Updated: Sep 19, 2021
Once you have gathered all of your necessary equipment, how do you get your first hive of bees? There are several options, but I would recommend one of the following.
Buy Full Hive
Some apiaries, like ours, sell a hive already loaded with bees. This is the simplest option. You just go pick up the hive and bring it home. Not many apiaries offer this service, but if you can find it, then it is a very convenient way to go.
Get bees installed in hive
Some apiaries will allow you to drop off your empty hive and go pick it up once the bees have been installed in the hive. This takes a little more time, but it can be a cheaper option.
Obtain a split from a friend or local
Some beekeepers are not interested in having more hives than they currently do. If you offer to help them with their splits in the spring and summer, they may sell or give you one of them.
Purchasing bees in the mail
Some companies will sell you a package of bees. They will arrive in the mail and you shake them out into your hive. This is a good option for those of you starting out and cannot find any contacts in your area. I would recommend reaching out to a local beekeeping club first. Certain bees seem to do better in certain climates. If you get bees from your area, they may do better.
Catching a swarm
Sometimes during the spring and summer near apiaries, a swarm gets away. You may be able to assist a beekeeper catch one of these swarms and have one for yourself.
Try to get in touch with local beekeepers. It never hurts to ask. Be helpful, friendly, and enthusiastic and you may be surprised at what happens!