GETTING YOUR FIRST BEE COLONY OR GROWING YOUR APIARY

It is spring and I have been overwhelmed with requests for small cell bees raised naturally.  It is a little late to buy bee packages from sustainable small cell beekeepers, if they even have any left.

 Most folks get their bees from very large bee producers that have not caught onto sustainable practices.  Some of you may have seen Food, Inc.  Many of those producers approach bees like the mega beef and chicken industries.  

With this in mind, I have some suggestions on how to get your first bee colony or grow your established apiary. One needs to either buy, breed, or catch. (In future articles, I will talk more about some ideas I have about buying and breeding.)

One of the best ways to get survivor stock, small cell bees is to catch swarms.  There are 3 ways to do this:

1- You can call your local exterminators, police station, etc. and get on their list to help with frantic homeowners who don’t know what to do with the large ball of bees in their yard.  The bees can be moved directly to a hive.

2- You can set out a swarm trap, with some lure and entice a swarm into your hive. 

3- You can buy/barter 4 frames of comb from another beekeeper. However the comb must have some eggs younger than 3 days (you can tell the eggs from the larva, as they look like little white specs in the cell) Ideally the frames will have eggs, capped brood, honey, pollen, and most importantly the nurse bees that are accompanying the brood. Also it is good to shake the nurse bees from another frame into the new hive also. I have set up a news group to help connect local natural beekeepers with people wanting starts or swarms.

 Catching swarms is a lot of fun.  It is a great way to find bees with good genes due to the fact that they have been surviving out in nature, despite the current madness of Colony Collapse Disorder.

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