Package Bees Review And More

Package bees are precisely what it sounds like, a box or package of live bees. They make the box to hold enough bees to populate a new hive, and keep them alive in transit. The packaging system secures both the standard bees and usually a queen.

These products are sold by the pound, with standard sizes being anywhere from two to five pounds. For each pound of bees, the beekeeper can figure on getting between 3,000 and 5,000 bees. Each box also contains a queen unless they do not need that.

When ordering a set of package bees, the specifications for each set usually tell the customer what kind of queen it includes. Shipping options also vary between companies as some will use a shipping company to transport while others offer only local pickup.

These products have enough bees to fill a hive for the season, but the beekeeper will also need to have everything else ready to set-up the hive. They do not mean the packaging that protects the bees in transit is there to take the place of a hive. They only use them to secure the bees on a short-term basis, whether it is during the shipping time or the drive from pickup to the new hive.

Mountain Sweet Honey - Package Bees

package bees

Mountain Sweet Honey offers two options for package bees, either a shipped box, or a nuc package for local pickup. The shipped boxes are all three pounds and contain Italian bees. Customers ordering either the shipped box or nuc also receive a queen.

The shipped package includes an interior wire box, about three pounds of a variety of bees, a sugar water dispenser, and a caged queen bee. All boxes include nurse bees, foragers, drones, and guards. Within the queen's cage, there are also a few attendants to keep the queen company.

While this company does ship bees, they do not send out products to all areas. The company ships to 31 states that include: 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. The nuc shipping system is available for pickup at their Northeast Georgia location.

While it may frustrate some customers to not be able to buy from this company based on their location, their commitment to the health of the bees shows through as they do not ship beyond a safe distance from their packaging location.

Product Specs

NUC

They do not ship bees year-round; they are a seasonal product. The shipping dates usually run between March and May. Pre-sale for delivery in the following spring starts in May.

Their unique nuc system offers a higher level of service for local customers. In that case, the queen can stay longer with the bees that will make her hive and is already quality checked to verify she is producing. These include 9 5/8 inch frames for more secure transport. The nuc is a specially designed corrugated cardboard that supports the colony.

While someone should remove the bees from the shipping box within hours of receiving them, the nuc offers more flexibility. The bees can stay in that container for up to three days.

Bees They sell bees "as-is" and ship in insured packages. Any issues with damage to packages and resulting bee deaths are handled directly with the USPS.

Pricing

price

They can purchase the standard shipping package bees for about $100. The nuc is available for about $150.

Each of these products is purchased directly from the company. Pre-orders start in the Spring of each year and run until early summer or when they sell out.

How it Compares

We picked a couple of similar products available on the market to see how they compare.


Mountain Sweet Honey

Price

Ease of Use

Assembly Time

Design Quality

Warranty

NONE

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Offer both standard boxes and a deluxe nuc design.
  • Top shipper of Italian bees   in the east coast and the Midwest.
  • They use regional shipping centers for fast delivery.
  • thumbs-up
    Offers pre-orders.

Cons

  • Not able to deliver to all 50 states.
  • Standard packaging not as sturdy or functional as the nuc.
  • The nuc is only available for local pickup.

C.F. Koehnen & Sons, Inc.

The company is located in Northern California with packages for pickup only. They do not offer shipping services. This locally owned company started in 1907 and still focuses on supporting the local bee community.


They package bees in wooden boxes for a more secure transport. Customers pay a separate fee for these cages, with part of the fee being refunded upon return. This fee depends on the size of the cage which ranges from two to five pounds. The cage fee runs under $10.


They price each package according to the number of pounds and the volume of packages. Order for less than 20 packages are only available in a three-pound size and start at about $95 each. Once a customer orders 21 or more cages, they are free to request packages of two, three or four pounds. Two-pound packages run about $75 with four-pound packages around $115.


While they offer discounts for larger orders, they are open to working with beekeepers who are also just starting out. They offer a special pickup time each week for smaller orders that include time for answering questions. While they do not offer things like online tutorials, there is a high level of customer service in person.


Customers have the freedom to choose from several types of queens. They mark each queen for orders under 100 packages. Orders of 100 or more packages are available for pickup 6 days a week with prior notice.

All orders are placed directly with the company. Pricing is straightforward and listed online.

Price

Ease of Use

Assembly Time

Design Quality

Warranty

none

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • thumbs-up
    Bees travel in secure   wooden cages.
  • Variety of package size.
  • Options of queen varieties.
  • Pickup available six days a week with prior notice.
  • thumbs-up
    The wooden packaging is reusable.

