give what remained of the colony after I removed the existing queen and five frames. ...............................,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Thats the problem here Lauri, the overwintered nucs are busting at the seams by the time I have cells ready. I was afraid to graft too early with the cold spells in April. I wanted to see plenty of drones flying ,not just the purple eye s. So I had to keep putting supers on the OV nucs moving brood up and empty comb into the nest, some got 4&5 high. Last year I sold the overwintered nucs first and made nucs out of what was left. Not this year. Each round of cells has enough brood coming out of the ov nucs to start a new nuc. Mike Palmer calls them brood factories, they sure are. Same with the mini`s I saw your post with the mini growing box and built some, thanx, they overwintered well too. I made supers for them and got plenty of drawn comb for mating mini`s with a frame of brood to boot. Thanx for your post`s and pics, some of us just need to see it to 'get it',,,,,Pete
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,713 Posts
Thanks for the insight.
On another thread I was asking about holding (banking) and releasing virgin Queens for those that don't have incubators...How does one hold virgins and cut out qc if waiting for nuc placement?
You peaked my interest on this one, so I did a little digging. I finally found one reference - "Rearing Queen Honey Bees" by Roger Morse - he says

" In no case should virgin queens be caged, mailed, or otherwise confined. They should be allowed to fly and mate as soon as possible."

I found very little other information on the subject, not that it isn't out there... I surmise that QC's should be placed individually in queenless nucs as soon as possible after their removal from the parent colony. One unfortunate unknown, in many cases, is the age of any capped cell one finds while inspecting. QC's are in a very delicate stage from around the 9th to 14th days, and moving or jostling during this time is to be avoided. Basically that is from the day after they are capped, until 2 days before they emerge.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,949 Posts
Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Lauri,

How do you deal with the woodenware for nucs or are you using the cardboard ones? I can't decide what's harder to part with, the boxes and frames or the bees yet. I suppose deposits could be held on return of boxes but it still ties them up for a bit and you never know if it's really coming back or not. Sounds like your initial foray into selling nucs went well though, congratulations. Seeing all the white boxes still saddens me... LOL
I used cardboard.( I actually traded some fish for some used, but like new asssembled cardboard nucs from the local supplier in 2012. I've stored them all this time and was glad to finally make use of them.) I worry about new folks rolling the queen with them when they are so full of bees, that's probably the worst thing about them. No insulation ether, so I couldn't make them a week or so in advance and let them live in them for any length of time since I am in a wet northern climate. I made cardboard nucs up just hours before the customer was to arrive so there was not a chilled brood risk.
I actually made up some 8 frame deep transport hives, screened for good ventilation with room for easy frame seperation upon transfer, but no one used them. They required a deposit and next day return. They make great swarm transport box's though :)

Small entrance with disk for closure and with ratchet strap, very secure.







One thing I really cringe at is the folks that would put the cardboard nuc inside their car for the ride home. I warned them against it, but they did it anyway. If they ever saw that box full of confined bees with the lid just cracked a tiny bit, they'd never do it. In fact I should take a video just so they can see.

They also want to pick up the nucs in the middle of the afternoon. I know it's inconvenient, but I schedule pick up before and after most flying is done for the day. To get a box full of bees, you can't take away the hive when half of them are out foraging. I had some folks near the Canadian border drive 3 hours for 1 nuc. Yeah, they had to get up early.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,949 Posts
Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
I was afraid to graft too early with the cold spells in April. I wanted to see plenty of drones flying ,not just the purple eye s. e
That's why my thread was called. 'Test grafts' it turned out to be great weather for me but could have gone the other way very easily. You just never know when it comes to the weather.

I actually overwintered about 25 hives that were 4 deeps high and very strong. I had some frames that encouraged drone rearing installed. I had mature drones in Late Feb/Early March. Maybe earlier, but I couldn't get into the hives much before Mid Feb.

That worked very well for early mating. I fed those hives in fall with lots of protein and they came out of winter very productive for me. Not to mention the frames they contributed for more spring nucs.



Purple eyed and no mites...LOL, poor drones, They don't get no love..and even when they do they die :(



That is one brutal photo
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,208 Posts
You can bank a virgin queen in a colony that is familiar with the cells, such as a queenright finisher with cells ripening above an excluder. But if you try to place a virgin in a roller cage in a different queenright colony, they will be very aggressive towards her. But it's likely she died from getting honey on her.

If you bank her in the hive that is accostumed to her, the bees will feed her and you don't need to add feed to the roller cage. Placing honey with a queen can kill her quickly unless she has a few attendants to keep her clean.

Here is a good example.
This study focused on the difference between banking virgins in wooden cages VS plastic cages. The difference was alarming as the study apparently showed virgins banked in plastic cages perished at a higher rate than those in wood cages. It concerned me since I use almost all plastic queen and roller cages.

