Regardless who you may be getting your nucs or packages from here are a few tips.
1. Most bee nucs/packages for this area will be ready in April. You need to be ready.
2. Have all of your equipment purchased, assembled, and painted at least a week before needed. This allows you time to check it over and allows adequate time for paint to dry and fumes dissipate.
3. Have your location prepared. It does not need to be fancy but it needs to be workable and accessible.
4. Have your safety gear on hand, does not need to be fancy but needs to fit and be functional. If you have never started a smoker you might want to try a few practice runs. You have it down when you can light it, set it down for 30 minutes and it is still making smoke. Dry pine needles make an excellent smoker fuel. Your goal is smoke not fire. Keep in mind that this time of year we can have very low relative humidity and a hot smoker sitting on dry grass can quickly start a grass fire.
5. If you have not done so already, have a conversation with your supplier so you know beforehand exactly what you are getting. 4 frame nuc, 5 frame nuc, 3 lb package, etc.
6. Learn beforehand what you need to do to install the bees into your hive. The beekeeper will likely be too busy pickup day to provide a long detailed explanation. Get in touch now if you have questions.
7. Be mindful on pickup day the beekeeper is dealing with a lot of folks and with a lot of bees. They have worked hard to get the bees into the best shape possible. Bees need to go to their new location as quickly as possible to avoid stress. It is better to pick up early in the day rather that late in the evening because we can close up at night and capture all the field bees.
8. Be mindful that bees are living, growing, dynamic creatures. When they are ready to go, they need to be moved into a full size hive. It makes no difference if it is turkey season, the fish are bitting, or there is a road trip planned for the week. A lot of work has gone into producing/procuring queens, making splits, care and feeding. It is important to keep them growing; stop or slow it and it can be difficult to restart.
9. Have feeding supplies on hand. Your bees will need a large quantity of sugar syrup to draw out comb on foundation. Plain white granulated sugar is best. You can mix 1:1 with just warm water. Feed as much as they will take down in 3 days then make fresh. As temperatures start to rise you want to avoid fermentation. Feed until they have at least 8 frames drawn out. With only a hive or two it is highly unlikely you will need any type of pollen supplement. If you do feed a pollen supplement feed only what they will eat in 2 days or else you attract and feed hive beetles.
10. If you have questions about what you are looking at in your hive, your phone camera is a great way to supplement your question.