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Nuc, package, and queen sales and pick up instructions

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Revised 7 Jan 2017

Now taking orders for 2018

Bee Sales by Golden West Apiaries

We are a small short-staffed family business, not nearly as polished as the “big boys,” but we do proudly produce and sell top-quality nucs, and a limited number of packages and queens.

Eric, Randy, and Ian


Eric has now taken over handling all sales.

We don’t have an office staff (or even an office).  We are in the hives all day every day during spring, so I must handle all orders by phone or email in the early morning or evening.  To avoid confusion, please help me by reading all your options below before contacting me.  Since I may be handling a dozen phone calls or emails in rapid succession, please tell me up front if you are referring to a previous order, and exactly what it was.  If someone else is picking up your order for you, please do not double contact me, as it just gets too confusing!

Email:  In general, contact Eric at oliverhoneysales@gmail.com

Phone: If you need to call in order to coordinate pick up please contact Eric at 530 277 5004.

Information for beginners (others may skip down)

You have four options for starting with bees:

  1. Hiving a natural swarm.  Although this is a traditional method, finding and hiving a swarm can be iffy for beginners.
  2. Purchasing  “package bees” (an artificial swarm in a cage  containing 3 or 4 lbs of shook bees plus a caged queen).  If you are starting with a top bar hive or medium depth equipment, then you’ll need to start with “package bees”; the larger the package, the faster the your colony will grow!
  3. Purchasing a full-sized colony in an established hive. I do not recommend that beginners start with a full-size colony, as they can be intimidating.
  4. Purchasing a nuc (nucleus hive).   Nucs are our first choice, as they contain an established, tested, laying queen and all stages of brood.  Nucs build up more quickly than packages, and beginners generally have more success in establishing colonies from nucs.

We recommend that you start with either a nuc or package.  We also recommend that you start with standard Langstroth deep (9-5/8″) hives for your first years of beekeeping (we suggest that those wishing to avoid heavy lifting consider starting with 8-frame equipment).


Firstly, we do not ship!  All prices are FOB our home yard at 14744 Meadow Dr., Grass Valley, CA 95945.

When available

We start grafting queens as our bees are released from almonds (typically in mid March).  From that point on, everything is up to Nature–the queens and drones need temperatures above 70°F in order to mate.  We then “test” our queens by allowing them to lay for around two weeks before we offer them for sale.

Nucs are typically not available until mid April.  If you didn’t order by December, yours likely won’t be ready for pick up until late April or early May.  Ditto for package bees.  

We typically have queen cells available from early April through the end of May.  You need to order two weeks in advance for more than a few.  

We do not sell caged queens until we have filled all of our nuc orders, but try to keep a few on hand from mid May through fall.  

We will send out email updates starting in April, in order to give you advance notice of when your bees will be ready for pick up.  We plan to hold Saturday pick up days this season.


Nucs are our specialty.  We produce 5-frame nucs on deep frames.  Nucs are “nucleus colonies,” containing a recently-mated queen, brood, and honey; ready to grow into full-strength colonies in your hives.  Nucs are the easiest way for beginners to establish new hives.

Beekeepers like our nucs for several reasons:

  • We don’t cut any corners.  The nucs that we sell you are the same as those that we produce for ourselves.
  • We work our bees bare-handed for most of the season; therefore, we select our stock for gentle temperament.
  • We breed for genetic diversity within our thousand-hive operation; our queens come in a rainbow of colors.  Such diversity ensures robust, healthy colonies.
  • We do not routinely use antibiotic treatments, so purchasers can be assured of combs free of AFB spores.
  • We strongly select for mite resistance—although our bees are not yet “mite proof,” they thrive under “organic” beekeeping management methods.  Please manage follow our recommendations to manage the varroa mite.  We love our bees, and hate to hear that they’ve died due to lack of varroa management.
  • Our stock is specifically selected for qualities desirable in a Northern California beekeeping operation: workability, resistance to mites and disease, early buildup for almond pollination or the Manzanita bloom, honey production on the local bloom, and survival under our extreme Sierra Foothill seasons and weather.  We make no claims for their performance in other areas, but do receive excellent feedback from the Bay Area, the Valley, and Nevada.
  • Since we haven’t used synthetic miticides since the year 2000,  and avoid areas in which insecticides are applied, our combs are relatively free of the sorts of chemical residues that cause negative effects upon queen viability; our queens display an exceptionally high survival rate.
  •  Our queens are emerged and mated in the full-sized nucs in which they are sold, and have never been stressed by caging or banking.
  • Each queen is fully “tested,” in that we’ve allowed her  enough time to confirm that she produces a good brood pattern.
  • All our queens and nucs are fully guaranteed against failure or disease for 30 days—if there is anything about them that you do not like, you may return them for replacement.  Losses due to improper care are of course not covered.



