The four most common ways to get bees and start a colony include:
- Purchase a nuc from a local beekeeping supplier
- Buy a package of bees
- Catch a swarm
- Split a hive with someone with an existing colony
Bees rarely find their way into empty beehive boxes, even though they are designed to be a perfect home for them.
Purchase a nuc (nucleus)
A small nuc (nucleus) hive can be bought from beekeeping suppliers in most countries. A nuc consists of four or five frames of brood and honey along with a few thousand bees, including a queen bee. Nucs are usually available in spring, and once sourced can be placed in a brood box to start your colony.
Package of bees
An alternative to a nuc is to purchase a package of bees. The package consists of several thousand bees and a queen, but does not include frames. In most countries you have to pick up your packaged bees from a supplier, in some places they can get posted in the mail. To add the bees to your brood box, you need to shake the colony from the package in and nurture them as they build their comb.
Catch a swarm
Another option is to catch a swarm. For this you need an experienced beekeeper or bee association member who would be happy to set you up with a swarm when they catch one.
Split a hive
Often in spring, you may be lucky enough to find someone with an existing colony who may be willing to split their hive with you. Performing a hive split is considered good beekeeping practice as it can help to prevent a colony from swarming.
Receiving a hive split is similar to installing a nuc as you’ll receive around 4 built out brood frames, however, there are a few extra considerations that need to be taken into account.
Whichever way you decide to acquire bees, it is important to get them from a reputable source with good bee health.
Once the bees are established and have built up their numbers you can add the Flow Super.
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