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The Buzz: Bee Buyers Beware

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Beekeeping has been on the rise in recent years, and Ross Conrad’s book Natural Beekeeping has become a must read for enterprising apiculturalists who want to learn how to care for bees holistically and organically.

This is the second of two adaptions from the revised and expanded edition of Conrad’s book, which examines different ways to start your hive and offers some bee buying tips. The previous post offered beginners some key tips on what to do long before they buy their first bees.

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OPTIONS FOR OBTAINING BEES

The easiest way to successfully get a hive of bees off to a good start is to purchase a complete hive that is already thriving. Many beekeepers are downsizing or giving up on the business, and complete hives have become more commonly available in many areas. The purchase of a complete hive eliminates risks and challenges associated with package and queen introduction, getting brood comb drawn out from foundation, and having to protect a weak and unorganized colony from being robbed. The downside is that a complete hive is heavy to lift and is one of the most expensive honey bee procurement options. There is also the risk of inheriting problems such as bee pathogens, antibiotic and pesticide contamination, varroa mites, tracheal mites, and small hive beetles.

Buyer “Bee-ware”

When purchasing established colonies, it’s wise to inspect the hive(s) prior to completing the transaction. “Buyer beware” should definitely be your guiding principle here. Be on the lookout for worn-out equipment, old combs, and disease and pest problems. How are varroa mites and foulbrood kept under control? How has the hive been managed during the past year or two? Answers to questions such as these can give you a hint as to how well the hive may fare in the coming year. If you don’t feel qualified to assess hive condition yourself, ask your local bee inspector to give them a once over.

Compared to purchasing established colonies, buying nucleus colonies offers many of the same benefits, but nucs are easier on your back and are available at a much lower price. For many beginners, buying a nuc from a local bee supplier will be the best way to get started with bees. As with full hives, a nuc should not need feeding if purchased when a honey flow is on, nor does it require queen introduction. Simply transfer the frames into full-sized equipment, add additional frames for growth, and you’re off and running. It is important to have your additional equipment ready to go before you pick up your nuc. Otherwise the bees may become overcrowded and decide to swarm.

The most common way to obtain bees is to purchase a package of bees. Packages are usually sold by the pound. A pound of bees is typically composed of 3,000 to 3,500 workers, and the standard package of bees available from bee supply companies weighs in at 3 pounds, for a total of about 10,000 bees. Reputable companies will err on the high side and provide extra to make up for bees that may die during transport, as well as to account for the honey and nectar in the stomachs of the bees when they are initially packaged and weighed. Please note that a package of bees may not contain a queen and will contain only workers, unless a queen has been ordered at the same time as the package. Be sure to ask your supplier whether a queen is included. Either way, prepare your hive equipment and location before the package arrives in the mail.

Packaged bees are less expensive than nucs or complete hives and easier to ship. And while package bees may still carry diseases and pests, they are likely to be less infested or contaminated than nucs or established hives that are filled with comb simply because there are fewer places for pathogens, chemical residues, mites, or small hive beetles to hide in a package of bees.

Getting a package of bees started, however, is much more challenging than when starting with a nucleus colony. The package of bees must be transferred into your equipment; the queen and the bees are typically unrelated and must be “introduced” to each other before they will work together in unison; and then there is the need to provide feed to keep the nascent hive from starving, while at the same time stimulating bees to build comb if drawn-out frames of comb from a previous hive cannot be provided. [For complete details on how to introduce a nucleus colony to your equipment, see Chapter 2 of Natural Beekeeping, Revised and Expanded Edition.]

Making your own nucleus colonies from bees you have successfully overwintered is less expensive than buying packaged bees. Rather than spend money on obtaining bees, your money need only be spent on equipment to accept the nuc. By timing your nuc making with the natural swarming season in your area, you help to increase the chances of success and reduce the need to feed the nascent colony.

Swarm Catching

If you don’t already have access to bees and don’t want to shell out a bunch of money in order to obtain bees, swarm catching is the way to go. There are no worries about queen introductions here; all you have to do is get the swarm into your hive body, but that can be a challenge. Swarms are primed to build new comb fast, and you should always take advantage of the opportunity to have a newly hived swarm draw out new frames of foundation, foundation strips, or naturally built combs. If captured early enough in the season they may be able to store enough honey on their own so that autumn and winter feeding will not be necessary.

