The Bees

The final component of a new hive is the bees. Starting a new hive of bees can be accomplished in several ways.

If you don’t know a beekeeper, try ordering a package of bees from a supplier. Companies that sell equipment typically sell bees, too. Three pound packages are recommended. The bees will come in a screened cage with a queen. Upon arrival, the queen is installed in the new hive. The bees are then shook from the cage. A good rule is to order your bees right after January 1. In our area, it is wise to choose a delivery date after the third week of April and no later than the first week of June.

If you’ve joined a bee association, you probably know a beekeeper in your area who sells swarms or splits. Swarms and splits are great ways to get bees, but, again, ordering the bees early is important.

swarm Swarms are nature’s way of dividing colonies. The beekeeper from whom you bought your swarm will typically want you to bring your equipment to them. Once the beekeeper finds a swarm, he/she will collect it using your equipment. After one to two weeks, you will then return to collect the new colony.

Splits are a better way to start new hives. Three to five frames of bees, brood, honey and pollen are collected from a donor colony and a new queen is introduced. Splits are a better option for several reasons. First, you get a new queen and a succession of bees provided by the brood already in the frames. You also have food stores to feed the new colony. The new queen will have five developed combs in which to lay eggs, unlike packaged bees and swarms that rely primarily on a new foundation.