One of the most often asked questions we get is, "How do I get bees for my hive?"
Bees are delicate creatures, yet it is possible to purchase them through the mail. When looking to buy bees to start your hive, it is advisable to find one that is as close to your location as possible and make sure they are experienced with shipping bees if they are not close enough for a local pickup or delivery.
We'll cover below the 3 most common ways to get bees for your new hive:
1. Packaged Bees
Packages of bees are typically sold in measurements of pounds; 3 pounds of bees is the standard in the industry. Packaged bees should come with bees, one mated queen, and a feeding supplement. It's important to remember that packaged bees are very vulnerable and need to be transported and moved to their new home quickly. Packaged bees should stay in a cool, well ventilated area until installed. We recommend adding the bees into the hive within 24 hours of receiving them.
Bees are sold by retailers based upon your location; typically January - April and delivered in March - May. Check our list of HLH authorized retailers of packaged bees.
2. Nucleus (NUC)
Sold in measurements of how many frames are included. The industry standard is five frames: three frames with brood and two frames of honey, along with a mated and laying queen. Bees that are in a Nuc are from existing hives that have usually overwintered. Area beekeepers are usually found selling Nucs in your local area. Bees in Nucs can overheat quickly, so consider this when transporting. Never transport a Nuc in a closed off container like a plastic container. Keep Nucs out of direct sunlight and monitor the temperature they are in if they are in a closed off Nuc.
Swarms are clusters of bees that have been part of an existing hive typically found in trees. Swarms are usually seen during the spring time as the hive is building up. These are a great way to get bees because they are free. Check with local government regulations and pest control agencies to be put on their swarm lists.
Install bees into your hive
Make sure your bee hive is fully setup and ready to accept the bees into the hive. Here are some great tips for where to place your hive.