Nuc, package, and queen sales and pick up instructions

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Revised November 27, 2015

To our great surprise, the demand for nucs is so strong, that we have already fully booked orders  for 2016!  However, we may still take a limited number of orders for beginners only wanting a single nuc, and if not, we may be able to supply packages.  You may contact me at 

Bee Sales by Golden West Apiaries

We are a small short-staffed family business, not nearly as polished as the “big boys,” but we do proudly produce and sell top-quality nucs, and a limited number of packages and queens.


We don’t have an office staff (or even an office).  We are in the hives all day every day during spring, so I must handle all orders by phone or email in the early morning or evening.  To avoid confusion, please help me by reading all your options below before contacting me.  Since I may be handling a dozen phone calls or emails in rapid succession, please tell me up front if you are referring to a previous order, and exactly what it was.  If someone else is picking up your order for you, please do not double contact me, as it just gets too confusing!

Email:  In general, email works best for me (

Phone: If you need to call in order to coordinate pick up (or with questions), please do so in the morning between 6:30 and 8:30 am.  If you call during our frenzied springtime days, it seriously interrupts our bee work (and my hands are often too sticky to answer the phone).  My cell phone number is 530 277 4450 (I apologize in advance for curt responses if you call during bee work, as I must keep working the hive during our conversation with only one hand).  Please do not leave messages on my cell phone–rather email or call back.  For a second phone option, or for queen cell orders, please call my son Eric at 530 277 5004.


Firstly, we do not ship!  All prices are FOB our home yard at 14744 Meadow Dr., Grass Valley, CA 95945.


Nucs are our specialty.  We produce 5-frame nucs on deep frames.  Nucs are “nucleus colonies,” containing a queen, brood, and honey; ready to grow into full-strength colonies in your hives.  Nucs are the easiest way for beginners (or professional beekeepers) to establish new hives.

Beekeepers like our nucs for several reasons:

  • We don’t cut any corners.  The nucs that we sell you are the same as those that we produce for ourselves.
  • We work our bees bare-handed for most of the season; therefore, we select our stock for gentle temperament.
  • We breed for genetic diversity within our thousand-hive operation; our queens come in a rainbow of colors.  Such diversity ensures robust, healthy colonies.
  • We do not routinely use antibiotic treatments, so purchasers can be assured of combs free of AFB spores.
  • We strongly select for mite resistance—although our bees are not yet “mite proof,” they thrive under “organic” beekeeping management methods.
  • Our stock is specifically selected for qualities desirable in a Northern California beekeeping operation: workability, resistance to mites and disease, early buildup for almond pollination or the Manzanita bloom, honey production on the local bloom, and survival under our extreme Sierra Foothill seasons and weather.  We make no claims for their performance in other areas, but do receive excellent feedback from the Bay Area, the Valley, and Nevada.
  • Since we haven’t used synthetic miticides since the year 2000,  and avoid areas in which insecticides are applied, our combs are relatively free of the sorts of chemical residues that cause negative effects upon queen viability; our queens display an exceptionally high survival rate.
  •  Our queens are emerged and mated in the full-sized nucs in which they are sold, and have never been stressed by caging or banking.
  • Each queen is fully “tested,” in that we’ve allowed her  enough time to confirm that she produces a good brood pattern.
  • All our queens and nucs are fully guaranteed against failure or disease for 30 days—if there is anything about them that you do not like, you may return them for replacement (you don’t need to return queens).  Losses due to improper care are of course not covered.

Information for beginners (others may skip down)

You have four options for starting with bees:

  1. Hiving a natural swarm.  Although this is a traditional method, finding and hiving a swarm can be iffy for beginners.
  2. Purchasing  “package bees” (an artificial swarm in a cage  containing 3 or 4 lbs of shook bees plus a caged queen).  If you are starting with a top bar hive or medium depth equipment, then you’ll need to start with “package bees”; the larger the package, the faster the your colony will grow!
  3. Purchasing a full-sized colony in an established hive. I do not recommend that beginners start with a full-size colony, as they can be intimidating.
  4. Purchasing a nuc (nucleus hive).   Nucs are our first choice, as they contain an established, tested, laying queen and all stages of brood.  Nucs build up more quickly than packages, and beginners generally have more success in establishing colonies from nucs.

