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Richmond Beekeepers Association in North Yorkshire
Richmond and District Beekeepers' Association, North Yorkshire





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General guidelines for the purchase of NUCLEUS colonies.

This information should be read along with BBKA Guidance Note LO14 (120kb pdf download)

Standard brood frames with wired combs in good condition; deviations from BS

Standard should be stated prior to purchase.

  • Not less than five frames, combs all fully drawn, with a minimum of three containing brood & two with enough stores to last at least two weeks.
  • Brood at ALL stages and bees covering all frames.
  • Good level of sealed brood, with a good brood pattern; a small area should be drone comb - with NO active queen cells.
  • All brood to have been laid by the queen provided - see cautionary notes*
  • Ideally a locally raised queen marked with the colour for the relevant year. If the queen is not ‘local’ this should be clearly stated, along with its origin/source.*
  • The bees should be good tempered, when handled by a competent beekeeper.
  • Bees and brood should show no signs of disease, however, as varroa is endemic, a very small number of mites seen on adult bees is reasonable.
  • A written record ( which could be in the form of e-mail correspondence) with dates, of any treatments administered to the nucleus.
  • The bees to be in a hive, ready for moving. Sellers may charge a returnable deposit on the hive or include the hive in the purchase price. Alternatively a cheap non returnable box can be used.
  • Buyers to collect the bees and transfer to their own hive if required, after the bees have settled down a few days later.
  • If necessary ( see above) any empty hive(s) to be returned to the seller within an agreed period.
  • After-sales problems should always be resolved between buyer and seller.

Always consider seeking help from experienced RDBKA members for inspection of bees prior to purchase and if needed, when transferring the nucleus to your own hive.

*Caution to buyers:

  1. Be very sure you are purchasing an over wintered nucleus!
  2. In fact RDBKA would advise that an over-wintered nucleus is purchased in preference to a nucleus that is made up & sold prior to being overwintered.
  3. It is fair to say that in most seasons, nuclei with a locally reared queen, within the current year, are unlikely to be available before late May/early June. Unless one can be sure it is a genuine over-wintered nucleus, headed by a queen reared during the previous season, then you MAY be buying a nucleus headed by an imported queen.
  4. RDBKA discourages the importation of queen bees and colonies from outside the UK.