nuc vs package bees

by susan

I am not sure what a nuc that just a container the bees are shipped in? Is a nuc of bees easier to install than a package of bees? Yes, I am a newbie...getting ready to order my first bees.

Hi Susan,

A nuc (short for nucleus) is essentially a small but complete hive. Nucs are often half-sized supers - the same height and depth of a deep super, but just half the width, and usually containing 4 or 5 frames instead of 10.

The advantage with a nuc is that it is already an established hive. It has a laying queen, and brood in all stages. You don't have to worry about the queen being accepted, and you don't have to wait a week or so for the queen to begin laying eggs.

So you could take the frames out of the nuc, place them in your newly built hive, and your colony is established. No question - it's a very easy method of establishing a colony.

You'll probably have to feed them some at the beginning, just as you would need to feed package bees. But a colony established from a nuc will build up much more rapidly than from a package. You'd stand a greater chance of harvesting honey your first season with a nuc.

But there are also some disadvantages in starting a colony from a nuc. A nuc is likely to be more expensive than a package. And you'll have to pick it up rather than have it delivered (or at least, I've never heard of anyone shipping nucs - other than for very large commercial transactions).

Also, there might be a bit more risk in getting a disease or mite problem from a nuc, and - unless you're buying from a reputable bee breeder - less certainty about the quality of the stock.

All things considered, my preference is to start a hive from a package. But both methods have distinct advantages and disadvantages. If you have access to a local, reputable supplier, and don't mind the extra cost, you might decide that you prefer starting with a nuc instead of a package.

I'm excited to hear that you'll soon be a beekeeper, and wish you the best of luck with your bees!

Once you get underway, I hope you'll stop by and let us know how it's going.

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