Selling nuc's

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by brooksbeefarm, Dec 19, 2009.

  1. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    I have thought about selling nuc's the last 3 or 4 years. I'm not into grafting for queen raising (Have trouble seeing eggs now aday) but i do raise most of my queens. I usually put frames with day or two larva in a 5 frame nuc box hoping there were eggs there too :beg: , and i get about 90% success, but my favorite is finding swarm cells in my strong survivor hives to start nuc's with. :thumbsup:.Some of my beekeeping buddies buy queens (early April ) and split there hives into nuc's to sell with the new queens. My problem with this is,i have bought 10 to 20 queens at a time (mostly carniolan) only to have them superseded within a few weeks or lay two or three frames of brood and run out, or not accepted. I have a 40% to 60% success from boughten queens and would hate to sell club members a bad nuc, now that their going for $85.00 each :oops: If they are my own queens they would be acclimated and established nuc's before i sold one. Any idea or advise to help me make up my mind, or i'm i being to cautious or particular. :confused: Jack
     
  2. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    the first thing I tell folks about rearing queens/nucs is that unlike honey production detail and keeping to some fairly exacting time schedule is all important.
    .
    in Texas you are required to have a queen breeders permit to sell your own queens. at this stage you would likely be well advised to obtain ai/ii queens simply because this allows you to control 50% of the genetic material. under this plan your own locally adapted (which basically just means that they can survive at your location and under your management techniques) drones for the other 50% of the genetic mix.

    the eyes (and a steady hand) are of course important for grafting. I overcome this limitation by using a magnifying glass and light. you could also utilize non grafting techniques for queen rearing.

    I avoided this permit (pricey) for a number of years by buying cells from a fellow I know who produces these in mass and also obtaining a goodly number of mated queens (almost exclusively from bweaver). your superscedure/non acceptance rate for mated queens sounds extremely high. this may be somewhat related to how you manage these small hives and/or the season and/or any number of thing the queen breeder did or didn't do. as an alternative I see a couple of folks are now selling cells which they ship by mail. I suspect you have to buy these in some significant quantity. the price of cells is such that I can $ justify two cell/nuc.


    upon reading this...
    'only to have them superseded within a few weeks or lay two or three frames of brood and run out'

    the first two things that comes to mind is how long did the queen breeder allow these queen to lay before they were caught and shipped and did they treat in any way for nosema.

    if you are experiencing success with your current plan why not think about pursing that path. one of the years of my largest expansion was really about driving some small number of hives with feed and thereby encouraging swarm cell production and monitoring these hives really close to split at an optimal time.

    I $ price my nucs some higher and some lower that your stated $85 primarily based on the price of the queens/cells. the bweaver queens are quite pricey and the cell route is cheaper. I don't do any frame exchange since I found out long ago that this can lead to other problems.. which is mainly about what is or isn't an acceptable frames as exchange.

    I can make more $ from producing nucs than by selling honey. neither is easy, but I choose to do both.

    if you are maintaining 40+ hives I would very much like to encourage you to pursue this idea. I have no doubt that almost without exception a nuc reared to any moderate level of quality is far superior to a package. I suspect (do not absolutely know) the cheaper packages almost doom the new bee keeper to failure.
     

  3. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    First off thanks for your info tec. the carniolan queens i bought were from Cal., i don't like to mention the co. because they are just trying to make a living and have been in buisness a long time. they had alot of rain that spring and i suspect the queens never mated fully or at all.(they replaced 3 of them that never laid) but they never paned out either. At $20.00 a queen (plus postage) that gets expensive in a hurry. I have good luck with most of my home grown queens (maybe not 90% but close) and have many club members and people who buy honey from me beg me to sell them nuc's. If i do i want them to be good ones. I'm not aware of any permits in Mo. for raising and selling queens or bees,but i'm sure i'll find out if there is. :confused: Had a call while writing this wanting honey, Itold him i've been out since Oct. and wouldn't have any more till last of July next year. He ask, if you have bee hives at your house can't you just go get some. :mrgreen: I get this quiet a bit. Jack
     
  4. G3farms

    G3farms New Member

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    I have people ask me the same thing, just like there is a spigot on the back side of the hive, stick a bottle under it and filler up, no problem. Just makes me chuckle, if they only knew what it takes to get a case of nice honey packed out.

