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How to Start a New Bee Colony

Learn how to start your own bee colony with the help of Blain’s Farm & Fleet.

Beekeeping is a fun hobby with sweet rewards. Whether you’re buying bees for the first time, or you want to expand your hive, you have a few options for starting a new bee colony.

How to Start a New Bee Colony
Whether you’re just starting out in the world of beekeeping or want to expand your apiary, you need to know how to start a new bee colony.

Know the Members of Your Bee Colony

First, you need to know about the different members of your bee colony. Bee colonies consist of worker bees, drones and a queen. When you buy a package of bees, the queen is typically marked. For an in-depth look at all the members of your bee colony, read through our guide.

Buy Bees

To start a bee colony, you’ll obviously need bees. It’s important you order bees early so you’re all set to bring them home in April or May. You’ll also need the right beekeeping supplies.┬áLearn more about buying bees with our “Where to Buy Bees” article.

Use Swarm Traps & Bait Hives

You can also catch feral bees by using swarm traps, also known as bait hives or bait boxes. The traps are meant to look like your apiary hives. The goal is to get bees to start building honeycomb in the bait box. For a complete look at building and using swarm traps, read through our “Swarm Traps and Bait Hives” article.

Divide Your Existing Bee Colony

If you already have a strong colony, you can split it up to create a second beehive. Dividing your bees can help prevent the colony from swarming, and gives you a second source for honey and beeswax. Bees should be divided in the early spring, before the first major flow of nectar. To determine if your colony is strong enough to be divided, check for lots of capped brood–six frames of capped brood is a good place to start. Once you know your bees are strong enough, you’ll need a second beehive to home them.

The new colony will need its own queen. The easiest way is to simply order a queen bee, instead of raising your own queen. Once you have the new queen, you’ll need to transfer bees from your existing colony to the new hive. Take three frames of capped brood from the hive–and all the bees that come with it–and put them in the center of your new beehive. Insert the new queen’s frame between the brood frames, with the candy side up.

In the original hive, replace the three brood frames with foundation frames at the outer walls of the beehive. Place a hive-top feeder on both the original and new hive, and fill it with sugar syrup. You now have a new bee colony.

At Blain’s Farm & Fleet, you’ll find everything you need to become a beekeeper. From protective clothing to beehives and frames, you can turn your backyard into your own apiary. For more tips on getting started and caring for your bees, visit our Beekeeping blog.

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