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Top 5 Ways to Get Honey Bees for Cheap or Free
If you have read my post about Getting Started with Bees ( click here if you haven’t read it yet) then you already know that getting started with beekeeping can be a pretty expensive initial investment, just two hives and safety equipment for two people can cost around $1,000-yikes! You’re going to get stung enough over the years with beekeeping you shouldn’t get stung by the cost too. Good News- with my tips You can beecome a beekeeper on a budget and who knows, you might even make a little money in the long run.
What you won’t learn in this article is why you should keep bees, where to buy bees, the different types of bees, hive maintenance, beekeeping in general, and so on- you get the picture. What you will learn is How to Bee a Frugal Beekeeper & Getting started on a budget with tips and how-to links.
** Disclaimer: Cheap, Frugal & FREE do not always = Easy. If you want easy, refer to my article Getting Started with Bees where I include all of the links to get you started and where to buy equipment (but it’s gonna cost ya!)
My tips are just that, tips. They are not guarantees, promises, and they don’t come with a warranty. They are possibilibees (hee hee) of places and ways you can save money.
Where to Find Honey Bees for Cheap or Free #1 Swarms
Swarming is the process by which a new honey bee colony is formed when the queen bee leaves the colony with a large group of worker bees. In the prime swarm, about 60% of the worker bees leave the original hive location with the old queen. This swarm can contain thousands to tens of thousands of bees.
When a honey bee swarm emerges from a hive they do not fly far at first. They may gather in a tree or on a branch only a few meters from the hive. There, they cluster about the queen and send 20 – 50 scout bees out to find suitable new nest locations
Beekeepers fear swarming because they know they could lose half of their colony, and do everything in their power to prevent swarming by adding additional living space to the hive to separating the colony themselves. But swarming is a natural phase of life among the bees, and a good thing for you because that is when you can get FREE bees!
Many local Extension branches offer swarm removals with their beekeepers associations, call them and ask if you can volunteer with the beekeepers in trade for bees.
Find out more about how to catch a swarm of bees here :How to Catch a Swarm by Learning Beekeeping
Where to Find Honey Bees for Cheap or Free #2 Local Beekeeper
The second way to get bees for Cheap or Free is with your local beekeeper.
Seek out a local beekeeper and offer to trade labor for bees. Many beekeepers have other jobs and managing time to do both can be a struggle. I know many beekeepers that would be happy to trade used equipment or a colony for labor, especially during honey season and in the spring for hive assembly.
This is a two-fold bonus- one, you could get FREE bees, and two, you will learn while doing it. Contact your local beekeepers association or extension office and ask them to put you in contact with a local beekeeper.
Where to Find Honey Bees for Cheap or Free #3 Neighbor
The third way to get bees for Cheap or Free is to hook up with a small scale beekeeper in the Spring.
If you know of a beekeeper who lives on a small lot chances are they can only house so many beehives.
Like us, we have two right now and can accommodate 4-5 max. Once we reach the point that we are full to the brim, we will have to find new homes for the ‘extra’ bees when the hive splits/swarms in the Spring. I would much rather give these bees to a friend than to sell them to a stranger.
Where to Find Honey Bees for Cheap or Free #4 Bee Removal
This tip is for the experienced beekeeper only. If you have never handled or kept bees before, please do not attempt this.
Many people end up with bees they never wanted because a swarm made a home on their property.
You can get free honey bees by removing unwanted bees.
Just recently a neighbor called me because they had a hive in their backyard that they wanted to be removed.
They were happy and I was happy to help and get FREE bees!
Where to Find Honey Bees for Cheap or Free #5 Listen
Become an amateur Inspector Clouseau and seek out those who are wanting to get out of the beekeeping biz.
It never fails with me, right after we bought our bees a neighbor came over and saw our bees. He said, “I wish I would have known you were wanting bees, a friend of mine just gave away all of their bees and equipment”.
So tell everyone you know that you are wanting bees and ask them to keep their ears open. It never hurts to ask and spread the word.
Want some tips on how to get beehive’s and beekeeping supplies on a budget?