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Discussion Starter #1
I will soon be picking up my first nuc at Beeweaver. Should I conduct an inspection of the nuc they give me? As a new beekeeper I do not want to feel silly showing up with a suit and smoker, but if that is the norm, ok. I am not yet confident enough to handle bees without a suit.

What should I be looking for in an inspection? Queen, eggs, open and closed brood and honey, all required? Will SHB or mites be apparent if present? If I do not like the nuc is it ok to request a different one?
 

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Just bring a veil, I'm a fan of the tulle ones, cheap and easy, just need a brimmed hat to go with it. They should have a smoker on hand if you want to take a look but nucs are fairly docile in general as they're smaller colonies. Pests will be present but they shouldn't be in alarming numbers. I would look for eggs and a queen and make sure her brood pattern is solid and pollen and honey are also present. I'd also make sure the comb is manageable and the frames have been kept pushed together as well and frames are easy enough to take out.
 

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You should do inspection. They will not mind and may even accompany you. Do not feel intimidated.

I completely agree with JRG13, and will make some additional suggestions. Many nuc producers take two frames with brood from other hives, and add a frame of honey and pollen from another hive as well as two empty drawn frames. Then they add a queen cell. So, 'your' queen will have to fly out to be mated and return. FIND THE QUEEN! Queens returning from mating flights have been known to be captured and eaten by dragonflies, birds, etc. Weaver probably checked the nuc for eggs...but it would not be the first time that eggs from worker bees were presumed to be queen eggs. FIND THE QUEEN!
Look carefully at the quality of the frames, particularly those that are not fill of brood or honey. They should be relatively light colored and definitely not black or dark gray. They should also be fully drawn and not have patches that are just foundation. For what you are paying for a nuc you should get relatively new, fully-drawn frames. If 'your' nuc doesn't have five good ones, don't hesitate to ask that they be switched for good frames.
Since you are dealing with the Weavers you should not have difficulties...but you never know and it is best to be cautious.
 

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I think there's two schools in nuc production as well. I don't mind either one. Some people firmly believe a nuc should be all 5 frames drawn and ready to go into a bigger box. Obviously there's a certain attraction to this type of nuc as it will probably produce a nice crop of honey that year but it also has it's drawbacks as you need to start managing it right away and have equipment ready to go or it'll be swarming. The other method is what lloyd hinted at, a newly made nuc that's ready to grow if the queen is worth anything and was well mated. I see nothing wrong with a couple frames of brood, a frame of pollen and honey and 1-2 frames that might be new foundation or not fully drawn out. This nuc is ready for you to put it where you want it and you can see it start to grow and have a few weeks to just watch it and get stuff ready to go. It also helps you guage how good your flows are as you can see new comb fill up with nectar or pollen and it gives you time to get accustomed to the bees before you need to start messing with them if you're completely new to beekeeping.
 

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Yup, you've gotten good advice so far.

You definitely should inspect the nucs. If you aren't comfortable doing that without full gear, ask them to do it for you and show you the frames.

Like Lloyd said, you should be looking for the queen, for nice fresh even comb, plenty of brood and stores, etc. The nuc should be a small but otherwise fully functional hive in it's own right. Anything that a healthy hive should (or should not) have, the nuc should have as well.
 

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What time of the day are you making the pickup? I wonder how many adult bees will be lost when the top is removed? Is the nuc pickup at one of BeeWeavers bee yards or is the nuc on the back of a trailer in the parking lot of a truck stop, the way it is when they deliver nucs to Arkansas?
 

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I remember seeing bweaver nucs at crazy price, $200 something for 4 frames, is that right?. For that price I would definately inspect and make sure there is plenty of brood in all stages, all drawn and active combs, brimming over with bees. I would request a different nuc if you arn't happy. Pick up in early morning or late evening if possible to retain flyers.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I plan to pick the nuc up at their Navasota yard as early as I can. I then have a 75 mile drive home. Once I get home I will already have the hive ready, but wonder if I should install them immediately, or place the nuc next to the hive for a day or so?
 

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Marant, I think you have posed a good question. I also will be picking up my first nuc there this spring.

It seems like bees will be lost if the nuc is opened and then removed from the yard. Related question: when nucs are prepared for sale, do the beekeepers close up the entrances the night before to keep all the bees home?

If concerned about nuc quality, an idea would be to document the opening of the nuc at final destination with video or photos. Thanks all for input.
 

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It seems like bees will be lost if the nuc is opened and then removed from the yard. Related question: when nucs are prepared for sale, do the beekeepers close up the entrances the night before to keep all the bees home?
I've never bought commercial packages or nucs, all local. I did buy 1 queen from kelley and was more than disapointed, now I make my own.

As far as closing the hive at night I do and the people in our club do. Generally screen close hive at night or at dawn, deliver and install in morning. I doubt in spring, but for example in summer, same principle but add a sponge for water, make sure there is plenty of ventilation.
 

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I wouldn't open it up and disturb them when you get them home, put the nuc where you want it so the entrance will be at the same location as the permanent set up. Unscreen the entrance when you get it in the right spot and let them fly for the rest of the day and let them settle down. Bees are usually a little agitated after a move so you need to learn how to pull the screen on the run..... if you don't want to fire up the smoker anyways, a light puff before removing whatever is blocking the entrance will help keep them calmer too.
 

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As far as inspecting the nuc what are your expectations? If the nuc doesn't meet your expectations then what? You either take it or you don't. If you don't, what are you going to do for bees? Maybe they will let you pick a different nuc if available, but usually all will be of similar quality.
 
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