The right timing to get started in beekeeping and add live bees to your hives is usually around the Spring in Northamerica and Europe .That usually means April through early June. The increasing demand for live bees will probably force you to purchase,reserve or pre-source your bees months in advance. We advice you to locate your live bees by January if you plan to get started in beekeeping by the next Spring.
Below are some of the most common ways to obtain honeybees for your hive that can also “bee” seen in the Beekeeping Youtube Video above.
When feral or managed Bee Hives decide to reproduce they swarm.The initial Beehive raises a new queen and then the older queen leaves the original hive with half the worker bees and all the honey they can transport. The new Swarm then decends on the ground,a tree or any structure close to the original colony position while the explorer bees look for a new hive nest.This is the ripe moment to catch a swarm and use it to form a new beehive.Since the bees that form the swarm are engorged with honey, they usually start building comb right away once the settle in their new home. The chance that a swarm will form a new succesful colony are quite high since the bees are local and have gotten through the winter in the area and also were robust enough to form a new swarm in the Spring.Thus,using this method we are guaranteed good genetic pedigree and are aiding nature in prolifarating strong local honey bee insects. This method usually has a higher probability of sucess than purchasing bees that have been trucked half across the country and even in some cases Nucs that are brought from overseas(Australia,New Zealand) .
Bait and Trap
When explorer bees locate an appropiate hive position, they go back to the swarm, and guide the cluster to the new hive nest with the waggle dance. As soon as the swarm reports at their new home, the first worker bees to get there gather at the entrance and fan their nasonov glands, releasing pheromone to redirect the bulk of the bees into the new hive. This pheromone is very similar to lemongrass oil in its chemical composition so a beekeeping apiarist may use limited amounts of the oil in their bee Boxes or in swarm traps to lure in a bee cluster. Take a look at the Beekeeping Youtube video in the section above that teaches you how to catch a swarm.Totally worthy the 6+ min it takes to watch it.
Take a look at these books to get a clearer understanding about how swarms find new hive locations, and about setting swarm traps(bee baits) and using new pheromones lures. It is such a great feeling when you catch a Swarm that you attracted knowing that is …well…FREE BEES 😉 We all like free things.
shop bee bait swarm lures
Live bee packages are screened boxes that consists of around three pounds of worker bees (about 10,000 honey bees) and a new inseminated queen bee in a cage. Packages come from Bee Breeders.A simple Internet search for bee breeders ,will yield several but they schedule their deliveries well in advance usually around January and many times even before that so get in line early.That way, you will have a guaranteed source of bees for the season.The quality of package bees varies wildly with the source so It is best to check with local beekeepers and your local beekeepers association for reputable breeders.Another good source for locating quality Package Bee and Queen Breeders is through nationwide Beekeeping Magazines like the American Bee Journal and Bee Culture that are also chokeful of up to date informationon beekeeping in general.
A nucleus colony, or NUC, is basically a miniature hive with 3-5 drawn out frames of honey and brood with one queen and sufficient worker bees for the hive to thrive and develop. Nucs can be purchased from breeders and Local Beekeepers and come generally with Deep Langstroth frames in custom made cardboard or wooden boxes. These frames should then be moved into your own hive and with the advantage they develop much faster since they already have have eggs, larvae,bee-bread and stored honey . Once the nuc containers are emptied ,you can use them as great swarm traps.When you catch a swarm,you can let build up comb and bee population and once it is strong enough to occupy a standard hive box then It can then be transferred to one.
All commercial beekeepers( or any other kind of beekeeper) at a time or another ,no matter the style of hive used,have employed colony splitting of a strong hive as a way to increase the number of hives they have or to recover lost colonies. Splits are usually accomplished by switching frames or top bars of brood that contain unhatched eggs, honey, and nurse bees from a full strenght Beehive to a brand new hive. The trick is to make sure that a larger amount of bees,honey stores and nurse bees goes to the hive that will be left queenless.After all,the split that is left with the queen will recover faster as opposed to the split that will have to raise a queen and then wait for it to start laying.
Make sure the old and new hives have either an existing queen, or unhatched eggs; the queenless hive can raise a new queen by feeding an larvae from an unhatched egg only royal jelly. An egg that has already hatched and been fed bee-bread to turn it into a Worker Bee,cannot later turn into a queen so it is vital that the queenless hive has unhatched eggs(unless you are going to add a bought queen to it).To increase the probability of the queenless BeeHive making it as a new hive is better to add to it a already laying queen you have previously bought.Please check out the Beekeeping Youtube Video explaining the Colony splitting process, so you get a better idea about how it is done.Enjoy 😉