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Where Can I Get Some Bees?

Where is the Nearest Honeybee Carry-Out

Where is the Nearest Honeybee Carry-Out

We are hoping to start a beekeeping endeavor. We are wondering where do we start? We live in North East Michigan and don't know where to start looking for bees. Any ideas?

Tom Hunter
Alpena, Michigan

Hi Tom

When you're setting up your first beehive there are several options for obtaining bees to start beekeeping.

You can of course buy a hive complete with bees from another beekeeper. I suggest you try to find some local beekeepers, preferably a beekeeping group in your locality, these are an invaluable source of information.

You can buy a three or five frame nucleus which is a smaller colony which you transfer to a full size box. You then nurture the colony and encourage it to grow to fill the box. This takes a little longer than buying a hive which is full established, but is cheaper.

Package bees are another option. You either go and collect the 'package' or have it shipped to you. This is exactly what the name implies, a package or box full of bees with a queen. The bees are shaken into a pre-prepared hive and fed to help them get established.

With all these choices it should be pointed out that they're likely to be a good healthy colony of they're bought from a reputable supplier.

The final choice is to collect a swarm of bees. This is not for the faint hearted but I find it the most satisfying part of beekeeping. If you decide to go the more cautious route you're missing something quite exciting. Bear in mind that if you collect a swarm you have no way of knowing its origin, temperament or whether it is carrying any disease, so proceed with a little caution.

Local bee groups usually have a swarm list of beekeepers who are prepared to collect swarms. You can keep your eye on Craigslist, or even post a request there. Bees-on-the-Net have a swarm list to which you can add your name and contact details.

If you're a newcomer don't attempt to remove an established bee colony from somewhere such as a wall, roof or hollow tree. This is a whole order of magnitude (maybe two) more difficult than collecting a swarm and requires much more experience. This is a job for a bee removal specialist.

Good luck, you're in for a lot of fun!

The Bee Guy

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