They Keep Bees: Beekeeping

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TKB Bees

Support healthy bees and small scale, sustainable beekeeping.

Reserve our naturally raised bees and locally adapted queens.

 

They Keep Bees is in Great Falls, Massachusetts.  We tend bees in Western Massachusetts, Southern Vermont and on the central coast of Florida. 

 

Currently, we manage 300 Comfort hives.  Comfort hives are simply designed, handmade hives built to mimic the cavity of a tree, and be responsive to the needs of the bees.  In a beehive the influences of the ecosystem shapes the actions of the hive as a collective.   As stewards of honeybees we listen to the ecology around us and observe the response within our hives to make decisions about the best actions we can take as beekeepers.  

 

From our hives we harvest honey, honeycomb, beeswax, and propolis.  We also produce queen bees and starter hives.   Our passion is raising resilient and adaptive queen bees for the two bioregions in which we work, and teaching aspiring beekeepers how to build sustainable apiaries. 

 

When you support They Keep Bees you are supporting an apiary that is prioritizing honeybee health. 

We are taking Queen Bee Orders for 2022.

Click here for more details.

We are taking Package Orders for 2022.

Click here for more details.

FAQ

How do you select your breeding stock?


  • Newly mated queens are produced by us in our own apiaries.
  • The breeder or “mother” queens we use for propagation are VSH and Carniolan queens who have overwintered successfully in the Northeast for one winter or more.
  • The breeder queen mothers are brought to an isolated breeding outpost for queen rearing.
  • These lines demonstrate resistance to varroa infestation and receive no chemical treatments. When mating, we select breeder queens based on a queen health protocol list we developed. We conduct bi-annual viral testing.
  • We test and select for more resilient bees by monitoring mites regularly, and eliminating less mite resilient bees from the operation. We integrate manual manipulations for mite management as well.
  • When you buy a queen or package the queen you receive is NEWLY bred from a mix of my NE survivor stock queen mothers in locations with high drone saturation from VSH queens.
  • These bees NEVER go to almond pollination.
  • Order your queens here!




What is a package of bees?


Package bees replicate a swarm in the wild, the bees are primed to start drawing wax and raising brood. Each package receives a newly mated queen from our survivor lines. These queens are produced in Spring in a saturated southern outpost (see above for our selection process). Packages come in a small wooden boxes with fine breathable screens on either side to provide ventilation. Inside of the box are 3lbs of honeybees, as well as a They Keep Bees queen (in a cage) and a can of sugar feed for nutrition in transit. The bees are ripe for installation and will be quick to begin drawing wax and raising brood in a new hive box setup. Order your 2022 packages here. You can install a package into a Langstroth, Warre, Comfort or Top Bar hive.




Are these queens or packages treated?


  • Our packages do not receive any chemical treatment.
  • I run a strict manipulation protocol to avoid treating queen production colonies. See the breeding stock question above for more details.
  • I work collaboratively with other survivor stock queen rearers to create saturated breeding zones. These ensure drone saturation of our selected genetics.




Why do I have to pay now?


Queen pre-orders require a deposit to reserve your queen for the time when you'd like to receive her. We ask all customers to pay for packages when they order. When customers pay ahead, we can set realistic goals for production and absorb our Spring costs with less risk. This, in turn, helps us plan securely so our business can sustain itself AND grow. Thank you for your willingness to support this small scale apiary.




When and where will I receive my package? Can you ship it?


We do not ship package bees. Packages must be picked up at the farm in Montague for one day only in Spring. A map can be found here. All pick ups will occur in May at the apiary site at They Keep Bees. The pick up date is set based on a availability. These dates are often impacted by inclement weather and how the bees are doing. To ensure optimal bee health all pick up dates are firm and nonnegotiable. We appreciate your patience, and promise to be in clear communication throughout the process of preparing your package for sale. NOTE: We CAN refund your package before the pick up date if you decide you want to pursue a different supplier, just email us. We CAN NOT refund your package after pick up for ANY reason.




Have more questions?


Email us at info@theykeepbees.com




How do I install the queen I purchased from you?


Queens will arrive via USPS, or be picked up on the farm. We recommend installing the queen in a small 3-5 frame nucleus hive, allowing the hive to accept the queen by first leaving her in the hive in a capped cage. Twenty four hours later remove the cap and allow bees to chew through the candy. After the hive has accepted her you can combine them with a larger hive or add additional resource/brood. If installing the queen in a large hive we recommend using a veil or queen muff to remove the "attendant" bees who made the trip with her, and placing the queen back in her cage alone, then installing her in the hive in a capped cage. Twenty four hours later remove the cap and allow bees to chew through the candy.




How can I get my queen?





Do you offer refunds on package bees or queens if something goes wrong?


We DO NOT offer refunds on package bees, nucs or queens. We can not be responsible for bees once they leave our hands. This applies to packages, nucs and queens. Our policy is firm and not negotiable. Why? Raising healthy bees and transporting them successfully across the East Coast is a specialized profession that is time consuming and high risk. We work hard to make sure your bees make it to you in the utmost health, and are ready to thrive in a new home. We send you instructional videos, and check lists, and are available to give you advice via email. Once they leave our hands though, they become your responsibility, and while we'll do everything we can to support you, we can not be there live with you observing each step in your journey and thus we can not offer refunds for what happens to the bees when they're in your care. NOTE: To offset our strict refund policy, We offer discounts and sliding scales on beekeeper education consultations and classes. Whether you purchase our bees or not, this is an effort to share skills so all the beekeepers can be successful. Please see our Shop for details on classes and consultations, or email us with questions at info@theykeepbees.com




How do I install a package?


Great question here's a video instructional guide for how to install a package. Order your 2022 packages here. You can install a package into a Langstroth, Warre, Comfort or Top Bar hive.