Let’s start with the wood ware. I have heard and seen commercial beekeepers using “old” (4 years to 8 year) frames and foundation. These beekeepers rotate their old frames and foundation from their old hives to make a new nuc. Here is the problem that you face when buying a nuc that has been made with old frames. The frames and foundation could be exposed to contamination that has been gathered by the bees over the life of that frame and foundation. Now with that said, the queens are attracted to “dark” foundation which is dark as dark can get. Additionally, frames do have a life of approx. 7 years. Frames cost money, so you may only get an average of 2 years use before having to replace the frame and foundation.
The beekeeper who is shopping for a nuc, can request the commercial beekeeper to provide you with new frames and foundation to keep contaminate residues to a minimum. This gives you (the buyer)maximum value for your money, in that, you have new frames and new foundation. If the nuc seller does not want to do this then shop somewhere else.
You may be asking “how do you know what to look for in used frames and foundation”?
Frames should have a “light” wood color, up until pollen starts coming in the hive. At this point, you will see a “yellow” tint to the frames and that is normal. The frames should also have a light color to them. If you see “brown” frames this is an indication that the frames are aged.
The foundation can be either wax or plastic foundation. Most commercial beekeepers use plastic foundation. The comb on the foundation will be white. If your see dark brown wax this is an indication that this is aged foundation. Aged foundation will contain contaminates.
If you have questions on this subject thus far please write me and we can discuss further at ray@MountainSweetHoney.com Tomorrow we will look at foundation (wax vs. plastic).