Now is the time to buy bees! It may seem early, but beekeepers have a limited amount available, so getting on their lists early is key. You have two options when purchasing bees for a new hive – a package of bees or a nucleus hive (more popularly known as a nuc).

There are pros and cons to both options. Let’s take a deeper look.

Package

This is a box with screening on the sides that is filled with 3-4 lbs of bees, a queen in a separate cage, and a feeder can with sugar syrup. I have a great video that shows exactly how you install a package into a hive!

Pros:

  • Cheaper option: They generally cost between $90-$110.
  • Less likely to carry disease since there aren’t old frames. It’s just bees.
  • You can easily treat them with oxalic acid since there isn’t brood present yet. Therefore, you can knock back the mites before the colony continues to grow.

02112016_Empty-package-of-bees

Cons:

  • More complicated to install and might be intimidating to a brand new beekeeper.
  • You’re just getting bees – no frames with established brood (baby bees) or even wax yet. This means the bees have to build their home from scratch and it takes longer for them to bring in resources like nectar, which develops into honey.
  • The queen is in a separate cage and will have to begin laying eggs after the bees begin to build wax, which means that you won’t have any brood emerging (new bees) for quite some time.

02112016_package-of-full-bees

Options for purchase:

  • Honey Store in Fruitland, ID. $100+tax. Call 208-452-7035 to order. You must pick them up on either April 16 or April 23 between 8am-noon. The folks at the Honey Store will be giving a live demonstration on how to install a package on the April 16 pick up.

Nuc

This is a miniature hive. It generally includes 4 frames with nice drawn-out wax, brood, and a laying queen.

Pros:

  • Easy to install! You install it by simply moving these frames right into a new hive box with empty frames on either side.
  • The bees are already living on frames with plenty of beeswax, places to store resources, and a queen laying eggs to increase the population. Therefore, they build up faster!
  • They are also easy to transport. This photo shows my husband, Sam, transporting a nuc through the Student Union of Boise State!

02112016_package-of-bees-being-carried

Cons:

  • They are usually the more spendy option, costing between $120-$150.
  • Buying from a reputable seller is important. You don’t want to purchase really old frames that contain disease or pesticides. You also don’t want to purchase an old queen.

02112016_installing-bees

Options for purchase:

  • Honey Gold in Nampa, ID. $125. Call Kendall to order at 208-467-5195.
  • Vazza Farm’s order delivery to the Treasure Valley. $135+tax. Treasure Valley Beekeepers Club members are given priority. Email Kevin or Steve to place an order.
  • Golden Bee in Marsing, ID. $110. Bring your own hive box so they can transfer the frames directly into your hive. Pick up on Saturday, May 7. Call 208-250-8420 to order. A $55 deposit is required at order.
  • Mike Morrison in Meridian, ID. $135+tax. Call 208-863-6983 to order.
  • Katie Bee. $180. Pick up date is TBD. Call 208-949-9346.

Both a package and a nuc are good options for starting a hive. I find the nuc to be easier to install for first-time beekeepers, but I have also had great success with the packages I have purchased and installed. Remember, there are no rules in beekeeping, so the best option for you is the option you are most comfortable with!

Keep your bees buzzin’ y’all!

  • Steve Wilson

    Good info! Thanks

    • Melinda Jean Stafford

      Thanks for reading, Steve! Let me know if you have any questions.