Q. How often do you get stung?
A. Every day. It is not a big deal, unless you are allergic (anaphylaxis). Localized swelling and pain are normal. The average lifespan of a beekeeper is about 10 years longer than the national average, perhaps because they get stung.
Will Rogers said, “A bees’ stinging apparatus measures less than one thirteenth of an inch, the other 2 feet are pure imagination.” (Quote courtesy of my sweet mother-in-law.)
Q. How much honey will I get?
A. This is tricky to answer. It depends so much on the nectar available in your area. Bees need the right amount of water, flowering plants (especially weeds), and pesticide-free areas. It’s complicated. . .
Some years a colony will produce only enough to maintain itself through the winter. Sometimes not even that much. Good years will yield a 5 gallon bucket or more of surplus honey.
Q. I have a garden. Will bees have enough from just my garden?
A. Not really. Though it will certainly add to the nectar sources. Bees will fly up to 3 miles to forage. They do best in urban areas where there is not widespread insecticide use.
Q. How do you sell bees?
A. We sell bees in packages and as nucs.
A “package” is a small, temporary cage of bees with a mated queen. Beekeepers pick them up on a designated day, and then shake bees into their beehive. Packages are shipped from California in April. Packages can be installed in any type of hive.
A “nuc” (pronounced “nuke”) is a starter honeybee colony. “Nuc” is short for hive nucleus. Nucs come on 5 deep frames with worker bees, drawn comb, a laying queen, eggs, larvae, and sealed and emerging brood. The 5 deep frames fit in a deep Langstroth box.
To grow a nuc, we take a package in April and install it in one of our hives on brand new frames. The new equipment helps prevent some honeybee diseases. Then we feed it and grow the colony until bees cover about 5 frames. We sell only the best colonies and weed out any that fail to thrive. We sell nucs in May.
Q. How much do they cost?
A. In 2016, packages cost $115 and nucs cost $160.
Q. Do the bees come with a queen?
Q. What breed is the queen?
A. We offer queens that are a cross between our feral bee project queens and drones from the California MPCAP selection program, which tests for hygienic behavior in breeder queens.
Q. I am a new beekeeper. Which should I buy, a package or a nuc?
A. We recommend a nuc. Every year, we have a few package customers whose colonies die in the spring. When packages arrive from sunny California, it often rains or snows for a few weeks after. The lack of flight time and nectar can stunt the colony’s growth and beekeepers need to know when and how to feed bees. It is the trickiest time of year, even for experienced beekeepers. Once the first year of beekeeping is completed, packages can work well.
We want beekeepers to have a successful experience. It is better for our business that people have healthy colonies and refer us to friends.
Q. When do I place the order?
A. We start taking honeybee orders in late January through our online store HERE. Check our Facebook page and blog for updates.
Q. How do I place the order?
A. You can order directly on our website through our online store HERE.
Q. What payment form do you prefer?
A. We accept cash, checks, PayPal, or major credit cards through PayPal. No need to have a PayPal account.
Q. Where and when do I pick up the bees?
A. Package pickups are in April in Provo or Spring City, Utah. They are usually the second Saturday of April.
Nuc pickups are on Friday evenings in May in Utah County, usually the 3rd Friday of May.
Q. If I buy a nuc, how do I get it home?
A. Most people bring an empty 10-frame deep box with lid, bottom board, and 5 additional frames. Then we transfer the 5 frames of the nuc into your box. After dark, we load the hive into your truck (or car), where you tie it down, and transport it to your apiary and have it in place before dawn.
On the day of nuc pickup, we want our customers to inspect their hives, frame-by-frame, before purchase. We want you to see a strong colony, eggs, possibly the queen, etc. For us, this is best accomplished by having each customer transfer their nuc from our nuc box into their box.
Q. Do you sell beekeeping equipment?
A. Yes! We sell all the wooden equipment you need to start a new hive. This equipment is built by Utah woodworkers in Utah with wood from Utah forests. We also sell beekeeping jackets.
