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Each year, I bring in a small group of packages for the beekeepers in my area, so I am always watching what the major bee supply companies are selling their packages for. Last year, we all thought the package bee prices with Tractor Supply were outrageous, but I am seeing similar prices with Kelly's and Mann Lake this year. I think I understand that with the poor showing at almond pollination, packages are in low supply, but is that the reason for the crazy prices?

My vendor still has his Georgia packages for the same price this year, so I know not all the prices have increased. And I also know that his packages are not off almond pollination. Maybe it is just west coast suppliers that are experiencing the increase? Years ago, when I got a few packages from Mann Lake, I know they came from Oliverez in CA.
 

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Supply and demand... the former flat, the latter up (prob a combination of hobbyists and commercial guys growing/replacing their herds). If they get those prices this year, they'll bump them up again next year.
 

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I'm picking up packages from Oliverez in two weeks. They were selling them for 150 each. If I buy the exact same package, delivered to Utah (where my buddy sells OHB packages there), I could pick it up for $120.

If I buy off craigslist they will sell for $165 as high as $220 a package while our local club can do a small bulk order and get them for $120 - from unknown genetics and sources.

I've even seen places selling queens for as much as $55 and I can order the exact same queen direct from the supplier for $32.

I'm not sure about other areas, but the pricing varies greatly out here in Central/Northern CA - at CA prices. I'm guessing the pricing varies for who it's marketed to. An experienced keeper will know where to look to find the best deals where a new keeper will likely go to a local bee shop and pay a premium?
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Ruth, I have been wondering the same thing as I get into the business of selling bees. I noticed that Scottsville is advertising $130 for a package. Last year I paid $105 from them through our bee club.
 

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This year and the past 2 years the packages have been running $110-130 around Denver, Colorado from the local shops and bee clubs. There are several groups/companies that bring in 300 to 1100 packages at a time though, so they are getting a bulk price.
 

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Ruth, I have been wondering the same thing as I get into the business of selling bees. I noticed that Scottsville is advertising $130 for a package. Last year I paid $105 from them through our bee club.
Hi JW, I would put us in the middle of the market for supply stores with a storefront to support - we are neither the highest or the lowest in Virginia. We definitely will never match a club price which (in my mind) shouldn't be profiting on a package, just covering costs of the pickup. Our queens are also coming marked this year. We adjust each year as needed based on costs/marking, etc.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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I wasn't trying to be negative, y'alls pricing seems very competitive, especially when compared to some of the big names. Last year I think the club or its agent picked up around 200 packages, I bought one of them and then resold it for the same price to a friend. The bees have done very well.
 

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I don't know how Mann Lake sell any:
Mann Lake PA pickup: $175.91
I keep getting emails from them reminding me to order packages. It's practically April. When was the last time any sizable seller was still offering packages in April?
The point is.....they may not be selling many.
 

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Mann lake might not sell many... till the last min when everyone else is already sold out. People always looking for bees first of May and every one is basically sold out. Might make sense to try holding out with a higher price and just getting late buyers who knows.
 

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Don't be a sucker learn how to keep your bees alive then buy them. Just to many start without knowing anything.
Sometimes you just need extra bees at the last moment, not necessarily for yourself, and don't want to tap into your production hives and risk jeopardizing spring honey crop.
 

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Mann lake might not sell many... till the last min when everyone else is already sold out. People always looking for bees first of May and every one is basically sold out. Might make sense to try holding out with a higher price and just getting late buyers who knows.
I hope they don’t and their investors choke on every last package along with Kelley. Dadant can have my business from here on out . If you think for one second these investors care about the beekeepers think again.
 

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Honeyguy I'm not delusional I don't expect investors to "care" about any business past a general hope it succeeds for repayment of investment purposes. However there is a market for it most years. Maybe if the average bee supplier charged a bit more than more people would learn to actually keep their bees alive. That said as long as it's not a monopoly I don't begrudge any business getting what they can for their product.
 

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And then you have the farmer trying to be nice and snowblowing the yard and couldn't see your hives till they got ground up the chute OR a bear decides to have a snack. Things happen. Try to breed your bees to weather those ones. Both of those just happened to have happened to me this year.

When you have critical mass of hives, you can weather things that a guy with a small number of hives might not be able to. I was pretty happy with my survival rates until this year. I'm still going to have colonies alive come spring (yes I am STILL under 3-4 feet of snow and haven't finished counting my losses yet) but not where I want to be and my expansion plans are going to be set back a bit. But to tell a guy with a couple hives that boo hoo he should have bred his bees to survive the bear is stupid (note I have way more, not talking about me here). Look back and you will see how Michael Palmer's yard survived the bear visit. If that was his only yard, he would have been ordering bees too, but being that he has many yards he could recover. Give the small guys with only 1 yard and limited number of hives a break, will ya? And if that's your situation, just wait till it happens to you.

But anyways I noticed that Mountain Sweet Honey's prices went up from $99 a couple years ago, to $115 to $125 for popular dates. But you also have to pay for shipping which has gone up quite a bit. Maybe the high prices are covering the increase in shipping?
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Ha, I see that ML is lowering delivered price of their packages. They credit renegotiated freight rates for the savings. How about, your bee prices were too high and nobody with a brain was buying them? I love a free market.
 

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Well, if any of you are in Missouri and need Bees next year look me up. I would be happy to help. As for the big prices from the corporate stores, they are in it for a profit. Who knows maybe it will make better bee keepers.
 
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