Warm Colors has sold out of package bees & Nucs for the 2018 season.
What’s up with 2018 bee losses? We are seeing many reports of winter losses in Massachusetts and in other states that supply bees to Massachusetts. Bee die-offs may be higher than past years = 40-70% depending on the county. Reports from suppliers in the south are worse than past years indicating a shift in how bee losses are replaced. Past losses in the Northeast have been replaced by package or Nuc bees from Southern and Western bee producers.
Beekeepers are very good at growing more bees to replace winter die-off. But that is dependent on having southern suppliers to provide replacement bees. What is different this season is that the source suppliers of replacement bees had serious losses of bees. This restricts the beekeepers’ ability to maintain colony numbers in their bee yards. This has been a problem for those of us selling bees. Demand for bees is greater than the supply of bees available. Furthermore, bee producers are not sure of why they have lost bees.
Queens will be available in June. You do not need to pre-order as we keep extra queens from May to August. Call ahead if looking for larger quantities of queens. Queens raised at Warm Colors Apiary are available in June.
Please note that we are selling Nucs containing queens produced by members of the Russian Honey Bee Breeder Association. Nucs come from the Coys and Smiths RHBA Certified members. The Smiths start Nucs with queens using Warm Colors breeder Queens. This is the only way to get bees to you in April. Warm Colors queens and bees, raised in the north, are available later in June.
We do not claim to provide Nucs or packages in April that are from our overwinter colonies. If you want Queens raised by WCA they are available in late June. Many ask us for our overwintered Nucs. I am old school on this as it has never seemed an advantage to sell anyone a Nuc with a second-year queen that will need replacing the same year. Yet some suppliers have convinced inexperienced beekeepers that this is what they should buy. We do overwinter Nucs, but they are used in our apiaries to replace losses and expand our bee yards. We raise our queens and bees for honey production and crop pollination. We do not sell overwintered Nucs to customers.
There is a lot of conversation holding “Northern Produced Queens”, “Overwintered Nucs” as some advantage to what our industry is failing to provide. As a queen breeder, I would recommend you buy queens from those suppliers (regardless of where they live) that show mite tolerance, disease resistance and survive our New England winters. The debate of where you get your queens is not the issue. The issue is that beekeepers have stopped raising queens from their best-overwintered colonies and reaping the benefit of generations of survival and acclimation to regional conditions.
Genetics and queen rearing techniques make a greater difference in queen quality, not where they were raised. If you are truly committed to the notion that Northern bred stock is the best, then buy your bees in June when you can purchase colonies, with first-year queens, raised up north. Then learn to raise daughters from those overwintered survivor queens. The best queens available still require management, and there are no bees that you can buy that relinquish the responsibility a beekeeper must practice to successfully manage colonies. In other words, you cannot buy bees that are going to replace or survive the lack of good management.
If your goal is to take control of your future in beekeeping then learn the skills required to produce and select queens from your best colonies. Otherwise trust those of us who are continuing to improve our bees, queens, beekeeping and are willing to share our accomplishments.
NUC PICKUP INSTRUCTIONS
We release Nucs only after they have been inspected, Queens are marked, and brood checked to confirm the Queen’s laying ability. We schedule pickups as Nucs become available. Contact Dan if you have a preferred pickup date. We will do our best to accommodate individual requests & schedules. Nucs not collected will be hived and a partial refund sent.
Pick up is by appointment only, as we need to prepare the Nuc for travel and close entrances (confine foragers bees) in advance of your arrival. If temperatures are hot we cannot confine bees all day. Morning pickup is best when temperatures are cool and all foraging bees are in the Nuc.
Nucs are in bee tight “EZ Nuc” boxes, containing five deep frames (medium can be substituted if ordered in advance). You do not need to bring any equipment with you, as Nucs are ready for transport when you pick up.
