What is an “overwintered nuc”?

We’re all sold out on overwintered nucs for this spring, but I wanted to explain what it means versus other kinds of nucs, because it is sometimes misunderstood. A typical 5 frame nuc that you buy is made up of a new, laying, mated queen and draw frames with brood of various stages and one or two resource frames. This is a great way to start the season and beyond the advantage that you have drawn comb versus a package of bees, you also have a small colony where the queen has already been accepted and is laying well. For our nucs with new queens, one advantage is that our queens are local, not from down south or California. In Pennsylvania, this means mid-late May at the earliest, otherwise, it’s likely the queens are not local or the mating and evaluation process was rushed. For overwintered nucs, this should mean that the bees and queen were overwintered, not just the bees! To do this correctly, the queen should be young and at her prime, which means an August or September queen (that is what we do). So, the quality is not the question between the overwintered versus our May/June nucs–it’s more related to the pace of buildup because of the age of the queen. These nucs are not usually for beginners because they will build up even faster. Always ask where the queens were overwintered and the age of the queen before buying an overwintered nuc.

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