Acquiring bees

Over the years it has been our experience that colonies of bees, with associated equipment and an introductory course of beekeeping have been a well-intentioned Christmas present. Before you buy or acquire bees, we would recommend attending an introductory talk, joining the Association and attending a few meetings to appreciate what is involved. Prospective beekeepers need to realise their responsibilities as to the welfare standards involved and the work and time needed to carry these out to avoid the little creatures suffering.

Our advice on the acquisition of bees is available in this document to help prospective purchasers as there are several routes to getting bees. Buying them off the internet from someone unknown hundreds of miles away is not recommended.

Given that there were no cases of EFB or AFB diagnosed north of Nethybridge last year but many in Perthshire, it can be seen there are significant risks in buying bees from outwith our area. Our local bees are adapted to the climate and any vendor claiming their bees to be Carniolan or Buckfast will only be such for a generation as they will mate with local strains anyway. It is very difficult for a breeder to verify the health of a colony as the bees can carry EFB but not show it until they are under stress. Can we remind everyone to enquire as to the source of any bees they are buying and determine the original location because of the disease risks? Further, it is illegal for anyone to import bees into the UK although we hear that many are still coming via Northern Ireland.

In addition to the above, The National Bee Unit (Beebase) have produced two very relevant documents giving guidance on the sale of honey bee nuclei and advice for obtaining honey bees.

Guidance for the purchase of honey bee nuclei.

Advice for obtaining honey bees

A common way of acquiring bees is through the collection/acquisition of swarms. We maintain lists of members who are proficient in collecting swarms and of members who are looking to expand their colonies. Please email the Secretary or the President (email or 07732 587084) should you have any questions as to what is involved in this fascinating but demanding hobby or wish to be added to the swarm receiving list or colony purchase lists.

April 2024

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