Where can I get a colony of bees?
If you are a new beekeeper we recommend that you attend our 6-week training course where the purchase of your first bees will be covered in detail. A nucleus of bees consisting of a fertile queen and a supply of young bees is a good way to begin beekeeping as you will have a small colony of bees that will increase over the season together with your confidence in handling them. A nucleus of bees costs around £200 and a member of your association will be to recommend a reputable supplier who will ensure you receive healthy bees. At our yearly auction, which happens every May, you can pick up a nucleus of bees cheaper than online. But you better be a quick bidder as they are snatched up almost instantly.
An alternative is to purchase a colony of swarm bees from our association apiary at a nominal charge of £50. We will keep the swarms for 3 weeks to check for disease before they are made available to beekeepers.
Many people have started beekeeping by collecting or being given a swarm of bees. These are free and belong to whoever collects them. Nothing will be known about the age of the queen unless she is colour marked and nothing of the temperament of the bees. It is also possible that the bees could carry disease. This can work but it is a risk for first-time beekeepers. At the start of the season you can put your name down on the swarm list and when one arrives you are given a phone call and asked if you would like to pick it up.