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Being a northern beekeeker im thinking locale nucks have several advantages over warm weather package bees.Anyone have experance with useing both?
 

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To me, locale has everything to do with it.....but last year i went with package bees because i didnt know any difference.
1. Nucs already have comb built, but package bees obviously do not. That being said, if you are going foundationless, then, package might be the way to go as they could start from starter strips, and trust me, it wont take long.....
2. Nucs also have a pretty good head start with a laying queen that has already been accepted, generally speaking 5 frame.......whereas the package bees generally have been shaken together, and a queen stuck in a cage in the middle of all of them.
3. When placed, the bees have to build comb in a Nuc, but since they already have some, the will also go right to work foraging once they are oriented to your specific location. To me, that means a better chance to take some honey after the fall flow.

I say i was forced into beekeeping, but really, the 5 swarms in my back yard were a blessing and now officially according to my beatiful bride, now a serious addiction. Now I know that the swarm i was able to convince to stay had a virgin queen, I also know that i should not have clipped her wing. Shortly after i clipped her wing, they off'd her, but i guess they didnt think about a replacement so they didnt have any brood. So what i had was a queenless single hive, so i found the only person I could that was shipping packages at the time, ordered them. They arrived within 2 days and I hived them immediatley. They are doing great as I type. They built up enough that i COULD have taken some honey, BUT, i chose not too. I want to make sure they make it through our mild winters. IF i lived further north, knowing what i know now, I def would go with a Nuc. But in my case, I would/could go either way. I have already placed my order for 2 Russian Hybrid Nucs due in either April or May. I may look for some packages too. BTW, the pricing i found, the Nucs were actually a little cheaper than a package due to shipping costs....... and I live in the same state as the package was sent from.

I would do a package all over again, it was a real blast because i learned from nothing but really old memories and the good guys on here. No experience what so ever except about 25 years ago. Your locale, Id probably go with a Nuc.....IMHO....
 

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I have used both packages and nucs, and have discovered that nucs build up much more quickly with the same amount of feed and pollen stimulation, for reasons already mentioned. I'm not as far north as you, but my experience 50 miles north of Wichita, KS, and in the St. Louis, MO area as well as in the MO bootheel area now is that after a season or two, southern packages/nucs are just as well adapted as any. At least in the areas I've mentioned. Those of you further north may have had different experiences.

As I try to maintain variety in the genetics in my apiaries, I'll get nucs, queens, or packages, however I can get them, and go from there. Nucs being first choice. Along with raising my own queens, which I plan to start this next spring.
Good luck to you!
Steven
 

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Packages are on the decline the first month until the new brood starts to emerge. Nucs are on the incline with all stages of brood from the start. Plus you can inspect the nuc and have a good idea of the laying pattern of the queen. With a package you won’t know for a while. Buy nucs if available.
 

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The problem with any issue is that reality is more complex than you'd like it to be. But basically I agree a nuc is a month ahead of a package and an overwintered local nuc may be two months ahead just because they are already an organized colony on the build up, instead of an incongruous mob that has to get organized into a colony and THEN build comb and get going, not to mention that they are acclimatized.

But the problem with saying which is better is that I get constant questions from people who buy a nuc (because it's better) and now want to install it in their Kenya Top Bar Hive. Bad plan. A package would be much simpler. Or they buy a deep nuc and want to install it in their eight frame medium boxes. Again, a package would be much simpler. Of course in this case a medium nuc would be the optimum solution. Or they buy them on the right size frame, but they want small cell bees, so they immediately have to figure out how to regress them and rotate out all the comb that came with the nuc. Again, I think a package is a simpler solution.

But all things being equal--the nuc is on the frames you want your bees on, the cell size you want your bees on, the bees are local survivors that are acclimatized etc. Then nucs are the way to go, IMO.
 

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This coming year I think we will have pretty much figured out and taken care of the problems with nucs. Our group has mediums and deeps but also we will be making nucs to order for those top bar guys. Local bees are the way to go if you can.
 

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Re: Package bees versus local nucs

Hi Mike,
It's nice to be chatting with you again. You're certainly right about reality being complex. I spend half my time there. While I don't disagree with those who like nucs better, I have a few points to make, possibly due to the fact that I bought AFB once and just last year watched a newbee choke on some mite-ridden 5 framers.
1. The queen in a nuc had to come from somewhere. Likely a queen breeder. No better,no worse than in a package. The brood in a nuc may not be from the queen you get with it. To make a nuc I take 2/3 frames of brood, 1 of honey and 1 of pollen. Then I add the queen.
2. Disease. It all travels with the comb. Ditto Small hive beetles and mites. (Mites travel in that brood.)
3. Overwintered is good? Not likely. It's an old queen and more old bees than you can count.
4. Adapted? In 3 weeks you get all new bees. Only if the queen is local, perhaps they will be adapted. I'm not really sure there is such a thing. Who needs to adapt to Ga?
5. Back to disease. If the package of bees uses up what honey they took with them at least some potential AFB is gone. Since they are broodless!!! you can throw a cup of powdered sugar in the package, roll it around and set the box down and watch the mites fall off.
6. Drawn comb. It's valuable but comb should be rotated out every 3 years. Making nucs to sell is one way a beek can get rid of that comb and get your money too. A new (fed) package can draw out comb really fast. Now you have a clean start.

