Yes, I will tell you how much a Queen Bee costs. I know there are a lot of backyard apiarists in our region and if you’ve ever had the curiosity and wanted to help out with the bee population, maybe you should look into it.
A queen bee’s cost is directly influenced by the type of bee stock it comes from, its health, and its productivity. The price range for a queen bee can be anywhere from $30 to $100. They may go for even more depending on supply and demand in the open market.
What makes a queen bee so valuable? Let’s find out!
Why Would You Need a Queen Bee?
Things can happen to queens in a colony. They may have slowed their reproduction. They may be aging out of their life cycle. Perhaps something got into the hive and killed the queen.
A queen produces pheromones that instruct the other bees to do everything. This includes the instructions for the “nurse bees” to create a new queen.
Unfortunately, not always will the hive be able to produce a viable new queen. Sometimes the eggs aren’t mature enough or the larvae don’t develop. Once a perfect new queen takes her mating flight, she sometimes never comes back. So there’s no guarantee that a beekeeper can rely on their hive to work things out.
Also, a beekeeper may feel like his hive could produce more honey if the bees had different genetics involved. Maybe the bees are aggressive, so the keeper wants to replace the queen with a milder set of genetics. This is another set of reasons for buying a new queen.
Just keep in mind that apiarists have a limited amount of time to replace a missing queen. No matter what has happened, you need to replace a queen bee that has perished within 4 – 6 weeks. Let’s face it, a hive will die without a queen. Queen bees are the heart of the colony. So, you may need to replace one in a hurry.
What Can Affect the Price of a Queen Bee?
Queens from a Specific Stock
There are breeding programs for queens, wherein a queen is artificially inseminated to have specific characteristics. Usually, the drone stock is from healthy, non-aggressive hives. Those are obviously going to be more expensive than queens left to fly freely with drones for the purpose of mating. Queens that are introduced the need to be able to be accepted by the hive. If they are of the wrong species, they can be rejected and you’re out a lot of money.
Health is gauged on the queen’s ability to be productive. A healthy queen will not only produce enough eggs to keep her own hive running smoothly but will produce enough to have enough for a new swarm with queens and drones enough to begin a new hive.
Queens also are genetically predisposed to certain things that have been encouraged in breeding programs. Some queens come from hives that are more resilient in colder climates, others are noticed to be more hygienic than most and control mite populations better. Both are a boon to a hive and so a queen that carries these traits to her own offspring is going to be worth more.
Some bees can be aggressive and a predisposition to be calmer is a sought-after trait in a queen for these hives. Noticing the behaviors of bees as soon as possible and correcting them can save you and your neighbors from some harsh stinging lessons and the loss of many producing bees.
How to Purchase a Queen Bee
You can purchase bees from your local beekeeper’s association. We went to a local farmer’s market and the apiarist that sells there is a retired marine that offered to help us set things up if we were interested. You never know what kind of wonderful people and sincere help you might find if you just show an interest!
Purchasing from a bee supplier or local apiarist is usually done in the Spring of the year.
If you don’t have these two resources, you can order bees and queen bees online as well. They will be packaged properly, usually come with worker bees to help her keep fed and healthy, and will be shipped directly to you. The only worry I’ve ever seen with this is – will the couriers take care of your package of a live creature?
If anything happens to the queen before it arrives or even after it arrives that leads to death, be sure you have a guarantee upfront from the supplier. Get in touch with them immediately if anything goes wrong or the queen dies.
What if you can’t get a queen bee? Well, there is always the possibility of your own bees making a new one. If your hive is healthy, you can introduce eggs from a different colony and they will raise a new queen. It is, after all, the worker bees that nurture and feed a larva to become a new queen.
You can purchase virgin queens or queen cells to be used to create a queen by your hive, but most beekeepers will tell you they’ve had better success with a mated queen bee. Usually, one that was allowed to fly free and mate.
I really hope this article was helpful to you. I have seen great things happen to backyard apiarists, some of who now have enough hives to meet the needs and desires of their local farmer’s markets. I have also seen the disappointment on a friend’s face as she tries her 2nd then 3rd hive and winds up losing everything through no fault of her own.
So when you make the decision to try this out, keep in mind that it’s a very intense hobby to keep up with. Happy queen bee shopping and good luck with saving the bees!