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When to get my first bees?


I am expecting my Flow to be delivered soon - but I guess I should wait until around March before I get the bees. Does this make sense? When should I get my first bees?

I am in south-east England (Surrey),

Many thanks,



Order your bees now for delivery in March. Sometimes there is a 6 month waiting list if not longer in some areas to get a NUC and being a new beekeeper I would suggest a NUC over a package. Here is a thread that was started yesterday with the same/similar question



Packages are uncommon in the U.K. though more and more suppliers are offering them. If you want a nuc in March it will have to be an overwintered one. They are more expensive as they are a colony with a proven queen. If you want a 2017 queen you will have to wait till June. Overwintered nucs may well have already sold out from the usual suppliers.
If you want a package have a word with Saltway Bees.
You shouldn’t expect any honey in your Flow in your first year.


@Dee You shouldn’t expect any honey in your Flow in your first year.

That’s worth commenting on.

@Edgar_D something to be mindful of is that there are people all over the world commenting on these forums. @Dee is in the UK, @Martydallas is in the USA, and I’m in Australia - so all of our comments should be blended with what you learn locally, with perhaps more weight given to those located closest (i.e. @Dee). @Dee says not to expect honey in your first year but you will find most apiarists here in SE/SW Oz get +20kg honey in their first year from one brood box and one super - so before you get disappointed make sure you check on the experience of locals (and in this case don’t expect honey in your first year)!


I agree with just one caveat. I’m in bee heaven on the far north coast of NSW. Last year was my first time I was actually keeping bees myself rather than working with other apiarists. I didn’t get any honey last year and I lost a few colonies to boot.

What I did get last year was lots of experience as well as building up my bee population a little.

This year I’ve been harvesting and selling honey and building a few nucs as well. I have nine colonies on the go, I have three flow frames chockers with honey and expect to tap them tomorrow or the day after. I have 5 nucs going gang busters. I checked all my nucs late this afternoon and a couple of them are ready to go into full sized boxes.

My second season is a world away from my first but my bees are in exactly the same location. The major difference is the experience I’ve gained from watching, experimenting, reading, poring over YouTube movies again and again and sharing the knowledge I’m gaining.

My advice is to order yourself an overwintered nuc and if you can afford it, get a box of bees too. Read all you can and install your bees in the best possible location at the best possible time. Every time I’ve been in GB in March it’s been bloody cold but I guess if your honey flow is on then, it may be a good time to install your bees. Get some local advice about siting and timing.

Good luck but above all enjoy keeping your bees. Working with my bees this year has brought me much needed happiness at a time when happiness has been in really short supply.


Not ever any nectar flow this early anywhere except Dandelion which is good for helping the colony grow as the flowers are good for nectar and pollen.
OSR comes on in April but your bees have to be strong to collect it so will have to be a full sized colony and a big one. Beekeepers who crop OSR honey will have spent time getting their bees up to strength with pollen sub patties.


Now set up brooder box and get them going, when flow comes you can place unit on top of first brooder box. They have to have bees to work so the more the better, maybe two brooder before flow set on top. But yes to buying bees just set up and move on till it arrives.


“OSR” is an interesting acronym. Why the plant was given its downright ugly original name I do not know. It’s a beautiful little crucifer and it makes magic golden fields in spring. We call it canola here in Oz.

I did harvest my flow frames today. a prime harvest of 23, nominally 450g jars. The flavour is quite different from my first harvests. Same bees, same beehive, same location but different flowers I guess. (edit next day): I checked the capacity of the jars at 350mL and weighed a few with my good lady’s kitchen scales. All were just over 500g. This puts the density at 1.43, spot on for ripe honey. My harvest stats are: 23 X 0.5 /3 = 3.8kg per frame.

I’ve been away visiting New Zealand for the past month. I split all my crowded hives before I left and now I need to do it again.


Smells like a crucifer too - ugh!! They even have to deodorize the oil after harvesting. Quite pretty, but yellow isn’t really my colour. :smile:


I hate OSR honey. To me it tastes of cabbage. I have a jar of honey bought at a honey fair that is a blend of OSR and heather. I can taste/smell the horrid stuff even through the heather. I know lots of people that like it though.
As for yellow I look forward to fields of dandelions. The bees come back dusted head to feet and the nectar is good for their spring build up. The honey though smells of sweaty feet but tastes good


The fields look wonderful from a distance especially if you can view them from up high and see the checkered effect. Up close the aroma is too heady for me. It’s responsible for a lot of hay fever and respiratory allergies in folk who live close to them


My curiosity got the better of me and I did the three minute research to discover why this plant has its common name. It’s named after the Latin word for “turnip”, another crucifer.

I’m not entirely certain but I think at least some of the apiarists here who work with canola use the crop to build colonies for propagation.


At WAAS I heard someone describe canola as something akin to speed for bees. Apparently it makes them rather agitated as they come off the nectar flow and it takes a couple of weeks for the hive to calm down.

Can’t speak from personal experience as I don’t live near the canola fields…


It’s only because there is so much nectar to gather and the bees go hell for leather at it that when it stops suddenly it leaves them bereft


Oh my, @Dee… I almost shed a tear there! Bereft, forlorn and forsaken!! Sounds like Shakespeare. :smile:

Anyhow, Happy New Year to you, my friend. I wish you everything you want in 2017.


Happy New Year to you to Dawn
2017 is going to be amazing!