With swarms, however, you have little control over the quality of the bees. Some swarms are composed of wonderful bees; some swarms are lousy. While you will save cash, you must invest the time to chase them down—and hope that they don’t fly off before you arrive.

One way to avoid being led on a wild bee chase is to make use of baited hives to lure in a swarm. Drawn-out beeswax combs make any empty box with a cover more noticeable and attractive to scouts seeking a new home for the colony. If no comb is available, a few drops of lemongrass oil on a cotton ball can take the place of a drawn frame as bait since this essential oil is very attractive to bees. For those with an added sense of adventure, you may want to try your hand at some old-fashioned bee lining and track down a feral hive in a bee tree. Just be sure to bring along someone with logging skills if you are not handy with a chain saw, an ax, and splitting wedges.

Time is Running out on our Holiday Sale!

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Good books always make great gifts. And there are only a few days left to find something for everyone on your list. Shop our online bookstore and find that perfect gift for your friends and family. Who knows, you may even find a gift for yourself!

Some of our favorites are below or you can browse our entire bookstore here. Save 35% off every purchase with discount code CGS13 until the end of the year.

Need a recommendation? We’re here to help. Email us at [email protected]

Don’t forget about our DVDs and bundles!

Resilient Farm and Homestead Art of Fermentation From the Wood-Fired Oven Out on a Limb
Edible Forest Gardens Sugarmaker The New Cider Makers Keeping a Family Cow
paradise Lot Gaia's Garden Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking Natural Beekeeping
View All Books New Releases Bundles and Sets Instructional DVDs

*Discount codes do not combine with other offers—our books already on sale for example. Free shipping for orders $100 or more is applied after the discount is applied. (U.S. Orders Only)

 

Stocking Stuffer Holiday Sale!

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

Our stocking stuffer holiday sale continues with 35% off any purchase at our on-line bookstore.

Simply use the code CGS13 at checkout from now until the end of the year. Don’t forget there is free shipping on orders over $100.*

Need more? Email us at [email protected] for recommendations.

« New Releases »

From the Wood-Fired Oven
Retail: $44.95
Sale: $29.22
The Sugarmaker's Companion
Retail: $39.95
Sale: $25.97
Market Farming Success
Retail: $29.95
Sale: $19.47
The Zero Waste Solution
Retail: $24.95
Sale: $16.22
Keeping a Family Cow
Retail: $19.95
Sale: $12.97
The New Cider Makers Handbook
Retail: $44.95
Sale: $29.22
Flying Blind
Retail: $24.95
Sale: $16.22
Out on a Limb
Retail: $24.95
Sale: $16.22

« Bundles and Sets »

The Eliot Coleman Set
Retail: $79.85
Sale: $51.90
The Sandor Katz Fermentation Set
Retail: $99.90
Sale: $64.94
Joel Salatin Set
Retail: $90.25
Sale: $58.66
The Preserving the Harvest Set
Retail: $54.95
Sale: $35.72

« Permaculture »

Gaia's Garden, 2nd Edition
Retail: $29.95
Sale: $19.47
Paradise Lot
Retail: $19.95
Sale: $12.97
Edible Forest Gardens (2 volume set)
Retail: $150.00
Sale: $97.50
Permaculture in Pots
Retail: $14.95
Sale: $9.72
The Resilient Farm and Homestead
Retail: $40.00
Sale: $26.00
Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land
Retail: $29.95
Sale: $19.47
Desert or Paradise
Retail: $29.95
Sale: $19.47
The Small-Scale Poultry Flock
Retail: $39.95
Sale: $25.97

« Sustainable Food »

The Art of Fermentation
Retail: $39.95
Sale: $25.97
Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning
Retail: $25.00
Sale: $16.25
Farm-Fresh and Fast
Retail: $24.95
Sale: $16.22
Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking
Retail: $40.00
Sale: $26.00

« Instructional DVDs »

Natural Beekeeping with Ross Conrad
Retail: $24.95
Sale: $16.22
Top-Bar Beekeeping with Les Crowder and Heather Harrell
Retail: $14.95
Sale: $9.72
Fermentation Workshop with Sandor Ellix Katz
Retail: $34.95
Sale: $22.72
Perennial Vegetable Gerdening with Eric Toensmeier
Retail: $29.95
Sale: $19.47
Holistic Orchard with Michael Phillips
Retail: $49.95
Sale: $32.47
Business Advice for Organic Farmers with Richard Wiswall
Retail: $24.95
Sale: $16.22
Preserving with Friends
Retail: $34.95
Sale: $22.72
Year-Round Vegetable Production with Eliot Coleman
Retail: $39.95
Sale: $25.97


