Jon Gideon Wehage

Gideon Wehage, Tillamook Beekeepers Assoc. youngest beekeeper at 12-years old, grabs a  box of bees to get his hive started for the season.

Tillamook Beekeepers Association ordered close to two-million bees and distributed them to 70 of their beekeepers recently.

The bees were purchased from Joe Hansen of Foothills Honey Company out of Colton OR, a second generation business started by Hanson’s mother and father.

According to Brad York, president of the Tillamook Beekeepers Association, the bees cost the association $20,000; they received 154 nucleus or nucs as they are called with 10,000 to 12,000 bees, enough for a hive or colony.

After the bees are put into the individual hives, the queen will produce 1,500 eggs per day and the colony will grow to 50,000 to 80,000 bees by the fall when the beekeepers can start harvesting honey.

“We do this every year,” York said. “Last year we purchased 85 nucs, this year we bought 150 nucs.”

According to York, the association had added 44 beekeepers to its membership since January 1, bringing the total membership up to 157 beekeepers countywide.

Bob Allen, a beekeeper from Garibaldi, was also there receiving nucs, Bob started the Beekeepers Assoc. in the 1970s.   

What is a Nucleus Colony?

Adding nucs is great way to jump start a new hive.

A nucleus colony, more commonly known as a “nuc” or “split,” is one of the easiest ways for beekeepers to start a colony in a new hive. Nucs are nothing more than frames of comb that are removed from an established hive. Because they come from a successful colony, nucs contain comb with developing brood at several stages of development. In most cases, they also contain cells with honey and pollen stored by the original colony.

What are the Benefits of Using Nucs?

There are several benefits of using nucs to start a new colony. To begin with, adding nucs to a hive is easy. Typically, a beekeeper will advertise nucs for sale when their established hives grow to the point where they are likely to swarm. The purchaser brings their new hive to the seller’s location, and four or five frames of comb are transferred into the new hive.

This method has the distinct advantage of starting off a hive with a good base population of adult workers and brood at various stages of development. Unlike purchasing package bees where there is a 21-day wait for newly-laid eggs to develop, workers start emerging from cells right away. These bees quickly get to work foraging and drawing out foundation in the new hive.

For more information about the Tillamook Beekeepers Association or to become a member, log onto their website at: https://tillamookbeekeepers.org/

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