Fill Your Bee Hives: How to Purchase Quality Bees Online
If you are a beekeeper, or interested in beekeeping, you probably want to make sure you have quality bees for your hive. Though you may have previously bought your bees from a local breeder or another beekeeper, you may find buying your next colony of bees is as easy as a click away! Buying bees online can be cheaper and you may even be able to get higher quality bees than you may have gotten locally.
Finding the Perfect Bee
As a beekeeper, you likely have some knowledge of different types of honey bees and how a beehive works. The most common types of bees in the US are: Apis florea, Apis dorsata, Apis cerana, and Apis mellifera. Apis mellifera is the most common bee species in the US and the most common you will find in hives. They are also known as “Italian”.
Apis mellifera, also known as the European honey bee, have populations of about 15,000 to 60,000 bees. If you are looking to purchase bees online and the site simply says “honey bees”, this is probably the type of bee they are. These are also the easiest bees to care for.
Buying Your Bees
If you surf around to different websites you will find three ways of purchasing bees. You can purchase a colony, including the queen, the queen only, or “queenless” colonies. If you are seriously interested in buying your bees online, you will need to order them beginning in February to late May. Usually once June hits, you can only buy the queens, not the full colonies.
Bees online are sold by the pound, unless you are only purchasing a queen. Each pound of bees has approximately 3,000 – 4,000 bees. For a good hive, you will want about 3-4 pounds. You may also find nucs for sale, which are established small colonies, which are already in production. They tend to be smaller than regular colonies.
Getting the Bees to Your Home
If you buy bees online, though they may be cheaper than buying from a local breeder, there will usually be a hefty shipping cost associated with them. Since bees are alive, they need to be shipped over night to 2 days in most cases. They will be delivered by US Mail and you may have to pick them up at your local post office.
When you accept the package, make sure that you have live bees! Though it is common for some bees to die in transport, a good rule of thumb would be this: if you find more than an inch of dead bees in the bottom of the package, there may be a problem with the bees you have purchased. If this is the case, we advise you to contact the site you ordered the bees from and let them know you may have gotten diseased bees. Any reputable breeder will refund or replace the bees you have purchased.
Buying bees online is generally safe. You should take the same precautions you take with any online purchase. You may want to make sure the site is secure and if you are extremely worried, check with the Better Business Bureau in the state where the company is located.