Guide to Purchasing Honey Bees thumbnail image

Guide to Purchasing Honey Bees

Starting your beekeeping journey or adding on to your apiary is always an exciting time! One of the most important components of your hive are honey bees! There are many questions that you may have when you're in the process of purchasing honey bees for the upcoming season. Read our guide to help answer most frequently asked questions when it comes to purchasing package bees, nucs, and queens!

Package Bee FAQ

How will the bees be packaged?
Bees will be packaged in a special container specifically designed for transporting honey bees. The package is well ventilated and has a can of sugar syrup suspended from the top of the package as a food source.

How will I know when to pick up my bees?
You will receive a notification from us via your preferred contact method. We use email, automated phone calls, and SMS (text).

Will I be receiving a notification when the bees ship?
You will receive a shipping notification from us via email with tracking information. We will also contact you via your preferred method of contact. A notification will be sent out approximately one week before the bees' ship date. If there are any changes to the estimated ship date you will be notified.

What will my package of bees include?
One caged mated queen bee and 3 pound of worker bees.

My queen is in a cage without attendants, is that normal?
The queen is caged without attendant bees. This allows for the queen to be accepted by the worker bees faster. She will be cared for by the worker bees included in the package.

How do I transport my package bees home?
Bees can be transported inside a vehicle or truck bed where they are out of direct sunlight and wind. We do not recommend placing package bees in the closed trunk of a car. These packages should not be placed in a closed container, box, or covered with blankets or other materials. Remember, bees are living creatures and need good airflow to breathe.

What do I need to install the package of bees?

You will need a hive that is set up in the location you plan to keep your bees, protective clothing, a spray bottle with sugar water, a hive tool, pliers, and a mini marshmallow.

How do I install a package of bees?
Watch our video on how to install package bees!


When should package bees be installed?
Package bees should be installed in the hive as soon as possible, ideally within 24 hours of receiving them. If temperatures are under 40ºF, see your instructions on how to care for your package until it can be installed.

What do I do with the bees if it is below 40ºF when I receive the bees?
Place the package of bees in a dark, cool area (like a garage or basement) where the temperature is around 50-70ºF. Once inside, try not to break the cluster of bees. Apply a light mist of sugar water to the screens/sides of the package twice a day. Try to install the bees as soon as possible.

Do the bees need food once they are installed?
Yes, bees need both liquid feed and a pollen substitute! Feed your bees heavily until the colony is well established (at least the first 3 weeks) using Pro-Sweet™ liquid feed or a 1 to 1 sugar mix. If preparing your own sugar water mix, we recommend adding a stimulant, such as Pro Health™, that will also help prevent fermentation. A high-quality pollen substitute, such as Ultra Bee™ or Bee-Pro®, should also be fed.

How do I feed my bees?
We recommend the in-hive Pro Feeder to ensure bees have access to feed no matter the temperatures. The feeder must be placed within a few inches of the cluster of bees, or they will not be able to feed when temperatures are cool. This is especially important when starting a new colony on frames that do not have drawn comb. In cool temperatures do not use a Boardman feeder, as bees will not break their cluster to use the feeder.

Do I need to treat my bees for varroa mites?
Our suppliers treat the bees! The package bees come with a health certificate. After your colony is established, we recommend establishing a monitoring program for varroa mites and treating them when necessary.

When should I add the second deep or super?
Do not add the second deep or super until the bees have drawn out 7-10 frames..

What do I do if the queen arrived dead?
Contact us within 24 hours of receipt of the bees. We will send one replacement queen at no charge. Install the package bees using an entrance reducer, close the entrance to the smallest hole. Feed the package  Pro-Sweet™ or 1 to 1 sugar water. Install the cage with the dead queen to keep the bees from leaving. Promptly install the replacement queen when she arrives.

Will the queen be marked?
The queens in our packages will not be marked. Marking tools can be purchased separately



Nuc FAQ

What is the difference between a nuc and a package?
A nucleus hive is a partially developed colony. It will have 4-5 frames with drawn comb, a mated queen, workers, brood in different life stages, and food stores (pollen and nectar). A package of bees has 3 lb. of worker bees and a mated queen bee.

What does a nuc include?
A nuc comes in a temporary nuc box and has 4-5 deep frames of drawn comb in total. Included is a mated queen, workers, brood in different life stages, and food stores (pollen and nectar).

Will the queen be in a cage?
The queen will not be in a cage. Instead, she will be in the nuc laying eggs. Use caution when moving frames into the hive to not damage or kill the queen.

What supplies will I need to transport a nuc?
We recommend a nuc mesh transport bag when transporting a nuc inside a vehicle. Nucs should not be placed in a closed container or box, covered with blankets or other materials. Remember, bees are living creatures and need good airflow to breathe. Nets are available for purchase upon pickup of the nuc.

How do I install a nuc?
Click  here to view our nuc installation instructions.

What do I do if there is no brood of any stage in my nuc?
Please take pictures of all the frames and contact Mann Lake Bee & Ag Supply within 24 hours of receipt.

Do the bees need to be fed after the nuc is installed?
Yes, bees need both liquid feed and a pollen substitute! Feed your bees heavily until the colony is well established (at least the first 3 weeks) using Pro-Sweet™ liquid feed or a 1 to 1 sugar mix. If preparing your own sugar water mix, we recommend adding a stimulant such as Pro Health™ that will also help prevent fermentation. We recommend an in-hive Pro Feeder to ensure bees have access to feed no matter the temperatures. A high-quality pollen substitute, such as Ultra Bee™ or Bee-Pro® should also be fed.

What do you do if the temperatures are below 40ºF or have unfavorable conditions when installing a nuc?
If the weather is unfavorable, place the nuc next to the hive where they will later be installed and open the entrance. Install the nuc in permanent hives when weather conditions improve.



Queen Bee FAQ

How are queens shipped?
Queens are shipped in a wooden queen cage(s) with candy and attendants that will care for them. The cage(s) will be shipped in an envelope with ventilation holes. Queens can either ship UPS Next Day or USPS Priority Mail.

How should queens be transported?
Queens should be transported out of direct sunlight and kept at room temperature.

How do I install a queen?
Click  here for instructions on how to install your queen.

What should I do if the queen arrives dead?
Contact us within 24 hours of receipt of the bees and complete our DOA Queen form. We will send one replacement queen at no charge. Take a photo of the queen in the original queen cage. Install the dead queen into the hive with both corks in place. When the replacement queen arrives remove the dead queen and replace it with the new one. Leaving the dead queen in the colony helps prevent the bees from leaving.

How should the queen be cared for upon arrival?
Inspect the queen upon arrival. Place a small drop of water on the screen of the cage (twice a day if not immediately installed). If the queen is not installed the first day, keep her out of direct sunlight at room temperature and water daily. The queen cage is not a permanent living space.

Will the queen be marked?
Queens will not be marked. Marking tools can be purchased separately.


There are a lot of things that you should consider prior to purchasing honey bees! This guide, in addition to further research, should help you decide if package bees, nucs, or queens are the right choice for you!