I drove three hours today to pick up my very first nuc of bees not far outside of Victoria. Boy am I excited!
The gentleman who sold them to me was very knowledgeable and told me he’s been keeping bees since 1974. Apparently he used to work for a large apiary in southern California for over 27 years. I was glad he knew what he was doing, as I didn’t ask many questions before committing to the trek. He was also kind enough to allow me to snap a few photos.
I needn’t have worried, as he had a nice little selection of nucs that were made from his strongest overwintered hives. He was on a good varroa treatment schedule using oxalic acid and thymol which he explained to me. He recommended the oxalic treatment during the winter when there is less brood (since the treatment can’t penetrate the cells) and the thymol treatment around the end of August after the honey harvest. (Thymol needs hot weather to work).
He said that he breeds for honey production, colony strength and gentleness. He admitted he doesn’t breed for hygienic bees per se, but that his colonies were all very strong and so he might as well be. (Hygienic selective bred bees are much better at keeping themselves clean of varroa mites.)
He showed me his active hives and then got out the smoker to show me the nuc. It’s a four frame that is positively chock full of hard working little ladies. It must weigh about 30 pounds. He secured the four frames to one side with two nails to avoid shifting, and the top was nailed on as well. The entrance was sealed with a little block of foam. Once I got them home I was advised to allow them to sit for an hour to let them settle, and then remove the foam. Since it was dark when I arrived home, I will wait to do the transfer into the hive until tomorrow.
I also have a lead on a full, three box complete hive with bees and drawn comb for a good price, and I think I may pick it up so I have two hives to compare. I’ll keep you posted!