Urban beekeeping in New Mexico's largest city.
We have been keeping bees for 50 years.
I am posting some things you should consider before purchasing bees. If you are considering purchasing package bees please understand the process before you make a commitment to any supplier or subcontractor. BEWARE: There are a few suppliers who are selling 2 # Packages as if they are 3 # Packages. A three pound package has approximately 14,000 bees whereas a two # package has approximately 9,000 bees. This is one of two reasons why these bees are priced so low. When I interpret the details of where these packages originate it appears they are selling out of the MO/GA area which is one of the least desirable areas to purchase bees from. These are several of many reasons you should really look at the fine print of their contract. NM and AZ are the two last stops on these routes each time meaning your bees are going to be very stressed before you receive them.
Before I begin I want to let you know the following about us:
We are taking orders for nucs, hives and queens. We have been selling 500-600 each year since 2012. We do not use grafted queens. We use the natural method described by CC Miller "50 years Amongst the Bees". (If you want a free copy of this book or others by beekeepers such as Doolittle and Alley just respond to this posting and let us know what you want and we will get it to you.) Under the Miller method the bees build queen cups and cells and select the proper age of egg/larva to raise their queen from They add sufficient amounts of royal jelly so the larva is never deprived or shorted as is possible in the grafted method. These queens are then mated in a 2 frame Langstroth nuc and are allowed to lay a brood pattern to verify she is a proven layer. We feel, as CC Miller had felt (over 100 years ago) that you will get a far superior queen with this method of raising queens. You can order by calling Louella at 505-286-4843. www.nmhoney.com
Nucs are comprised of 4 to 5 Langstroth frames containing a combination of bees, brood, honey, and pollen and a mated proven queen. These starter hives have a 4-6 week or more head start over packages and have had the risk of failure taken out of the beginning beekeeping process.
We also sell a nuc installed in a single hive. This will include the same amount of frames as in the nuc (described above), but will also include additional frames to complete a 10 frame hive. A top and bottom board is included to complete the single hive. You can order by calling Louella at 505-286-4843. www.nmhoney.com
When installing packaged bees 10% or more will abscond from the hive. One of the reasons this happens is because beekeepers release the queen too early. Queens should remained caged 5 days or longer after installing to reduce the risk of absconding. Many massed produced queens via grafting will be superseded after they begin laying (as many as 50%), this is especially so after a beekeeper has entered the hive a number of times and disturb the bees. This has been observed by others that the worker bees may be trying to protect their queen and accidentally suffocate her or she is replaced because she is inferior because of failure in development or mating. When a queen is lost or is superseded a hive losses upwards to 23 days of queen laying. This translates into a loss of 23,000 to 46,000 or more workers (female bees) in the hive. This is equivalent to a hive swarming.
Over the last few years many beekeepers with limited experience have decided to make money for their beekeeping business by selling bees and equipment. They may be trying to split their own or are contracting with other subcontractors to bring in packages and nucs. The way this works is a beekeeper will contract with a package bee producer (usually northern California, but can be in GA, FL, TX and the gulf coast states) for so many packages to be picked up between the last week of March and the first week or May. They may then make drops along selected routes or resale to other beekeepers who meet their truck, then they make scheduled drops. Many of these contractors are trying to get a 1,000 package load to make it profitable. The current price for packages (orders of 100 or more) that are contracted with a major supplier is an average of $83.50 with an $8.00 cage fee making the total $91.50. These contractors are trying to sell these packages in mass at a cost of $115.00 or more. What is not included in their quotes is the cage fee ($8). You must also meet their truck at the precise time or forfeit your bees. There is no refund.
These packaged bees have a cage life not to exceed 7 days (the bees run out of food and wear themselves out running the screen cage). Most package bee producers shake bees for several days to acquire enough bees to supply a 1,000 load truck. This means they will sit on the package producers floor (under fans) for up to 3 days before they are loaded onto a truck. The drive from Northern CA to Bakersfield is 8 hours on a very rough highway (93 or I-5) before they intersect with I-40 or I-10. Speed limits are 55 mph across CA for simi's and trucks pulling trailers which makes the trip painfully slow. It is another 8-11 hours without any drop offs before these bees reach AZ, NM or CO. This can be the fourth day from shaking now and these bees are getting very runny and they begin to wear themselves out. Some of the feeder cans are either empty or near empty because of the bumpy rough road shaking the syrup out of the cans. Now with drop offs you begin adding more time and days. By the time you get your bees in Albuquerque you could be at day 6 and have very little time to get these bees installed. If you are receiving bees further east the time available to get the packages installed without severe stress will be less. I saw the delivery route for one of the trucks and it was going through Phoenix and Tucson before heading to Albuquerque. The temperatures in AZ can get in the 90's even on the first of April. Check your packages. There will be some dead bees on the bottom of the cage, but when you see it approaching a l/2 inch of dead bees or more you need to question whether you accept your bees or not. The problem is... there are very few replacement bees to be found by this late a date so... you accept the bees and hope they survive.
For this reason we prefer not to sell package bees. If we do we shake the bees it will be from one of our yards in New Mexico or in Mesa, AZ (depending on the time of the year)
We are hearing more and more horror stories regarding bees arriving dead. Understand the risks of buying package bees. You will pay a little more for a nuc or a hive, but you will gain more almost immediately. You can order by calling Louella at 505-286-4843.
In 2012 we had one of the largest package beekeeping operations in the US with over 100 years experience load 300 packages of hot bees on our truck without cooling them down. We lost 1/2 the load before we could get three hours from their warehouse. We lost $40,000 that year and it took us 2 years to recover and make good on the bees. You can order by calling Louella at 505-286-4843. www.nmhoney.com
FWIW, I was one of the buyers who lost bees that year. I still haven't been 'made good'. I've bought and installed packages since then with much more success.
Mark and Kersten Hamilton
If you are still owed for bees please call us. We have made good on everyone that we know of that did not receive bees from that loss that year. You must of fallen between the cracks. Please call Louella at 505-286-4843.
Thanks. I'll contact you directly. The packages I installed earlier this year are not doing as well as I would like, so I need to do something about that.
I ordered and paid for 2 Nucs in February/March for delivery in the North Valley. I am looking to see when they are going to be delivered. Initially I was told mid-late April, then mid-late May, now I can't seem to get a call or email response. Please contact me ASAP so we can get this straightened out. Thank you.