WCA Queens are now available. Sales will be ending in August (when sold out). Queens are for pick up only at our South Deerfield apiary. We no longer ship Queens.

Russian Queens are currently $40. Please call 413-665-4513 and listen to the message to confirm Queen availability before coming to pick up.

Packages & Nucs are SOLD OUT for 2019 – Thank you for ordering from Warm Colors Apiary.


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 will be scheduled for December and January only for packages and Nucs.
    •  Pick up dates will be in May.
  •  Queens will be available from May – August.

Queen Ordering Information: We will begin selling Queens in May. We stock Cordovan Italians, Carniolans, and pure Russian Queens when available. We also sell pure RHBBA Russian Queens raised at Warm Colors Apiary. Check our phone message for updates on Queens.

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, that will need replacing the same year. 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. The Russian Honey Bee Breeders Association requires a 75% or better probability of assignment as pure before a breeder queen can be used for queen rearing.

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.  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, 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 “EZ Nuc” 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 2019

2019 will mark Warm Colors 19th-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 Russian honeybees that produce a consistent honey crop.

An estimated 20,000 colonies have been distributed by Warm Colors over the past nineteen years. Although a success by most measurements, it has taken an increasing amount of time. In April and May, this can monopolize our spring work time for six weeks. 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 the reason we have decided to reduce our bees sales, and limit the free advice to new beekeepers. We no longer have the time to provide individual lessons and maintain a one thousand colony, plus, series of apiaries.

Certificate of Health

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 inspector.

Warm Colors has recommended this requirement for many years. Massachusetts has been a dumping ground for unhealthy bees, because we have not had strict inspections or approved apiaries meeting our standards for bee sales. Dan and Warm Colors beekeepers always inspect Nucs and packages before we load the bees . We do all our own transporting of the bees. Beekeepers should have the advantage of knowing that they are buying bees from authorized apiaries. Warm Colors Apiary is an authorized bee producer and supplier of inspected bees.

Package Bees

Package bees come with a mated queen and include approximately 12-15,000 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.

  • 2019 packages come from Blue Ridge Honey in Georgia. Breeder Queens are from Sue Colby and Joe Latshaw’s breeding programs. The Carniolan Queens are open mated in the mountains of North Georgia. This will our third season offering these packages and they have done very well. Rapid buildup, a gentle temperament, and they are good honey producers.

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 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.
  • 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 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 May until 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 (Koehnen 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 2019 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 2019 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