Where to get your new bee hive This week we are going to talk about the ever exciting topic of where you should get your bees from. There are several places and each has it advantages and disadvantages. So let’s dive in and cover them all. Ordering a package of Bees You can order a package of bees very easily. There are many places that will sell them to you. I know that Brushy Mountain Bee Farms Brushy Mountain Bee Farm will sell them. Also, Gold star honey bees ships bees as well Gold Star Honey , or just google it. What you are getting when you order a package of bees is a queen and her nucleus of bees. This is called a “nuke.” It is a fully functioning hive however there is not going to be any comb, honey, or brood included. They will have to make all that when they arrive. And that is why packaged bees are only sold in the spring time. You will want to call the different bee companies and see when they sell their bees. The time is limited and many sell out fast. If you can pick up locally that is of course the best recourse, however, many times there are no bee companies near you and so you are forced to have them shipped by mail. When to order bees Order them only when you know for certain you will be home. Your local post office will be calling you to promptly come pick them up! And they can’t survive in the box for very long. You should take them home and right away install them. That involves taking the queen out first (she will be in a little cage) and then dumping the box of bees into your hive and then attach the queen to the inside. The bees will chew the candy out, releasing her. Replace the lid and you are done. The only other real disadvantage I want to mention is that because the bees come from a different environment it can be hard for them to adapt. I have heard of great losses from package bees moving to a new environment. However, with this method you do get to choose your “breed” of bee. So if you really liked the Italian bees or whatever this would be a way to get the bee you want. Otherwise you can requeen every year. But it can be difficult to find the queen. That is why many put a dot on her of paint. Purchasing bees from a local beekeeper This is my favorite method of buying bees. I love that the bees are locally adapted and I am helping out local businesses. There is no guarantee of type of bee (unless the beekeeper says so) but you are buying a well adapted “mutt” type of bee. But rest assured it won’t affect your honey production! In fact, it is likely the opposite. The local bees are more aggressive about getting honey that their european counterparts in my opinion. I purchase my bees here in Phoenix from Abello Bees. I find that the bees he has sold me live the longest and do the best. He catches swarms of bees and then resells them to aspiring beekeepers.
Purchasing a quality Bee suit The first thing you need to become a beekeeper is a quality suit. I choose to purchase all my suits from Brushy Mountain Bee Farms . They have the best suits on the market. They are tested in Africanized bee yards. Now what you need to understand though, is that bee suits are designed to prevent bee stings but they are not bee proof. What size bee suit should I order? You should definitely order your bee suit a size larger than you wear in normal clothes. You will be glad for the extra room when you are bending and kneeling and will be less likely to get tears. But more importantly it will reduce the likelihood that you will have the suit flush against your skin. That is when you get stung. If the suit is ever tight against your skin then the bees can sting through that. Getting Bee gloves Measure your hands according to the measurements on the website. I have found the vent hole type gloves always break for me. But I also live in a hot climate and I am very hard on my clothes and work gear. So I choose to go with the all leather gloves. Goat or cow hide is fine. I have seen no noticeable difference. You should grease your gloves monthly. Put some lard or leather conditioner on your gloves to keep them soft and supple. Getting your bee boxes You can find bee boxes already made and painted and ready to go or completely unassembled and you put the nails in and paint them yourself. There are also several kinds. There are top bar bee hives, Warre bee hives, and Langstroth bee hives. I chose to go with the simple Langstroth hives. I consulted my friend, and local beekeeper, Derek Abello, a Phoenix Beekeeper to see where he purchased his hives. He is a local expert and has spoken at many communities in Arizona, always giving on his time and knowledge. He also does bee removals. He removes the bees alive without using any of those toxic poisons or chemicals that the horrible exterminators are using. He has all three kinds of hives but recommends the langstroth above all. He purchases his boxes from Dadant and they often have sales so look for those. Other things you will need as a beekeeper There are always hive tools you can purchase such as this bee hive tool on amazon. And you might want a bee brush. There are lots of different odds and ends that you can get to make life easier. You might order a catalog from Brushy mountain and Dadant to see what you think you will like. But the essentials are suit (with veil), gloves, and bee box. I congratulate you on your new and exciting journey! Beekeeping is a very exciting hobby and promises a lifetime of rewards for those who venture and dare to take the leap. Stay tuned for the next article where I will tell you where to get your new 20,000 pets! Or aka–your first hive!