For beginning beekeepers just starting their journey, it can seem overwhelming to decide where, when, and how to buy exactly what you need.
With all of the various types of equipment, feeders, and supplies (fortunately all of which is provided by Dadant & Sons right here), it can be easy to forget the most important aspect of your hive: the honey bees!
What Do You Need to Know and Do Before Purchasing Honey Bees?
Before you start the process of buying your first honey bees, you need to answer some questions to decide which type will work for you.
The first thing you need to determine is what race of bees you want. If you are in an area that is especially cold or hot, you need to understand what type is best suited to survive and thrive in that climate. The most popular races of honey bees or North American beekeepers are:
Experts suggest researching each type of bee and deciding which kind will work best in your environment.
After you’ve decided which race you want, you need to choose the most reputable supplier.
Next, you must be sure to order your bees early. If you wait until spring, you might not be able to get them in time. Most suppliers reside in Southern states and ship in April and May. It becomes far too hot to ship bees once the heat of June comes.
Though you need to understand what type of bees you want before ordering supplies, it’s important to get your apiary set up before the bees arrive. You don’t want to be setting your supplies up when the post office calls and says the bees are ready. You should have everything ready for your bees to be welcomed.
You’ll need to be prepared to feed the newly installed bees. After a long journey, the bees will be hungry after being introduced into your apiary. Packaged bees need to be fed for about six weeks before they can take care of themselves. This gives them time to lay eggs, raise new bees to begin foraging, and draw out comb.
Lastly, it’s important to spend decent money on quality supplies (like the 10-frame hive kit available at the online Dadant & Sons store). Though it is tempting to cut corners on supplies, your bees may suffer if not provided with the best.
How Should You Start the Process of Acquiring Honey Bees?
Now that you know what all needs to be done before you can purchase your bees, let’s learn about the different ways honey bees can be acquired.
There are three main ways to get your honey bees:
- Buy from another established beekeeper
- Acquire a nuc hive of bees
- Purchase package bees
While buying your bees from another beekeeper and acquiring a nuc hive of bees has its pros and cons, Dadant & Sons highly recommend buying package bees like the ones we offer here.
If you are just beginning your beekeeping journey, package bees work best. This is because package bees come complete in a box, with a queen bee already included. They can be delivered via mail, and are the most popular choice in the USA.
The package box comes with feed to keep the bees alive during shipment and is best installed during the late afternoon or evening. This allows time for the bees to enter the hive, but not start flying out just yet.
They’ll spend the night inside the hive before releasing the queen from her separated cage; this assures the colony will accept the beehive and queen.
Dadant & Sons guarantees all package bees come free of mites, hives, beetles, and honeybee diseases.
Why Shouldn’t You Catch the Bees Instead of Buying Them?
Though catching a swarm of bees is doable, experts don’t recommend it. Experienced beekeepers tend to avoid it, first and foremost, because it is a hassle.
The beekeeping community can appreciate wild-caught swarms because they bring variation to any aviary, but it’s sometimes difficult to determine what type of bee is caught. Additionally, they may have unwanted characteristics or attributes, such as a negative temperament or a penchant for swarming.
If you absolutely insist on catching your own swarm of bees, you may set a trap to catch them. This comes with its own issues because it either catches a swarm quickly, or they figure out what the trap is and avoid it, leaving you with all this work done and no bees.
For beginning beekeepers, catching a swarm is unreliable as a way of starting your first few beehives. The money spent on a trap box would be better used to buy equipment to make your bees more comfortable.
What to Expect When Purchasing Honey Bees
Lastly, let’s talk about what to expect when purchasing your first honey bees. Package bees purchased from Dadant & Sons come with three pounds of bees and a queen in her separate container (this is done so the queen can be introduced once your bees are all set up).
Our bees are Italian bees, which are well known for being calm and gentle. Once it’s time to pick up the bees, you’ll get a text (SMS) or phone call from your local post office. You’ll want to go pick up your bees as soon as possible and transport them home in a vehicle or truck bed out of direct sunlight.
Once you get your bees home and all set up, you should be ready to start your beekeeping journey. How exciting for you and your honey bees!
Contact Dadant & Sons, Your Local Beekeeping Experts, To Purchase Your Bees and Give Them A New Home!
No matter what type of honey bees you choose to start your journey, you’ll need to fill it with our top-of-the-line bee feed supplies!
As always, please feel free to contact Dadant & Sons with any questions, comments, or concerns in regards to the business of beekeeping. We care about you and your honey bees!