In order to understand when packages of bees are made and available to
purchase from large beekeepers we must understand the wintering process.
Bees must be over wintered in warmer climates. Most large beekeepers
begin moving their bees in October and November to southern states like
Florida, Arizona, California and Texas.
The hives are fed a carbohydrate (sugar water) and a protein (pollen or a
pollen substitute). Beekeepers will feed continually until there are 6
to 9 frames of brood by mid February. At this time most of the large
outfits will truck their bees into the almond groves in California to
pollinate almonds. Moving the bees these long distances are worthwhile
from two stand points. First they receive a pollination fee ranging
from $125.00 to $175.00 per hive, then they are able to sell up to two
thirds of their bees to the rest of the beekeepers who are looking to expand
or replace dead outs.
The beekeepers begin to move their hives northward up the state as the
almond bloom progresses and then move into other orchards that need
pollinating such as citrus, peaches, plums and apples. Almonds finish
blooming in March and the rest of the fruit varieties finish in April.
Because of the continued rapid build up of bees while pollinating these
crops the hives are bursting with bees and ready to swarm.
When the hives reach the point of swarming is when beekeepers begin to
divide their hives. The hives can be divided into a number of
different types. You can split a hive into two or three singles.
You can make up various quantities of nucs or you can make up packages of
bees. If you look at the major bee journals you will see many of these
beekeepers posting ads for their bees for sell after almonds in these
various categories. Some will advertise all year and some begin in
September and October. Most bee hives, singles and nucs are sold
before mid November.
The package bee business has been built off of the pollination in the
various states. We have listed the almonds in California since this is
the largest source of bees for sell. But other southern states such as
Florida, Texas, Georgia to name a few warmer climates will not go to
California for almond pollination but will remain in their own states
feeding and pollinating their bees for the purpose of dividing them to sell
in April, May and June.