A young, healthy queen bee is essential to establishing or maintaining a productive hive. If you are starting a hive or your old queen bee has died or left with a swarm, you will need to purchase a queen bee. Because the queen bee is the mother of all the bees in the hive, her genetic material will determine the quality of your colony.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Queen bees
- Packaged bees
Decide the type of queen bee you want to purchase. Bees sold in the United States and Europe come from the same species, Apis mellifera, but there are many strains within that species. One of the most popular in North America are Italian bees because they are productive and docile.
Choose a reputable supplier of queen bees, either locally or online. A good breeder will supply genetic and health information about the queen and often will provide advice about how to introduce the queen to the hive.
If you already have an established hive that needs a new queen, decide whether you want to purchase mated queens or queen cells. Mated queens will begin laying eggs as soon as they are introduced into the hive, while queen cells are larvae that will mature and emerge in a few days.
Don't buy only queen bees if you have not yet started a hive. You will need worker bees to establish the colony. Packaged bees are the best option.
Consider buying two already established colonies. The colonies will include a queen and by having two healthy colonies you will be able to change frames between colonies if one becomes weak or less productive.
You can also buy packaged bees and queens and transfer them into your hive set-up. Packaged bees usually come in two- to five-pound packages containing 9,000 to 22,000 bees.
Tips and warnings
- The best source of information on where and what type of queen bee to purchase are local beekeepers.
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