Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ordering Bees

Spring is quickly approaching and with spring, blossoms and blooms.  And what do blossoms and blooms need?  Bees, of course.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been preparing for bees by ordering all new hives (English Garden hives, of course) and charting out the perfect location for the "girls".  After receiving the new hives, I realized that if I didn't order bees soon, I would be out of luck for this season.  I quickly got to work researching bees and was surprised by what I found.

The bees that we have had in the past were Italians.  They were lovely and gentle and good producers, however, they seemed to swarm with unending regularity (probably mismanagement on our part) and were not particularly cold hardy (they did hail from Italy, after all!).  As I researched bees, I was drawn to a few different varieties that I thought would thrive in our area.  The Russians and the Carniolans both seemed like they would be a good fit, but one in particular caught my attention - the Buckfast bee. The Buckfast was developed by Brother Adam of Buckfast Abbey in Devon, England.  His goal was to develop a honey bee that was resistant to tracheal mites, first and foremost, and then he began breeding other good qualities in them.  They are particularly cold-weather hardy, are very gentle and proved to be the top producers during a two year study conducted at the University of Minnesota (in a field of six varieties of honey bees).  According to the study they have the best build-up in the spring, have a very low swarming tendency and produce queens that are noted for their longevity.

With the decision made we placed our order and have two packages of Buckfast bees coming via USPS (yes, they will be delivered in the mail!).  They should be here by the end of April, just in time to pollinate all of our spring blossoms and provide us with many hours of buzzing enjoyment.

I really think the bees will love their new homes - they are English Garden hives, after all!


  1. A year or so ago, while standing in line at the Post Office, I heard peeping..chicks can be mailed! I'm not sure right off the top of my head what sorts of creatures can be mailed, but so far, it's chicks and bees. Beekeeping has really taken off in the last few years-there are beehives everywhere here. All of the hives I have seen have been painted white-any particular reason?

    1. The hives tend to be sited in full sun so the white helps to keep them cool.

  2. Last summer I was up in St. Maries and noted that the wasps were REALLY bad. Everyone had wasp traps hanging around their places and the darns things were flying all over out in the woods....set up camp and within an hour there were wasps everywhere. Do these guys ever wreck havoc with your honey bees? And if so, what do you do to save the bees from the attacks?

  3. I hope you have good luck with them (Buckfast). I was getting them from Texas, and they were some of the meanest bees. Switched to Carniolans and have never looked back.
    Let us know how you do.
    Dennis in Iowa