Beekeeping,  Getting Started

The Best Time to Start a Beehive

The weather is finally starting to get a little warmer as spring approaches. For beekeepers, this is the perfect time to prepare for the upcoming season. For a bee colony to flourish, you want to get started at the right time. So, what is the best time to start a beehive?

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Why it’s Important to Start a Beehive on Time

If you start too early, and the weather is too cold, the bees will be unable to forage for food. Starting a beehive in winter is a very bad idea.  

Usually in the winter, the bees focus all of their energy on staying warm in their winter cluster.  They do not forage for food, and instead eat the honey they have stored up.  Starting a beehive in winter means that they’ll have no food to eat and will most certainly perish.  

It is possible to start a beehive in summer, as there are still flowers blooming at this time. However, starting a beehive in the summer means that the bees will have much less time to create brood and collect resources before winter.  

What is the Best Time to Start a Beehive?

The best time to start a beehive is in the spring. At this point, in an existing hive, the bees will have eaten up all of their food stores and may require some feeding from the beekeeper.  But soon flowers will be opening up for bees to collect food from. 

In a new hive, your new bees will arrive with no food or resources.  That’s why most beekeepers will feed their new package of bees sugar syrup to help them get started.  Once they are able to find flowering plants to forage from, they will be self sufficient.  

As spring goes on, the queen will have laid a lot of eggs and produced a lot of brood.  The bees should also have an adequate amount of food stored up.  In May, the colony’s population will grow and you may need to add more supers to the hive at this time. 

The best time to start a beehive is in the spring.

Spring is the best time to start a beehive because of the warm weather and blooming flowers.  These 2 conditions make it ideal for bees to thrive. 

So, plan to have your hive set up once the weather gets warm. If you need to paint your hive, do it early so it has several weeks to off-gas.  

Once flowers start to bloom you can add bees to the hive.  Getting the timing right will allow for the bees to have lots of time to collect pollen and nectar, and store honey.  

When to Order Bees

Honey bees can be ordered online.  When ordering packaged bees, you can order ahead of time and pick your shipping date. Since suppliers often run out of bees, it’s best to place your order as early as December for a March shipment.  

Another way to start a beehive is by buying a nucleus colony, or a nuc.  Nucs contain bees and 5 frames of brood and stored food. Nucs are not shipped, so you need to live within driving distance of a supplier to obtain one. 

Recommended Starter Beehives 

Best Affordable Beehive – BeeCastle 10 Frame Langstroth Hive

Features 

  • Heavy Wax Coated Deep Brood Boxes (16-1/4″ x 19-7/8″ x 9-5/8″) with 10 Premium Dovetail Pine Frames and Beeswax Coated Foundation Sheet
  • Heavy Wax Coated Medium Super Boxes (16-1/4″ x 19-7/8″ x 6-5/8″) with 10 Premium Dovetail Pine Frames with Beeswax Foundation Sheet
  • Wax Coated Solid Bottom Board and Telescoping Top Cover (Metal Capped)
  • Includes Inner Cover, Plastic Queen Excluder (essential for Honey Production), Entrance Reducer, & Nails for Assembly
  • No Need to use toxic paint, our hives are wax coated, a natural wax to protect your hive from the elements.

BeeCastle is a good choice for new beekeepers because you get 2 boxes – 1 deep and 1 medium, which is a great setup to begin with.  The boxes are also wax coated so you don’t have to bother with toxic paint. 


Also included are all frames and foundation, bottom board, top cover, inner cover, queen excluder, entrance reducer, and nails for assembly.  Overall, a good value for getting started in beekeeping. 

Best Nuc Ready Beehive – Hoover Hives 10 Frame Langstroth Starter Kit

Features

  • 1 Deep Brood Box (16-1/4″ x 19-7/8″ x 9-5/8″) Dipped in 100% Beeswax w/ High Quality Dovetail Joints
  • 5 CellTech Deep Brood Frames/Foundations Made From Black Food Grade Plastic Dipped in 100% Beeswax
  • Hoover Hives Exterior Parts are Made of Fir and are more Durable and Less Prone to Warping than Pine
  • Includes Wax Coated Solid Bottom Board, Telescoping Top Cover, Inner Cover, and Entrance Reducer
  • Includes Leather Gloves, Jacket, Reinforced Up Right Veil, The Original Smoker, J Curve Hive Tool

This beehive starter kit is best suited for those that plan to purchase a nuc.  That’s because this hive comes with 5 frames, leaving room for the 5 frames that will come with your nuc. All you have to do is slide your nuc frames into this box, and you’re good to go!

I really like this beehive because the wood is dipped in 100% beeswax.  This provides protection from the elements without having to use chemical filled paint.  Also included are accessories and supplies such as a jacket, gloves, and a smoker.

Click here for more on Nuc Ready Starter Kits

Best 8 Frame Hive – Busy Bees ‘n’ More 

Features

  • Amish Made In The USA From Eastern White Pine Sourced From Michigan & Pennsylvania
  • These Amish Made Bee Hives Are A Labor Of Love and Have Been Meticulously Crafted Into Works Of Art
  • The Standard 2 Deeps & 1 Medium Set Up Is The Top Seller And Most Common Beehive Configuration
  • Beekeepers Love This Hive Because They Know That A Queen Needs Space To Roam
  • Assembly Required. Beehive Uses Industry Standard Dimensions.

This 8 frame hive from Busy Bees ‘n’ More comes with 2 deep boxes and 1 medium box.  This is a popular and widely used configuration for beekeepers.  All frames and foundation are included as well.  

Busy Bees ‘n’ more is known for their quality craftsmanship, as these hives are made by Amish woodworkers.  These hives are made in the USA from Eastern white pine.  It’s an excellent quality hive for the price.  

Summary

The best time to start a beehive is in the spring. The bees will thrive because of the warm weather and blooming flowers.  When ordering bees online, place your order as early as December to ensure a March shipment.