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 desirable characteristics, such as honey production, hardiness for Ontario climate, gentleness, and disease/pest resistance.

Know what you want.

  • Queens, Queen Cells, Nucleus Colony (Nuc), Full Colony (Single or Double), or 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 and good experiences.
  • Know what to expect. This Nuc Buyers Guide explains what a typical nuc in Ontario should include.
  • Ask about delivery area and options, as time is of the essence when replacing Queens, for example.
    Note! Anyone who sells bees or queens/queen cells in Ontario is required to obtain a permit from an OMAFRA Apiary Inspector. A copy of their queen and nuc permit must accompany each purchase.
  • Monitor your new bees carefully and follow up quickly with the supplier, OBA’s Tech-Transfer Program specialists if you have any questions, or an Apiary Inspector should you experience a reportable pest/disease (AFB, SHB).

Finding a Bee Supplier:

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

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Have your equipment and housing prepared. 

Looking to buy beekeeping equipment? Beekeeping Equipment Suppliers


A note on collecting swarms.

Some beekeepers obtain their colonies by collecting swarms. This is not recommended 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