Ordering Bees: Your Guide to Expanding Your Hive

Greetings, new and experienced beekeepers! There are many factors to consider when starting or expanding your beehive, and the best place to start is self-education. So, congrats on making the right first step! 

Picking the perfect source for bee orders is incredibly important. In this article, we’ll explain what to look for in a bee breeder, what species of honey bees are ideal for your situation, and how to set your new bees up for success. 

At West River Exchange, we’re committed to premier education for old-hat and new beekeepers and dedicated to quality and sustainability. Read on to discover all our best insights that help your new hive thrive. 

The Perfect Match: Selecting Bees for Your Apiary

This is truly a magical moment for backyard beekeepers. Selecting and rearing a colony of bees is an exciting experience. Watching your little ladies thrive is unmatched! 

The key is picking a bee species suited to your environment and working with a supplier that raises healthy bees in your area. West River Exchange is an Ohio-based breeder, meaning our bees are uniquely positioned to thrive in the surrounding Midwest and eastern states.  

The specific species with particular affinity for this area of the United States are: 

  • Italian Bees: Italian bees are lovely for beginning beekeepers as they’re less likely to swarm. Whenever you see a swarm of bees, know they’re heading off to a new hive (abandoning their previous hive or forming a new colony). Italian honey bees do this less, putting beekeepers at ease. They’re also incredibly hygienic, gentle, and solid honey producers.  
  • Carniolan Bees: These worker bees are a bit more aggressive and ready to swarm than the Italian gals. However, they’re hardy foragers even on overcast days, and they are impressive honey producers. Many beekeeping associations recommend the Carniolan as a fantastic option for the experienced beekeeper.
  • Italian/Carniolan Hybrid Bees: The best hive tool you could ever have is a durable, calm, and productive group of bees. Hybrids are the best of both worlds, with the best features of Italian and Carniolan bees. You just have to get a nucleus hive from a reputable breeder who carefully monitors the breeding process, ensuring the best traits are passed on. 

These bee species are all wonderful in Ohio and surrounding states; however, it’s important to shop locally if you’re a new beekeeper in another area. The best bees for you are not those from the post office. Local pick-up is the way to go. Shopping locally ensures your bees are homegrown near your area and primed to thrive.

From Click to Hive: Navigating the Bee Ordering Process

Nowadays, you can order bees with the click of a button! (Pretty buzz-tastic, right?) Here’s our step-by-step guide on how to order bees:

  1. Pick a species: There are many to choose from, but we definitely recommend Italians, Carniolans, or hybrids.  
  2. Select the type of order: You’ll need a mated queen bee and her workers. This group could be package bees (a few pounds of loose bees and their queen) or a nuc colony (a mini hive with bees, frames, baby bees, honeycomb, and more). Bee nucs are more expensive but better for new beekeepers. 
  3. Find a reputable seller: Working with an ethical, sustainably minded breeder is vital. Reach out to local beekeepers for recommendations.
  4. Inquire about availability: You want to get your bees in the spring. It’s the best time for bees to thrive and settle into their new home. Check with your supplier in the fall or earlier about availability. 
  5. Pay and prep your remaining beekeeping supplies: Pay the good people! Then, prep for your package of bees or frame nuc with the appropriate beekeeping supplies.  

Some suppliers will prepare and ship bees directly to your door through a specialized service or the USPS. These breeders ensure the health and safety of bees during transit. Typically, only a queen and some workers are shipped at a time. That being said, shipping bees is not ideal, and local pick-up is usually much better for bees. 

At West River Exchange, we do not ship bees. We only allow for local pick-up to ensure the overall health of our bees is protected. 

Ready for Arrival: Preparing Your Apiary for New Bees

It’s time to roll out the red carpet. Prepping for your bees means setting up a welcoming environment that encourages bees to stay and helps them thrive.

First, you’ll need to set up the hive. We recommend a classic Langstroth hive. You can easily customize these hives through the seasons to help your bees thrive. 

Place your hive in a protected area that faces the morning sun. You’ll need to ensure that the hive is near adequate food sources that haven’t been treated with pesticides. Ideally, your bees won’t have to fly through heavily populated areas to reach food. 

Have everything set up and ready? Great! Just remember that a beekeeper’s job is never done. Regular hive inspection and standardized maintenance routines are crucial for bee success. Your first few hive inspections will be more in-depth as you try to help your bees settle in. After this, you’ll need to check on your bees at least twice a month. 

The frequency and extent of inspections will depend on your hive’s health, needs, and the season. Think of these inspections as quality time with the girls! 

More Than Just Bees: Building a Thriving Community

One of the best parts of beekeeping is that you become a part of a supportive, active community. Community support is a huge part of successful beekeeping, and your local beekeepers love to help out, especially if that means they get to gab about bees. 

At West River Exchange, we strive to create a welcoming community of bee enthusiasts. To help new and experienced beekeepers alike, we’ve curated a collection of beekeeping guides. There is always something new to learn about bees. Ongoing education is a massive part of our community, and we’re here to offer all the educational (and emotional) support you need.  

Beekeeping with a Purpose: Embracing Sustainability

Unfortunately, there are organizations out there that focus on churning out bees and ignore bee health. It’s essential to only work with bee suppliers that maintain sustainable beekeeping practices. 

Ordering bees from a responsible source like West River Exchange contributes to ecological balance and bee health. Ethical beekeeping is the future, and it starts with you! 

Embark on Your Beekeeping Journey with West River Exchange

Ordering the right bees is a process that takes a fair bit of knowledge and a lot of forethought. Purchasing through West River Exchange means choosing reliable, healthy bees bred to thrive in your area. 

Take the next step in your beekeeping journey by exploring the options available at West River Exchange, including our Ohio bees for sale and fantastic beekeeping equipment. Don’t be afraid to order some delicious raw honey while you’re at it.

Working with West River Exchange means starting your beekeeping journey off the right way.