For those outside of the know as far as beekeeping goes, you might ask why are there bees for sale? Bees make honey, but their role in the food chain goes well beyond that. They also play a key role in pollinating essential crops and have contact with about 33% of the food we eat every day. Without the worker bees pollinating crops, our food supply would take a hard hit.
These are only a few reasons that both honeybees and bees that do not make honey are now being sold to both hobbyists and commercial beekeepers. We need bees as much as they need beekeepers to care for them. Becoming a new beekeeper is becoming easier because of companies like Honeybeesonline.com.
What is Honeybeesonline.com?
Honeybeesonline.com is an online store that sells bees raised at the Long Lane Bee Farm in Fairmont, Illinois. The bees for sale are only available for pickup at the Fairmont training center. They do not ship bees. They sell bees in packages and mostly by pre-orders. Pre-orders for individual bee packages start on January 1st of each year for pickup in the spring. This company not only sells bee packages, but it also offers full kits for beekeeping.
Each kit contains a hive, equipment to care for the hive and bees. Customers can order these kits in December for pickup the following spring. The bee kits come in several varieties, ranging from the basic "Busy Bee" to the deluxe "Independence Kit."
Within each kit, the customer receives a newly constructed hive with fresh paint. The hives come in several sizes to work for beginners wanting a first-time hive at home or for hobbyists to upgrade to a bigger hive. While they do not ship bees, they can ship these hive kits. Everything but the bees are shipped directly to the customer. Bees still need to be picked up. Some customers can buy the kits for use with local bees if they are not in the local area.
While there are many companies that sell bees, this website offers something many do not. They have a Beekeeper Mentor program supported by David Burns who is an EAS Certified Master Beekeeper. For about $20 a month, new beekeepers can connect with Burns for support. This includes access to new beekeeping videos each month, email or phone support and even video support for problems with a hive. Because they can offer support online or over the phone, and they do not limit this program to the local area.
What's The Buzz Abo
At honeybeesonline.com, the bees for sale are three-pound packages with a marked and mated queen. It is also possible to buy a queen separately. They order the bee packages before the spring pickup in Illinois. For those new to beekeeping, it is also possible to buy kits with everything you need to set up your first hive. This includes a freshly painted hive, beekeeping gear, books and other support. There are also videos on the site that covers many of the basics about beekeeping.
Unlike other bee retailers, this group does not sell bees in a nuc. They prefer to sell bees in packages, so their customers get to see the entire process of making honey. A nuc will be delivered that is already producing honey.
While the bees are available for pickup in the spring at the Fairmont location, it is important to not wait until spring to make the order. They often sell out in the first few weeks of January for spring pickup. There may still be queen bees available for purchase but no full bee packages for sale and pickup same day.
How Much Do Bees Cost?
Each bee package contains three pounds of gentle Italian bees. This sells for about $110 without a queen. The customer can pick the queen they want for an added $30-$40.
If a customer wants to buy a bee package with a queen, this runs about $130. This is for the bees and queen only, as they do not sell honey producing nucs. Even though they do not offer nucs, there is an option to buy a bigger kit that includes a hive and other items like a beekeeper hat, and training materials. These kits start at $249 and run to $979.
The Hive Market: How We CompareWe've looked at a few other websites in the beekeeping market to see how they compare:
This online bee seller serves much of Iowa as they do not ship bees. They only sell them for pickup. You can buy bees in two or three-pound packages. These packages require a separate purchase of a queen. The prices for the 2019 season have not been posted, but the price for a bee package in 2018 started at about $100 and went to $120.
Nucs are also available in several varieties. Customers can buy a nuc with Italian, Carnolian or Saskatraz bees with an included queen. Each nuc is built on a five frame design.
Ease of Use
This company offers to ship bees, although they take no responsibility for the bee packages once they are shipped. It is safer for the bees to arrange pickup at one of two pickup locations in South Carolina.
They can purchase bees in a wide range of packages and nuc configurations. This is one of the few online sources that offer different sizes of nucs. The bees for sale include queens bred in 2016 and 2017. A three-pound bee package with a 2016 queen was about $80 with the 2017 queen package running $190.
The queen bees for sale ran considerably lower than most places online. A queen from May 2016 is about $13 with a queen from August 2016 costing $18. The premium Italian queens from 2017 costs just under $100.
The nucs come in either five frame or ten frame configurations. The five frame start at $130 in a cardboard box for pickup only. For shipping outside of the area, the five frame nucs come in a wooden crate. This sells for $270 before shipping. The higher priced nuc contains an Italian queen,
They only make ten frame nucs in the wooden boxes. They sell for $420, with this price subject to change. They sell these nucs as fully functioning hives that last through the winter.
Ease of Use
Online retailer ships bee packages to the east coast and Midwest. Their shipping area for bee packages includes these 31 states: AL, AR, CT, DE, FL, GA, IN, IA, IL, KY, LA, MA, ME, MI, MD, MO, MS, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT and WV.
Bee packages are three pounds. They run about $120. Each package contains worker bees, drones, nurse bees and a newly mated queen. The queen ships in a separate queen cage.
The nucs are only available for local pickup. They are five framed with a queen. They are shipped in a cardboard transport box and cost about $160.
This site also sells kits to get the new beekeeper through their first year. These hive essentials are eight or ten framed. They cost between $200 and $220 without being assembled. The company can assemble them for an additional charge.
The shipping policy seems to be carefully thought out with the safety of the bees in mind. They ship bee packages to a location close enough to support the best outcome for the bees. This is to cut down on the stress of the bee and also to maintain the overall packaging.
Ease of Use
Conclusion: Best Bees For Sale At Honeybeesonline.com
After comparing several online bee retailers, Honeybeesonline.com is among the top places online to buy bees. Their passion for bee health and care is clear on every part of their website. It is run by a master beekeeper. Their beekeeper mentor program is the first on its kind in the market. Not only does the owner care about bees, but he also wants to share his knowledge with others.
Many of the online stores sell things like starter hives, but this store takes things one step further. Their kits also include the needed beekeeper protective clothing, educational materials, and brand new hives. Each hive is built to order, so it is not sitting somewhere in the elements rotting.
For the safety of the bee packages, this group only sells bees for pickup. They offer their support in other ways to the larger beekeeping community. This includes a wide range of beekeeping videos on their website, online mentoring and selling the hives without bees to be shipped anywhere.
While their most expensive kit runs about $940, there are also others that are more budget friendly. They have created several kit options to work with most budgets. Each kit may come with different added supports like the beekeeping hat, but they all come with a sturdy hive as a base.
The biggest downside to this company is that they do not sell bee packages in any size besides the three pounders. They also do not support the selling of nucs because it takes away from the overall honey making experience. This retailer supports giving new beekeepers the tools they need to start but leaves them involved in the whole process instead of starting the honey process in a nuc.
Some customers prefer buying the nuc, so this may be offsetting. Others prefer having the flexibility to pick between a bee package and a nuc when shopping for bees for sale.
Lacking a shipping option is also a negative for some buyers. While other sites seem to push the boundaries of bee stress when they offer to ship for the lower 48 states, it seems possible to ship to at least part of the United States. Having a shipping radius like the one used by Mountainsweethoney.com may be something they want to consider.
I give honeybeesonline.com 4 out of five stars. While they are a company that understands bees and uses a master beekeeper, not having any shipping options make them hard to use for most people. Their commitment to further bee education and mentoring other beekeepers helped to raise this rating. It is clear they are also actively looking for creative ways to use technology to connect with a larger customer base. Even if a beekeeper is not local, they can still access the website to watch informational videos and connect with a virtual mentor.