Buying and Selling Bees

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The Food and Environment Agency (FERA) provide guidance on what to expect when purchasing a nucleus of bees. It is recommended that you purchase bees from a local and trusted source where the origin of the bees are of known provenance and where the temperament is known to be gentle. Aggressive bees are undesirable and it is the bee-keepers job to ensure that they are not. Do not buy imported bees or queens as these may introduce new pests and diseases and in truth you do not quite know what you are getting. Local bee keeping associations (such as ours) can recommend local bee-keepers who adhere to these standards.

To this end at SCBKA we are passionate about locally adapted bees. Not only will they have a better chance of survival over a longer period but they are likely to stay healthy for longer and our nucleus specification ensures that where possible you have the best bees at a fair price from the start.

The SCBKA scheme is operated through our Nuc Co-ordinator Peter Overmeer who  maintains a list of buyers and sellers. He can be contacted on 07779 240067 or He takes no part in price negotiation, delivery etc but merely puts parties in touch with each other.

Our Nucleus Specification

  1. Minimum of 5 frames of wired full drawn comb in good condition. Norm is British Standard deep brood frame with either standard National self spacing (Hoffman) DN4 side bars, or spacers to suit DN1 side bar. Buyers must check with sellers that the nuc/frames they are buying are compatible with the hive type they have or plan to buy.
  2. Brood of all stages should be present and found on at least 3 frames. 2 frames must contain stores and worker bees should be on at least 4 frames.
  3. A laying queen, with evidence of newly laid eggs, should be marked cleanly on the thorax with a colour appropriate to the year she emerged, which should have been in the current or previous year.
  4. Bees and brood must be healthy and show no visible signs of brood disease, pests or viruses. If in doubt new bee-keepers are advised to contact their local bee inspector or mentor to arrange an inspection.
  5. When buying a nuc there has to be an element of trust and good faith between buyer and seller as when the nuc is collected it will already have been sealed ready for collection so inspection is somewhat impractical as on re-opening bees will inevitably fly. In those circumstances it is not unreasonable for a period of 48 hours to pass to enable appropriate inspection to take place and for the buyer to ensure the conditions under which they bought the bees have been complied with.

The Buying / Selling Process

While the SCBKA scheme is principally for the sale and purchase of nucs we can and do sell full hives.

The seller should advise the Nuc Co-ordinator that they have bees for sale. Initially this can be by phone but in all cases a follow up Seller Form is essential giving the sellers details etc. By sending that form the seller confirms that they have read and agrees to SCBKA’s specification and role in the process as outlined in this note.

The buyer should advise the Nuc Co-ordinator that they wish to buy bees. Initially this can be by phone but in all cases a follow up Buyer Form is essential giving the buyers details etc. By sending that form the buyer confirms that they have read and agrees the SCBKA’s role in the process as outlined in this note.

The nuc co-ordinator will then be in touch with the relevant parties as and when nucs become available but it is appropriate to remind buyers that the timing and production of nucs is never guaranteed. We are dealing with nature here and we have no certain control over the bees and what they do. Patience is sometimes called for.

Once you have your bees, register them with BeeBase straight away. This helps the National Bee Unit (NBU) to monitor colonies, anticipate disease outbreaks and plan for honeybee welfare.

Good luck with your bees.