Changes in Bee Sales for 2018
2018 will mark Warm Colors 18th-anniversary providing package bees and Nuc colonies to Northeastern Beekeepers. The good news has been the interest in beekeeping has continued to grow and Warm Colors has continued to increase the number of colonies sold to new and experienced beekeepers. Unfortunately, the growing demand on Dan’s time takes away from our mission to develop mite tolerance, reduce the need for treatments, and produce honey. This year we will cut back on bee sales and put the reclaimed time toward beekeeping, and our goal to breed mite tolerant Russian honeybees.
An estimated 20,000 colonies have been handed out by Warm Colors over these past eighteen years. Although a success by most measurements, it has taken an increasing amount of time. In April and May, this monopolized work time for six weeks. Time We could have used to tend to overwinter colonies, set up for queen rearing and moving colonies for fruit pollination. With the realization that we cannot do everything comes the need to prioritize goals for the apiary. Our passion has been to raise queens for Varroa mite tolerance and local hardiness. Successful queen rearing is about attention to the details, and that requires time.
We do not want to disappoint beekeepers who have continued to support us and count on us for bees. Although no longer selling Italian or Russian hybrid packages we will continue to offer Carniolan packages and increase sales of RHBA Russian Nucs. Our plan will focus on raising Russian Queens and selling RHBA Russian bees. For those who prefer the Italian & Russian hybrid packages, we have made arrangements with our friend Dick Conner to take those orders. Check “Red Barn Honey” for more about Dick’s beekeeping and ordering package bees.
Red Barn Honey Company – contact Dick Conner to order Italian or Russian Hybrid package bees. email@example.com, www.rbhoney.com.
Warm Colors will begin taking bee orders in December for the 2018 season. We will continue to provide Italian, Carniolan and RHBA Russian Queens during the active bee season; April through August. Our suppliers are required to provide a “Certificate of Health” that is issued by their state Apiary Inspector. This year we are offering Carniolan package bees and RHBA Russian five-frame Nucs. The Bees go on sale after Thanksgiving. We are usually sold out in February.
The package bees come with a mated queen and include approximately 10-12,000 bees. Do not bother to weigh packages as any reference to weight is really about the cage size. Bees are shaken and funneled into the cage until they reach a pre-determined level; for example, ¾ full of bees. Bigger the cage = larger population of bees.
When bees are picked up, it is first to come, first to pick your package. Plan to arrive early when temperatures are cool and the bees are clustered in the cage. This gives a perfect visual comparison to decide on the “heaviest” package. We will assist you, but you can pick from any available packages. Although it is not always convenient to make bee pick up a priority, it is better to collect them and get them into their hive while they are fresh and healthy. Time spent in a cage only adds to the stress of relocating the bees, and the result is a loss of bees. Plan to pick up as soon as your schedule allows.
Our nucs contain five deep frames. Three will have brood, two with honey and pollen. A typical nuc will take seven weeks to grow to a size and be ready for pick up. Our queens are new, first-year, and brood within the nuc will represent the queen’s laying ability. We do not sell second-year queens in our nucs as they are more likely to swarm or require early replacement. Our nucs have new (proven) queens, are free of disease, and will be ready for transfer to a ten-frame hive body. Before release to customers, the nuc is inspected and the queen is marked confirming it is ready to be picked up.
- May nucs come from several RHBA certified members and queens represent release lines approved by the RHBA board of directors and ARS-Bee Lab.
- Carniolan and Italian queens can be substituted for Russian queens in our nucs if requested when placing your order.
- Will can also substitute medium frames for deeps. Please specify on the order form, as we do not setup medium-frame nucs unless requested.
Warm Colors Apiary will have nucs and queens raised in western Massachusetts available in late May or June.
Our policy has been to replace any queens found dead in their cage at no cost. You must call or email within 24 hours (after pickup), and return the caged queen when picking up the replacement. I will examine dead queens to determine the possible cause of death. Queens found to be “drone layers” will be replaced at our cost, if reported within ten days of pick-up date. We do not guarantee queens will be accepted as this is often the responsibility of the beekeeper’s experience and introduction method.
