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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Currently I keep about 60-100 nucs around and sell about 35 nucs a year. I am considering stepping up production since the demand is quite high in my area. I'm looking for tips to improve nuc production efficency/cost. Any tips?
 

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TO improve we need to know a little about your current process? What is your current method, style to produce nucs? Frame exchange? Paid labor? Whats your selling price? Raising the price is the easiest method to increase profits if volumes are low and demand is high.

Other ideas to reduce costs are to build your own equipment, go foundation-less and use all deeps.
 

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One problem with going bigger is lack of comb. To maximize nuc production you need comb. Foundation slows down the process. So, how do you plan on having all the comb you'll need?

If you sell 5 frame nucs, every nuc uses up 5 of your combs. How will they be replaced? I try to get the nucs I winter to draw out as many combs as possible on the main flow, so that every nuc I sell has drawn at least the number of frames in the nuc.
 

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Michael makes an excellent point. One of the things I do to get my drawn comb for following years NUC production is to draw it out the previous year as honey supers.
 

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Personally I buy my cells when doing bulk NUC production. However later when its 50 or less at a rip I will graft my own. Just depends on if I have time or not to graft my queens.
 

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The drawn comb situation is my problem as well, I did buy a bunch from trustworthy beekeepers to put my packages on , but I intend on adding deeps to the hives for a first honey super in order to get more comb for nuc production the next year.
Plus I want to rotate comb in the hives that have the older purchased comb, that way my stock is all fresh.

I have tried wintering nucs like Michael Palmer but my luck isn't that great with them, I hope to get better as time goes on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Currently, I raise all of my own queens (graft, incubator, etc.). The past couple of years I have been overwintering most of my nucs (I've had pretty good success, but I'm in VA) in either 5-frame deep singles or doubles. I have been thinking about trying to have a 100 double nucs ready for the coming winter. Then, in the spring divide each into two or three splits (time them with ripe queen cells/virgins). Then, choose the ones I want to keep and let them build back into doubles and use some as mating nucs for queen rearing during the spring/summer. I totally, agree that it is a good idea to capitalize on the natural honeyflow to draw out comb for the coming season (saves a ton of sugar). I'm not interested in using foundationless frames. I have been transferring the nucs I sell into the waxed cardboard boxes (less hassle then having to make sure everybody brings the appropriate equipment etc). I don't do frame exchange (rather not risk getting anything funky).

How do you guys feed larger quantities of nucs? Do you put feeders in each one? Do you open feed (I've started using this some)? Do you guys prefer to split your nucs from full-size colonies in the spring rather than overwinter them? Do you offer both deep and medium nucs (I've been considering building medium nuc equipment)?
 

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I have my nucs in double 5 frame deep setups and wrapped , they were heavy with feed and bees going into winter and I set 2 side by side and I have checked on the and some have dwindled to a handful of bees and died. I think it was lack of heat or something , because they all had plenty of stores and good queens going into winter with low mites .
I do have some coming through SO FAR , if this darn weather ever breaks and spring begins !
 

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How do you guys feed larger quantities of nucs? Do you put feeders in each one? Do you open feed (I've started using this some)? Do you guys prefer to split your nucs from full-size colonies in the spring rather than overwinter them? Do you offer both deep and medium nucs (I've been considering building medium nuc equipment)?
Both. I have open fed and I have put feeders in everyone. I would prefer not to feed but let them build on a nice flow. I build NUCs from both overwintered and production colonies and I have been playing with medium NUCs. Less on the mediums.
 

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I'm selling a few this spring, and comb production is one of my concerns too.

One of our state association officers - who learned nuc production from his mentor - Does this: When his purchased (deep south I believe) queens become available in early spring he splits 3 good brood frames out of each of his strong over wintered double deep hives, adds 2 frames of foundation and feeds them until the foundation is at least 1/2 built out then sells (sells out apparently) them in cardboard boxes for $125. Pretty much puts all of that into his written product description/disclaimer/care advice. The hit on the honey hives is just part of his swarm management / comb rotation. Tried and true for him apparently.

Someone will probably carp about the southern spring queens, the nucs not being overwintered, and the partially drawn frames - but the part where he discloses it all and sells out every year anyway makes that all a bit immaterial. Supply and demand at work.
 

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I am all for disclaimers:D, David it seems like the officer could cut down some of the cost by grafting his own, and that price seems fairly cheap to me. Rather-b-beekeeping, my tip would be since you have proven that you can overwinter 60-100 nucs, have a goal this season to winter twice as many this year, than last. This will help with the drawn frames issue, and at least some of those nucs could be disclaimed as with an overwintered queen, and bring in more than your others. I believe this would set you up to sell at least twice as many next year?
 

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Maybe - but generic queens in small bulk are pretty cheap. Also, you can only do so many things before you start cannibalizing time from something else. Most of us already are somewhat. Selling nucs + producing honey... He's probably already pretty busy in the spring.

In the mid south it's hard to have queens ready before quite late in April many (most) years - to late for swarm management on the big hives, and too late for the prime sales market by the time the nucs grow out. The alternative would be to overwinter the nucs - which is easy to say, but still a lot of work if you have many of them.

If you try to do too many things you can end up doing none of it well.
 

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heavy with feed and bees going into winter ... dwindled to a handful of bees and died. ... they all had plenty of stores and good queens going into winter with low mites .
I find that the nucs that I winter successfully are the ones that require feeding in the fall. The late summer broodnest pretty much takes the entire 5 frames to which I fill with syrup throughout September. I know its easy for me to say, but you want that nest full of brood, to which will be completely back filled with syrup starting immediately after the supers are taken off.
 
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