Welcome to our addictive world,

Hi, My name is....

dickm
 

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The success of either package or nuc is largely dependent on queen quality, not the immediate ability to forage. With careful management a 2lb pkg can produce honey the first year. The broodless condition just prior to build up is an ideal time to treat for mites. Here in California you can purchase at least twice as many packages as nucs for the same money. I think packages are more economical and are available in greater quantity than nucleus colonies.
 

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When I talk about an overwintered nuc, the queens are usually from the previous fall, which I think, and Brother Adam also believed, are at their prime. I don't sell my overwintered nucs until about mid May. By then they are either booming or they are not, and I most are booming. The bees are young and strong and the hive is going places.

When I buy packages these days, the queens are iffy at best, and the package often moves next door because of it, so maybe half of them do well, a fourth move next door and the other fourth never really get going or supersede the queen and take a three or four week setback from it.
 

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dickm,

I have to ask, Where do you get your Nucs? I don't see any point in your statements. Unless the nuc producers you know are just trying to sell their old queens and old comb. In that case, you get what you pay for.

"1. The queen in a nuc had to come from somewhere. Likely a queen breeder. No better,no worse than in a package. The brood in a nuc may not be from the queen you get with it. To make a nuc I take 2/3 frames of brood, 1 of honey and 1 of pollen. Then I add the queen."

Most of the nuc producers I know including myself raise our queens and intorduce them into a nuc and keep them untill after the first hatch. So yes the brood in that nuc did come from that queen. When a customer picks up his nuc he gets to inspect it, look and see his new queen and the brood that goes with her.

"2. Disease. It all travels with the comb. Ditto Small hive beetles and mites. (Mites travel in that brood.)"

Any comb has to be inspected by the state before it can be sold and moved between apiaries. As far as SHB go. we have SHB here where I live not because guys were inporting nucs from Georgia.

"3. Overwintered is good? Not likely. It's an old queen and more old bees than you can count."

Again, who do you get bees from. If some guy is selling you his old stock, why do you buy it? Nucs in this area are made to order. The queens are less than one year old and even the overwintered nucs have been set for over a month so those are now new bees.

"4. Adapted? In 3 weeks you get all new bees. Only if the queen is local, perhaps they will be adapted. I'm not really sure there is such a thing. Who needs to adapt to Ga?"

Not sure what your how to respond to that???

"5. Back to disease. If the package of bees uses up what honey they took with them at least some potential AFB is gone. Since they are broodless!!! you can throw a cup of powdered sugar in the package, roll it around and set the box down and watch the mites fall off. "

I thought your package bees had no mites???


"6. Drawn comb. It's valuable but comb should be rotated out every 3 years. Making nucs to sell is one way a beek can get rid of that comb and get your money too. A new (fed) package can draw out comb really fast. Now you have a clean start."

Again, made to order. New comb every time. Less than 3 to 6 months old.

"Welcome to our addictive world,"

Its your addictive world, not mine.
 

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dickm,


Any comb has to be inspected by the state before it can be sold and moved between apiaries. As far as SHB go. we have SHB here where I live not because guys were inporting nucs from Georgia. I am amazed at how many people blame SHB on Ga Nucs or Packages for that matter. SHB found my hives within 4 weeks, and I certainly can assure you that there were not any in the package I recieved last year. They are all over at this point. maybe not p north so much, but you cannot blame Ga thats for sure.


"4. Adapted? In 3 weeks you get all new bees. Only if the queen is local, perhaps they will be adapted. I'm not really sure there is such a thing. Who needs to adapt to Ga?"

Have you ever lived in Ga? Its like saying I wouldnt have to adapt to New York or Mississippi. Last year at this time we were not inches down on water, we were FEET, over 10 if I am not mistaken. This year, we are well above the level we normally are. I have a picture of my thermometer at 118 degrees last year........i thought surely not, so I got another one, and yes it was 118 and sometimes 119, that counts almost 100% humidity. Gotta watch what you say. I have been and lived all over the world in my young 34 years of age, but I can assure you that the only place i have ever, and I mean ever been during the summer that can be this hot and dry is Thailand.....at that was freaking miserable.And if the queens and Nucs are not at their prime, well then, I am a fool, and should be taken for one. I do a lot of research now and talk to people about the different beeks and reputations.........Just because I live in the south and am from Tn, please do not take me for a fool.....
 

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Devdog108,

We didn't have SHB and then we did. Funny on how the area around GA and FL reported on having SHB and then within a matter of a year they moved over what 600, 700 mile north. I don't buy it. They had help. UPS, FEDX and USPS.
 

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We will have to disagree in that case. Nucs and packages do not always come out of one state if you know what I am saying. You can however blame the importers in the first place. The climate may be just right for them to multiply in the south and that may be why you are seeing them everywhere now.....kinda like the swine flu.......They SURE as heck found my hive quick fast and in a real hurry, and the closest hive to me is a mile or more away that I know of...
 

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I hear what your saying. Believe me when I say I give the package buyers here a heap of crap whenever I can. I keep bees in 6 different sites. I can go months without seeing a SHB and then its game on.

Merry Christmas.
 
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