PRICES (as of April 2017):  Due to the variability of bee supply, all prices subject to change without notice!  We are currently working on our 2018 prices.  

NUCS (5 frame)

Our nucs are sold in Jester corrugated plastic reusable nuc boxes, unless you make special arrangements for us to hand transfer them into your equipment.

$170.00 ea–$10  discount ($160 ea) if you save us time by meeting the following conditions, or if you are purchasing 10 or more at one time.

  • Pay with green cash, no checks, credit cards, or paperwork.
  • We will, as a courtesy, gladly transfer the nuc into your hive or nuc box if you come fully prepared (so as not to waste our time)–this allows us to confirm that the queen is in good shape, and that the nuc is healthy.
  • Your receiving deep hive body must have  a top and bottom, have a space for the 5- frame nuc, and contain enough frames to finish filling the box (5 frames in a standard box, 3 for 8-frame equipment) (we can, if necessary, supply new frames with foundation for $2.50 each).
  • Before arriving, please assemble each hive, and strap it around the middle with a ratcheting nylon strap (not tape or simple tension strap) (this makes for easier handling and transfer).  Please do not assemble equipment while we are waiting for you.
  • There is no need to screen the entrance if you are driving straight home in cold weather or after dusk.  If you need to screen the bees inside, a screened top or bottom works fine.  However, a screened shoved into the entrance may not provide adequate ventilation when bees crowd against it.  Better to wrap the entire nuc in an old sheet, curtain, shade cloth, mosquito netting, or similar material, or to staple a piece over the entire face of the hive so as to allow bees to come out on the “porch,” as in the photo below.  We are happy to provide you material and a stapler.

netted nuc

  • You may also drop off your hives, individually strapped and prepared as above, each labeled with your name and phone number, with green cash payment in an envelope inside.  If your hive contains frames with any residues of honey, be sure to completely seal the entrance in order to prevent initiating robbing.
  • Be sure to arrive with a smoker and bee suit, in case of mishap upon your trip home.

We normally have nucs on hand for sale until early June.  After that date, depending upon our colony count, we may be able to supply some, but at a higher price due to the extra work involved.

We are proud of the quality of our queens and nucs–if for any reason you are not completely satisfied, simply return for replacement or refund within 30 days.

Making nucs 2 Shue

Eric, Ian, and I splitting colonies into nucs after return from almond pollination.  We make nucs only from the strongest, healthiest colonies, mate the queens in their own nuc, and wait until they’ve been tested before we sell them.


For those wishing packages, we can shake a limited number to order.  Package bees are normally available from late March through mid May.
3-lb $125 ($10 discount for green cash)
4-lb $140 ($10 discount for green cash)
Add a $6 refundable cage deposit to the above prices.  For credit, cages must be returned in good condition.  We shake packages only to order, so they must be prepaid prior to shaking (please phone me for prepayment options).
Packages can also be made with either new or second-year queens–the same timing advantages apply.


A new beekeeper ready to install a package of bees into a top bar hive.


We sell only a very limited number of queens, and don’t ship.  We don’t cut any corners on our queens–they come from our selected breeders, are mated in full-sized nucs, and not sold until we’ve checked to see that they are laying good brood patterns.

New queens are not normally available until our nuc orders are filled (usually by May 1st).  Queens are caged to order, not banked.   Fresh queens are $35 (cash price).  


Our queens are all from our stock, selected for gentleness, mite resistance, health, and productivity,  and are adapted to the Sierra Foothills region.  They vary in color from dark to yellow, due to our intentional maintenance of genetic diversity.

Queen cells:

Split your colonies yourself before they swarm!  We generally have queen cells on hand from mid March through mid May, and can spare a few at most any time for $5 ea.  For more than 5 at a time, we will produce to order at discount with a 2-week lead time at $4 ea..  If you are a hobbyist with hives within a mile of one of our locations, tell us, and we will generally give you a few cells free of charge (in order to help control the drone population with which our queens will mate).

queen cells on towel

You can save money by mating out your own queens, using our premium-quality queen cells.


