Dalebees
Local honey, Bees and Queens from Long Island, New York
Skip Navigation Links

There are three ways to acquire Honey Bees

1) Catch a swarm: In the spring, a strong hives issue swarms. A swarm consists of thousands of bees and a queen. This is the method of propagation for the bee colonies. The swarm will move away from the colony that issued the swarm and establish itself as a colony. If you are lucky enough to spot a swarm, you can catch and put it in your own box and establish a colony. This may not be the best way for a beginner to aquire bees as capturing a swarm needs some experience of handling bees. But this is the cheapest way to get bees. However, remember that this is not the ideal method to start beekeeping as you may never encounter a swarm and if you depend on this method, you may never be able to start beekeeping. In fact, Varroa mites have nearly wiped out feral bee population which used to be the main source of swarms. Most of the swarms that we see today come from colonies managed by beekeepers.
2) Packages: A package of bees consist of 3 pounds (about 10,000) bees with a young mated queen. In the spring thousands of bee packages are shipped from the state of Georgia and other states in the south to the northeast. Usually packages arrive in the months of April and May. The packages are usually shipped via US postal service but there are individuals who haul them in trucks and sell with a mark-up. The cost of package varies from about $100 - $150. Packages are a good way for a beginner to start beekeeping, but be aware that package bees tend to replace their queen, in a procedure referred to as supercedure. This happens when worker bees think that their queen's performance is inadequate and need to be replaced. Most supercedures proceed successfully but sometimes may fail. Don't expect to get a honey harvest in the first year package is installed.

3) Nucs: Nuc is an abbreviation for "Nucleus Colony" which is a small colony or a baby colony. This is by far the best way for a beginner to start beekeeping. The nuc has a laying queen and the bees that are mostly her own offspring, and brood of varying stages that will help increase the population rapidly. The colony is already well established, so there is no problem with queen introduction and acceptance by the bees, which can be a problem with the packages. A nuc sells for about $150 - 200. Nucs are hard to ship, so most nucs are offered for pick-up only. Therefore most nucs are sold locally and contain bees that have adapted to local conditions. (Bees from Georgia that come in packages may not be used to winters in New york). A nuc can produce some extra honey that the beekeeper can extract for his/her use during its first year. Compared to packages, which are transported in large numbers from the south, availability of nucs is very limited and sell out early.