Buying and Selling HivesBuying and selling hives is an important decision.  As beekeepers, we have a responsibility to ensure any hives we sell are disease free and up to a high maintenance standard.  For the purchaser, it is a calculated risk to take therefore the more care you take in your choice the better.

There seems to be a lot of hives and hiveware for sale at the moment.  This is possibly due to the current low honey price as well as the fact that there are now far too many hives in some parts of New Zealand to be sustainable.

We advise great care when purchasing beehives as there is a risk of inheriting disease that even the seller may not be aware of.

Things to look for :

  • Check whether boxes are paraffin dipped or treated.  Are they sound with no rot?
  • Are the frames plastic or timber?  If timber, are they sound?  Timber frames have a limited lifespan.
  • Hive lid – is it rusty or bent?  Remember, this is what keeps your hive dry.
  • Hive base – timber or plastic? If timber, is the base ventilated or solid?  Check the floor – is it clean or coated in debris?
  • Queen excluder – is it clean enough for the bees to get through easily?
  • Bees – Is there plenty of capped brood with a solid pattern?  Eggs and larvae? Is the queen marked? Are you able to locate her?
  • Food stores – is there much honey and pollen?
  • When did the owner last check the hive for varroa levels and AFB?

Checking these things will tell you if the beekeeper you are purchasing from is someone who knows how to care for his bees.

Only purchase from a registered beekeeper and note his registration number.  We strongly advise having the hive checked by an experienced beekeeper (preferably one with a DECA certificate) if this is your first venture.

When purchasing used hiveware, the cost savings are far outweighed by the risk.  AFB spores can live for 40 – 70 years and there is no way of checking for them.  Therefore, we do not recommend this option.

The best time to buy is always in spring as it gives you the whole season to establish and care for your hive before autumn and winter.

See link to a sale and purchase agreement form –

About the author : Rod

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