Buying Bees - Ordering Package Bees

How to Order Honey Bees for Your Beehive

Green wooden box of live bees placed on on a bench
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If you've decided to start beekeeping, you might wonder where to buy bees - online, locally? And what should you look for in a good source of bees? Should you buy nucs or package bees? Or maybe catch a swarm?

Nucs, Package Bees, or Swarm?

First, you need to decide if you want to buy nucs or package bees. A nuc is short for nucleus colony. It is basically a little starter hive of bees already in frames that you just slip into your Langstroth hive.

You do need to be using a Langstroth hive; you cannot use a nuc in a top-bar hive.

Package bees are of different ages, mixed together from different hives. They are not related to each other and they were not part of the same colony. Their queen is artificially raised. Even though this is not a natural colony of bees, once installed in your hive, the bees are able to adapt, organize into a colony and begin their work of making honey and reproducing.

Finally, you can catch a swarm - a natural colony that exists already. This is not recommended for beginners!

If you choose to buy nucs or package bees online, I've compiled a guide to honey bee suppliers online.