Bee Sourcing Options

You have just gotten your bees, either in the mail or you have gone and picked them up in person. Now what do you do? Covers from installation in your hive until the end of the first winter and the first blooms of spring.
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Greg H
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Location: Lincoln, NE

Bee Sourcing Options

Postby Greg H » Mon Mar 06, 2017 7:09 pm

So this will be my second year of beekeeping but this is kind of a first year question since I am starting over after a year spent learning. (to the detriment of my bees)

I have two options in sourcing my bees for the coming year. I can buy treatment free nucs from a (somewhat) local source. Bees from this source performed well last year but troubles with robbing and cold did them in. The only concern I have about these bees is when they are available. Last year I was able to pick them up at the end of May and I am planning the same this year. (I have ordered two more for this year.)

My other option is sourcing bees from my local bee supply store. These bees will be coming from California (not local) and will most likely be treated so two strikes there. I do have the option to re-queen these bees with a locally raised, treatment free queen so I could potentially work around these issues. The benefit to this option is that I can get these bees in Mid April so they would have at least an extra month to grow. That doesn't include the delay that would occur if I re-queened.

So my question is this. Does the extra month of buildup make it worth going the shipped in package route? (Or at least having a third hive sourced this way) I felt like last year the bees missed out on a chunk of productive time since they got started later in the spring and a package would not miss this time. Ordering time is here so I am stuck. Any questions / comments are welcome.

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GregV
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Location: Dane Co., WI, USA

Re: Bee Sourcing Options

Postby GregV » Mon Mar 06, 2017 7:15 pm

Greg H wrote:So this will be my second year of beekeeping but this is kind of a first year question since I am starting over after a year spent learning. (to the detriment of my bees)

I have two options in sourcing my bees for the coming year.......... Any questions / comments are welcome.


Greg, if I were you (Lincoln, NE), I would call Michael B. personally and ask him to sell you 2-3 nucs of true TF, local bees.
You, guys, like 1-2 hours away from each other.
Unsure what better option there is IF you are wanting to pay.
If he is unable/unwilling to sell or whatever, then do the other options.

If buying - then buy local stock and don't look back;
This is what I would do and not bother with imported packages (even if re-queened).
After all, this is a TFB forum.
One of foundations of TFB is local stock.

As for me, I buy nothing.
I am a cheap-skate and have kids to raise.

PS: you maybe buying a local nuc later than a package BUT - a nuc comes with a going nest, and a laying queen that already belongs there, and there is a batch of new bees ready to come out still;
you have none of these with a package (however a month earlier);

... and you buy a local nuc a month later - this is a good thing for your zone 5 (not bad thing) due to the risk management factor;

this is one risky month (April) in zone 5 and you, probably, want the nuc seller to take this risk upon themselves (for extra $$$, naturally);
in order to save few $$$ you assume all the risk with new package, especially, if you have no bees on hand to immediately support a new package in case of emergency

My 2 cents as-is.

moebees
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Re: Bee Sourcing Options

Postby moebees » Tue Mar 07, 2017 12:21 am

I don't think MB has bees to sell but you can ask. I am going the package route myself this year. I know all the issues with them not being local and people say the packages are terrible now days and they probably are. But packages have some advantages too. You mentioned one being you can get them much earlier and that is important. They also come in with a brood break since they are starting out in the same way a swarm would. And nucs tend to be allot more expensive. To me the disadvantages of nucs out way the advantages. And if you are not 100% knowledgeable about the source of the nucs even that advantage goes away. I have a bunch of guys around me selling nucs that they bring in from the south just like the packages.
I will let you know what happens with my packages this year. It may be a disaster but we will see.
Sam Droege, a biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey—“bees are not optional."

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GregV
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Re: Bee Sourcing Options

Postby GregV » Tue Mar 07, 2017 2:20 am

Well, yes, IF buying nucs - must know your vendor. MB would be a good source for sure.
I know a couple of guys in my vicinity I would by local nucs from (even if not TF, still they do sell local stock from their own yards).
These guys also are members of our local club - pretty reputable sources.
Otherwise, a nuc from an unknown source could be just a repackaged package.
Not worth paying extra and really is a cheat.

