They Keep Bees: Beekeeping

Our Bees

Support local, small scale, sustainable beekeeping. Buy diversified genetic stock and locally adapted queens.

We are now selling 2020 Queen Bees.

Check out our shop here for more details.

Nucs are currently sold out for 2020.

You can join our wait list by emailing us at


How do you select your breeding stock?

The practices the bees your nucs are produced from: Each nuc receives a newly mated queen from these lines.

  • The breeder or “mother” queens used for propagation are a mix of survivor stock VSH and Carniolan queens and survivor stock Russians who have overwintered successfully in the Northeast (Montague, MA) for one winter.
  • These lines demonstrate resistance to varroa infestation and receive no chemical treatments. When mating, I select breeder queens based on a queen health protocol list I developed. I conduct bi-annual viral testing.
  • I test and select for more resilient bees by monitoring mites regularly, and eliminating less mite resilient bees from my operation. I integrate manual manipulations to prevent treating breeder queens.
  • When you buy a nuc the queens in the nucs are NEWLY bred from a mix of my NE survivor stock queen mothers in locations with high drone saturation from both VSH queens and survivor stock Russian bees.
  • The breeder queen mothers have overwintered for one full New England winters before being brought to an isolated breeding outpost in the South for early Spring queen rearing.
  • These bees NEVER go to almond pollination.

Are your nucs overwintered?

THE NUCS ARE NOT OVERWINTERED. Each nuc receives a newly mated queen from our survivor lines. They are produced in Spring in a saturated southern outpost (see above for our selection process).

What is a nucleus hive?

Nucs, or nucleus colonies, are small honey bee colonies created from larger colonies. The term refers both to the smaller size box and the colony of honeybees within it. The name is derived from the fact that a nuc hive is centered on a queen, the nucleus of the honey bee colony. A Nucleus hive will be made of 5 frames total, 2 frames of capped brood, 1 frame of open brood, 1 frames of food (honey and pollen) and a frame of drawn wax. There will be a newly mated queen and 5 frames of bees. These hives are ready to be placed in a 10 frame hive and grow into successful colonies.

Are these queens or nucs treated?

  • Our nucs do not receive any chemical treatments.
  • I don’t buy or use equipment from larger apiary producers or commercial operations. These are my bees bred from the bees I have worked with since 2015.
  • I work collaboratively with other survivor stock queen rearers to create saturated breeding zones to ensure drone saturation of our selected genetics.

How much does a nucleus hive cost?

Nucleus hives are $225. This covers the cost of raising of bees on a small scale using sustainable apiary practices and the equipment necessary to build out and house your nuc. No equipment trades will be considered for these hives. With equipment trades we run the risk of spreading disease. In addition they require an immense amount of coordination labor. We will not accept equipment trades this year.

Why do I have to pay now?

I ask all customers to pay for nucleus hives when they order. When customers pay up front, I know how many hives I can produce and sell successfully, which impacts how my business can sustain itself AND grow. Thank you for your willingness to support this small scale apiary. Paying up front helps me sustain my apiary and run low cost apiary education opportunities in my community.

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

Nucleus colonies must be picked up at the farm in Montague. A map can be found here. All nuc pick ups will occur in May and early June 2020 at the apiary site at Yard Birds Farm. Dates are TBD due to weather. We appreciate your patience, and promise to be in clear communication throughout the process. WE DO NOT SHIP NUCLEUS HIVES, PICK UP ONLY at the farm in Montague, MA.

Have more questions?

Email us at

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. 24 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. 24 hours later remove the cap and allow bees to chew through the candy.

How can I get my queen?

You can order queens for shipping OR pick your queen up by appointment. Please see details for pick up here: and delivery here:


Montague, MA

© 2020 Ang Roell

Created by Sage Orville