It alarmed me momentarily though, until I saw at the very end of the study it was apparent they had ether inexperienced or careless people doing the study that had let queen get slimed with honey which was added to the cage. That was the reason for the higher mortality, not the components of the cage.

http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0050150

(I hate to criticize studies, but I found this to be an overlooked or weak point in this one)

This photo shows about what I would expect when I place a virgin queen on a queenless colony. Generally there would be Some interest, but not overly so.




In comparison to a virgin placed on a queenright colony.



What happened here is I was checking for cell hatches & mated returns and couldn't find the queen in this mating nuc. When I place a virgin on top like this, they tell me if the hive is queenright or not. When they attack the roller cage I know I've just missed the queen somehow. Sometimes still out on mating flights and not IN the hive, but queenright just the same.

Adding feed to a roller cage needs to be done with care. Slightly Crystalized honey is best and you need to put it down in the grove of the cap and carefully wipe off any extra.



In the photo above, you see the bottom of the roller cage and the groves I place feed in. In this case I put some royal jelly & honey in to see if there was a difference in consumption or queen quality. I found no difference and feed only honey.

But you can see how feed is deep in the groves so none gets on the virgin. I can keep her for two days with an additional drop of water, but if I keep her in longer, I give her a few attendants.

I've found that virgins banked in colonies are not treated equally. Some are favored and well fed, some can be totally ignored. I prefer to short term bank in the incubator. They all come out fat and strong and treated equally. I've never kept them for more than 3 days before placing ..except a batch I didn't like the looks of and kept them in for 5-6 days before I culled them, just to see the effects.

Having a small incubator gives you extreme versatility..like the other day I was makign up mating nucs and had some robing issues. WIth capped cells ready to hatch, I had no worries and could wait to place them for a cooler day when I got the robbing under control. In that case I made stronger nucs, smaller entrances and placed a 5 gallon bucket slow drip open feeder far away from the nucs to distract any hungry bees away from the new nucs.
I'm about 1- 2 weeks away from my main flow and it's a little lean here at the moment.
Thank you:)
The end cap grooves seem be those that click the cap onto the roller...correct? I put a finger smear of honey in the bit meant for candy...my bad.
The hive I had her in I believe to be Queen right with and excluder. The dadants above the excluder are just waiting for capped brood to clear. I placed the cage between 2 dadants. The bees covered he rollers as in your Queen right photo. I guessing would have been better to leave her roller in the hive I got her from but was concerned another virgin would kill her through the cage bars.
What small incubator do you advise? In for a penny,in for a pound....you can't get stuff to work without both the knowledge ,skill and equipment to do so.

Also if you give the Queen attendants do they ever turn on her and kill her?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,208 Posts
I used cardboard. I worry about new folks rolling the queen with them when they are so full of bees, that's the worst thing about them. No insulation ether. I made cardboard nucs up hours before the customer was to arrive so there was not a chilled brood risk.
I actually made up some 8 frame deep transport hives, screened for good ventilation, but no one used them. They required a deposit and next day return. They make great swarm transport box's though :)

Small entrance with disk for closure and with ratchet strap, very secure.







One thing I really cringe at is the folks that would put the cardboard nuc inside their car for the ride home. I warned them against it, but they did it anyway. If they ever saw that box full of confined bees with the lid just cracked a tiny bit, they'd never do it. In fact I should take a video just so they can see.

They also want to pick up the nucs in the middle of the afternoon. I know it's inconvenient, but I schedule pick up before and after most flying is done for the day. To get a box full of bees, you can't take away the hive when half of them are out foraging. I had some folks near the Canadian border drive 3 hours for 1 nuc. Yeah, they had to get up early.
Last year I was requested to pick up my 10 nucs mid afternoon. When I arrived all the cardboard nucs were boxed and taped closed. The seller stacked them all in the back of my car. He said to place them where they were to remain when I got home and to open and transfer them into the wooden deeps in the evening so they would be more inclined to stay put. I knew no better...my first hives. Needless to say a lot of dead and stressed bees. Some nucs ended up Queenless but no free replacement. Live and learn:(
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,486 Posts
Lauri the Impaler! My land owners thought I was crazy putting a nuc in the back of my car to move it to a new outyard, but obviously wooden nucs are easier to secure and I've never had issue. Making sure everyone is home is the smart thing as well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,949 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
I made those transport box's with fully screened top and bottom for safe confinement. Safer for no bee escapes, but more importantly, good ventilation. I won't confine bees in a cardboard nuc, except for the ride home. Even then it's not good if there are a lot of bees in the box.
Confined bees generate a tremendous amount of heat. They can suffocate in no time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,861 Posts
Now I know why you made up so many half deep mini frames for. Buy them in bulks. Learned a lot.
Thanks, Lauri.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
535 Posts
Thanks for the ideas! This is my first year selling nucs also. The Facebook idea is one I am going to copy soon, if you don t mind. I got a lot of calls and texts, I never thought of Facebook to answer questions with posts. I guess I am showing my age. Thanks again for sharing.
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Top