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Tip of the Month

Sourcing Your Bees

Flying Around a Beehive 2

There are several ways in which a beekeeper can get themselves their first colony or build up their existing apiary. We recommend you sourcing them locally as the bees are already successful and used to the local habitat and climate. We’ve listed below the main sources for bees and the pros and cons that go with them.




We can supply queens to members whose colony is now queenless or they will to replace an old queen with a new well-tempered queen from the club apiary. Contact our apiary manager if you need a queen

extra swarm photo_edited.jpg

Swarms - £

Many beekeepers like to get a swarm and we currently ask for a contribution towards club funds for every swarm the club picks up. The benefit is that you will instantly become a beekeeper with minimal outlay. You have to be ready to receive the colony within 24 hours of being collected by one of the club’s swarm collectors.


The cons are you don’t know where the bees have come from, their temperament, their health and how soon the queen will need replacing. You will also not know if (as numbers collected vary every year) and when you might get a swarm.


To get on the swarm list you contact our swarms manager.


Nucleus colony (Nuc) - £

As a member you can buy a nucleus colony from us from our apiary. The main benefits is you know where the bees have come from and with the exception of swarms they are cheaper than other sources. Contact our apiary manager if you wish to go on the list.


SWHBK member or local beekeeper - ££

Beekeepers may wish to split their colony in order to manage swarming or for various reasons decide reduce the number of colonies they have or give up beekeeping. You will need to negotiate the price you pay for the bees. There is an element of risk in that the health of the colony will depend on how well the beekeeper looks after the bees. Also they may have used different hives so you will need to transfer them.

Bee Breeder or Dealer - £££

Bee breeders and dealers almost always market their colonies online, tend to be quite expensive. Their nucleus colonies can rarely be inspected before they arrive at the beekeeper’s apiary. Some websites advertising colonies for sale do not produce their own colonies but act as an agency for other dealers, so SWHBK advises you to carefully check exactly where your bees will be coming from, and what type of bees you will be getting, before parting with quite a lot of cash as not all suppliers comply with the recommendations from the NBU and BBKA.


The main benefits are availability can be planned in advance, you can usually select style of frame bees are on (commercial, national etc). Normally some level of ‘guarantee (i.e. there should be a working queen present and disease free). However, this is the most costly route and the quality can be variable.

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