Easter Greetings & Advice on Sourcing Bees

Beannachtaí na Cásca a ghuí ar duine.
Happy Easter to you all.

Our course is coming to an end and maybe some of you are thinking of getting bees. Should you decide that beekeeping is for you, I hope that the following points may be of some help.

What breed of bee should you order?

Most beekeepers keep the Native Irish Black Bee – Apis Mellifera Mellifera AMM. Some beekeepers
keep other breeds, eg. Buckfast Bees. I, however, prefer the Native Irish Bee and this bee still exerts a dominant influence over most of the island of Ireland, in spite of the importation of foreign races. Our Native Irish Bees have many qualities that have evolved over thousands of years, making them uniquely suited and well adapted to survive our damp climate.

Where do you source bees?

  • An Beachaire: There are many suppliers listed in FIBKA’s An Beachaire magazine.
  • The Native Irish Honeybee Society: NIHBS have a list of all registered bee breeders on their website at: http://nihbs.org/nucs-and-queens
  • Native Irish Black Bees: Phone: 087 6743030 / Email: galteebees@gmail.com


What will you receive?

When you order, you will in fact be getting a nucleus of bees. The word ‘nucleus’ (or ‘nuc’ in beekeeping terms) is a small hive and is generally made with polystyrene. This in turn will be populated with a colony of bees and has a smaller number of frames than a standard sized hive. The nuc should be well-balanced and contain adequate frames of brood, adequate stores, healthy bees and, of course, a mated fertile queen. Always ask if she is marked, clipped and her age.
When you have your bees home and the time is right to transfer them to a standard hive you will then have an empty nuc box and, having multiple uses, this will be of value to your beekeeping for many years to come.

Collecting and transporting your bees home

Your bee supplier will give you details as to when and what time for collection. The nuc will be well
sealed and the entrance blocked. The supplier will also ensure that the bees have adequate ventilation. The nuc should be placed in your car/ trailer and supported. The frames should be in line with the direction of travel, therefore avoiding the possibility of squashing bees and comb.

Now what?

On arrival to the apiary, place the nuc hive in position on a hive stand. See pages 79-88 in Ted Hooper’s A Guide to Bees and Honey. As the book quotes, siting of the nuc must be considered before the bees arrive because once they are in position they will have orientated to their new home. You then open the nuc entrance and leave the bees to settle for a few days. Do not be tempted to transfer the frames of bees to a standard hive straight away. The bees would be furious!

I will discuss the transfer of your new bees from their nuc to a standard hive next time.

Until then you could try this beautiful recipe given by our beekeeping friend Elizabeth. I even managed to make them myself, which is a great achievement for someone with very limited
culinary skill and I can vouch for how delicious they were!

Pasteli Sesame Bars

Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 20 bars
Cooking Time: 10 minutes


– 7 ounces sesame seeds
– Half cup and one tablespoon of honey


  1. Spread sesame seeds in a pan and toast them until they colour – but not too much.
  2. Heat honey in a medium saucepan until it bubbles.
  3. Add toasted sesame seeds, lower the heat and stir for 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Set a sheet of wax paper on a flat surface and lightly butter, pour on mixture and place another
    sheet of paper (slightly greased) on top. Flatten to quarter of an inch with a rolling pin.
  5. Remove top sheet carefully and let cool for 15 minutes. Cut into small bars. A pizza cutter works
  6. Cool completely and store with paper between the layers in an airtight tin.


Finally, we look forward to seeing you all Wednesday evening. The presentation will be given by Eleanor Attridge and certainly not to be missed.

The pedigree of Honey
Does not concern the bee;
A clover, anytime, to him
Is aristocracy.

Emily Dickinson

(Emily may not have realized that it’s the girls who work the clover!!!)