New beekeepers starting their beehives this spring are quite rightly focused on their equipment and having it ready for the day they bring their new bees home. But even a beekeeper with a year or two under his/her belt may be surprised by one important aspect – where to source their bees!
Now is the time to be thinking about just that! There are few things so disheartening in beekeeping than doing all the research, purchasing hives and equipment and being fully prepared to start – only to discover obtaining the bees is the real problem.
The Spring Rush
The closer we are to spring, the more difficult it can be to find a source of source bees. Suppliers of nucs or packages are already taking orders and it is not at all uncommon for many to sell out before spring. Ensuring you’re ready to order bees now, or at least to make a deposit, can help you to be sure you DO have bees to care for this spring, whether you’re starting a new bee yard or expanding one.
First Decision – Package or Nuc?
You’ll want first to decide whether to go for a package of bees with a queen, or a more established nucleus colony that will come with frames of resources and bees. Once you’ve decided, you can find the right supplier for your bees.
Consider sourcing your bees locally, for a few reasons. Shipping a package of bees can be distressing to the bees and isn’t a great start for the colony. Locally sourced bees travel home in your car with you! Importantly, locally raised nucs or packages may also already be acclimated to your climate.
To be clear, it is not particularly unusual for beekeepers to have bees “shipped in.” These sources can also be the start of successful hives. However, locally sources bees just check off a few more concerns and, as a general rule, PerfectBee does recommend local, trusted suppliers where possible.
Finding a Trusted Source
Your supplier is an important decision. Do your research. Locate a supplier with a good track record, and transparency about their history, their processes and, of course, their pricing. In addition to researching suppliers near you online, you can talk to your local bee club or other local beekeepers to find out which bee suppliers they use and trust.
Lock it In!
Many will, reasonably enough, ask for a deposit to hold you place in line, when you order your bees. That’s fair and don’t hold back. Make that commitment and move into spring knowing your bees are secured.
To learn more, check out our article Obtaining Bees for a Beehive.
Colony members can read more about the specifics of installing their bees in Installing a Package of Bees and Installing a Nuc. And don’t forget PerfectBee Ambassadors and other members are always available to answer your questions in the Colony Forum.