Urban beekeeping in New Mexico's largest city.
I am plan to become a new bee keeper. I have ordered by hives, which I will assemble this winter, and introduce bees next spring (2016). Does anyone know where I can buy my bees locally? Is there a local supplier who sells nucs? I live in Albuquerque but am willing to drive any place in New Mexico to get my bees from a reparable and responsible person.
Thank you in advance for any information you can give me.
Patrick -- thank you very much for the information. I will make inquiries. Getting local bees makes a lot more sense than ordering package bees from the south.
Just so you know Ken Hay's gets his bees from Papa Bear's honey operated by Craig Noorlander. Craig gets his bees from Juan Tinoco in Norther California. If you truly want local bees the only thing I can suggest is to catch or even purchase a swarm of bees. They usually start swarming in ABQ around April 15. Zia Queen Bees may sell Nucs but I'm not sure. However, I have had great luck purchasing from Craig and Ken and wouldn't think twice about purchasing from them.
Thank you, Carl. This is very helpful.
Hi Nicholas, I posted this a few minutes ago under a different discussion so I thought I would post it here to for your benefit and the benefit of other.
There are several beekeepers who bring in package bees to sell or who divide their hives and sell off a portion (called a nuc or a single). This is all done in the spring, summer and fall, but it is best if done early for a good buildup of stores so the bees can overwinter with out starvation. We sell 500-600 packages, nucs and hives each year. Craig Noorlander of Papa Bear Honey brings in a load of 400-500 from CA and distributes them at Ken Hays place in Bosque Farms. They have teamed up so Craig can sell you the bees and Ken can sell you the equipment and classes. There are others who are trying their hand at it too. Zia Queen does some, but since they are in the mountains in Truchas they usually cannot get them to their customers until June unless they have changed the location of where they are overwintering them.
In regards to buying local...educate yourself to the biology of bees. Read some of the works of Doolittle and CC Miller. If you do not have copies of these books send me an email and I will send you a copy of them.
First off: local bees (if they are truly local) are the offspring of 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation queens. Unless a person has a controlled breeding program where they can take the eggs from a first generation queen of known parentage and have them mate with drones of known parentage their resultant queens will be a combination of all the drones they have mated with (12-18 drones). We are getting more and more aggressive bees in the area so the mating pool is not very desirable. The further south from Albuquerque you go the worse it gets. I have work my bees with Ken Hays (runs his bees from Bosque farms to south of T or C) for a number of years and have stopped because his bees were just too mean. Unless he has re-queened all his hives in the last few years I do not want my bees even close to him (for breeding purposes). Those doing walk-a-way splits are in the same category. The offspring from the queens raised from the mother hive is unknown. This is the reason why we are hearing about so many hives turning aggressive after a few months to a year. This can happen after your hive swarms and in the process raises a replacement queen (now a 3rd generation or more). After 4-6 weeks you have a hot hive.
Second: There is very little varroa (organic or chemical) treatment being done by those selling splits from their hives. The results we are hearing about is a collapse of the hive by late summer to early fall. The varroa population grows rapidly and the hive succumbs to disease (deformed wing virus). Even packages coming in from certain breeders around the country have been tested and shown to have as high as a 5% infestation rate which is high when you consider a 3 # package will have about 12-14,000 bees.
Third: There are those who are promoting Russian or Russian/Cross (usually with Carniolian or Italian) because they are hygienic in nature and will groom each other to remove varroa from the hive. The Russian queen is moderately aggressive and not pleasurable to work with and should not be used in close proximity to homes and livestock. The fact is that all aggressive bees (and the more aggressive the better) are hygienic and survive losses attributed to varroa. I recommend all new beekeepers to start with Italian (or Carniolian) queens heading their packages, hives or nucs. They are very gentle and build up quick in the spring.
Call us anytime if you have questions on beekeeping. I have been keeping bees since 1966. We have classes, conferences, conventions, videos and many other beekeeping related topics listed on our website at www.nmhoney.com