How to get bees for your Flow Hive

How to get bees for your Flow Hive

Although many people have tried, you’ll find that if you place an empty hive in your yard it’s unlikely that a colony will just move in.

Beehives are designed to be a perfect home for bees – here are some of the ways you can get a colony to call your Flow Hive home.

Purchase a nuc (nucleus)

Possibly the most common way to get started is by purchasing a nucleus.

Often referred to as a nuc, this is a small colony which includes a laying queen, workers, drones and 4 or 5 frames of brood and honey.

Available from reputable beekeeping suppliers, if you’re interested in getting set up with a nuc, it’s important to start sourcing early. Nucs are available in spring and waiting lists often fill up fast.

The nuc will arrive in small temporary box, ready for you to transfer into your brood box. Place the frames in the centre of your brood box with extra wooden frames on the outside to fill the space. The bees will build these out as the colony expands.

The advantage of purchasing a nuc over a package of bees or even settling a swarm into a brood box is that you’ll receive established brood frames which give your colony a 5-6 week head start developmentally. 

Package of bees

Some beekeeping supplier will offer a package of bees rather than a nucleus, which consists of several thousand bees and a queen, but does not include frames. The queen is often contained in a queen cage with some attendants. Her pheromones will assist to encourage the bees to settle into their new home when installed rather than absconding.

In most countries you have to pick up your packaged bees from a supplier, though in some places your bees can get posted in the mail.

To install a package, you need to open the box and shake the bees into your brood or nuc box and then nurture them as they build their colony. It’s a good idea to leave the bees undisturbed for the first week, though important to inspect after this time to make sure that they are building straight brood comb.

Split a hive

Often in spring, you may be lucky enough to find someone with an existing colony who may be willing to split their hive with you. Performing a hive split is considered good beekeeping practice as it can help to prevent a colony from swarming.

Receiving a hive split is similar to installing a nuc as you’ll receive around 4 built out brood frames, however, there are a few extra considerations that need to be taken into account.

Check out Hilary Kearney’s blog post on Splitting your Hive in Spring for more information or watch our video below on how to do a hive split.

How to get bees for your Flow Hive

Catch a swarm

Although most beekeepers will take steps to avoid their colony swarming, sometimes bees have their own ideas about things! Spring swarms are common and many unsuspecting locals will reach out to community beekeeping organisations for help when a colony takes up residence uninvited in their yard.

To catch a swarm, you will need the assistance of an experienced beekeeper or bee club member who would be happy to help you. They may be willing to set you up with a swarm when they catch one, or assist you with catching your own.

How to get bees for your Flow Hive
Swarm of bees on a branch, clipped out of a tree. It’s important to have an experienced beekeeper to help when catching a swarm of bees.

Ask around

Whichever method you decide on, it’s a great idea to get in touch with a local bee mentor or join your local beekeeping club.

They’ll be able to offer advice relevant to your area  and might even be able to help you with your startup colony.

They’ll also have you a wealth of information, to nurture and support you to become an enthusiastic, empowered and responsible beekeeper.

Our Flow Forum is a great online resource where you can reach out to experienced beekeepers for advice from the comfort of your home. Some of the members are incredibly knowledgeable and happy to share that knowledge – you never know, you may even be able to connect with a local beekeeper who will be willing to split a hive with you. 

Are you ready to get started?

We have the perfect hive waiting to help get you started on your beekeeping adventure!

"Ask two beekeepers one question, get three answers."

At Flow, we love to hear from all kinds of beekeepers using all types of methods, but their views are their own and are not necessarily endorsed by Flow. We advise reading widely, connecting with your local beekeeping association and finding a mentor as you delve into this fascinating hobby.