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Bee-Ginner's Guide
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Bee-Ginner's Guide

You have ordered your equipment and everything is built, painted, and ready for your bees.
Now for the fun questions:
Who do you intend to get your bees from? What is better, a package or a NUC? What is a NUC? How many bees do I get with a package? These are some of the few questions asked when it comes to ordering your bees.

One of the first steps in ordering bees is to find a reputable supplier. We can help with this step. We carry Packages of bees and NUCs for pick up at both our NC and PA Branch. When we acquire our bees for sale we employee state inspectors to come and go through all of the bees to ensure there are no signs of diseases. Packages and NUCs must be pre-ordered in advance for the spring season. You want to make sure you place your order as early in the spring as possible, they sell fast and once they are gone, there will not be an opportunity to order more.

Packaged Bees can be sent through the Post Office. This is not the ideal way to receive bees because they can become weakened due to stress of travel but may be an option if you are in an area far from a breeder. If you are in an area that requires you to travel a great distance to a bee supplier, you may be able to buy a NUC locally. Check with your local bee association for NUC information before ordering bees through the mail. What is the difference between a package and a NUC?

Package of Bees
A package of bees is essentially a “shoe box sized” container that is screened to provide ventilation for the bees. The package includes a can of sugar syrup to provide a food source during transportation and includes a mated queen inside a queen cage. Bees from multiple sources will be dumped into the container and the queen (bred in a different location) will be added before the container is closed off for transport. Once the bees are installed they must become accustomed to the queen pheromone before they will accept her. The bees will slowly eat through the candy plug on the queen cage in order to release the queen. By the time the candy has been cleared away, the colony will have accepted their new queen. Once the queen has been released she will begin laying and the colony will start growing in population. Please note that the colony might decrease in population temporarily as the older bees from the package begin to die off before the new bees start to emerge.

Nucleus Hive
A Nucleus Hive (NUC) is a small established colony of bees. This small colony will include frames of brood and stored nectar along with a proven laying queen. At the start, a NUC may have less bees than a 3 pound package; however, because the queen is already laying, there will be brood in all stages (eggs, larvae and capped of) of development. A NUC will grow faster than a package and having an established queen means there are less queen complications, such as: queen acceptance, absconding, or supercedure with a NUC.
Once you have transferred the frames over into your 8 Frame or 10 Frame hive, the NUC will continue to grow in population. Provide the feed they may need and watch them grow. No need to go back in to ensure the queen was released or to remove a queen cage. The next step will be to add on the next super to your hive.