Here is BC Bee Supply's simple guide to choosing what might be the right bees for you.
Two common ways of acquiring a colony of honeybees are:
a) a nucleus colony or "nuc", and (click to BUY a nuc)
b) a colony that has been "packaged". (click to BUY a package)
Each comes with a number of bees including a queen bee, and will generally be available in the springtime. Let us look at the pros and cons of each style of bee product after we define what to expect.
A NUC from BC Bee Supply will arrive in a screened wooden box and include 4 frames of healthy bees which represent the core of a honeybee colony. All the components of a full colony will be present including a mature queen bee, worker bees and brood in various stages of development, some drone bees and some honey and pollen within the frames. Generally, these are on deep Langstroth frames but the underlying foundation, style of frame and age of equipment can vary widely. These nucs are always raised locally, bred in BC and acclimated to the local environment.
A PACKAGE, on the other hand, is imported from outside of Canada, usually from the southern hemisphere. The screened tube or mesh box will hold a certain weight of bees, a mated queen and usually a container of feed. Generally, the queen bee is in a separate cage from the rest of the bees and is merged together once in the hands of the beekeeper. After their installation into the hive equipment, the bees will begin to build its honeycomb and start to expand in population.
In either case, BC Bee Supply ensures that both of the above methods offer a healthy, clean start for your beehive so that growth can be seen and nurtured over the Spring and Summer months. Due to the nature of this livestock, bees are not usually available "off the shelf" so early inquiries and reservations are encouraged - unless you plan on catching "swarms" or starting with "full hives"! (This option is only available in July and August.)
Remember that different levels of beekeeping experience, apiary equipment and individual comfort level with beehive installations may impact your buying decision . The following list of PROs and CONs are good to keep in mind:
A) "NUCs" (short of Nucleus Colony)
+ Bees are bred locally
+ Contains brood and bees in every stage of development
+ Includes drawn comb and food resources on four deep Langstroth frames
+ Includes equipment that the bees have made their own
+ Safe to transport and easy to install from wooden nuc box
+ Slight price advantage
- Arrives in May or June (possibly April) depending on purchase date
- Nuc box returns or deposit necessitates a second trip to vendor
B) "Packages" (imported from Southern Hemisphere)
+ Arrives in March or April
+ Includes mated queen along with 1.5kg of bees
+ Suitable for transferring into all types of hive styles
+ Declared mite-free and cleared by border authorities
+ Beekeepers gets to watch the colony develop from scratch
- Bees are subjected to changes in environment and air travel
- Colony does not arrive with its own food/wax resources
BC Bee Supply's stance is that you can succeed with either of the above methods of acquiring bees. Based on our personal beekeeping experience, we can say that the sources of bees that we represent are high quality, reputable and provide our customers with the highest level of confidence and professionalism possible.
We look forward to working with you during your honeybee purchase for Spring 2021.