October 10, 2016

Getting Started with Bees

There are several different places a new beekeeper or a beekeeper wanting to expand their colonies can acquire bees. Bees can be purchased in packages, a nucleus (nuc) colony or by buying established colonies from another beekeeper. Swarms are also another source of bees. We recommend novices start by purchasing either a package(s) or nucleus colony(ies) from an established and reputable supplier; your local beekeeper’s association can help you with that. Collecting and transferring a swarm is perhaps not the best idea for a beginner, even if you got someone more experienced to help, you will be taking pot luck with the temperament of the bees and also their state of health. The best time to start with bees is in the spring or early summer.

Here is lots of helpful information about acquiring and how and where to install your bees:


Buying and Installing Packaged Bees Packages are sold in units that contain from one to five pounds of bees, where there are about four thousand bees in a pound.


Removing the Queen Cage from a Package of Bees and First Inspections. Having installed a package of bees for the first time it can often be hard for new beekeepers to resist the temptation of checking what is happening inside their new hive.


Buying and Installing a Nuc of Bees Most new beekeepers now start with a nucleus colony, or nuc, of bees. A nuc is essentially a small hive in a specially designed smaller box.


Buying an Established Bee Colony  Buying established colonies is not recommended for beginners, but experienced beekeepers may find this a practical means to increase their number of bee colonies.


Collecting Swarms  One way of acquiring bees whether to replace winter losses, strengthen weak colonies or start new ones, is to collect a swarm.


Major Honey Bee Strains  When ordering bees for the first time new beekeepers may be faced with the decision of which strain or race of bee to order. Honey bees in the United States and most of Europe are a heterogeneous blend of several strains, originating from Europe, the Middle East and Africa.


Hybrid Honey Bees  Hybrid bees are produced by crossing several lines or strains of honey bees. This is usually done with the aim of  increasing honey productivity and controlling temperament.


Locating your Bee Hives  Once you have decided beekeeping is for you some consideration should be given to where your hives should be situated.


Urban Beekeeping Considerations  It is possible to keep bees almost anywhere including cities and towns and in fact beekeepers often find that honey production is better in an urban setting.