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Michigan Local Nuc Program

The Michigan Local Nuc Program 

The Michigan Local Nuc program is designed to be a starting point / draft materials that can be used by bee clubs or other groups who want to promote and facilitate local nuc sales - everyone is free to edit/ modify/  use these documents however they find useful. 

If you have local nucs for sale - list them for free (anywhere in the US) on www.northernbeenetwork.org

Last updated 6/42021 by Meghan Milbrath - mpi@msu.edu

If you are interested in leading a program in 2021 or 2022, and would like support from MBA and MSU, please email Meghan Milbrath or vicepresident@mba-bees.org

Beekeeper opening nuc box
Photo by Lacey Ingrao

The problem

We have a supply and a demand for local bees, but they are not getting matched. 

  1. There is a high demand for local honey bees - hobby / small scale beekeepers want to buy local nucs each srping. 
  2. There is an untapped supply of local bees. There are many beekeepers who do not want to expand their apiaries, and have excess bees in the spring. They have as many hives as they want, but their exisiting colonies need to be split for swarm control, creating an excess. 

Currently, the standard practice is for new beekeepers to puchase bees from out of state, while many beekeepers lose their excess bees to swarms. 

While there is both a demand and supply of local bees, there are obstacles to their distribution:

  1. Many beekeepers are not comfortable making nucs, and
  2. Many beekeepers do not want to deal directly with customers and sales.

The solution

Local beekeeping clubs can help beekeepers who have excess bees make their bees available to other local beekeepers by providing equipment, queens, knowledge, and a system for distribution. The club collects a list of individuals who will have excess bees, and provides them with support to make nucs (clinics, volunteers, handouts), as well as materials (nuc boxes and queens if needed). The club purchases nucs from the providers when they are ready, and re-sells them to local individuals looking for local bees.

Target Stakeholders:

  1. New beekeepers who have excess bees, but are not comfortable about making splits on their own. 
  2. Beekeepers who have excess bees, are comfortable making splits, but are not comfortable selling bees. 
  3. New beekeepers looking to purchase local bees.
  4. Beekeeping clubs looking to increase membership, provide a key local service, and increase training in sustainable beekeeping practices.

Partners

  1. State Leader / Trainer (1)
    An individual familiar with the forms and the program that can train program leaders, and provide them with training materials and forms. This person will also solicit reports and feedback from clubs at the end of the season to modify the program and document success stories. 
  2. Program leader
    (1 person with help of board) - The program leader will work with other key volunteers to finalize dates and details for their program, will communicate with program participants and will keep track of sales and participants and partners. 
  3. Bee providers (Many)
    Beekeepers who are willing to provide frames of bees for local sale. 
  4. Split mentors (1 - few)
    Beekeepers who are comfortable making splits and are willing to help others make nucs from their hives. 
  5. Queen providers (1 -2 )
    Local beekeepers who provide queen cells for the nuc program. If no local queen producers are available, this person is responsible for a bulk purchase of mated queens. 
  6. Distributors (1-3)
    Club members who are willing to maintain nucs at one or more locations for distribution.  Bee providers will bring nucs to the distributors, who will add queens, maintain nucs, ensure quality control of nucs, and communcate with program leader to manage sales. 
  7. Optional bulk purchase coordiantor (0-1)
    Coordinates purchase and distribution of supplies (Nuc boxes and / or mite treatments). 
  8. Optional nuc clinic organization (1)
    Organizes a hands-on demonstration day to teach bee providers nuc making skills.

How it works

  1. Each club/ region identifies an individual to act as a local Program Leader.
  2. The State Leader meets with the program leaders to train them on the program and provide them with all the necessary forms and materials. 
  3. The Program Leader works with core folunteers to formalize the general outline of the program, using the Planning Sheet.
  4. The Program Leader works with local beekeeping communication channesl to spread word about the program through facebook, club email, and the club website
    1. Marketing materials using the planning sheet
    2. Provider contact form
    3. Split mentor contact form 
  5. The Program Leader closes the form on the provider form end date and checks the names, contact information, and notes to make sure that all the Bee Providers are in the region and understand what is needed.  
    1. The program leader then sends out the Nuc Provider Information Emails.  This email provides the bee providers with their next steps, and it confirms the number of nucs that they will provide, as well as get a list of what they need (queens, mentorship, equipment, etc.)
    2. The Program Leader communicates with the Queen Providers and the Bulk Purchase Coordinator to update numbers and needs. 
  6. The Nuc Clinic Organizer schedules a hands-on demonstration day to teach bee providers nuc making skills. 
  7. The Bulk Purchase Coordinator orders and distributes (optional) nuc boxes to the Bee Providers.
  8. The Bee Providers make nucs, contacting the Split Mentors as needed. Nucs are delivered immediately to the Distributers. 
    1. Bee Providers are paid for their contribution or can provide their nuc as a donation (as outlined in the Planning Sheet). 
  9. The Distributers communicate with Queen Providers to add queen to the nucs as needed. The Distributors maintain and manage the nucs until they are ready for sale. 

State Leader/ Trainer tasks:

  • Idenitfy Participating clubs and create a list of program leaders
  • Set up a meeting with all program leaders to go over outlines and forms.
  • Create copies of forms for each program leader
  • Determine what level of support/ training that program leaders will need, if any, and remain connected with each program leader. 
  • Follow up with program leaders after the program has concluded and get feedback. 
  • Identify other programs that promote local bees and provide cases studies / plans for clubs to follow. 

Program leader tasks: 

  • Fill out local nuc program Planning Sheet
  • Use the Planning Sheet
  • Create Marketing Materials
  • Make a copy of the Nuc Provider Contact Form and add local information
  • Make a copy of the Split Mentor Contact Form and add local information. 
  • Send out marketing materials with links to the Split Mentor Form and the Provider Contact Form. 
  • Send out follow ups of marketing materials and form link
  • Turn off provider form on date to no longer accept provder participants names. 
  • Check responses to Provider Contact Form, and create a copy of the spreadsheet. 
  • Send Provider Information Email to each provider.
  • Take emails from nuc providers and fill out additional columns in spreadsheet (final number of nucs, needs for queens, needs for nuc boxes). 
  • Organize optional nuc field day 
  • Make arrangements for queens and nuc boxes. 

Bee Provider Tasks

  • Fill out participation form
  • Create a nuc from your hives
  • Bring the nuc to the distribution apiary

Split Mentor Tasks

  • Fill out participation form
  • Be available to help bee providers with making nucs either in person or over the phone

Queen Provider Tasks

  • Communicate with program leader to determin number of queens needed. 
  • Create queen cells or organize bulk purchases of queens
  • Stores/ banks queens until needed
  • Coordinates with Distributors to provide queens to nucs. 

Nuc Distributor Tasks

  • Provides a physical location for nucs to be dropped off by bee providers
  • Adds queen cells and monitors queens
  • Evaluates nucs and determines when they are ready for sale, according to quality control standards developed by Program Leader and core volunteers. 
  • Coordinates with program leader to sell/ distribute nucs. 

Support available from program leader/ extension

  • Using google forms/ maintaining spreadsheets
    • Sending forms (link to fill out form rather than edit form).
    • Google ad-on 'Form limiter'
  • Nuc making resources

Forms