We recommend that you start with either a nuc or package.  We also recommend that you start with standard Langstroth deep (9-5/8″) hives for your first years of beekeeping (we suggest that those wishing to avoid heavy lifting consider starting with 8-frame equipment).

New queens or 2nd-year queens?

The default for all orders is to fill them with new queens of the season.  However, you can get a jump on the season by requesting nucs headed by 2nd-year queens.  We produce our nucs by splitting strong hives after return from almond pollination.  We save the best proven queens from those colonies for our own use, or for those who wish to purchase nucs or queens before newly-mated queens are available.  So in early season (March – mid April) you may request nucs headed by 2nd-year, fully-proven queens  (or the same queens caged or in packages).  These queens are less than a year old, and come only from busting strong colonies, with their own bees and brood.

Once the weather has allowed the mating and testing of new queens, all nucs will be headed by new queens.

In general, new queens are more desirable, but last-year’s queens are truly proven, and available much earlier in the season, especially if you have waited until spring to book your order.  This is a trade-off for you to decide.  Since our honey flow comes early in the foothills, it is of considerable benefit to start your colonies as early as possible; nucs with last year’s proven queens are available starting mid March.  Depending upon the weather, new queens may not be available until mid April, and if you’re near the end of the booking list, until early May.  You can always later requeen the colony once new queens become available.

Nucs with 2nd-year queens are exceptionally strong due the the amount of sealed brood, and cannot be held for long in the nuc box, so they are sold on a first come, first served basis.  Colonies with 2nd-year queens are great honey producers, but swarm management should be exercised, as they are more prone to swarm than are new queens.

Nucs with 2nd yr queens also do not get the brood break that we use to set varroa back, and should be treated for varroa shortly after you get them.  If you are inexperienced, I suggest one of two choices–Apivar strips (the same amitraz as used in pet flea collars), or Hopguard 2 strips (organic, but less effective), repeated at about 10 days.  You can read details on either of these products on other pages of this website.

PRICES (as of Jan 5, 2015):  Due to the variability of bee supply, all prices subject to change without notice!

NUCS (5 frame)

$150.00 ($145 ea for 10 or more; contact me for price on larger quantities) ((cash price, add $10 ea for a check or other paperwork; does not apply for businesses).  We normally have nucs on hand for sale until early June.  After that date, depending upon our colony count, we may be able to supply some, but at a higher price due to the extra work involved.

We are proud of the quality of our queens and nucs–if for any reason you are not completely satisfied, simply return for replacement or refund within 30 days.


For those wishing packages, we can shake a limited number to order.  Package bees are normally available from late March through mid May.
3-lb $110
4-lb $125
Add a $6 refundable cage deposit to the above prices.  For credit, cages must be returned in good condition.  I shake packages only to order, so they must be prepaid prior to shaking–no paperwork charge if prepaid.
Packages can also be made with either new or second-year queens–the same timing advantages apply.


We sell only a very limited number of queens, and don’t ship.  We don’t cut any corners on our queens–they come from our selected breeders, are well mated in full-sized nucs, tested to lay good brood patterns, and either caged to order or banked for not more than a day.

New queens are not normally available until our nuc orders are filled (usually by May 1st); 2nd-year queens from mid March ’til the end of April.  Queens are caged to order, not banked.  New queens are $30, second-year queens $25 (cash price, add $5 for a check or other paperwork).  After the end of April, we may have 2nd-yr queens available at discount.

Queen cells:

Split your colonies yourself before they swarm!  We generally have queen cells on hand from mid March through mid May, and can spare a few at most any time for $5 ea.  For more than 5 at a time, we will produce to order at discount with a 2-week lead time at $4 ea..  If you are a hobbyist with hives near one of my locations, tell me so, and I will generally give you a few cells free of charge (in order to maintain the genetics of my stock).