* Discount codes do not combine with other offers—our books
already on sale for example. Free shipping for orders $100 or
more is applied after the discount is applied. (U.S. Orders Only)

DVDs

Friday, October 18th, 2013

 

Fermentation Workshop
Retail: $34.95
Sale: $22.72
Preserving with Friends
Retail: $34.95
Sale: $22.72
Year Round Vegetable Production with Eliot Coleman
Retail: $39.95
Sale: $25.96
Perennial Vegetable Gardening
Retail: $29.95
Sale: $19.47

 

Holistic Orcharding with Michael Phillips
Retail: $49.95
Sale: $32.47
Natural Beekeeping with Ross Conrad
Retail: $24.95
Sale: $16.22
Top-Bar Beekeeping with Les Crowder and Heather Harrell
Retail: $14.95
Sale: $9.72
Business Advice for Organic Farmers
Retail: $24.95
Sale: $16.22

 

A World According to Monsanto
Retail: $19.95
Sale: $12.97
Genetic Roulette
Retail: $19.95
Sale: $12.97
Hidden Dangers in Kid's Meals
Retail: $19.95
Sale: $12.97
Scientists Under Attack
Retail: $19.95
Sale: $12.97

 

Sacrificial Lambs
Retail: $19.95
Sale: $12.97
Terra Madre People
Retail: $10.00
Sale: $6.50
Earth Ponds
Retail: $29.95
Sale: $19.47
How Democrats and Progressives Can Win
Retail: $15.00
Sale: $9.75

Bundles and Sets

Friday, October 18th, 2013

 

The Eliot Coleman Set
Retail: $79.85
Sale: $51.90
The Joel Salatin Set
Retail: $90.25
Sale: $58.66
The Sandor Katz Fermentation Set
Retail: $99.90
Sale: $64.94

 

The Preserving the Harvest Set
Retail: $54.94
Sale: $35.71
Edible Forest Gardens Set
Retail: $150.00
Sale: $97.50
Perennial Vegetables Set
Retail: $59.95
Sale: $38.97

 

The Winter Harvest Handbook and Year Round Vegetable Production Set
Retail: $64.95
Sale: $42.22
Business Advice for Organic Farmers Set
Retail: $49.95
Sale: $32.47
The Community Resilience Guide Series Set
Retail: $49.95
Sale: $32.47

 

Top-Bar Beekeeping Set
Retail: $34.95
Sale: $22.72
Natural Beekeeping Book and DVD Set
Retail: $54.95
Sale: $35.72
The Art of Fermentation and Fermentation Workshop Bundle
Retail: $64.95
Sale: $42.22

 

Wild Fermentation and Fermentation Workshop Bundle
Retail: $49.95
Sale: $32.47
The Apple Grower and Holistic Orcharding with Michael Phillips Bundle
Retail: $79.95
Sale: $51.97
Holistic Orcharding with Michael Phillips Book and DVD Bundle
Retail: $79.95
Sale: $51.97

 

The Man Who Planted Trees Book and CD Bundle
Retail: $29.95
Sale: $19.47
The GMO Trilogy and Seeds of Deception Set
Retail: $27.95
Sale: $18.17
The End of America and The End of America: Movie Set
Retail: $39.95
Sale: $25.97

 

Not One Drop and Black Wave Set
Retail: $39.95
Sale: $25.97
How Democrats and Progressives Can Win DVD and Don't Think of an Elephant! Set
Retail: $22.50
Sale: $14.63

New Releases

Friday, October 18th, 2013

 

From the Wood Fired Oven
Retail: $44.95
Sale: $29.22
Keeping a Family Cow
Retail: $19.95
Sale: $12.97
The New Cider Makers Handbook
Retail: $44.95
Sale: $29.22
The Sugarmaker's Companion
Retail: $39.95
Sale: $25.97
The Zero Waste Solution
Retail: $24.95
Sale: $16.22
Out on a Limb
Retail: $24.95
Sale: $16.22
Market Farming Success
Retail: $29.95
Sale: $19.47
Flying Blind
Retail: $24.95
Sale: $16.22
Marijuana is Safer
Retail: $14.95
Sale: $9.72
Fields of Farmers
Retail: $25.00
Sale: $16.25
The Organic Grain Grower
Retail: $45.00
Sale: $29.25
Farm Fresh and Fast
Retail: $24.95
Sale: $16.22

