This year (2018), a Utah beekeeper approached us about selling nucs for him. His bees are overwhelmingly successful. He has 400 colonies and needs to divide to maintain. We debated about selling these nucs or not because his treatment philosophy is different from ours, and decided to go for it, but to differentiate the two types of nucs on the website. Here is some more detailed information about each.
Some more organically-minded customers may prefer the Treatment-Free Hive Nucleus because they plan to use more sustainable treatment practices. Others would rather have the cheaper price of the Commercial Nucs and plan to treat their bees with pesticides to control mites or other diseases.
(“Nuc” is short for nucleus colony.)
The treatment-free nucs start from California packages with a queen from our feral bee project. We install the package into one of our hives on brand new frames. Once the package is in the hive, the 2-pounds of initial worker bees get to work. They draw out comb, collect nectar and pollen, the queen begins laying eggs, and those eggs begin to mature and emerge. It takes about 21 days for an egg to grow into a bee. Meanwhile, the initial work force will slowly die off, to be replaced by young bees. The emerging bees are offspring of the queen, and will be true to the queen and her mates. The package is a placeholder to raise stock from the queen’s genetics.
All of this happens under our watch care. If some of the packages don’t do well, we weed them out and only sell the successful packages as nucs with a thriving queen. We believe that these nucs will have a cleaner start and be easier to manage using treatment-free methods.
Wax is a reservoir for storing pesticides, both from pesticide applications within the hive, and pesticides the bees may encounter while foraging. If you have organic ideals, purchase the treatment-free nuc to give bees the cleanest start possible.
We recommend nucs for first-time beekeepers, but experienced beekeepers can raise a package in a similar manner in their own equipment.
With the commercial nucs, our nuc partner will take a hive that is thriving (and 3rd party reports say they are doing extremely well), and take out 5 frames of brood, honey, and pollen, then introduce a new feral queen. The queen will begin laying eggs in her new hive. The workers emerging from the first round of brood will have genetics from the mother hive, but eventually will be replaced with workers that have the new queen’s genetics. The wax comb on those 5 frames will come from the mother hive. As the hive expands, bees will build new wax on other frames.
This beekeeper regularly uses commercial agriculture chemicals to treat his hives for mites and brood disease. If you prefer this treatment strategy, purchase a commercial nuc that’s ready to go.
Both Nuc Types
Here are some things we are doing to mitigate the risk of spreading disease in our nucs.
- All nucs come with a new queen from our feral bee project.
- Colonies will be inspected by a state bee inspector from the Department of Ag. The certificate is available upon request, in case you need to cross state lines, or just want a copy for your records. It’s good for 30 days.
- Guaranteed replacement of colony for 45 days. That is enough time for two brood cycles to go through, to make sure brood disease doesn’t come from the mother hive. Brood disease after this time would come from a factor in the hive’s new environment.
- Guaranteed queen replacement for 10 days. Make sure to inspect your hive within that time to make sure you see a good egg-laying pattern with one egg per cell.
- There is no frame exchange. The nuc price includes the bees and 5 frames. We prefer not to use used equipment so bees will have the cleanest start possible. We recommend discarding 30% of comb every year, choosing the darkest comb to remove.
- Mother hives and equipment for the commercial nucs are fairly young, about 4-5 years old in 2018.
Pickups for The Nucs
These nucs are kept at different apiaries and have different pickup dates and locations. Please see the product descriptions or the homepage of our site for pickup information.