2018 Nuc, Package & Queen Suppliers

Jan 25, 2018 by

2018 Nuc, Package & Queen Suppliers

Follow link below for a list of suppliers for Nucs, Packages and Queens for 2018.

Nucs Packages Suppliers

Here are some considerations in deciding what to order and from whom.

Obtaining Starter Bees

Honey bees are obtained as Nucleus Hives (Nucs) or Packages, or may be captured as Swarms.

  • Nucleus colonies, “nucs”. Nucs consist of frames (usually 5) with a fertilized queen, brood at all stages of development, honey and pollen. The bees are already functioning as a colony.
    • Not all nucs are the same. Know your supplier – ask questions.
      • Some nucs are formed by pulling frames of brood, honey and pollen from other hives, then introducing a caged queen from another source.
      • Ideally the queen has overwintered with the colony and has produced all the brood included, it is truly a small thriving colony.
    • Bees are transferred to your hive box by simply placing the nuc-frames, into your hive. (Be sure the remaining are filled with other frames.)
    • Nucs are more expensive, $150 to $225 (2018), but tend to be available a bit sooner, late April onward.
    • Nucs should be fed for a few weeks while bees are drawing out new comb and building up their colony.
  • Package bees arrive in a screened box containing 2 to 3 pounds of bees (7,000 to 11,000 bees) and a mated queen in a small cage.
    • Cost will be $125 to $150 (2018); they tend to arrive a bit later, late May onward. Some may be available earlier if brought in from southern states or California.
    • Package bees are introduced to your hive by “pouring them in” or by some similar process. Instructions are available, or an experienced beekeeper will be happy to help you.
    • It will be 5 to six weeks before any of the queen’s own bees will leave the colony and begin foraging.
      • Worker bees will need to draw out some comb before the queen can begin laying. (Including an old, previously drawn frame can help speed up this stage.)
      • Eggs take about 3 weeks to mature into an adult bee
      • A newly emerged bee works inside the hive for several days before “graduating” to become a field bee.
    • Initial feeding is VERY important, particularly for packages..
      • Feeding stimulates bees to draw out comb and build up the colony faster.
      • The package work force is small, bees are older and will be dying off naturally over the next few weeks. (Rem: worker bees live for only 4 to 7 weeks depending on their health.)
    • This writer prefers nucs, but many beekeepers purchase packages and are very, very pleased with them. (If you use top-bar hives, packages are the best way to go.)
  • Swarms are another possibility for obtaining bees.
    • This is far from reliable! As a source for new bees it is best applied once you have gained some experience.
    • Setting up a swarm trap is a good strategy for any beekeeper, new or experienced.
      • Swarming is an evolved natural reproductive behavior. Assume your bees will swarm at some point.
        • Swarming is NOT necessarily a failure of the beekeeper. Chances may be minimized, but this takes knowing colony behavior and frequent colony inspections.
      • A swarm trap, properly created and placed will increase the chances that your swarm will stay with you, but is no guarantee.

 

 

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