Hey everyone, IM looking to get bees next year and Im looking for input. I really want more native or natural bees, not the ones that have been commercially bred. Does anyone know of any good sources for them? I can do packages or if they are in PA I can pick up a nuc I suppose. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
maybe not the answer you're looking for, but I would suggest seriously considering collecting a swarm instead of buying bees. the advantages are myriad. while there aren't any honey bees native to the Americas, there are likely plenty of feral colonies in your vicinity that have adapted well to your particular location.
I would bet that if you contact a local beekeepers association, you could go along on a swarm call this year to see what it's all about. the main disadvantage to that plan will be the stress of remaining excited about the experience until you're ready to collect a swarm for yourself next year. it's a lot of fun.
Rob Sigg wrote:I would love to do that Tel, but I dont have much time these days. I have my hands full!
you mean you're not a full time professional permaculturist? that's crazy!
I'm fortunate to be able to drop whatever I'm doing and chase honeybees all over two counties. I forget that that isn't generally the case for most folks.
I think I would still recommend getting on a swarm list when you're ready for bees. you can always turn a swarm down if the timing's bad. but if the timing is good, the actual collection is generally pretty quick.
have you spoken to any local beekeepers associations about the sort of bees you're looking for? forgive me if I'm stating the obvious, but your state and county organization would be a reasonable place to start. I wouldn't recommend taking bee management advice from those folks, but they could be quite helpful for tracking down the bees you're after. or they might be useless dullards. hard to predict that sort of thing.
It would be awesome to be fulltime.......someday! I did think about the local source option. To be honest Im trying to be careful about who I ask and get involved with because I dont want to be a magnet for state inspections etc. I just want a hive and mind my own business, not get involved in paperwork and inspections if you know what I mean. Since IM new at this I don't know who I can trust other than ordering everything ala carte and staying off the grid so to speak.
I know where you're coming from. I've also been reticent to have any contact with, um, establishment beekeepers. an e-mail or telephone call shouldn't give anybody your address, though. in my state, continued budget cuts are likely to make fear of inspection even less of a real issue, even if it still makes me nervous.
I'd suggest trying to stay local, as much as possible. Assuming you can't get your hands on a local swarm, picking up a nuc from a local breeder may be your best bet. I don't think most breeders ship nuc's, just queens.
I think swarms are attractive in the sense that they may be more acclimatized to your area, but there is no knowing where the swarm originated from (feral hive, backyard hive, commercial hive...), so it is kind of a crap-shoot.
I will be picking up my nuc's in a couple weeks from a local breeder - I can't wait!
"Limitation is the mother of good management", Michael Evanari
Location: Southwestern Oregon (Jackson County), Zone 7