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New bees for newbees - what to look for?

In a few weeks, I will be driving 9 hours each way to pick up 2 nucs of VSH bees. The supplier provides an opportunity to inspect the nucs.
What advice do you have for someone who has never done an inspection ?

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Sounds like you found a good supplier if they are willing to let you inspect.

  1. Wear a full bee suit and gloves. Don’t be shy or proud about this, these are bees that you don’t know, so you should go in fully protected
  2. Most nuclei are 5 frames. Look for at least 2.5 frames of brood (uncapped and eggs count), plus 1.5 frames of food/pollen. The remaining frame may be partly empty, but there should not be more than one frame of completely undrawn foundation
  3. See if you can spot the queen. If not, look for eggs and uncapped larvae. In any case, ask how long the queen has been in the nucleus and whether she is marked. I have bought nuclei in the past where the queen has only been in the colony for a couple of days, and she was rejected after I took the colony home. I know my supplier, and he changed the nucleus for me, as we have a high risk for africanized bees here (and so do you). It shouldn’t be a problem for a professional to think that is reasonable
  4. Relax, try to enjoy it and expect to feel nervous. Move slowly, even if you are scared and in a hurry. It will be better for you, and the bees
  5. Consider wearing a bee suit and veil on the way home if the bees will be inside the car. Most transport boxes leak bees… :wink:

Very excited for you. I hope it all goes really well!

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Wow ! Nice reply ! Thanks for the info. I ordered the mesh bags with the nucs. I will be going in a extended cab pickup. Haven’t decided if I will put them in the bed or in the cab. That may depend on the weather and if I feel that they will be safe in the bed or not. I appreciate the great reply !
Thanks,
Sam

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Africanized bees - Yes, the state has a map that shows discovered colony locations. There have been some discovered not too far south of where I live.

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I sell nucs to newbees. If possible, I transfer the colony into the owner’s brood box with the owner watching on. I always locate & show them the queen, unless it’s getting late in the day. I always secure the frames so that they can’t wobble, to avoid squashing bees during transport.

It’s always a good opportunity for the owner to ask some questions. I hope after your 9 hour trip, the supplier will do something similar for you.

With a 9 hour trip for the bees, make sure they have ample ventilation. Position the hive in line with the vehicle. That will restrict undue movement on the frames during braking & accelerating. Just go easy on the corners, as you would :slight_smile:

Good luck with the purchase Sam, in the mean time do as much study as possible. I always try to encourage new beekeepers to watch the youtube video “City of the Bees”.

cheers

Thanks for the info. I think I have seen part of the city of bees. I have been reading and watching videos for a few months. I have seen probably about 100 of Cedar’s youtube videos, all of the videos on beekeeper.org, and probably about 100 others on you tube such as honey show and many others. I have used most of my available time studying, building hives etc for a few months now. All the help is appreciated.
Thanks,
Sam

I purchased the bees from Kelley Beekeeping in Clarkson KY. They were bought out by MannLake. They do have a store about 1-1/2 hours from where I live. Originally, my purchase was to pick up at that location. However, the supplier did not commit to providing the bees. Therefore, I will be driving to Clarkson KY to get the bees. I did a lot of searching on the internet and couldn’t find sources that weren’t a long distance from me. Given that it seems the biggest problem with bees is Varroa, I definitely wanted VSH bees. Hopefully that will help in the Varroa fight, as well as, the subsequent associated diseases.

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You’re welcome Sam. In the video “City of Bees”, it gives us an appreciation of what’s going on inside the hive. Another video was pointed out to me which is also pretty good “Nova, tales from a hive”.

Not knowing whether the bees will be placed into your box or whether the bees will be supplied in a nuc box (especially coreflute) kind of changes whether you should inspect the bees or not. If the bees are already packed in a nuc box, ready to be shipped, you’d want to make sure you replace the frames in such a manner that they can’t move or wobble during the journey, because you would have broken any propolis the bees use, which holds the frames steady.

If the bees are supplied in a coreflute nuc box, it is more difficult to inspect the bees on account it’s difficult to remove & replace frames in those without squashing a few bees on account of the tolerances around the frames.

The other issue is: and importantly, if the bees are packed ready for shipping, you wouldn’t want to open them up during the day because you wont get them all back in again, unless you wait till dark.

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Thanks ! That answers an unasked question. I was thinking I would lose bees if I open the nuc. They will be pre-packaged in some kind of reusable nuc box. I am thinking it may be plastic or coreflute type box. I will ask them questions regarding the condition of the bees and particularly the conditions after I arrive at home and what remedies (if any) there may be for any immediate issues (like a rejected queen).
I am thinking that what is important is to stay a step ahead of the bees. I plan to treat them with Hopguard as soon as I have them settled in the hives. I bought two nucs and starting with one Flow hive and one Langstroth hive. I have an additional two Langstroth hives ready to go for spring when it is time to deal with splits. Also, I have extra brood boxes so when the colony builds up I can go to a two brood box setup. Then I have extra medium supers for the Langstroth hive. I think I am ahead of them at the moment. Hopefully, I can manage to stay ahead.
Your replies and comments are greatly appreciated !
Thanks,
Sam

I will search for those videos. I think I watched part of “City of the Bees” late one night and fell asleep while watching. I need to find it again and finish watching. The second one I hadn’t heard of before. I will try to find it.
Thanks again !

Hi & you’re welcome Sam. the video “City of Bees” was given to me as a Christmas present in a cd. At the time I reckoned it was the best present I’d ever received. We watched it over & over, always picking up something we missed the previous times. For me a “Wow” moment was when I realized that when bees watch a waggle dance, then decide to embark on that journey to get that nectar, they only take enough fuel to do a one way trip, this is after estimating the distance advertised in the waggle dance…

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I think I remember seeing that part too. That was very interesting. Unfortunately, I am not sure how much I missed. I began getting drowsy as I watched. At some point, I dozed off. Next thing I know I was opening my eyes, and the speaker was talking about the bible and it was a few seconds from the end. :rofl::zzz::zzz::zzz:

Hi Sam,
Don’t know if I can post this here, so please remove it if necessary. These are questions I wish I’d asked when I bought my first nuc. The nuc was fine but I got an old queen and the frames were even older - a hotchpotch of filthy plastic and foundation frames:

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@JeffH Watched them both today.

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@Outbeck
Nice article !
Thank you,
Sam

It’s interesting to see that other people must call it a “nuck”, besides someone I know. Yes it’s pronounced “nuke”

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Where did you get the mesh bags? I’ll need at least one when I pick up my bees later this month.

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@TimB
I will get the mesh bags (paying for) with the nucs. I am buying my nucs from Kelley Beekeeping (Clarkston KY). Kelley Beekeeping was bought out by MannLake. I have seen the bags listed in several beekeeping supply websites.

is the bag included when you buy a nuc and pick it up? in my case pick up is in Marshall TX.

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@TimB
No it’s not included. I requested that the bags be added to the order. I am paying for the bags in addition to the nucs.
I was originally supposed to pick-up in Marshall. However, it sounds like there was some kind of issue with the supplier. I am getting VSH bees. Apparently, the supplier didn’t commit and I will be making a long trip to get the VSH.