Thank you for considering purchasing honeybees from From The Garden!
Packaged bees will be available beginning March 29, 2015. 4 and 5 frame nucs will be available beginning May 1, 2015.
From the Garden recommends familiarizing yourself with the basics of beekeeping before starting your hives. The book Beekeeping for Dummies is a great resource. We also highly recommend viewing tutorials by Don The Fat Bee Man on YouTube.
Basic Suggestions for Starting your Hives:
1. If you do not already have other hives, start with at least two nucs or packages. If one hive becomes weak, you will need to help it along with a frame of healthy brood and nurse bees from your stronger hive. If you do not have access to a healthier frame when you need it, you will surely lose the weak hive.
2. Do not give your bees too much room in their new hive. Frames should be in the box right next to one another. This spacing gives the colony enough room to grow while helping maintain warmth within the hive.
3. If there is extra space in the bottom brood chamber, consider putting a side board feeder 1/4 filled with a pasty sugar water mix, giving the bees plenty of wood to enter and exit as they feed. This will decrease the space and retain heat for the first couple of weeks. Also place a hive feeder at the entrance of your hive. Reduce the entrance to only about 1 inch so the bees can protect the hive and maintain their warmth through mid May.
4. Many beekeepers suggest a 50/50 mix of sugar water to feed your bees in the beginning. From the Garden suggests going heavier on the sugar than the water (approximately 75% sugar, 25% water) in your feeders. Sugar water must be above 50 degrees for the bees to accept and digest it. The outside feeder should be in the sun for as much of the day as possible to help warm it.
5. Your bees should release their queen within 3-5 days. If they do not release her after 5 days, you may VERY GENTLY remove the plug at the candy end of her cage. Using a small stick to do so is fine, just be sure to do so slowly and do NOT stab the queen! If you do not know how to properly suspend your queen in her new home, please ask.
6. It is very important to know your local food supply. New Jersey Beekeepers has a list of food sources at http://www.njbeekeepers.org/PollenPlants.htm. In New Jersey, maple trees are the first food for the bees (usually mid to late March). There are other plants, but nothing major until the willow in mid April. Picture a mile circle around your hive. Know what plants live within that mile, and how much is there. A 100x100 foot garden (with tomatoes, basil, etc) can only support approximately 20 bees, not a whole hive. Remember that lawns have the same nutritional value as black top (zero) to bees.
7. If it rains in the spring or winds exceed 13 plus miles per hour, your bees will need extra attention.