With the Christmas decorations still up and snow on the ground in much of the country, spring seems a long way off. Never-the-less, if you are planning to order queens for spring delivery, now is the time to start thinking about placing your order. All queen producers will be taking orders in January, and some have their 2013 prices up and have already begun to do so. Many beekeepers purchasing queens for making nucs or re-queening hives will want an early delivery date, but the number of queens that suppliers will have available for shipping on a given date is finite. Once that number is reached, they will take no additional orders for that date, so to ensure receiving queens when you want them, you should to place your order in January. If you intend to order queens from a local queen producer, even for later delivery (local queen producers further north will not have queens to sell until later in the spring), those orders should be placed soon as well. Make it one of your New Year’s resolutions.
Finding sources of queens: If you are a newer beekeeper contemplating ordering queens for the first time, consult with beekeeping friends or members of your local beekeeping associations for recommendations on queen suppliers. If you are interested in a particular variety of queen, such as a Russian or Carniolan, breeder associations or queen breeder webpages are good resources.
Shipping of queens: Keep in mind distance and travel times. This will become an even greater issue as temperatures climb in late spring. If you are receiving queens from a long distance, consider paying for overnight shipping. Cooperating with beekeeper friends or members of your local association to combine orders for queens can reduce the cost. On orders of 15 or more queens, overnight shipping becomes more economical (the cost per queen drops), and sellers reduce prices on large orders. An additional advantage is that most suppliers will ship large orders in batteries – a method which is much healthier and less stressful for the queens. See earlier post for more information on queen batteries.