Before You Buy Your Bees – What to Do

Before You Buy Your Bees

There are certain things that a novice apiarist, or beekeeper, should have in mind or do before he goes looking to make a honey bee sale.

First of all, you will want to deal with a reputable dealer. To find reputable dealers, an aspiring apiarist will want to contact local beekeepers or beekeeping clubs or organizations. There are also journals devoted to beekeeping and the ads for bees are usually trustworthy. Any beekeeper involved in a honey bee sale, who would advertise in a well-known journal, would be wise to make sure that the bees he is intending to sell are healthy.

It’s smart to buy two established colonies rather than one. If one colony should become weaker than the other you can exchange frames of brood (eggs) and honey from one colony to the other to strengthen the weaker one.

Before You Buy Your Bees

Only buy bees that are in standard equipment. Most successful apiarists have either one or two hive bodies on the bottom board with shallow supers above. If supers are arranged differently, ask the seller why. If the seller’s hives are unpainted, rotten, or in any other kind of bad shape, this is an indication of how the beekeeper took care of the bees. Bees that have received poor care are usually not a good buy.

Once the hive is opened for your inspection, you should notice that the bees inside appear to be calm and that there are enough of them to fill most of the spaces between combs.

Each super in the hive should have at least nine frames of comb. Look inside the deep supers to see the brood. Brood that is capped should be tan and a healthy queen will have at least five to six combs of brood. There should be a few cells that are skipped as a good queen lays in a solid pattern.

Always check for disease in the brood and for wax moth larvae. These are common pests found in beekeeping equipment. The adult mow wax moths lay their eggs near wax combs. When the larvae hatch, they will burrow into the comb and eat debris inside the cells. This ruins the combs. Most honeybees are very successful at keeping wax moths out of their hives. If the larvae are found, it’s a good sign that the hive is not healthy. Either the queen has been lost or there is some other problem in the colony.

A wannabe beekeeper also has to have the right equipment before bringing any bees to the site where he intends to keep them.He will obviously have to have a couple of hives that are located on a site that’s not too close to neighbours and placed so that the bees flight paths don’t cross areas that would cause problems – public areas, sidewalks, etc. The site should be sheltered from wind and not close to a large body of water that the bees must cross to find honey and nectar.

Hives should be bought from reputable dealers or, if a new hobbyist wants to build his own hives, he should have done his homework and learned how each piece of a hive should be constructed.After construction, the outside of a hive should be dipped in copper naphthenate wood preservative and then coated with oil-based paint. This will protect the hive from the weather.And, of course, any beekeeper needs to have the proper equipment for his own safety. This includes a smoker and hive tool as well as a hat and veil, a bee suit, bee gloves, and proper footwear. No beekeeper can do anything with bees unless he is adequately protected from bee stings!

Author: Nancy Ketner has been fascinated by Bees for as long as she can remember.

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