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Where To Purchase Bees For Beekeeping (Ultimate Guide)

Where To Purchase Bees

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The most common confusion among beginner beekeepers is “Where to purchase bees?“. Obviously, your local bee suppliers are the best source for purchasing bees. But there are so many other options for you too.

I bought my first nuc of bees from local beekeepers. Then I purchased bee nuc and bee packages from various sources. So, this post is going to be absolutely informative from my own experience of purchasing bees for beekeeping.

Whenever anyone is about to start beekeeping, they can manage all the necessary things easily except bees. They often get confused can they get bees for free? Or where they can purchase bees to start their apiary.

I know finding the correct source to purchase bees is difficult. But if you can keep a few things in your mind, you will be able to find the correct source to get your bees. That’s what I am going to discuss in this post.




How To Get Bees For Beekeeping (Free Vs Paid)

Well, you can purchase bees from local beekeepers or other locations. You can also get bees for almost free of cost. Both the paid and free methods have merits and demerits in a few aspects.



Free Method

The best way to get bees for free is by catching a swarm of bees. It is suggested you shouldn’t approach a swarm if you don’t have experience of catching bees.

So, first, you have to learn how to catch a swarm of bees. When you are sure that you can do it, you can catch a bee swarm from a tree, walls, mountain, or from other locations. 

You can also build a bee swarm trap to catch bees for free. You must know how a bee swarm trap works to successfully catch bees.



Paid Method

This purchasing bees from anyone else. You can purchase a nuc of bees or a package of bees to install them in your beehive.

In the free method, you are not sure whether you will be able to get bees or not. This is why most beginner beekeepers purchase bees to start their apiary. I also started my apiary by purchasing bees.



Free Vs Paid Which One Is Better

If you are a beginner I would recommend you to go with the paid method. In the free method, there are several demerits which may include the following.

  • The swarm may contain varroa mites or other diseases.
  • The swarm might be weak.
  • Might not be suitable for your environment.
  • If you can’t get the queen the rest of the swarm will be useless.

So, as a beginner, you won’t have enough experience. So, you don’t know what type of swarm you caught. Is the swarm strong or weak? Does the swarm contain any disease or not?

The paid method also has a demerit especially issues related to bee’s adaptability. If you purchase bees that are not suitable for your environment your entire effort will go in vain.

This is why you should get your first bees from an expert bee supplier. Make sure to consult them about the species of the bee and whether is it suitable for your environment or not.

When you spend time with bees you will learn a lot about them. So, then you can start catching bees during spring instead of purchasing them.




Different Type Of Bee Cluster To Purchase For New Beekeepers

There are usually 2 most common types of bees available for sale.

  1. Bee Package: A package of bees usually contains only a large group of bees without any honey or any comb. Bee packages are similar to a bee swarm. So, you have to transfer them to a full-sized beehive and carefully handle them until they accept the hive.
  2. Bee Nuc: The Nucleus of bees or the nuc of bees is a smaller version of a beehive. A bee nuc is produced by taking a portion of a honey bee colony from another established colony. Bee nuc contains a worker, drone, queen, broods, and comb. 

In most cases, both packages of bees or bee nuc contain a queen in a cage. So, you have to decide carefully which one should you get.


Different Types Of Bee Cluster To Purchase



Bee Package VS Nuc Which One Should Be Purchased

From my recommendation nuc of bees are better than bee package. Because in a nuc bees are already adapted to the beehive. They started building combs and storing honey. So, they will more easily adapt to their permanent beehive.

You have to carefully transfer all the frames from the Nuc to a sized beehive. Then start feeding them properly.

Package bees, need to transfer in a beehive more carefully and as soon as possible. This needs some experience and more knowledge. Also, more care is needed to make the bees accept their new home.

This is why beekeepers who are about to start beekeeping should go with the nuc of bees. If you have proper knowledge you can also go with a package of bees.




Where To Purchase Bees?

You can purchase bees from a beekeeper, beekeeping association, or bee supplier in your region or elsewhere. The best place to purchase bees is the bee supplier in your own region.


Where To Purchase Bees For Beekeeping


Different bees are suitable for different environmental conditions. If you purchased bees from your own area, those bees are already adapted to your environment.

Also, if you are having any problems after transferring the bees to a beehive, you can easily contact the bee supplier. To increase the chance of building a successful apiary it is always recommended to purchase bees from the local area.



Can You Buy Bees Online?

Of course, there are plenty of online stores available that sell bees to different regions. To purchase bees online make sure to clear everything from the bee seller. You must clarify the following things before purchasing bees online.

  • Is the type of bees they are selling suitable for your environment?
  • Their transportation system.
  • Their feeding mechanism to the bees you are going to purchase.
  • Assistance on the safe transportation of bees to the permanent beehive.



How Much Do Bees Sell For?

The price of bees depends on various factors including region, type of bees, and type of cluster. In general, Italian honey bees cost around 200$. Whereas Carniolan honey bees cost 100$ to 150$.

This price obviously different for different location bee suppliers. In average the price range of a bee package or bee nuc is between 80$ to 300$.




Expert Tips On Purchasing Bees

I have more than 7 years of beekeeping experience. During this period I have purchased a lot of different types of bees for my apiary.

Some of those do not go well for me. Some of them also doing better than my other types of bees. This is why I would like to share with you some key considerations for purchasing bees for beekeeping.

  • You must decide on the right type of honey bees to start your apiary.
  • As a beginner, you should purchase a bee nuc instead of a bee package.
  • Purchase bees from your local bee supplier.
  • Follow the installation manual that the bee supplier provides you to install your bees in your apiary.
  • Get clarification from the supplier about how should you feed your bees. You have to follow the feeding mechanism that the supplier used before selling the nuc.
  • Carefully place the caged queen during installation.
  • After installing the nuc to a beehive leave them at least 10 to 14 days to adapt with the beehive. Don’t interrupt them within these days.
  •  Be careful about winterizing the hive before the winter.
  • For purchasing bees online, must use a safe transportation method.

Before purchasing bees consult with the local beekeepers in your region. Ask them where they get the starter bees, how they care about their apiary, which type of bees they are using, how they treat bees in different circumstances, etc.

Your local beekeepers will provide you with the most suitable beekeeping guide for making a healthy apiary.




Frequently Asked Questions


Can bees be purchased?

Yes, bees can be purchased from local bee suppliers and online too. Make sure to purchase bees from reliable and safe sources. Because bees are the heart of beekeeping.

How do you get starter bees?

You can catch a bee swarm or purchase it from a local bee supplier. Contact the beekeepers in your region for a reliable source to get starter bees.

What month should I buy bees?

I always recommend you purchase bees during the warmer months. Avoid getting bees during winter. March to July is the most suitable period of time to purchase bees.




Final Words & Helpful Resources

Purchasing bees from a safe and reliable source is crucial. So, it is always advisable to get bees from your local area. For any assistance contact the bee supplier and local beekeepers in your region.

If you need any help you can comment below too. I will try my best to help you. 

The following resources might be helpful for beginner beekeepers.

  • Check this to learn about the 4 best beekeeping books for beginners.
  • Check this for resources to learn beekeeping.
  • Purchase a nuc of bees from Beefriendsfarm.
  • Purchase a 3-pound Italian honey bee package from Tractorsupply.
  • S. Velardi, J. Leahy, K. Collum, J. McGuire, and M. Ladenheim, “‘You treat them right, They’ll treat you right’: Understanding beekeepers’ scale management decisions within the context of bee values,” Journal of Rural Studies, vol. 81, pp. 27-36, January 2021. Read the paper here.
  • Learn nucs in beekeeping operation (Ask IFAS)



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