To place an order, please email me (  (this e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it ), with the words “Nuc Order” on the subject line. Please tell me the number that you want. The default is deep nucs with new queens. If you wish nucs with 2nd-year queens, please say “2nd-year.”  I will confirm receipt of your order, and then notify you when they are available.  I do not require a booking deposit on nucs; package bees must be paid for in advance of pick up.  Please pay for nucs at pick up with green cash; I charge a $5 paperwork processing fee for any payments that involve checks, receipts, or any sort of paperwork.


Please contact Eric Oliver at oliverhoneysales [at]


  1.  Please bring green folding money for payment (add $5 if you wish to pay by check or need a written receipt).
  2.  For each nuc, bring a deep brood box, containing only 5 frames , a hive cover (and inner cover if appropriate), a bottom board, and a ratcheting nylon web strap (has a lever that clicks  to tension) to hold it together. Or bring your own nuc box (no frames).  We can also place your nuc into a returnable plywood nuc box with a $10 deposit.
  3.  We’ll generally install nucs into your boxes at my home yard, let them settle down for several minutes, at which time you can drive them home. Alternatively, feel free to drop off your strapped hives (clearly marked with your name and phone number) in advance (at the drop-off sign at the top of our driveway).  If there are combs containing any honey, please seal the boxes tightly!  We will install the bees and call you to arrange pick up.  TIP: If you leave full cash payment inside the strapped box, then you can pick up the filled hive(s) at your leisure without having to coordinate with us (often more convenient for all involved).
  4. We apologize that we do NOT have an office or on-site staff, and spend most of our time in our outyards.  Therefore, in order to catch someone at our Meadow Drive location, you must coordinate any pick ups in advance by phone or email.  Please always confirm by phone that someone will be here before you head our way!  Someone is generally here between 7:00 and 9:00 am, and again between 5:00 and 6:00 pm.
  5. ***Always carry full protective gear and a smoker when moving bees, in case a mishap occurs.***
  6. For the trip home, secure the hives firmly in the vehicle to avoid shifting. The smoothest ride in a truck bed is just behind the cab.  In general, do not close or screen the entrance. However, if you have screened bottoms, you may close the entrance completely. If you are carrying them in a car, or are concerned about bees getting out, wrap the whole hive in netting, shade cloth, or a bedsheet. Closed nucs can easily overheat!
  7. Package  Bees: package bees can easily overheat!  They must have clear air flow around the cage.  If you are picking up multiple packages, please make sure that you have spacer sticks to keep the cages separated, or arrange for us in advance to staple them together.


Pick up checklist–please check off all items! Please help us to make your nuc pick up go quickly and smoothly–please get all your ducks in a row before you get here!

__ Green cash full payment for each nuc–paper money with green presidential portraits. If you must pay with a check, please add the $5 processing fee.

__ For each nuc: 1 hive body, 5 frames (3 frames for 8-frame boxes), 1 hive cover, 1 bottom board

__ Ratcheting straps. These have a handle that moves back and forth and goes “click, click, click” as the strap cinches up. Bungees or camlock straps do not provide adequate bindage.

__Please assemble all equipment and any entrance blocking before you arrive, so that we can quickly transfer your nucs without waiting for you to fiddle around.

__ Ropes to keep the hives from sliding in the back of the vehicle.

__ Net, shade cloth, or an old sheet if you are carrying within a vehicle, or plan to make stops.

__ Full bee gear and a smoker in case the hive breaks open on the way home

___For evening pick ups, be sure to arrive before 6:00 pm–after that cuts into Family Time.

___Download First Year Beekeeping for suggestions on care of your bees.

Happy Beekeeping!



Directions from I-80 east:

Take the Colfax/Grass Valley offramp.

Keep turning right until you are on Hwy 174.

Don’t miss when 174 turns left a mile out of town at Giovanni’s restaurant (sorry, currently burnt down, so it’s not much of a landmark any more!).

Go about 6 miles on Hwy 174 toward Grass Valley. When you see the green Meadow View Drive sign don’t turn yet, rather go another ¼ mile and look for the Meadow Drive sign on the left.

Turn left on Meadow Drive.

Go 1.1 miles up. Address 14744 on right.

Directions from Marysville (Hwy 20 east):

When you hit Freeway 49/20, go right over the overpass, straight; this will put you onto Empire St. Follow Empire St until it tees into Hwy 174, turn right


Category: Beginner's Pages