I’ve noticed that many folk in the northern hemisphere talk more about getting packages rather than a nucleus colony whereas it is the reverse in Australia (at least in my experience and based on my impression). Is this because packages are cheaper than nucs? Easier to come by? Or for some other reason?
Could it be that they are cheaper and easier to make,you can ship them and you don’t have to have your bees inspected to make sure the nucleus is sound and healthy?
Packages are available in the UK but are not that common
In the US, packages are two thirds the price of a nucleus, or less. I just paid $175 for a 5 frame nucleus. Packages are usually $105 to $120. So I think it is partly price and partly the ease of shipping compared with nuclei, as @Dee says. However, finding places that will ship packages is becoming a lot harder - most require pickup now. I think it is probably because of losses that they incur from shipping.
I would always rather have a nucleus, as you get more bees, food stores and comb already built, and they are less likely to abscond.
And the queen with her own brood.
@Dawn_SD do you get nucs made up with a caged queen? I have seen that and I’m not sure I approve
Hi @Dee, my nuclei have all come with a free-running queen. Unless the supplier makes a mistake, she has been with the frames for at least a week, and he checks for a good laying pattern. The africanized accident was an exception. She was still a free-running Italian queen, but she had only been in the nucleus for a couple of days. Once the supersedure queen hatched and was available, the nucleus killed off the poor Italian lass.
@Dee the Queen in my original Nuc was free running…i had to find her in order to mark her. I’ve only got the one hive so only have experience with the one Nuc. This being said, to my knowledge, all nucs here in Perth have free running queens
@Dawn_SD when I got my 4 frame Nuc the other year I think I paid about AUD 180. I believe this season they were up over $200.
I thought cost might have been the reason. But that surprises me because I would have thought that in colder climates paying that little bit extra would have been very beneficial, and certainly I would think it leaves less to chance.
When I was a kid we could only buy packages back in the 1950’s n 60’s or catch swarms.
Last year (2016) I bought my first (3) Nuc’s ever ! My supplier advised me it was the best method … Last season I payed $170.00 each n they were worth every penny. Just transfer from the thich cardboard Nuc into my waiting hive … Instant Hive ! I was able to catch one swarm n make one split my first season back in beekeeping.
This season (2017) I bought four 5 frame Nuc’s @ $175.00 each. Still I believe a much better deal. I’ve already made one split to divid my Flow to prevent swarming. Yesterday I made up one 5 frame Nuc fwo drawn comb frames with little nectar n pollen. I added a purchased queen to this @$45.00 per mated queen.
Not sure the cheaper price would draw me back to buying packages. I’m currently hoping I can product 3 or more queen 5 frame Nuc’s to winter over 2017-18 winter up here in Puget Sound near Seattle. Last winter I wintered one single 5 frame double deep colony thru. See what I can or can’t do this coming seSon n winter.
Here’s could pics from my splits n Nuc building.
My supplier is sure watch for my success or not with interest. What the Heck ! What do I have to loose. It’s added experience whether I win or loss at the Nuc building.
In my own limited experience, I’d also say that nucs are far better than packages. I think buying packages became established as a typical & popular way to start beekeeping here in the US because it’s cheap, fast & easy to make and ship them. A lot about America can be illuminated by paging through old Sears catalogs…
@Dawn_SD Dawn and @Gerald_Nickel , I know that you have recommended (or others have) when to first inspect after installing a nut, but for some reason, I stink at finding the appropriate search term to find it.
I installed 2 nuc’s a week ago Saturday. One was much stronger than the other. When should I first open them up?
Each is in one deep, with a top feeder. Weather was pretty good for most of the week. Thursday eve and Friday morning rain. This morning until noon was rain, and much cooler – high 60’s F. Next two days forecast mid-60’s highs.
I have a medium ready with wax foundation to put on each. If they have filled in ? 8? 9? frames?
I plan to add another medium to each when they are ready to give them plenty of brood and stores for the winter. If they can fill those, I will happily put on my FLOW supers.
If the weather is good and you have a nectar flow, one week is good. Otherwise, two weeks.
Thanks, Dawn. I’ll wait for a warmer day.