Comb change out - Nucs vs Packages

Discussion in 'Pests and Diseases' started by m.s., Jan 17, 2010.

  1. m.s.

    m.s. New Member

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    This may be a sensitive topic for some, please be aware that I am not trying
    to offend anyone. These questions are always in mind so I thought I'd ask.

    I am under the impression that comb should be changed out every 3 to 5 years,
    preferably 3 due to the possibility of the internal explosion of pests and or disease.

    When purchasing nucs, is this not a form of a comb change out for the source to maintain health?

    I'm curious if anyone has a routine to address potential health hazards when buying a nuc after
    transferring to another location since we're buying anothers comb changes?

    Besides the hopeful rapid growth of a nuc, in your eyes, what are the benefits of purchasing packaged bees?

    Does anyone prefer packages over nucs and may I ask why?

    Does anyone dust for mites before installation or what is your standard method?
     
  2. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    m.s.:
    I produce a small number of nucs in the spring time. My neighbors down the road (the weavers of Navasota, Tx.) produce packages (large numbers).

    With the packages you start off with a clean slate with no comb. The unit is easy to ship... postal service if you have a queen breeder license (that is what they call them here in Texas). Even a modest size truck will carry a lot of packages if you wanted to use personal transportation. A package can be something fairly wonderful to watch grow up if you have even a bit of a flow. Due to their initial fragile nature (in regards to food resources) most folks would be well advise to feed a package until it establishes itself as a 'box of bee'.

    With nucs the unit is already established (half a box of bees) and should be brooding up fast enough that it will establish a demographically stable population fairly quick. The queen in a nuc 'should be' better established. Most of mine are made up a 4 frame nucs (4 frames of various age) and one frame new with foundation (something for them to work on). You would want to be concerned about the condition and age of frames if you planed to rotate frames on some well reasoned schedule. Feeding may or may not be an option depending on season.

    I don't really treat for mites. I do feed fumidil and administer TM dust. No matter if you went package or nuc option you would want to know an answer to both these concerns from whoever you purchased the unit.

    There are any number of folks that do suggest a regular routine of frame and comb rotation is beneficial. IMHO the more exposure a hive might have to pollutants (water, agricultural or industrial) the faster the rotation.

    I also don't do frame exchange (don't have any old frames coming in) so the nuc sales in the spring probably (guessing for sure) rotates my frame out on about a 3 year average.

    hope that helps.
     

  3. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

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    m.s.,
    my nucs usually contain 5 old frames. Sometimes there will be a new frame of foundation put in the nuc when I make them. If they draw it out well, I leave it there for the customer. I'm not intentionally on a comb rotation schedule.

    I also try not to have too much drone comb in my nucs. People just think that you are trying to get rid of it. If a customer is dissatisfied w/ the comb in their nuc, they are free to bring it back. And if everything is as it should be, they can take another one. But, since I encourage customers to pick out a good one before they leave, that's a rare problem.

    Complaints of queenlessness are avoided that way too. If they take home a queen right nuc which tuerns dronelayer or queenless, it isn't my fault. And I'll sell them a queen if they like.
     
  4. m.s.

    m.s. New Member

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    tecumesh and sqkcrk,

    In the past, I've purchased packaged bees only. This coming season I'll be getting some packages and some 5 frame nucs with young queens. We agreed on new un-used frames for the exchange. Obviously I'm asking the questions for input from those with more experience and to hopefully come up with a routine myself, eliminate some trial and error as well as some of the subconscious questions that continually surface.

    Thanks for your replies, yes it does help.
     
  5. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    Here is my take on the pro and con of both, but not limited to the following.... (I kept each to a limit of three comments)

    Packages

    Pro: You can get them earlier than most nucs
    You can get them shipped
    You can find them more easily

    Cons: The bee numbers drop for the first 30 days.
    Most are standard mass produced italian queen stock
    Some suggest queen supercedure from bees and queens from different hives. *This may be increased
    with operations that breed more than one stock.

    Nucs

    Pros:
    You can buy acclimatized stock if available. An aspect greatly sought in the north
    They build from day 1. And will most often outproduce a packaged installed 6 weeks earlier.
    You can find micro-breeders with stock not seen in some package producers.

    Cons:
    You must know the age of the comb and the exposure to chemicals.
    You can transfer disease
    Limited supply and local sources.

    Overall, I favor nucs. As long as the beekeeper can find a breeder with a good reputation, and honest in their chemical use disclosure. Comb in nucs should not be a means for the beekeeper to get rid of old comb.
     
  6. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    Bjorn writes:
    Some suggest queen supercedure from bees and queens from different hives. *This may be increased
    with operations that breed more than one stock.

    tecumseh:
    the older literature (this was an issue back in the mid '80s) would suggest that this is more related to nosema than anything else. no matter whether someone buys a package or a nuc this is why I would suggest you might want to know if the producer feed fumidil with their feed (again both packages and nucs).
     
  7. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    Tec, that may be true. Although maybe stocks (russians) and business models (more companies doing multiple breeds as compared to specialized or one breed operations) may be different than in the 80's. But I'm not sure.

    I would be more inclined to think that the recent crappy packages, especially on the east coast last year, where many have noted the supercedure rate the last two years, may be for a host of issues. Disease and other pressures, may be magnified with the dumping of Australian bees on the market after almond pollination, and the ("Hush, hush, wink, wink) use in the package industry of late.
     
  8. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I can't say I know for certain either Bjorn. In the 80's hybrids (midnights and such) was perceived as the way to go. Almost by definition hybrids required various different 'races'. In the idea state (rarely achieved in the real world) you would want to keep some distance between the various parts of the the hybrid's composition.

    (looking backward) Some of those studies in the 80's were quite curious in content. as I have mentioned to michael palmer a 'blind test' at the time demonstrated a total (100%) failure in queens produced by marz and the weaver's (not absolutely sure how those folks were organized at that time) a total success (where success or failure was based on queen superscedure which quite typically happened within 2 weeks of the queen being placed within the hive). although nosema a. was identified as a major factor there were a number of disease/predator vectors on the horizon that could have played a part in superscedure but were not identified since no one knew they were here.

    my thinking at the time was fumidil is expensive and in a budgetary pinch* becomes easy item to think about cutting.

    *this time frame also marks the first dumping of chinese honey on the us market.