    G3
     
  5. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    jack writes:
    At $20.00 a queen (plus postage) that gets expensive in a hurry.

    tecumseh:
    tell me about it... but who am I to argue with someone who individually has more experience than the collective experience of most of these bee web sites about what it cost to raise a queen? it does cost a bit more to drive a mercedez and to be quite frank I have to place something of a premium on the bweaver stuff to keep the panicked buyers from sweeping those off the shelf. for those that don't know bweaver (DO NOT confuse them with the other weavers in navasota texas) may be the closes thing we have to a large commercial concern that does not treat for varroa or trachael mites in the us of a. as another small note the fellow who pretty much invented and implemented the 'live and let die' management scheme for bees was a student long ago of bweaver and co... the fellow (can't recall his name right now) is french.

    for anyone wanting to go treatment free the bweaver stuff may be the best dollars they can spend (imho). the next best thing they could do is buy some cheap hives and then to move them real close to bweaver and co and use their stuff for breeding up their stock.

    jack writes:
    they had alot of rain that spring and i suspect the queens never mated fully

    tecumseh:
    we had similar problems here last spring although the culprit was extremely high winds that never let up for weeks and not rain. bweaver had exactly the same problem according to his daughter in law. if I had pulled queens early (at or about the time they first begin to lay) I would have sent off a number of queens that fairly quickly turned into drone layers. for this reason alone I do not like to pull queens early.

    like yourself when I encounter this kind of problem I simply voice my concern and demand nothing... most times I am quite amazed at the sellers response. I also like to compliment sellers when their product is exceptional.

    and finally.. each year is quite different here yet the springs are somewhat predictable. I am now expecting a better spring simply due to the availability of water. this means my focus does change from year to year. this years focus will be on getting a lot of wax pulled and hopefully a bit larger honey crop than in the past two years. I have also been out of honey for several months and I now have two local health food type stores wanting product on the shelf to sell. so my honey production will be more of a focus this year than in the past several years.

    having both honey and nucs/queens to sell does level out the income generated from my bees no matter whether the season is good or less than average.

    if I can assist you in anyway in the pursuit of this idea just let me know.
     
  6. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    For tec. or anyone who can give me a answer.(this probably will sound stupid) I have always been told,and always done so, to be carefull when you cut queen cells off frames (usually swarm cells) and don't bump or jostle them around, and when putting them on another frame hang them in the same position they were hanging on the frame they came from.Now my question, if you buy queen cells and they ship them to you,i know they have to get bumped and jostled around during shipping and you probably hang them in a downword position (but i have seen queen cells sticking straight out). Do they ship them differently or doesn't it make a difference if they get knocked around? :confused: As you can tell i've never bought queen cells. :mrgreen: Jack
     
  7. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    basically how you treat a cell is age determined.

    the general rules I fly by are: from graft thru day 8 you handle a cell like it is fragile glass... if at all possible you don't even want to rotate the position of the cell and any disturbance to cell building hive should be limited (usually for counting started cells and refilling the feeder). once a cell is on to its 9th day it is fairly to extremely rugged. by day 10 I call them 'hot'. optimally emergence should occur on day 12, but other variable like temperature can effect emergence date. cooling slows it down and heat seems to speed it up. extremes of either will kill the cell. I have bought hot cells 3 hours away and had them emerge by the time I drove in my driveway... I likely ran the heater a bit to hot in my old pickup.

    I would think cell shipment would be overnight. I think my concern would be how they maintain anything like brood rearing temperatures from here to there... likely with live bees I would guess. again I have only seen the add and have never made any direct contact myself.