BDN interviews Drummond for article about ordering bees

The Bangor Daily News interviewed Frank Drummond, a professor of insect ecology and insect pest management at the University of Maine, for the article “Why the middle of winter is the best time to order bees.” With bee season approaching, beginning beekeepers must think about when to order bees. “You should order them right away mainly because the beekeepers who put together the [bee packages] usually start at this time of year. You need to get orders in soon,” Drummond said. “There is a limited supply of bees, and demand is quite high. Beekeepers can only make up so many [packages], so you might get put on a waiting list.” Bees can be ordered in packaged colonies of a few pounds of bees without infrastructure, or as nucleus colonies or “nucs,” which are often more expensive and consist of a few frames with partially developed colonies, according to the BDN. January is ideal for ordering packaged bees, which can have a delivery date set at the start of the spring season. “If you can, have them deliver at the end of April even or the first week in May when wildflowers are just starting to bloom. It’s easier to get [bee colonies] established successfully,” said Drummond. Especially in cold climates like Maine, where there is still snow in April, the bees will have a better chance later in the season. But Drummond said nucleus colonies could be better for Maine beekeepers. “The advantage of the nucleus colonies is that there are a lot more people in northerly climate that put together nucleus colonies. You’ll pay a little more for a nucleus colony, but they’re stronger and they start building up more quickly. It’s really important in areas with a short season, which is typical in Maine,” said Drummond. Nucleus colonies are sometimes delivered in May or June, or later in summer when small beekeepers are thinning colonies to prevent swarming, the BDN reported. There also is less supply of nucleus colonies, and the quality can vary widely. Problems can be avoided and the process streamlined by joining a local club. “Being a part of a bee club is a really good thing because quite often the bee clubs do a mass ordering and you can [get] cheaper prices on the packaging,” said Drummond. “If you’re not sure how to set them up, members of the bee club can help you.”