Q. What equipment do you recommend to get started?
A. We try to sell you only the basics. You will need
3 deep boxes (Langstroth)
30 deep frames (standard or “middle bar”)
30 pieces of foundation (optional)
1 lid (migratory-style with ventilation hole)
1 bottom board (solid rather than screened)
It is nice to have a 4th box and frames when harvesting honey.
If hive weight is an issue, you could use 5 medium boxes instead of 3 deeps. 5 medium boxes have the same hive volume as 3 deep boxes. We sell deep boxes exclusively.
For more information about the hive, see My First Hive.
Q. Do you sell bee suits?
A. We sell the Freeman style pullover jacket. We like this jacket because it is made in the USA from durable material at a competitive price. The mesh of the veil is easy to see through, but difficult to sting through. After ordering this jacket, we will have the manufacturer drop ship it to your shipping address. It usually takes 3-5 business days. You are welcome to come and try on Stan’s jacket for sizing. It comes in M, L, and XL, standard men’s t-shirt sizing.
Q. What tools do I need?
A. You will need the following, which we do not currently sell.
Smoker: We like the 4×7 with a guard and leather bellows.
Hive tool: We like the standard hive tool. It looks like a mini crowbar. Get two. You will need one every time you get in the hive.
Bee gloves: Get the kind without ventilation. Bees can sting through it and getting stung on the wrist really hurts. You can make your own too by adding a sleeve to a pair of leather work gloves.
Protective clothing: This can range from a hat and veil to a full body bee suit. It depends on how much protection you would like. We currently sell the Freeman style jacket.
Feeder: We use a division board feeder, sometimes called a pro feeder. These come in medium or deep. They replace frames in the hive. They hold 1 gallon of honey or sugar syrup. We chose these as they are an inexpensive option and include caps and ladders to avoid drowning bees.
Hive Stand: The purpose of this is to lift the bottom board off of the ground. We use wooden shipping pallets, 4 hives to a pallet. Some like to use cinder blocks.
Extracting Equipment: If following our DIY system in Lesson 10 of the Beginning Beekeeping series, this includes an extractor, drip tray, 3 5-gallon buckets, 2 honey gates, honey screen, and honey containers (like bears or quart jars). You don’t have to have these immediately, but they are nice. There are local companies that will extract honey for a fee or a percentage of the honey.
Q. Where do I get beekeeping tools?
A. First, try our online shop. If you can’t find it there, there are several online beekeeping supply places, like Mann Lake, Dadant, Walter T Kelley, Betterbee, etc. We recommend them because they have domestically-produced options. Check KSL for some local ads too.
Q. When can I pick up my beekeeping equipment? Is my equipment ready?
A. We build the equipment to order, and will email (or call) you when it is ready. It can take several weeks in the spring. Please pre-order to make sure we have it for you. Some people like to pick up equipment early for painting. We try to accommodate this.
Q. Do you teach any beekeeping classes?
A. Yes. We teach a LOT of beekeeping classes. Check our Facebook Page for dates and times, or sign up for our newsletter on the right sidebar of this page.
Q. How much time will I spend beekeeping?
A. You will need to check on your bees about every 10 days. It will take an hour or so to go through frame by frame in each box. When you harvest and extract honey, it may require more time. But the rewards are sweet!
Q. Should I paint my boxes?
A. Yes. Painting the boxes will make them last about 20 years longer. We use exterior latex paint or marine varnish. Give boxes two coats, paying careful attention to the box joints, which tend to separate if water gets in. Also paint the top of the lid and bottom of the bottom board. Don’t paint the inside of the box. Bees like to put propolis on wood surfaces, which helps prevent diseases.
Avoid black or super dark colors, which can get too hot in summer, but any other color or decoration is great. Allow the paint to dry completely before putting bees in it. Paint fumes may interfere with bee pheromones.
That said, we only paint some of our boxes. The bees don’t care one bit about paint.