2020 Package & Nucs

We will be selling a limited number of package bees and five-frame Nucs. All will contain pure Russian Queens from a certified RHBBA member apiary. We are not selling Italian or Carniolan bees this season.

  • Package with RHBBA Russian Queen $150.00 (Pay Pal $155.)
  •  5 Frame Nuc with RHBBA Russian Queen $200.00 (Pay Pal $210.)

IMPORTANT: We have decided to limit honey bee sales for 2020. 2019 required driving 8000 miles in five weeks, few days spent at home, and countless emails, text messages and phone calls.

This has led to the conclusion that our customer service and ability to manage our bee yards has suffered, and a return to manageable levels of expectation and work loads is a necessity. We have no desire to become a bigger supplier of packages and Nucs, but we do want to be the best by paying attention to our bees & the beekeepers we support.  

    • Orders will be limited to current customers.
    •  Ordering information will be posted in December for packages and Nucs.
    •  Pick up dates will be sometime in May.
  •  Queens will be available from late May through August.

Queen Ordering Information: We will begin selling Queens in May. We stock Cordovan Italian, Carniolan, and pure Russian Queens when available.

Our WCA Russian Queens are not hybrids. They are raised by RHBBA member apiaries, certified annually, as producing “pure” Russian Queens. Queens come from selected breeding stock and are mated to drones also from selected breeding stock.

Queen Uses:

  • Replace a failing, or poor performing queen.
  • May & June – Split hives, or set up Nucs to increase the number of hives in your apiary.
  • Diversify the genetics in your apiary by using different queens. 

If you want Queens raised by WCA they are available in June. Many of you ask 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. Yet some suppliers have convinced 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.

Double Mating Nucs with half-frames. Successful mating of pure Russian queens requires isolated locations and saturating the area with pure Russian drones. 

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

Pick up is by appointment, 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.

Our Nucs are in bee tight boxes, containing five deep frames. You do not need to bring any equipment with you, as Nucs will be ready for transport when you pick up.


Changes in Bee Sales for 2020

2020 will mark Warm Colors 20th-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. This year we will continue to cut back on bee sales and put the reclaimed time toward beekeeping, and our goal to breed mite tolerant honeybees that produce a consistent honey crop.

An estimated 20,000 colonies have been distributed by Warm Colors over the past twenty years. Although a success by most measurements, it has taken an increasing amount of time. In April and May this has monopolized our spring work for six weeks. This has put our colony management behind schedule. This leads to the obvious conclusion that we need to prioritize those spring tasks that prepare our hives for pollination, honey production, and raising Queens from our best over wintered colonies. We are honey producers first – providing the best regional honey is our mission.

With the acknowledgment that we cannot do everything for everyone, comes the need to prioritize our goals for the apiary. Our passion has been to raise queens for Varroa mite tolerance and local hardiness. Successful queen breeding is about attention to the details, and that requires time. This is one reason we have decided to reduce our bees sales, and limit advice to new beekeepers. We no longer have the time to provide individual lessons and maintain a one thousand colony, plus, series of apiaries.

Certificates of Health

Massachusetts Bee suppliers are required to provide a “Certificate of Health” that is issued by their state Apiary Inspector. It is now a requirement of any apiary selling bees in Massachusetts to register and provide health certificates to our MDAR Apiary Inspector. Inspectors require bees being brought from other states be inspected before they are distributed to beekeepers.

Warm Colors has recommended this requirement be enforced for many years. Massachusetts had become a dumping ground for unhealthy bees, because we have not required inspections, or approved apiaries that comply with our stated apiary laws & regulations. State beekeepers should have confidence that any apiary selling bees meets best management practices, and have been approved by our Apiary Inspector. Those apiaries meeting state standards should be recognized and recommended to beekeepers as preferred suppliers of bees.

Warm Colors beekeepers inspect Nucs and packages before we load the bees . We do all our own transporting of the bees. Beekeepers can feel confident that they are buying bees from authorized apiaries – only. Warm Colors Apiary is a certified Queen producer and supplier of  inspected, healthy bees.

Package Bees

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 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.

You will be notified as to which weekend your bees are available. Packages must be picked up on the designated weekends – please make arrangements with another beekeeper to pick up if you have a conflict. Call 413-665-4513 Friday (after 5PM) before pickup and listen for our updated message -confirm the bees have arrived and are ready to hand out.

NUCs

Our nucs contain five deep frames. They will have brood, 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 (raised from a queen cell placed into the nuc), 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 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.
  • We no longer 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 June. Please specify if you would prefer a WCA nuc in June.

Queens

Our policy has been to replace any queens found dead in their cage (package bees) 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 late May until mid-August. Call 413-665-4513 and listen to our message, or email warmcolors@verizon.net 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 (Kohnen Bros.)- Available June & July.
  • Russian Queens (from Certified member Apiaries of the Russian Honeybee Breeders Association) – Available June & July.
  • Warm Colors Russian Queens – Available June, July and 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 2020 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 five 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.

Test yard for selecting breeder Queens – no treatments are used.

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.

Warm Colors Apiary completed and passed the annual certification process for the 2020 season.Mating yard where Russian Queens mate with pure Russian drones.

Important Update
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

  • Warm Colors Queens – confirm availability before ordering. Queen rearing begins in mid-May, weather permitting, and WCA queens are ready in June.

Email us at warmcolors@verizon.net