Author Topic: What Questions Should be Asked When Ordering Nucs  (Read 2715 times)

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Offline DMLinton

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What Questions Should be Asked When Ordering Nucs
« on: December 29, 2013, 09:22:07 am »
I "ordered" some nucs earlier this Fall and in chat last evening learned some quesions I should have asked but didn't.  It was suggested to me that it might be good to start a thread to collect all the questions that a buyer should be at least thinking about, if not asking.  I hope to compile the responses into a sticky.  Another thread might be something along the lines of how a newbie can figure out where NOT to buy bees.

Some questions to start:
  • How are the nucs created? Overwintered nucs, queen imported in time to make nuc + some bees from where ever, homegrown Spring mated queen, etc, etc.
  • Similar to the previous question, when are the nucs created?  Previous year or in time for pick up?
  • How many frames?  It seems a nuc can be anything from 3 to 5 frames.
  • What do the frames consist of?  All larvae, capped brood, honey and some pollen or maybe, for example in 5 frame nucs, a couple empty frames?
  • How are bees distributed to those who have placed orders?  If by Spring, the seller has say only 80% of the number of nucs he/she had anticipated, does each buyer get 80% of their order or do the larger and well know buyers get their orders filled first?

What questions are missing from my list?
« Last Edit: December 29, 2013, 09:24:27 am by DMLinton »
Regards, Dennis
First bees installed July 1, 2014..

Offline Perry

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Re: What Questions Should be Asked When Ordering Nucs
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2013, 09:33:51 am »
This is a great topic. There will be different responses due to location and all. I am going to think about this for a bit and then respond.
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Offline G3farms

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Re: What Questions Should be Asked When Ordering Nucs
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2013, 01:06:22 pm »
I sell a few nucs here and there and some of the questions I get asked.........

1. Are these deep or medium frames?
2. The frames that have brood in them, am I getting the queen that laid it or a caged queen from another source? Put a different way.........The queen that is in the nuc that I am buying is she a proven laying queen?
3. Will you take the time to go through the nuc with me and show me the queen and different frames?
4. Will you transfer the nuc frames into a 10 frame box for me?
5. The frames I am getting, are they new or old stuff, store bought or home made, wood or plastic, foundation or foundation less, wax or plastic?
6. What kind of nuc box and do I get to keep it?
7. Is there a frame exchange?
8. What if the bees die or do not make it through the winter?
9. Should I feed my bees when I get them home?
10. Have these bees been medicated?
11. Do these bees have mites?
12. Do these bees have SHB?
13. What breed of bees are these?
14. Is this last years queen or this years queen?
15. If I have any questions can I call you for answers?

Bees are bees and do as they please!

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Offline LazyBkpr

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Re: What Questions Should be Asked When Ordering Nucs
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2013, 07:03:43 pm »
Those are all excellent questions.   MOST of them I am prepared to deal with on my own. If they dont make it through the winter after I had all year to build them up I consider 80% my fault, the other 20% could be related to genetics...
   I know...  I know...  re hashing old arguments...   But I STILL think southern bred and raised bees have a harder time with -30 wind chill (tonight) than bees that have been through it and survived...
   I believe, that questions about NUC's should be more focused on Genetics and resistances.  I BELIEVE we wont have better bees until every beekeeper is working to the best of their ability to select for more resistant bees.. Choosing their best genetics and requeening their other hives from those genetics.. Genetics from their OWN apiary, with occasional queens brought in.. IE Russian crosses/ VSH/MN Hygenic/Waynes survivors etc..  to help those resistances.

  My questions when I buy Nuc's.. 
   1. Genetics? What cross are they?
   2.   What were the mite counts, how resistant are they?
   3. Did they, or the queen they came from Overwinter HERE or NORTH of here last winter?"
   4. HOW were they overwintered?

   Then I go into several questions G mentioned.. specifically deep or medium frames since I use all mediums.
   How long has the queen been laying etc etc...

  Having lost GOOD southern bred hives overwinter has created a horrible Bias in my mind that I cant seem to get past.

  I am NOT against treating.. I am NOT against feeding. I dont tout a specific type of hive, I dont care what kind of foundation you use, or the method you use to re-queen or create queen cells..   But I am an advocate of making the bees you have better.
   I think the NUC's/queens/packages you buy should improve your apiary, and so the questions I ask first are in that direction.

   Kind of a tough question to answer in a hobby as diverse as beekeeping.
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Offline Perry

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Re: What Questions Should be Asked When Ordering Nucs
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2013, 08:16:27 pm »
Wow, I almost never get any of those questions.
 I tell folks:
#1 - You are getting a 4 frame nuc
   - 4 frames covered with bees
   - 2 frames with brood of all stages
   - 1 frame with honey/nectar and pollen
   - 1 fame of comb, part empty for the queen to lay in, and whatever else is on it (honey/pollen/brood)
#2 - If you want a nuc before locally raised queens are available, you will be getting an imported queen, (about which I have no control over quality).
     - acceptance is assured before leaving.
#3 - Breed of imported queen is passed on to those that go that route, locally raised queens are Mutts.
#4 - Mites? Probably, if they don't have them, they will shortly.
      -This part always kills me. There are imported packages of bees from Australia that are advertised as mite free! Just how long will they be around here??
#5 - I don't usually show folks the inside of the nucs they're picking up, because the foragers would be lost. If they want to hang around till dark and then pick them up I suppose I could. I ask that all my customers call me after they hive their nucs to tell me if they are satisfied or not (haven't been told not yet, knock on wood).
I will make a house call depending on circumstance if necessary.
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Offline tecumseh

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Re: What Questions Should be Asked When Ordering Nucs
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2013, 06:31:07 am »
great contribution G3.

just to elaborate a bit on one question I would want to know (given the current issues with superscedure) if the queen and nuc has been fed at least a little bit of fumidil?  most especially if the unit is to be shipped some distance.

#4...here quite often I simply transfer the bees into the customer's box.  in this case the kind of nuc box has little meaning... if they want to take it home and reuse the box then the kind of box you supply can have value (I am very biased towards the jzbz boxes... some of the two part boxes are really only good for using one time prior to being burned).  <I myself really prefer this approach since the customer get a mini bee school and see just what he is buying before he leaves my premises.

#15... some of my customers tell me this detail is one the appreciate the most.

almost any commercial supplier of nucs will NOT be able to allocate this much time to each and every individual customer. 

Offline Zookeep

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Re: What Questions Should be Asked When Ordering Nucs
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2014, 07:02:48 am »
I might be a little different, I only sell a few nucs I raise but I think of a nuc being ready for sale when 3 frames are covered with brood in all stages 2 outer frames are food and maybe some brood as well but basically if the nucs not in a bigger box soon it will start swarm cells, I always have a few nucs going I dont push selling them so soon as they are ready to go if not sold they go into 1 of the yards and produce a full hive I keep (no loss)
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