One of the biggest questions we get here at World of Beekeeping is “Where Do I Get The Bees and Are They Legal Here?” This is one of those questions that is definitely hard to answer for a new beekeeper. You can’t simply pick up bees at your local hardware store or grocery and each city and town has very different rules and regulations!
Where to get bees is a hard question for us to answer too. Why? Because in general you’ll want to get bees from an apiary around you if at all possible and since you folks are all over the answer to the question is different depending on who asks it. Yes, you can order bees online and have them shipped overnight to your house but in general this will double the price of your package as shipping for live bees isn’t cheap!
So what should you do to find bees? The best first option is to locate your local beekeepers association. This can be as easy as a Google search for your town and the words “beekeeping association”. Now obviously if you live in a tiny city or town this might not work… you may be one of the few people keeping bees in your city! So if that fails simply look for your state beekeepers association following the same directions but replacing your town with your state. You’ll almost always find your state’s beekeeping association and most of these websites list the smaller, local associations within the state. You should be able to find an association that isn’t too far away.
Well great, you’ve found your local beekeepers but now what? First check the site to see if there’s any information about packages or nucs of bees. Packages are usually 3 pounds of bees and a queen in a small wooden and screen package and thus the name. Nucs are like small hives with only a few frames and often cost just a bit more (since there’s a bit more to the packaging and you’re getting three drawn frames). If there isn’t any reference to packages or nucs for sale check out the contact information for the organization. Most beekeeper association pages have an email or phone contact for at least a few of the board members. You can send them a message asking where to get bees.
Depending on the time of the year you may even be able to get in on a club order of bees. Often beekeeping organizations combine their bee package orders into one big order that someone in the club might go pick up from the closest apiary. This saves the entire group a ton of time and some mileage as they don’t all have to drive to the closest place to pick up bees.
Beekeeping associations are also a great place to find resources on the rules and regulations of beekeeping in your area. Often beekeeping organizations will have pages of the codes that apply to beekeeping in your town or city posted on their website and considering that laws change regularly and each town can be different this is a great way to get the best, most current information about regulations in your area.
Now that you’re familiar with your local beekeeping organization you may went to learn more about what they do. Often you can rent an extractor from these folks for a relatively cheap price, saving you the hundreds of dollars of purchasing an extractor of your own. If nothing else you’ll also get a ton of information (and opinions!) about keeping bees in your local area. Best yet, you’ll continue your beekeeping education while meeting other like-minded folks who are also into keeping bees. A win all the way around!
So, where did you get your bees? Having trouble finding some? Post your location here and we’ll see if we can help!Photo by Jessica Dally