Warm Colors Apiary has Queens available from mid-April until August. Call 413-665-4513 and listen to our message, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm queens are available. We purchase queens from the best queen breeders we know and raise our RHBA Russian queens for availability in June & July.
- Cordovan Italian Queens (Koehnen Bros.)- Available April through June.
- Carniolan Queens (Bob Binnie) – April and May.
- Russian Queens (from Certified member Apiaries of the Russian Honeybee Breeders Association) – May through August.
- Warm Colors Queens – June through August.
We prefer customers pick up queens at our home apiary in South Deerfield, Massachusetts. Queens spend less time in confinement, and proper introduction methods can be discussed – improving acceptance by their new colony.
We are no longer shipping Queens during the 2018 season. We cannot guarantee the introduction, or care of Queens once they have been shipped. We will not sell Queens to anyone not known to have the requisite beekeeping skills to properly care for Queens. Improper Queen introduction results in unnecessary loss of Queens. Customers picking up at our apiary will be provided instructions based on their Queen introduction experience and need.
Russian Honeybee Breeders Association (RHBA)
Warm Colors Apiary is the only source of “certified” Russian queens in New England. Dan is currently President of the Russian Honeybee Breeders Association, and our breeding lines have passed the RHBAs certification requirements for four consecutive years.
The certification process must meet standards decided by the RHBA board of directors and supported by the ARS-USDA Bee Lab in Baton Rouge, LA. Certified apiaries have demonstrated they can maintain the purity of genetics, improve mite tolerance, and comply with standards for breeding, evaluation, and testing of Russian stock. Member apiaries must re-certify breeding lines annually to maintain “certification” status. This includes DNA confirmation by the ARS Bee Lab.
Although there are many apiaries claiming to have pure Russian queens for sale, they should be viewed as “hybridized” stock. They may be perfectly good queens and may meet your expectations, but should not be compared with RHBA Russians. They are not RHBA queens, nor have they passed the rigors of selection required of all breeding queens approved by the RHBA. RHBA queens cannot be treated for mites or disease during their testing. All selected queens are mated to drones from other certified breeding lines. This is an important distinction that results in the RHBA program continuing to improve its breeding stock.
Hybridized Russians are mated with no control over the drone sources, and breeder stock has not met any purity standard for Russian breeders. This can result in a queen lacking breed characteristics and queens with inconsistent behaviors. They may not represent the genetics bred into the RHBA lines. In some cases, this has created confusion regarding the temperament, productivity, and honey production of RHBA queens.
In 2017 researchers at the Agricultural Research Lab in Baton Rouge, LA. tested hybrid Russian queens from six different bee suppliers for Varroa mite tolerance. Hybrid queens included Russian queens mated to Italian drones, Italian queens mated to Russian drones, and non-certified Russian drones and queens. None showed mite tolerance equal or near the level of RHBA Russians. This supports the importance of having both drone source and queens from RHBA certified apiaries. Maintenance of stock and annual testing of breeding queens is only being done by the RHBA and Baton Rouge ARS-USDA Bee Lab. Second and third generation Russian queens not being raised by following RHBA protocols, with required testing and review, lose their mite tolerance. When buying “hybrid” Russians (any Russian not acquired from a RHBA certified apiary) plan to test for hygienic behavior. Do not assume you have mite tolerant bees.
Ordering & Pickup Instructions
To order either packages or nucs, download this Package Bee Order Form and mail it to us.
Pickup Dates may change if bee suppliers are not ready with bees & queens. I will provide updates on this website, when dates are confirmed. Please call 413-665-4513 one week before your assigned date and listen to the phone message – it will have specific instructions regarding times and dates. Pick up hours are 10 AM – 5 PM. Please notify Dan Conlon if you need to make special arrangements – in advance, please.
- Russian Nucs (Coy & Smith Apiaries) – Pick up by appointment only, after they are inspected & made ready for release.
- Warm Colors Queens – confirm availability before ordering. Queen rearing begins in mid-May, weather permitting, and WCA queens ready in June.
Email us at email@example.com with any questions.