My first package came from Gardiner's and they absconded after three days. Called them and they sent a new package to replace it. I had to pay for it, but I was impressed that they sent one as most suppliers were sold out by then.
The bees were slow to start out, but picked up the following year. I requeened that hive last fall and it's doing great.
I received two packages from them last year (through a secondary distributor). In the spirit of simply relaying my experience with their bees, I will say that I was very disappointed in the packages.
The queens were not productive and both packages languished at 4 frames (they were installed on drawn comb) through late July. They were fed syrup, essentially did nothing on a big alfalfa flow and were circling the drain - until I requeened them with queens from Michael Palmer.
After that, I fed them like crazy and they built up to a good 10 frames of stores (6 or so frames of bees) heading into winter. To date, both are still alive. I credit the queens from Michael and won't knowingly get packages from them again (I think that, for whatever reason, southern bred bees have a tendency to not do as well up here).
You are in the south though, they might do well for you as you are in a similar climate as Gardner's.
Not real happy with two packages last year, tremendous amount of drones in the packages, queens were both superceded within couple months, one hive sputtered along all season, barely stored enough for winter, the other did a little better job, gentle bees though.
Were the packages of Italians or Russians? I have 3 packages on order with Kelley. My understanding is that they are from Gardners. I may cancel the order, I've got an email into them now about if the bees are from Gardners. Better out a $15 cancellation charge than $240.
I also got a package last year, through a second party, that they say came from Gardners.
I am happy because when I got them, the PO had laid the package on it's side and the syrup had leaked out and killed 2/3rds of them. Luckily the queen was ok. Anyway they got off to a slow start, and we had way too much rain for much honey stores, but they did survive and build up pretty good. They made it through the winter. Although they are not, imo, the gentlest bees, they are ok. The feral bees I lured last year, are gentler than these bees.
Thanks, Kelley's is only an hour drive for me, so I usually try to get most my supplies from them. Plus they make their wooden ware, so I know it's American made. I've been trying to go to more American made products. Found plastic honey containers that is made by a small American manfacture with good prices. Asked for a few samples from them, they sent them ASAP. They will get my order this year.
I got a package in late June from them last year. They way out preformed the nucs that I got in march. and another package in April. They Are the best I have and will order more. I took several frames of brood from them and added to the weaker hives and a swarm. I was unable to tell that I removed any frames. They still finished the year off with more bees than the other hives and produced 60lbs of honey. Maybe I got lucky but they were great last year.
I got 4 packages from Gardener, (from a secondary distributer), last year. I they never did well no matter how I fed, etc. (I should have re-queened, I guess).
The first year I had bees, they came from Rossmans, they were great!
I dont buy bees anymore from a distributer until I find out where they came from.
I should have stuck with Rossmans, (if it aint broke, dont fix it). Since this is just a hobby, I wont let it bother me much.
I have 4 packages coming from Gardners this spring..I will let you know how they do. I think many people are expecting too much out of their package bees/queens. I let the packages get the hives going and then usually requeen with a local queen or queen from a Survivor stock breeder.
Sometimes it appears to me that it just depends on the bee. I also got a package from Rossmans 6 weeks before the one I received from Gardners. The one from gardners has still done much better. I also requeened a swarm with a queen from Rossmans they are good just not as good as the one from Gardners.
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