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Michael Bush
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Re: Bee Sourcing Options

Postby Michael Bush » Tue Mar 07, 2017 2:34 am

I'm hoping to finally have time to start rebuilding my apiary this year and I think I'll get some queens reared if the interns who said they were coming show up. :) But I won't have packages or bees for sale. I doubt I'll have any for sale next year either unless it's one of those wonderful years where I can split everything twice... or more...
"Everything works if you let it"--James "Big Boy" Medlin
http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm

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GregV
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Re: Bee Sourcing Options

Postby GregV » Tue Mar 07, 2017 3:56 am

Well, I guess that is that for the MB option.
Too bad though!
:D

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Dustymunky
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Re: Bee Sourcing Options

Postby Dustymunky » Tue Mar 07, 2017 7:02 am

Same dilemma for me. Nucs with Hawaiian queens early April or survivor stock later.....and more expensive. I ended up ordering 2 of the cheap nucs and one survivor stock. Hoping to catch a few swarms and rear some queens from the survivor nuc. I have a plan but I'm sure it will change as the season progresses.


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Greg H
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Location: Lincoln, NE

Re: Bee Sourcing Options

Postby Greg H » Tue Mar 07, 2017 3:50 pm

Sounds like some of you are in the same boat as I am.

I do have some drawn comb from last year that I could start a package on which would allow them to get a jump on things. I was also thinking that I could use brood from a package hive to boost my nucs and help them get them ready for winter. One of my nucs from last year built up slowly and could have used a little help.

I guess another thing running through my mind was the ability to hedge my bet, so to speak. If I had two tf nucs and a third hive from a different source, it would spread the risk a bit and hopefully I would come through the winter with some bees to work with.

I don't want to seem like I am trying to buy my way to success by sourcing bees all over the place, but I also don't want to have to start from scratch every year if the small number of hives that I have don't make it. I live in town so my source of swarms is limited to a non-tf beekeeper a couple of blocks away. Not that I shouldn't try. I am planning on setting up a trap this spring, but I don't know what kind of success I will (or won't) have.

Thanks for your input on this. I really value hearing what others have to say.

moebees
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Re: Bee Sourcing Options

Postby moebees » Tue Mar 07, 2017 4:05 pm

I don't want to seem like I am trying to buy my way to success by sourcing bees all over the place,


Doesn't seem that way at all and different sources makes sense to me.
Sam Droege, a biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey—“bees are not optional."

lharder
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Re: Bee Sourcing Options

Postby lharder » Tue Mar 07, 2017 4:06 pm

Well that is the dilemma isn't it. I won't have extra overwintered nucs for sale. Well there may be a couple, but I'm keeping the best bees for myself, so should I be selling the not so good nucs? I'm thinking not.

Instead I'm going to make up some spring nucs with daughters of the best 2 (or 3) year survivor stock coming out of winter. But then these are early mated queens that are started in early may. There is a chance they won't be as well mated as a queen mated in June. So maybe the best colony would be to get that late May nuc with the best genetics, then maybe requeen or split off a nuc with a sister from a June mating. The goal of a first year keeper would be to go into winter with 4 strong nucs.

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Nordak
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Re: Bee Sourcing Options

Postby Nordak » Tue Mar 07, 2017 4:24 pm

Lharder, have you thought of selling packages yourself? No reason you can't keep your best, raise queens from them and sell bees in bulk.

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GregV
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Location: Dane Co., WI, USA

Re: Bee Sourcing Options

Postby GregV » Tue Mar 07, 2017 5:11 pm

Greg H wrote: I live in town so my source of swarms is limited.

Do try to get into cut-out "business" somehow.
When living in town, chances for cut-outs go up, actually.
There are basic cases where anyone can handle a cut-out and get some good, free bees.
Of course, one must have enough common sense to stay out of some other cut-outs (due to difficulty, liability, etc).
I myself look forward to do more cut-outs with any luck. Lots of fun, for sure.


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