If you are looking for a nucleus colony of bees to get you started in beekeeping there are a few ways of doing it. However if you want to start in spring, then the best way in our opinion is to obtain a nucleus colony of locally reared bees that has overwintered. The queen will be from the previous summer and will be in her prime and it’s fair to assume that there is a decent chance of getting a small honey crop in the first season – at least a few kilos for the breakfast table. Of course you could buy bees from national suppliers which are often imported or using imported queens, or you might be able to get a swarm, say by joining your local beekeeping club or association.
However, overwintered local bees are always in short supply and if you don’t secure your bees early, there will be a delay until May or June the current years queens are ready. So contact us or a supplier of your choice and get your name on a list as nucs are usually supplied on a first come first served basis.
Writing this in January, the days have started to get ever so slightly longer and this hasn’t gone un-noticed by the bees – even if we humans are still unhappily getting up in the dark to get to work on time. During this month the queen bee will start to lay or start to increase her brood nest if there is some small amount of brood already. It’s the old bees that have to manage this work – ones that have been in the hive for some months so as they work to move the brood nest up to around 35 degrees and as they feed the young, some will die off so bee numbers in the hive reaches a low point around the end of February; i.e. before there are enough young ones to take over brood-rearing proper. And it’s in February/March when food stores can run out – with disastrous consequences – if the bees were not furnished with enough food during the previous autumn. In some years it’s often well into April before the amount of forage coming in is greater than the food being consumed as the colony munches through it’s stores and tries hard to grow the nest size with a growing amount of brood and young bees and less of the older foragers as these are rapidly dying off.