To place an order, please email me ( randy@randyoliver.com)  (this e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it ), with the words “Nuc Order” on the subject line. Please tell me the number that you want.   I will confirm receipt of your order, and then notify you when they are available.  I do not require a booking deposit on nucs; package bees must be paid for in advance of pick up.  Please pay for nucs at pick up with green cash; I charge a $5 paperwork processing fee for any payments that involve checks, receipts, or any sort of paperwork.


Please contact Eric Oliver at oliverhoneysales [at] gmail.com.


  1.  Please bring green folding money in order to receive the cash discount.
  2.  For each nuc, bring a deep brood box, containing only 5 frames , a hive cover (and inner cover if appropriate), a bottom board, and a ratcheting nylon web strap (has a lever that clicks  to tension) to hold it together. Or bring your own nuc box (no frames).  We can also place your nuc into a returnable nuc box with a $20 deposit.
  3.  We’ll generally install nucs into your boxes at my home yard, let them settle down for several minutes, at which time you can drive them home. Alternatively, feel free to drop off your strapped hives (clearly marked with your name and phone number) in advance (at the drop-off sign at the top of our driveway).  If there are combs containing any honey, please seal the boxes tightly!  We will install the bees and call you to arrange pick up.  TIP: If you leave full cash payment inside the strapped box, then you can pick up the filled hive(s) at your leisure without having to coordinate with us (often more convenient for all involved).
  4. We apologize that we do NOT have an office or on-site staff, and spend most of our time in our outyards.  Therefore, in order to catch someone at our Meadow Drive location, you must coordinate any pick ups in advance by phone or email.  Please always confirm by phone that someone will be here before you head our way!  Someone is generally here between 7:00 and 9:00 am, and again between 5:00 and 6:00 pm.
  5. ***Always carry full protective gear and a smoker when moving bees, in case a mishap occurs.***
  6. For the trip home, secure the hives firmly in the vehicle to avoid shifting. The smoothest ride in a truck bed is just behind the cab.  In general, do not close or screen the entrance. However, if you have screened bottoms, you may close the entrance completely. If you are carrying them in a car, or are concerned about bees getting out, wrap the whole hive in netting, shade cloth, or a bedsheet. Closed nucs can easily overheat!
  7. Package  Bees: package bees can easily overheat!  They must have clear air flow around the cage.  If you are picking up multiple packages, please make sure that you have spacer sticks to keep the cages separated, or arrange for us in advance to staple them together.

loading nucs

Here we are helping a customer load a trailer full of nucs, transferred to their cardboard boxes, and covered with netting.  The boxes are spaced and the entrances left open to avoid overheating.  However, we do not recommend such bouncy trailers, as the ride is rough on the bees.

Pick up checklist–please check off all items! Please help us to make your nuc pick up go quickly and smoothly–please get all your ducks in a row before you get here!

__ Green cash full payment for each nuc–paper money with green presidential portraits.

__ For each nuc: 1 hive body, 5 frames (3 frames for 8-frame boxes), 1 hive cover, 1 bottom board

__ Ratcheting straps. These have a handle that moves back and forth and goes “click, click, click” as the strap cinches up. Bungees or camlock straps do not provide adequate bindage.

__Please assemble all equipment and any entrance blocking before you arrive, so that we can quickly transfer your nucs without waiting for you to fiddle around.

__ Ropes to keep the hives from sliding in the back of the vehicle.

__ Net, shade cloth, or an old sheet if you are carrying within a vehicle, or plan to make stops.

__ Full bee gear and a smoker in case the hive breaks open on the way home

___For evening pick ups, be sure to arrive before 6:00 pm–after that cuts into Family Time.

___Download First Year Beekeeping for suggestions on care of your bees.

Happy Beekeeping!



Directions from I-80 east:

Take the Colfax/Grass Valley offramp.

Keep turning right until you are on Hwy 174.

Don’t miss when 174 turns left a mile out of town at Giovanni’s restaurant (sorry, currently burnt down, so it’s not much of a landmark any more!).

Go about 6 miles on Hwy 174 toward Grass Valley. When you see the green Meadow View Drive sign don’t turn yet, rather go another ¼ mile and look for the Meadow Drive sign on the left.

Turn left on Meadow Drive.

Go 1.1 miles up. Address 14744 on right.

Directions from Marysville (Hwy 20 east):

When you hit Freeway 49/20, go right over the overpass, straight; this will put you onto Empire St. Follow Empire St until it tees into Hwy 174, turn right


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