Where to Buy Honey Bees

Welcome back to the Novice Rancher. In this article we will discuss where to find honeybees for sale. There are multiple factors that should be considered prior to purchasing your bees, such as which variation of honeybee, package or nucleus, but not so much where to get them.

I’ve already touched a little on where you can buy honeybees in previous articles, but I’ll go a little more in depth to help guide anyone that may still have questions.

The two best places to buy honeybees will be from either a local beekeeper or online. There’s always another option should you prefer to try your luck in catching a swarm. Before diving in to those options I’ll touch on the importance of preparation prior to ordering.

Before You Buy

There are mixed reviews online about the difficulty of raising honeybees. Some find keeping bees to be an effortless task and those that don’t often fail to take responsibility for their short comings, so you may find an abundance of articles to be deterring.

I for one chose to pursue beekeeping despite the negative reviews, as the good appeared to outweigh the bad. They key to a successful beekeeping experience is preparation. How you prepare yourself through knowledge and materials will make or break this hobby.

Read, read, and read some more! There are a ton of books available for new beekeepers, as well as a growing community online that are happy to help through forums. I have an entire beekeeping section on my bookshelf for quick reference when things seem unusual.

In conjunction with your growing knowledge base, you have to have the right setup. I referenced a couple different options in previous articles available here (add link). Once you’ve determine what style of hive you would like, as well as what bees, its important to have everything setup well before the bees arrive on your doorstep.

Buying Local

Our first option for purchasing bees is a great one, however in my area I have found it to be a little more expensive. By shopping local you’re not only supporting your peers, you’re also building a relationship amongst the beekeepers in your area, which will prove to be beneficial down the road.

Something to consider is not all species of honey bees may thrive in your area. Local beekeepers that sell hives likely know that, therefore they probably breed and keep the best bees for that region. Not only that, but some breed queens as well. This could be very beneficial to you should your queen need to be replaced.

Another thing is that your bees won’t be sent on a stressful journey through the mail. This limits the loss of bees and potentially an entire hive should they be mishandled or neglected by the postal service. Most of the larger businesses I’ve seen offer nucleus packages for pickup only, they won’t ship them at all. With that said, if I had a local commercial beekeeping company I’d probably start there myself.

One downfall to buying local is that they may not have an abundance available. If your reading this midyear you’ve probably missed your opportunity to purchase locally. Most beekeepers will take orders well in advance so they know how many hives they have to establish that summer.

Buying Online

The easiest option by far is to purchase online. You have an abundance of options to choose from when doing so. You can find exactly what species you want, multiple shipping dates, and if you order in advance you can likely buy as many packages as your heart desires.

I find it beneficial to have reviews available as well. One options that I don’t typically have when buying from local beekeepers is reviews. Not only can you ensure your bees are coming from a reputable source, but you also have competitive pricing.

I mentioned this in a previous post, and ill mention it again, the shipping date you select when purchasing online is NOT set in stone! Be prepared for that date to change, as it has for me every time. Make sure you order them during a time your flexible, and if the date gets changed to a day your unavailable, be sure to contact the company directly as soon as possible to arrange an alternate shipping date.

Catching Your Own

Catch your own honeybees? Crazy thought, right? I personally have not had success in catching a wild swarm, but I have caught one of my own (I don’t think that counts). I have built a couple swarm traps and hung them on a few different trees around the property.

Here’s the thing though, I very rarely see honeybees in my area, and have only heard of one swarm being caught last year. One swarm, and that happy colony is now three miles from my house in another beekeeper’s apiary.

Regardless of success rate, I still like this option, even if your buying bees. It only cost me a couple bucks in wood to build my swarm traps. They are built to hold 5 frames, the same size as many nucleus packages. Inside the box I use foundation frames, some with drawn comb already.

Once they are hung I spray the opening with swarm attractant or lemon grass oil.

Here comes the hard part, waiting. Just leave the traps up and try to forget about them, you aren’t likely to catch one overnight! Even if you are successful at catching your own hive, its common practice to let them get established for a week or so before disturbing them.

This give the bees time to build comb and the queen to start laying. Be patient, and after a week of them establishing themselves in the swarm trap, it similar to moving a nucleus into a hive body. Just plug and play!

Time to Order

Now that you have a couple different options on where to buy your honeybees, its really just preference. I personally started with purchasing my honeybees online, as it was just easier for me. I do however really like the idea of supporting each other locally.

Be aware of sellers purchasing bees from another state and selling them as local bees. Sounds funny but it does happen. One of the guys I bought bees from actually drove them up the entire east coast in one day. He met at different designated locations for pickup, once he checked your name off the list he was on the move again. But, he never claimed to sell local bees, others will.

As always, should you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them below! Thanks for stopping in and good luck on your endeavors.



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