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How many bees do I need?


I am researching purchasing bees. One video I watched, the beekeeper had about 10,000 he installed…one local site I am looking see by 3 lb boxes or 4 frame nucs. Is that about right for the average pkg or nuc?

I would think 1-3lb box would be a large quantity to start with…

Now what are the pros and cons to pkg vs Nuc?



Totally green here so part of my responding is to see if I know the answer and looking for others to help correct to me

A package is a colony of bees that we’re not laid by the queen. They are getting used to the queen and her pheromones due to being caged together. There are no brood nor is there any honey they will have to make everything from scratch on their own .

A NUC, it is a colony of bees with the queen having leg that colony for the most part. A NUC Will come with brood honey and other pollen storage. A NUC could just take off without having to create or get used to each other.

I have order a NUC and this is from my order “A 3-pound package contains approximately 10,000 bees.”

Editing this post because I wanted to go back and read something else and this is what I’ve discovered

The queen is placed with this colony just like packages bees. As I understand what i read, is that, the only difference is the NUC comes with Brood, Honey and a Queen that is free in the NUC.


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Just found this:

BeeWeaver package bees are 3 pounds of bees with a young, mated queen. The beekeeper can put them in any type of hive (Top Bar Hive, Langstroth Hive, Observation Hive…). Package bees must be fed sugar syrup as soon as they are hived until the bees stop feeding on the syrup because they are building from scratch. BeeWeaver package bees can be picked up from any of our pick-up locations in Texas or shipped directly to the customer via UPS. BeeWeaver package bees are less expensive then the BeeWeaver nucs, but they are not as established as a nuc and do not have brood, so package bees require more time before baby bees begin to emerge to replenish older foragers.

BeeWeaver nucs are 4 deep frames of bees, brood, honey, & pollen. A young, mated queen is laying in the nuc. The beekeeper can put them in a deep hive body of a Langstroth hive – the combs from a nuc will not fit in a top-bar hive unless you cut them into pieces. The BeeWeaver nuc also includes an in-hive feeder and small hive beetle trap. Our nucs are splits (also called divides or increase) made from established colonies. Four combs from an existing colony or colonies are removed from the original hive and placed in a plastic nuc box with a lid for transport, and a new queen is introduced into the nuc. The nuc will build up quickly if fed, and is less vulnerable to starving, absconding, or robbing than a package. The nuc is more expensive then a BeeWeaver package, and it is available only by pick up at our shop or other Texas locations.


With a Nuc the Queen can pretty much start laying as soon as she is installed. She has Combs, Pollen and stores of Honey or Syrup.

Some of the bees will be nurse bees, some foragers and guard bees. There may be one or 2 drones but they are not really needed.

Nurse bees can graduate to foragers if there is no brood but bees reverting back to nurse bees have a bit harder time of it due to the changes in hormones as the mature.

Packaged Bees need to build combs and plenty of honey or syrup is needed and the Queen will only lay if there is Pollen coming in which is needed to fee the brood on bee bread.

THE WISDOM OF THE HIVE - The Social Physiology of Honey Bee Colonies


“2.2. Worker Life History” page 28…
“During the first few days of adult life, a
worker functions primarily as a cell cleaner, cleaning and polishing
recently vacated brood cells. She also devotes time to eating some of
the pollen that is stored nearby, which favors the rapid activation
of her hypopharyngeal glands. The worker also spends some 20% of
her time resting—standing motionless on the combs or in a cell—
and another 20% patrolling—walking about the combs, as if searching
for work. By the time she reaches 3 days of age, she functions as a nurse, for her hypopharyngeal glands have begun secreting brood
food and she has started spending much time feeding the brood. She
also performs the other tasks that arise within the broodnest,
including tending the queen, capping brood, and grooming and
feeding nestmates. This pattern continues for the next 10 days or
so, or until she is about 12 days old. At this point she leaves the central
broodnest to work primarily in the peripheral, food-storage
region of the hive. Here she functions mainly as a food storer. Her hypopharyngeal glands are secreting the enzymes needed for producing
honey, and her poison gland has filled the venom sac. Shuttling
between the hive entrance and the upper honeycombs, she
receives nectar from the returning nectar foragers, converts it to
honey, and deposits this in the storage cells. She also packs pollen in
cells, ventilates the hive by fanning her wings, helps guard the hive
entrance, and continues grooming and feeding her hivemates. Also, if additional comb is needed for honey storage, these middle-aged
bees will activate their wax glands and build comb. Finally, from the
age of about 20 days until the end of life, a worker toils outside the
hive as a forager, gathering nectar, pollen, water, resin, or some combination
of these substances.”

“It must be stressed
that the activities of workers are adjusted in accordance with the
needs of their colony, and that these needs can vary greatly depending
on the conditions both inside and outside the hive. Indeed, it is
probably possible for bees of almost any age to perform a particular
task if the occasion demands it, as has been recently discussed in detail
by Robinson (1992).”


I am researching purchasing bees. One video I watched, the beekeeper had about 10,000 he installed…one local site I am looking see by 3 lb boxes or 4 frame nucs. Is that about right for the average pkg or nuc?

Typical packages are 3lbs (they vary from 2 to 4). A typical nuc is 5 frames but there are some 4 frame out there.

I would think 1-3lb box would be a large quantity to start with…

It’s about right for one hive, but I would start with at least two hives and three would be best.

Now what are the pros and cons to pkg vs Nuc?

If the Nuc is on the size frames you want (I like mediums and most nucs are deeps) and the size cell you want (I want 4.9mm cells or natural comb and most are on large cell 5.4mm cells). Then a Nuc is probably best. But in my experience they seldom come in the size I want. So the package has the edge.


The Flow Hive brood chamber is a DEEP isn’t it?

Thanks for all the responses…this has been VERY helpful!


Yes, both boxes are deeps in fact.


To answer the question in the title: 60,000 bees would be ideal. At the start of spring you could start off with one frame of brood covered in bees & a young queen in a nuc box & give them bigger boxes as they expand… By the end of summer, you should have a full strength hive. A 4 frame nuc with a young queen would be a good starting point.