What are the differences between a Deep Nuc and a Package of Bees?

What are the differences between a Deep Nuc and a Package of Bees?

When you are new to beekeeping, there are a lot of details that can be confusing. What type of hives are best? What size supers? Should I get a package of bees or a deep nucleus colony? Where do I begin?!


Honey & the Hive has been helping new and experienced beekeepers for years. Each winter, we take preorders for live bees that will be delivered to our store or our nearby nuc yard for pickup. Remember that bees are live creatures, and delivery dates for that pickup might vary depending on weather conditions and other factors affecting the hives.


Our Buy Bees page usually offers two options for preorder - Deep Nucleus Colonies and Packages. Let us explain the differences between the two options so you have a clear idea of what is best for your needs!


About Deep Nucleus Colonies of Bees


Deep Nucleus Colonies are also called nucs for short. 


A nucleus colony contains five drawn-out comb frames in a temporary box. It contains basic resources like food (pollen, nectar, and honey), capped and uncapped brood, a laying queen accepted by the hive, and approximately 15,000+ worker bees. These colonies are perfectly suited for Langstroth hives and are easy to install.


Nucs have a less predictable arrival time since they are made by beekeepers splitting hives into temporary nuc colonies. They can only do this when the weather and season are ideal, so we do our best to keep customers notified of potential arrival windows and encourage customers to avoid scheduling vacations or other out-of-town adventures during that window of time.


Nucs have a faster build-up than packages. Nucs come with a head start, with bees at all life stages and drawn-out comb. Because of this, they will frequently have a faster build-up after installation since the hive doesn't have to take time to draw out wax and produce brood. 


If you order a nucleus colony, you may have shorter notice for pickups. The window for Nuc pickup will always be in the morning, generally between 8 and 10 a.m. while temperatures are still cool. Our staff wakes up before the sun and seals the boxes to get your bees ready for transport. A nuc colony generates so much heat that honeybees can perish if you don't open the box and install the frames and bees before the hottest part of the day.


About Packages of Bees


A package of bees contains around 3 lbs. of worker bees and a caged queen - approximately 10,000 bees total! Package bees are the best option for repopulating dead outs or any hive styles, including non-Langstroth design. Here is our guide to installing packages of bees.


While nucs have a head start on building up resources, packages can quickly catch up to nucs with consistent feeding. Learn more about feeding bees in early Spring


Another benefit of packages is that they often have lower initial mite loads because of the break in the brood cycle.  


Packages are also more forgiving on pickup times. The bees can survive for about 48 hours in a package, but the longer they sit, the more bee mortality you will see. Sooner pickup and installation is always best, so have your bee yard ready to use before March arrives.


Do you still need to preorder your bees? Visit our Buy Bees page to reserve your packages or nucs for the Spring!


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