A nuc is a miniature version of a full sized hive. When placed in a normal hive with the compliment of frames, they will grow and expand into a full-strength colony. In my nucs, you can expect five, fully drawn frames with brood (in all stages), a laying queen, and sufficient honey and pollen to get the colony growing.
My nucs originate from locally-adapted, feral stock I’ve obtained by catching swarms. The queens I’ve been raising from my colonies are open-mated to whatever drones are in the area. My hope is for a wide diversity of genetics, so when asked, “What kind of bees do you raise?” I just have to shrug and say, “Your guess is as good as mine.”
I raise queens from productive hives that tolerate my levels of mite management and survive the winter. The queens are successfully mated and accepted. If you read Brother Adam’s work, he believed an overwintered queen is about to step into her greatest stage of productivity in the following spring. I also mark my queens.
As for mite control, I favor a natural brood break on my production colonies. I also have a fondness for formic acid, an organic protocol. I do not use any synthetic miticides or any chemical treatment. I randomly test for mite populations using the alcohol wash.
Each nuc will have five fully drawn frames in a corrugated plastic nuc box. These frames will be a mix of plastic “Pierco” frames, wood frames with wired-wax comb, wood frames originating as foundationless frames, and wood frames with plastic foundation.
When you purchase one of my nucs, there are three options:
- I can close them off in the early morning if I know when you are coming. This retains the field bees, but it does not allow you the luxury of inspecting what you are buying. I’ll have them in a cool place and the nuc box will be ventilated. Or you can arrive at dusk and we’ll close off the nuc assuming the majority of the field bees are now home.
- You are free to come over during the day and inspect the nucs as they freely fly. You are welcome to choose what you consider to be the “pick of the litter.” We’ll then close them up, load them in your vehicle and you’re set. You’ll miss out on a number of field bees, but considering their life expectancy, this is not as big of a deal as many people think.
- As a part of the second option of coming to a nuc that is freely flying, I can set five frames into your equipment. As I move the frames, I will point out the marked queen.
Of course, if you come on a cool, rainy day, the foragers will all be inside so come anytime. We can just close them up and you can take them home
The plastic nuc boxes are yours to keep or donate to your local bee club. Under most circumstances, I make my nucs with deep brood frames, but if you need or want a medium-frame nuc box, that can be arranged at no extra charge. There will still be five fully drawn medium frames in the nuc box.
My recommendation, if you purchase a plastic nuc box, is to bring them home and set them on a hive stand. Open the little door and give them a day or so to reorient. You probably won’t need or want to feed them for this short time. Then, on a nice sunny day when the foragers are out flying, set the nuc box aside and replace it with your wood hive body (and bottom board). Gently transfer the nuc frames into your wood box, then shake any remaining bees from the nuc box into the wood box.
My strongest recommendation is to break up these five nuc frames with empty comb or new frames of foundation. This expands the brood nest, and if inserting foundation, will get it drawn faster. Always, when introducing foundation, load the full complement of frames into the box, i.e., ten frames in a ten-frame box.
As an example, you might look at a ten-frame box. The order of the frames from one side to the other can be something like this, where the O represents a new frame and the N represents a frame from the nuc box. O-O-N-N-O-N-O-N-N-O
If you have eight-frame boxes, make the appropriate adjustments. If you have any questions, I can demonstrate this division when you come to pick up your nucs. In no way should you leave all five frames of the nuc in the middle of the nuc box without inserting some empty frames into the brood nest. While this isn’t rocket science, use your best judgment.
If you’ve been mentored to add the second box when the first box is 70% drawn (7 of 10 frames), consider you’ve already got five frames already drawn out. When adding the second box, I like to pull one or two of the frames that came with the nuc box and set them in the second hive body. It encourages the bees to move up and not totally ignore the new box.
I stand behind the quality of my nucs. In the many years I’ve kept bees, I’ve found nothing more insulting to a beginner than a poor-quality nuc, except most beginners don’t recognize the difference between what’s good quality and poor.
Do not be surprised, if buying more than one nuc, that one hive will be more productive than the one next to it. It’s like my kids. Each one of them excelled at one area of their academics or sports. Three children, now grown, all from the same genetics raised in the same household are very different, uniquely gifted, individuals. Go figure.
If you have problems, please call. We can work something out. But like my children’s success, there are no guarantees once you leave my honey farm. I care very deeply for your success with a very challenging hobby, in a most challenging time, but once you leave there are too many factors beyond my control.
Queens for Sale
Along with my nucs, I offer cage-free, open-mated queens. They are sold at my honey farm at 1259 SW 600 th Rd, Holden, MO 64040. Queens are locally-grown and available for pick-up from early May through the month of June. Price is $50 and I do not ship.
So what is a cage-free queen? In the commercial production of queens, once they return from their mating flights and lay a few eggs (a sign of their successful mating flight), they are confined to a queen cage in preparation to be easily shipped.
The best research shows that a newly mated queen needs at least three weeks of laying eggs to develop her pheromones. Queens with this opportunity to develop their pheromones are more successfully introduced and accepted, and have a longer tenure in the colony. I do not cage, or “bank” by queens. If you wish, you can inspect the queens and their laying patterns prior to purchase by visiting my honey farm.
My queens are produced following the principles of Brother Adam of Buckfast Abbey. They are raised when nectar and pollen are at their prime availability for optimal nutrition, while being surrounded by abundant nurse bees to feed them a diet rich in royal jelly. They hatch when drone populations are at their friskiest and the weather is settled, creating a romance for promiscuous adventures of diversity.
Following their mating flight, my queens remain in their nucs for evaluation. They are then brought through the adversity of winter to test their survivability. I do not use synthetic miticides and I frequently rotate out old comb to reduce the accumulation of environmental poisons.
When you buy a queen from me, she is stepping into her most promising time to produce vibrant colonies of workers for honey production and pollination.
If you're interested in purchasing Nucs or Queens, please fill out the form below and I'll contact you ASAP.