nuc vs package

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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nicole
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Location: Drummond, Montana

nuc vs package

Postby nicole » Thu Feb 04, 2016 7:21 pm

I am trying to decide what to order this year. I have my VSH queens on order from Olympic Wilderness Apiary (thanks to someone on this forum for the recommendation). I am struggling with my decision to buy Montana nucs that are produced in California or to buy package bees produced in Oregon. I am told that nucs have a high chance of AFB, is this true? My biggest concern with package bees is that pending my hives make it through the winter, I may not have any drawn comb to give them in hopes they don't swarm. Is a package really that much more prone to swarm? When I spoke with Dan at OWA he recommended packages because then my comb will be treatment free as well, pending my requeen. Any advice?

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Michael Bush
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Re: nuc vs package

Postby Michael Bush » Fri Feb 05, 2016 6:25 pm

>I am struggling with my decision to buy Montana nucs that are produced in California or to buy package bees produced in Oregon.

I would base it more on what you want as an end result. If you want bees on other cell size or frame size than the nuc, I would buy the package. If you want them on the cell size and frame size of the nuc, I would buy the nuc.

> I am told that nucs have a high chance of AFB, is this true?

If you mean that a package has 0% chance and a nuc has 0.001% chance, yes. But who cares?

>My biggest concern with package bees is that pending my hives make it through the winter

The main thing is the queens and you said you already were getting other queens...

> I may not have any drawn comb to give them in hopes they don't swarm. Is a package really that much more prone to swarm?

Only if you feed incessantly as some people do...

> When I spoke with Dan at OWA he recommended packages because then my comb will be treatment free as well, pending my requeen.

And if you want natural comb or small cell comb, you have options.
"Everything works if you let it"--James "Big Boy" Medlin
http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm

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nicole
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Location: Drummond, Montana

Re: nuc vs package

Postby nicole » Fri Feb 05, 2016 7:31 pm

Thank you for your input, Michael. I know I am overthinking this. It's just hard when every time I say something I get contradicting advice, even if I don't ask for it! Since I have posted, I have found medium nuc's which takes care of most of my concerns. The packages are more expensive so that made my decision for me. My queens won't be here til August so I wanted the best start possible..

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Michael Bush
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Re: nuc vs package

Postby Michael Bush » Fri Feb 05, 2016 10:00 pm

Part of the problem is that since you don't know the actual importance of any given thing any difference seems huge to you as an inexperienced beginner. Reality is that almost all of those differences you hear people point out are practically irrelevant. Actually most things balance out somehow anyway so that things that appear to be significant usually are not. Bees are very adaptable. I would look at things more from where you want to end up and what will take the least effort to end up there.
"Everything works if you let it"--James "Big Boy" Medlin
http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm

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nicole
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Location: Drummond, Montana

Re: nuc vs package

Postby nicole » Sun Feb 07, 2016 6:45 pm

That's exactly my problem. I have stopped reading a lot of beekeeping groups because the overload of information makes me question my decisions that are already in play.

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Michael Bush
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Re: nuc vs package

Postby Michael Bush » Sun Feb 07, 2016 10:32 pm

Think of it this way. There would not be two diametrically opposed views held so strongly if either was going to be complete disaster. For instance, someone will say that eight frame hives blow over easier. Basically that is true, but there are many things you can do to mitigate it and just because you have eight frame boxes does not mean it's going to blow over. I've had a lot of ten frame hives blow over. But you can put them up against each other. You can put them lower to the ground. And odds are it will make very little difference.

Someone will say something like it's less frames to look for the queen if you use an excluder or if you have deep frames. Reality is I can find a queen quicker on medium frames, but yes, I will have to look at more frames. Reality is, though, I can scan a medium from left to right and be pretty sure the queen didn't move while I was looking. In other words I can take it in from top to bottom. A deep I have to make multiple passes and then repeat because the queen may have snuck past me. So the generalization, that you have to look at more frames, does not reveal the reality. Reality is that there is a difference, but it's not that much of one.

Any generalization about bees doing better in one configuration than another (top bar, warre, langstroth, 10 frame, 8 frame etc.) is at most a slight difference. Bees are very adaptable and do well in most setups as long as they don't have excess space.

I would focus my decision making on things that are difficult to change, such as the size of the box, rather on things that are easy to change, such as where the entrance is, or what genetics you have. Genetics are easy to change. Just buy a queen with the genetics you want. Take your best guess to start and if you decide you want to change later it won't be hard.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnewbees.htm#easythings
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesoptions.htm
"Everything works if you let it"--James "Big Boy" Medlin
http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm

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nicole
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Joined: Thu May 21, 2015 11:05 pm
Location: Drummond, Montana

Re: nuc vs package

Postby nicole » Mon Feb 15, 2016 6:33 pm

I want to thank you Michael for not only your informative responses but for your patience and non-condescending replies. I find a lot of responses to my questions are anger based because I don't know the answer. That's why I love bees so much, because it is a lifelong lesson. I will never know it all.

Chuck Jachens
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Location: Rescue, CA

Re: nuc vs package

Postby Chuck Jachens » Tue Feb 16, 2016 6:07 am

I agree with Michael the difference is mostly opinion and at worst two weeks difference developmentally when they are installed in a new hive. Also there can be a equipment compatibility issue with a nuc.

If the package and the nuc were from treated hives then the package has the advantage of not having the possibility of contaminated wax.

The best recommendation I got was to read as much material about bees (such as Michaels book and Phill Chandlers) with the understanding that you need to adapt to your local environment. Somethings just don't work everywhere and a few things are almost universal. My little piece of added advice is to observe your bees. Even if it's only a few minutes a day! It should be fun for you

PS. Even the old books have usefull information too!


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