If you are starting beekeeping, no doubt you will be looking out for
honey bees for sale. But how should you make your choice?
Firstly, if you are establishing a colony, you will probably purchase a nucleus colony or a ‘nuc’. A nuc consists of a queen, brood, and workers in four or more frames.
Alternatively you may purchase package bees, which will consist of workers and a newly mated queen, and food.
Before purchasing, here are a few considerations:
- The bees should of course be disease free.
- Where do they come from – which race/sub-species of honey bee are they? Some suppliers import queens from overseas, but some beekeepers prefer to purchase queens reared in their own country to minimise the risk of bringing in new strains of virus or disease. Ask the supplier for details.
- Temperament - if this is your first time beekeeping, and you are nervous, then you may prefer to choose ‘mild mannered’ bees.
Note there are additional circumstances when you may wish to purchase honey bees, such as the replacement of winter losses.
Note that if you wish to buy bees, you may have to order in advance so that you don’t miss out. Ensure you have everything set up to and ready for your bees before you receive them. Also, have a good supply of food for the bees, until they settle and begin their normal foraging.
Take a look at my lists of bee plants to ensure you have a good range of nectar and pollen available in your garden for the bees throughout the seasons. If you live in an urban area, there may be plenty of flowering plants in the vicinity, from gardens and public planting schemes.
What if you are offered a swarm? If you are a newcomer to beekeeping, you may want to get help from another beekeeper to settle in the swarm into your hive.
Where Else Can I get Honey Bees?
- Make contacts with your local beekeeping association, who may be alerted to the locations of swarms that need to be moved.
- Contact your local council, and let them know you are wanting a swarm. If a member of the public asks to have a swarm removed, they can then contact you.
- Contact a local pest control company, as they may be happy to pass on swarms to you. However, remember they are wanting to earn a living. Offer to help free of charge in exchange for them allowing you to have the swarm. Remember they don't have to share their contacts with you, so don't expect payment.
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