OK, so they're not really frequently asked questions, but they may be questions you'd like answering.
I want bees, but I've never kept them before. Can I still buy from you?
Keeping bees is a fascinating thing to do, but there's more to keeping bees than putting them at the end of the garden and forgetting about them. Yes, you can buy bees from us, but we would strongly recommend that you join your local beekeepers' association and/or go on a beekeeping course and/or read some good beekeeping books. Ideally, all of the above.
Will your bees sting me?
The short answer is, "yes." That doesn't mean that you'll have bad tempered bees from us, it means that, if you keep bees, you're likely to get stung at some point. Getting stung, isn't usually a big problem, but if you suffer from anaphylaxis, it can be very serious. Fortunately, this condition is relatively uncommon, but can affect people of all ages. More information is available on the NHS website here. Our stock of bees are bred to be gentle and placid, however, we would always recommend that you inspect your colonies wearing your veil and with a smoker.
I'm interested in buying some bees from you. What will I get for my money?
You'll get a strong, healthy colony of bees. If you're buying a NUC, they'll be housed in a 6 frame, polystyrene hive that's been specially designed to keep and raise nucleus colonies of honey bees. This is yours to keep. It may also be fitted with a travel screen, which will help stop the colony over-heating during transportation to your apiary. All of our colonies comply with the recommendations laid out by both FERA/BeeBase and the BBKA.
Right, I've ordered my bees. When will they be ready for collection / delivery?
The short answer is, "when they're ready." Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not being rude but, as you'll learn, beekeeping is very weather dependant. Some years, over-wintered NUCs are ready in March, other years, in May. We won't let colonies of bees go, until they comply with our high standards, as well as complying with FERA's guidelines for buying honey bee colonies. This is especially true for beginners and less experienced beekeepers, as we want your beekeeping experience to be a good one.
I'm happy to collect my bees from you, but I'm not sure what to do when I get them home?
Don't worry, we'll explain everything you need to know when you collect them. If you follow our recommendations, you'll at lease have read some good books on the subject. You can buy these books from booksellers, or beekeeping suppliers. Alternatively, you could borrow them from your local library. Some, if not all, beekeepers' associations have their own library, which you're usually able to borrow from, once you've joined them.
I'm unsure about taking them home myself. Would you deliver them for me?
Bringing your bees home for the first time, can be a nerve racking, as well as an exciting, experience. If you feel that you'd like help in doing so, and getting them transferred into their new home, and you don't have a "tame" beekeeper available to help you, we offer a delivery service. We don't send bees by post (except queens) because we can't guarantee how they'll be treated during transportation and no insurance is available that guarantees that they'll arrive alive. So, we can bring them ourselves within reasonable distances in the South East of England. Current prices for this service will be on the order pages. Don't forget that, on top of this fee, we'll be changing twice the distance you live from our base in West Sussex (i.e. there and back), but only charge the HMRC rate for mileage.
Okay, I'm confident enough to collect and do the transfer myself. is there anything that will make this process easier?
Actually, yes there is. For an additional small fee, we can cage the queen the day before you collect. This isn't the same as buying a package of bees or, as some bee suppliers do, introduce a brand new queen into a made up colony. This will be the same queen that's been heading this family of bees, meaning that all there's no risk of the colony rejecting her (as sometimes happens with introduced queens). The advantage of doing this is, the queen can be safely transferred into your new hive. Even though all of our queens are marked, it can still be difficult to find her, so you're not always confident that she's been transferred safely. Also, there are often a small number of "casualties" in this process. As far as the colony is concerned, this is not a problem... unless you damage the queen without knowing it. Having the queen in a small (matchbox sized) cage will allow you keep her safe.