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Nuc, package, and queen sales and pick up instructions

Revised 16 January 2020

Now taking orders for 2020

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 Eric must handle all orders by phone or email in the early morning or evening.  To avoid confusion, please help him by reading all your options below before contacting him.  Since he may be handling a dozen phone calls or emails in rapid succession, please tell him 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 him, as it just gets too confusing!

Email:  In general, contact Eric at oliverhoneysales (at) gmail.com (address protected from spambots).

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

Payment: We abhor paperwork, promises, and bounced checks, so all our prices are for payment with green cash only.  If you need to pay by check or request any additional paperwork whatsoever, please make prior arrangements for price adjustment.  Due to the variability of bee supply, all prices subject to change without notice!  Below are out current prices for spring 2018. 

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 deep 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.

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

$180.00 ea–$10  discount ($170 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 other paperwork.

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  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 2001,  and avoid areas in which insecticides are applied, so 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—in case of the rare problem, you may return them for replacement.  Losses due to improper care are of course not covered.

 Pick Up Instructions

  • If you wish to pick up your nuc already settled into its corrugated plastic transport box, simply arrive with a place to carry it home (tie straps if going into the back of a truck).
  • You will be transporting a box of live honey bees.  Be sure to arrive with a smoker and bee suit, in case of mishap upon your trip home.
  • On warm days, strong nucs must be kept cool during transport.  Do not leave them in an enclosed car or trunk or the bees may overheat and die!
  • Our nucs generally go out very strong and full of brood, and are thus HUNGRY.  Please be prepared to feed them sugar syrup  immediately when you arrive home!
  • Please download First Year Beekeeping for suggestions for successful beekeeping!

loading nucsHere 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.

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 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 of you with top-bar hives, we’re willing to shake package bees to order.  Please contact Eric to make arrangements.


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

Freshly-caged  Queens $35 ea (green cash).

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). We cage our queens to order, and do not bank them, so they are ready for quick acceptance.


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:

Price $5 ea (green cash).

Split your colonies yourself before they swarm!  We generally have queen cells on hand from mid March through mid May, and can usually spare a few most any time.  For more than 5 at a time, please order at least two weeks in advance (we’re happy to provide queen cells by the hundred); preordered cells are considered as “sold” upon our confirmation of being sealed, and must be picked up on the agreed date, regardless of the weather!.  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.



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

  1. 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.


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