 

Sowing Seeds in the Desert
Retail: $15.95
Sale: $10.37
Reinventing Fire
Retail: $29.95
Sale: $19.47
Wild Flavors
Retail: $24.95
Sale: $16.22
Cooking Close to Home
Retail: $24.95
Sale: $16.22
Retail: $24.95
Sale: $16.22
Retail: $37.95
Sale: $24.67
Retail: $14.95
Sale: $9.72
Retail: $29.95
Sale: $19.47
The Log Book
Retail: $12.95
Sale: $8.42
No-Regrets Remodeling, Second Edition
Retail: $29.95
Sale: $19.47
The New Vegetable Growers Handbook
Retail: $27.95
Sale: $18.17
Letting in the Wild Edges
Retail: $24.95
Sale: $16.22
Permaculture in Pots
Retail: $14.95
Sale: $9.72
Do it Yourself 12 Volt Solar Power
Retail: $14.95
Sale: $9.72
Moneyless Manifesto
Retail: $24.95
Sale: $16.22
The Woodland Way
Retail: $29.95
Sale: $19.47

 


Discount codes do not combine with other offers—our books
already on sale for example. Free shipping for orders $100 or
more is applied after the discount is applied. (U.S. Orders Only)
per inceptos himenaeos.

Summer Savings: Time is running out!

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Don’t forget to soak up the savings as you soak in the last of the summer sun. There are just a few days left to save big—up to 90% off—on select Chelsea Green books during our end of summer sale.

We’re clearing out the warehouse to make room for our forthcoming fall titles, so take advantage of some great bargains. Here’s how it works:

All of our Forthcoming, New & Bestselling titles are 25% off with the discount code SUMMER at checkout.

Then, we have some amazing WAREHOUSE CLEARANCE DEALS on select titles:

  • Deep discounts at 50% Off
  • Deeper discounts at 75% Off
  • Deepest discounts at 90% Off

As always, we offer FREE shipping on orders of more than $100.

 Happy reading from your budget-conscious friends at Chelsea Green Publishing. 


 Discount codes do not combine with other offers—our books already on sale for example.
Free shipping for orders $100 or more is applied after the discount is applied (U.S. Orders Only)
Sale runs through Labor Day (Monday September 2nd).

 

 

Deep Discounts: 50% off Books

Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties Cover

Retail: $29.95
Sale: $14.98

The Case Against Fluoride Cover

Retail: $24.95
Sale: $12.48

The Grafter's Handbook Cover

Retail: $40.00
Sale: $20.00

Perennial Vegetables Cover

Retail: $35.00
Sale: $17.50

The Apple Grower Cover

Retail: $40.00
Sale: $20.00

The Herbalist's Way Cover

Retail: $30.00
Sale: $15.00

The Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm Cover

Retail: $34.95
Sale: $17.48

A Handmade Life Cover

Retail: $25.00
Sale: $12.50

Deeper Discounts: 75% off Books

Home Baked Cover

Retail: $39.95
Sale: $9.99

Not in His Image Cover

Retail: $24.95
Sale: $6.24

Chanterelle Dreams Cover

Retail: $17.95
Sale: $4.49

Organic Seed Production and Saving Cover

Retail: $12.95
Sale: $3.24

Alone and Invisible No More Cover

Retail: $17.95
Sale: $4.49

The Color of Atmosphere Cover

Retail: $17.95
Sale: $4.49

The Sauna Cover

Retail: $30.00
Sale: $7.50

Cheese and Culture Cover

Retail: $24.95
Sale: $6.24

Deepest Discounts: 90% off Books

Mind, Life, and Universe Cover

Retail: $24.95
Sale: $2.50

The Man Who Hated Work and Loved Labor Cover

Retail: $40.00
Sale: $4.00

Wild Law Cover

Retail: $19.95
Sale: $2.00

The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese Cover

Retail: $35.00
Sale: $3.50

All Books 25% off with discount code SUMMER

The Resilient Farm and Homestead Cover

Retail: $40.00
Sale: $30.00

Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land Cover

Retail: $29.95
Sale: $22.47

Paradise Lot Cover

Retail: $19.95
Sale: $14.96

The Organic Grain Grower Cover

Retail: $45.00
Sale: $33.75


Discount codes do not combine with other offers—our books

already on sale for example. Free shipping for orders $100 or

more is applied after the discount is applied. (U.S. Orders only)

 


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