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Steveuk 

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Hi All

I am a new starter into bee keeping and i know i can not get bees until next year, i would appreciate any advice on what to get between a swarm and getting them from a bee breeder, i have heard that you can not guarantee a swarm would be disease free, where paying from a breeder would be.



I apologize if a stupid question but like new people starting out in a new venture
get a window of opportunity to be dense.:)

Regards
Steve
 

gavin 

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Hi Steve

Not a stupid question. Swarms are generally quite healthy, though you can sometimes find one heavy with Varroa (very treatable though). Even colonies with EFB can be cured by the shook swarm procedure. However, can you guarantee that a swarm is disease free? No.

Can you guarantee that a nucleus from someone selling them in numbers is disease free? Unfortunately, no. There have been cases of beginners buying nucs that turned out to be seriously diseased, although you will find beekeepers with good reputations who make absolutely sure that their bees are healthy. FERA have reported that an alarmingly high proportion of imported queens come with attendants that show signs of Nosema disease, so there is one good reason for avoiding bees with imported queens.

Most established beekeepers would advise you to buy locally, and to seek opinions locally on the reputation on the vendor. Local bees are often also a lot cheaper.

best wishes

Gavin
 

admin 

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My understanding regarding imported queens is that the attendents must be sent to defra for inspection,yet next to none are sent ?
 

gavin 

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I don't know what numbers are sent but they report large numbers of imported queens on their web site and quote (in a 2010 report on colony losses) 35% of third country imports to have visible signs of Nosema.

G.
 

oliver90owner 

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I am with Gavin here. Spot on, I think. I would add that not all nucs are derived in the same way. Sometimes this may be reflected in the cost, but not always.

There was a case on the forum earlier this year where a source of infection was traced (well tracing not even needed, but actually reported by the suffering bee supplier) where, by all acounts, the trader was not prepared to fully reimburse the losses incurred by the new beek purchasers. For that reason I would check carefully re the scruples of anyone you deal with. Most will come with a recommendation.

This is not, of course, limited to beekeeeping - nor does it mean that there are more than the odd 'bad apple' among the many reliable and trusted suppliers - probably 99% or more bee suppliers stand by their product (as I well know they do!). Most offer sound advice and are most helpful.

Keep asking questions. There is a wealth of conflictng advice on the forum and occasionally two or even three agree! Seriously there are so many things that you may benefit by asking before making a decision (yes, the final decision is down to you).

Beekeeping is often a compromise and nothing is absolutely ideal in all respects, so personal choice and local conditions can often be an important part of making informed decisions.

Regards, RAB
 

mbc 

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6 of 1 and half a dozen of the other.
If you have patience and a limited budget then a swarm is for you, plus points include:
-you know with a swarm the bees have done well enough in your area to build up to the required strength to naturally multiply
-free of charge
-you can hive a swarm in the equipment of your choice
the down sides are:
-you have to wait until a swarm turns up
-your unlikely to know the provenance of the bees in a swarm
-they may be 'swarmy' bees
A nuc from a supplier on the other hand is the right choice if your flush and in a hurry, plus points include:
-as gavin points out you can make enquiries locally to find the most likely best supplier in your area
-you should then know what kind of bees you'll be getting
down sides of buying a nuc are
-dosh
-you have to wait until your chosen supplier has a nuc available
-nucs are difficult to find on anything but standard national frames

Either way if you get bees you know they'll have varroa and as for any other diseases statisically your more likely to have brood diseases if you buy a nuc ( because it will come with brood frames ) ,as for nosema I think its probably evens - although you know with a swarm that the parent colony was strong enough to throw a swarm so would be unlikely to have been heavily infected
 

Poly Hive 

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I wonder............. if I were to take a random sample from the membership how many workers would have Nosema?

I am pretty sure with out investing in a microscope that most of mine would.

Why? Because Nosema is pretty much endemic.

Until (and I hate to say this) the UK can produce nucs on time for beginners imports are going to continue, and until the Bee Farmers can support each other on the same basis, imports will continue.

Leaving the BFA situation to one side, until beginners are taught that an over wintered nuc is a good buy they will continue to believe the party line that a 2nd year queen is more likely to swarm... which is in general true... but on over wintered queen in a nuc is not the same as an over wintered queen in a colony....

PH
 

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