Buying secondhand hives of bees

If you are thinking of buying secondhand hives of bees, we suggest you check the state of the frames and combs before you buy.  The pictures show incorrect size frames,  a frame with a damaged lug, a broken frame spacer and distorted comb.   Manky old combs like these could be harbouring diseases. Beekeeping is much easier if you use good equipment. Pictures by Barry Griffiths.

This colony of bees could be transferred onto new frames of foundation using a Bailey Frame change or a Shook swarm

A few questions to ask before buying….

  • Why are the bees for sale?   If the hives have come from a retiring beekeeper, you can expect to find hives in bad condition, old frames, blackened brood combs, maybe frames missing.  You may end up replacing the hive and the frames, and wondering if it’s all worth it.  You may wish to replace the hive floor before moving the hives home.
  • Have they been inspected by the Seasonal Bee Inspector?
  • Where are they coming from?  Our part of north Wales has a very healthy population of honeybees. We want to keep it that way.   Only buy locally raised bees.
  • When is the best time of year to buy hives of bees?  Buy in September and you will have to prepare the bees for winter quickly. The price will be at its lowest. Buy in the spring and you will pay top price. You may be able to run the bees onto clean frames of foundation in May, when the sycamore honey is flowing.

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