Buying Bees - What Do You Need to Know


Are you looking to buy bees?

Here are some tips:

Decide what type of bees you want to buy.

  • Research bee breeds and desirable characteristics, such as honey production, hardiness for Ontario climate and conditions, gentleness, disease or pest resitance.

Know what you want.

  • Queens? Queen Cells? Full Colony? Nucleus Colony (Nuc)? Packaged Bees?

Purchase your bees from a respected supplier.

  • Ask about the source of their genetic stock, what characteristics are being selected for in their bee breeding programs, how long they’ve been a beekeeper and a bee breeder.
  • Check with other beekeepers for recommendations.
  • Ask about delivery area and options, as time is of the essence when replacing Queens, for example.
    Note! Anyone who sells bees or queens in Ontario is required to obtain a permit from an OMAFRA Apiary Inspector.
    Please refer to OMAFRA’s Ontario Honeybee Queen, Nucleus and Colony Producers to confirm a seller's permit status. A small sticker with the permit number must accompany each shipment and should be kept for reference purposes.
  • Monitor your new bees carefully and follow up quickly with the supplier, OBA’s Tech-Transfer Program specialists, or an Apiary Inspector should you experience a problem or have a question.

Have your equipment and housing prepared. 

A note on feral honey bees / collecting swarms.

Some beekeepers build their colonies by collecting swarms. This is dangerous and should be attempted only by an experienced beekeeper. Bees collected this way may pose a serious risk of disease or pests to an established apiary. Best management practices require such bees to be kept isolated from established bee yards and carefully monitored before allowing colonies to mingle to reduce the risk of spreading diseases and pests within your own apiary or beyond, to other beekeepers in your community.

Finding a Bee Supplier:

Bee Suppliers or OBA's Ontario Bee Breeders' Association member (OBBA)

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