Recent message from a new beekeeper “£140 for a Nuc does sound rather a lot of money, let alone £180 that I saw advertised last week”.
What do you get for your money?
1. Five or six British Standard deep Hoffman frames , drawn-out combs with healthy brood in all stages on at least three combs, all combs covered with bees, two combs of stores, and a queen from either the current year or the previous year.
2. You are buying the beekeeper’s experience, and their skill in raising gentle, healthy and productive bees; and their skill in making up the nuc and nurturing it through the winter, or raising the nuc in the current year. They will have made sure that the queen is well-mated and producing plenty of healthy brood.
3. The beekeeper should offer you after-sales service, by phone or email.
4. Some (but not all) beekeepers will ask you to bring your hive to their apiary. They will check your hive, and transfer your nuc into your hive.
4. Some BKA’s offer cut price nucs to people who have completed their beginners’ courses. This can discourage other beekeepers in the area from raising nucs for sale. Conwy Beekeepers encourages members to raise nucs for sale at the going rate.
5. We do not set prices. We just suggest guide prices.
6. The price of a nuc is at its highest in May and June, and drops by August.
7. A nuc of bees @ £180 is equivalent to about 25 pounds of honey @ £7 per pound. In a very good year,eg. 2014, a new beekeeper may recover the cost of a nuc in year one.
8. I started beekeeping in 1978, when a nuc cost £60. Honey was selling at £1.20 per pound, ie. a nuc cost the same as 50 jars of honey.
9. If you prefer, you can wait until the bees start swarming in May or June, and take a chance with a swarm, which may be free of charge, if you catch it and hive it. You will have no guarantee that the bees are good tempered.
Where should I obtain my nuc?
1. Conwy BK runs a nuc matching service for its members. We aim to put buyers in touch with sellers.
2. We recommend you buy locally raised bees. We do not recommend you buy from online sellers, or from sellers outside our area.
3. A friend or mentor may offer you a nuc.
4. We have very healthy bees in North Wales and we want to keep it that way.
5. See our website pages Buying and selling nucs of bees and How to transfer bees from a nuc
Peter McFadden, Secretary, Conwy Beekeepers, updated June 2020