Cons

  • No shipping offered.
  • Extra costs for cages that must be stored for later return.
  • Not all package sizes are available for smaller orders.

OHBees

The Olivarez family has raised bees in California for 50 years. They also raise and ship bees from Montana and Hawaii for added shipping radius. Thier biggest customer base is the commercial beekeeper. They offer a special program each spring from their California home for hobbyist pickup.


One of the unique products this company offers is the super-sized, warm weather queens raised in Hawaii. They are unique to the tropical climate and very much in demand. This is one bee this company has bred and raised for its superior production.


Pricing varies significantly based on the size of the order, and they suggest the buyer make contact online for current prices. They sell Italian, Carnolian, and Saskatraz queens year-round. This bee shipper is known for using technology to breed a more environmentally tolerant bee. This allows them to sell bees year round.


This company offers unique supports that include tutorial videos about installation and queen introduction to support the on-going use of products like the package bees they sell. They have also made a commitment to improving bee quality in the area and are working with local bee producers to open a Bee Center for the public.

Price

Ease of Use

Assembly Time

Design Quality

Warranty

none

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Company employees expert breeders for improved bee quality.
  • Ships bees year round from three locations.
  • A variety of queens are available for purchase.
  • thumbs-up
    Family owned business with 50 years of experience.

Cons

  • Shipping only available for commercial orders.
  • Offers just one hobby pick   up each season.
  • Pricing varies and is not available on the website.
  • thumbs-down
    The website does not   support online ordering so their service is not as easy   to use as some other websites.
  • thumbs-down
    Information not available about return policies.

Kelley Beekeeping

Kelley Beekeeping ships bees from their Kentucky headquarters. They can ship queens to most of the lower 48 states but only guarantee full packages to certain postal zones. They suggest consulting their shipping calculator on the website to see if your location falls within the safe shipping area.


Customer service is the focus of this family-owned company, and they offer one of the best product replacement policies. Others sell bees as-is, but they offer the replacement if the queen should die within the first 10 days.


Bees ship from April to May of each year. They can purchase queens on their own between April and September. They have recently added a packaged bees product they make that contains purebred Russian bees. This includes both workers and a queen.


They also offer several hybrid queens that can someone can buy they can add to a package. Their packages appear to be all one size as far as weight goes. Each package has around 10,000 bees, so they appear to be between two and three pounds.


Supports as far as videos or other instructions about installing bees are lacking on their website. They do however sell both DVD and CD training videos.

Their flexible return policy supports both the hobby beekeeper and more commercial ventures. They strive to support all customers, and this shows via their well-defined return policies.

Price

Ease of Use

Assembly Time

Design Quality

Warranty

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Hybrid and purebred bees available, including     Queens.
  • Flexible customer service.
  • Website easy to use with online ordering.
  • thumbs-up
    Outstanding return policy with a 10-day guarantee.
  • thumbs-up
    Customer service available    6 days a week.
  • thumbs-up
    The company offers tutorial videos for purchase for easy installation.

Cons

  • Customers must use an online shipping calculator to check for delivery options.
  • Pricers high for the market.
  • The nucs are only available for pickup.
  • thumbs-down
    Free online product support  is lacking.

Conclusion

The package bees from Mountain Sweet Honey include a wider range of bee types than most on the market. While others report that the packages include worker bees and a queen, this company also includes drones and guards. A package from this company is closer to a full colony than most others.

The products sold by this company embrace all levels of skill and experiences for beekeepers. It also gives beekeepers the flexibility to buy a basic package or pick up a higher end nuc. This allows for local beekeepers to buy the more durable product if they wish.

The ease of ordering online added to the customer experience for this product. It outlines the information including both pricing and shipping area on the website, so there is no question where they ship or the cost. Their website also offers the clearest explanation as far as what is included in each package among all the companies reviewed.

One slight issue with this company is tied to the lack of return policy. They ensure each package with the USPS, so if they damage them, it can replace them via an insurance claim. The company does not offer a guarantee as far as how long a queen will live or if she will produce eggs when she arrives.

Customer service and a focus on a solid return policy is the one area they fall short on. A lack of return policy seems to be common in the market though. Of the products reviewed, only one came with a true return policy. It is not clear if there is a return policy that is just not listed online or if it does not exist.

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