Curious Fact: You can buy honeybees in three main ways–as a complete hive, a nucleus, or a package. The first two are usually obtained from local beekeepers, and the third can be ordered for pick-up or delivery from most bee supply houses. A hive usually consists of an established colony with the complete basic hive. A nucleus is also a complete colony, but usually younger with only five frames of brood and bees, which you then put into your own brood box. A package is cheapest but also takes the most work and time to establish. It usually consists of a mated queen bee plus about three pounds (six thousand) bees, not necessarily related to her. In all cases, most beekeepers start new colonies in Spring, in time for the first major honey flow.
Adventure Update: We opened the hive again by ourselves, with no mishaps nor, unfortunately, pictures. Still haven’t seen the queen. And we’re still waiting on our second nucleus. Monty and I ended up missing the “bee field day” associated with the bee class we took, because we had to go to a funeral in another state that day. But, while you’re waiting on more photographs and updates from our beeyard, click on the caged queen bee below to check out illustrated instructions on installing a package of bees into your hive, from James Lofthouse, a long-time beekeeper and member of the forums over at Organic Gardening (www.organicgardening.com). The photo below and everything on the site it links to is the property of James A. Lofthouse, 2008, with all rights reserved, and linked here with permission.