Queens & Nucs are sold out for the 2022 season. Final Queen pick-up is Saturday July 9th, from 9AM – 12 noon.
Queen Ordering Information: We sell pure Russian Queens from “Certified Russian Breeder Association Apiaries”. Warm Colors is a “RHBA Certified” apiary raising Queens from pure Russian breeding lines. These are not hybrid Queens, but the result of strict breeding procedures, selection, and testing to verify the breeding Queens and drones they mate with meet association standards.
- 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.
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.
(See the “Shop” page to order classes, nucs, and queens)
NUC PICKUP INSTRUCTIONS
NOTE THAT THIS IS A CHANGE FROM PAST YEARS.
- We will handout Nucs on two weekends (Saturday & Sunday) 8 AM – 4PM. Dates will be listed when we have a projected pickup day. Nucs require 7-8 weeks to be finished and evaluate the Queen’s brood pattern. The process can start when Queen cells can be raised and drones are avialble for mating (May?).
- We will 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.
- Nuc pickups will be a first come first to pick procedure. You will have some choice in which Nuc(s) you take with some guidance & instruction from WCA staff member.
- The Massachusetts Bee Inspectors must check all Nucs before they can be released. This is a good reason to be patient waiting for your bees. The inspectors will identify any concerns and pass those Nucs ready for pickup.
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 2022
2022 will mark Warm Colors 22nd-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.
Warm Colors Apiary has arranged to sell RHBA Russian Nucs through Red Barn Honey and Maggie’s Farm. Warm Colors sells out of bees every year and we hate to turn away beekeepers. Our solution is to work with other apiaries and this will expand the availability of pure Russian bees and Queens to more beekeepers. Dick Connor (Red Barn Honey) is selling RHBA Russian bees. You can Contact Dick directly to order Russian Nucs and package bees..
- Red Barn Honey (Northampton, MA): I recommend buying package bees from Red Barn Honey. Owner Dick Connor is also selling Russian Nucs coordinating with Warm Colors.
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-overwintered 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 to be inspected before they are distributed to beekeepers.
All our bees have been raised by an RHBA (Russian Honeybee Breeder Association) member and have been inspected by their state Apiary Inspector before we receive them. They are again inspected by the Massachusetts Apiary Inspectors before we can release them to our customers. A final check is conducted by beekeepers at Warm Colors before handing them out. This is a good system where the apiary and bees must meet certain standards before selling bees to other 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 meet 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.
During 2022 we will not be selling package bees, Nucs only.
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.
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 set up 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.
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 the 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 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 (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 to 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 2022 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 needs.
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.
Queen Cells capped at day 10.
Placing the Queen Cell between two brood frames to emerge and mate at day 13.Checkback after 10 days to confirm Queen is present and laying eggs.
Queen mating yard with 5 frame mating Nucs. Also located nearby are thirty colonies to supply pure Russian drones. Drone source colonies represent twelve lines of genetically different breeding lines. Both Queen cells and drone sources come from apiaries meeting RHBA annual certification.
Importance of purity in the Russian bee
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 an 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.