Packaged Bees, Nucs, Equipment and Planning Ahead

For those of you interested in beginning beekeeping this spring, advance planning is the key to an enjoyable and successful season. Beekeeping is probably the most relaxing and enjoyable activity you will ever encounter.

Equipment, packaged bees or nuc’s (miniature established colonies) and the necessary “tools of the trade” can be obtained either by mail order or from any of our local suppliers. It’s a good idea to start thinking about and examining some of the more “basic tools” and equipment required so you can make good, prudent, purchasing decisions. We will be covering all of this in the first class, however a little primer will spark necessary questions and improve your knowledge for the course ahead. 

Weather plays a huge role on nuc availability and package delivery dates, not to mention quality of the honeybee stock received. When starting up in beekeeping, we always recommend beginning with two colonies, whether 2 packages, or a package and a nuc, or 2 nucs (if you can find that many nucs). This serves many beneficial purposes for the beekeeper:

  1. Should you experience any difficulties, one colony can often be used to save another.
  2. No two colonies will behave the same; you will have the opportunity to better observe differences in colony performance when you have additional colonies (perhaps the greatest educational tool in beekeeping).
  3. Having more than one colony allows you a better chance to propagate your own Maryland Produced Queens and Honeybees for next to nothing and provides inexpensive “on hand” insurance. Producing Maryland Honeybees is as good as it gets.

The beginning goal in beekeeping is to acquire bees and sustain your apiary over the years with stock you produce from your original packages and nucs. Properly managed, there is no reason to be purchasing new bees every, or every other year. BUMBA has an established mentoring program staffed by experienced beekeepers for anyone who may need, or want assistance during their first year.

Local Suppliers, Bees and Equipment

BUMBA will have a limited number of nuc’s available on a first come, first served basis by the end of April to the beginning of May.

Mail Order Companies

We will have each suppliers catalog available in numbers for the class

There are also other numerous beekeeping supply companies on the internet from which to choose.

A word about packaged bees
Packaged Bees need to be ordered early. The cutoff date for ordering packaged bees varies by supplier; most cutoff dates are around the second to third week in March.


David’s packages are due in the first week of April probably the 4th. For the more adventurous early birds out there, early can sometimes be better due to additional foraging time. Keep in mind that the installation demo on the BUMBA Field Day won’t be conducted until April 18, 2009. Installing a package of bees is a simple, straightforward procedure that takes only minutes. Contact David Polk at Freestate Bees as soon as possible to place your order if you want to get a jump on your beekeeping season.


Dennis Miller will be receiving bees about April 3rd and 18th. He request’s orders be in within the next two weeks for the April 18th delivery date. He has 5 packages left for the April 3rd delivery date.


Lloyd Snyder’s packages will be arriving April 4th. Again, too early for the club installation demo on the field day. The last date to order bees from Lloyd is March 25th.

Keep in mind that these delivery dates could be one or two days, or a week or so off, either way. Once packages arrive, it is imperative they are installed as soon as possible as lengthy confinement only hinders their progress.
A 3-pound package of bees with a mated queen is around $65.00 to $70.00 depending on the supplier and type of queen chosen.

Nucleus colonies typically run between $75.00 to $100.00, or $20.00 a frame. A nuc is a complete, functioning miniature colony where the queens ability to produce offspring has been proven. Nucs are usually comprised of 3 to 5 frames of drawn honeycomb, brood, food, a proven laying queen, and workers and are established functioning colonies ready to build to full strength quickly. Where a package first has to draw their foundation out into honeycomb before the queen can lay, so they can increase population and get up to speed. A typical nuc installation is simply removing the frames from the nuc box and putting them in a full size 10 frame brood chamber (deep). The nuc box is no included in the purchase.