Buyer Beware: Buying Used Bee Equipment

BeehivesAh, spring is in the air and you are thinking of starting Beekeeping. We’re thrilled to hear this! It is such a  wonderful, relaxing and rewarding hobby. The nectar of the Gods! And, there is no better peace than sitting on the porch on a warm sunny, spring day with a cup of tea in hand watching your bees fly in and out of their hive. Pure bliss.

However, before you get into beekeeping you need the equipment and many people look to Facebook, Kijiji or Craigslist to save money and buy used equipment. But you may want to stop there and consider the following:

Saving money is awesome. But buying used beekeeping equipment can kill your colony.

In order to move, sell or transport beekeeping equipment, wax, comb or bees, it is a LEGAL requirement under the Bees Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. B.6 to have your yard inspected in Ontario. Please understand that as a buyer or a seller, this is a FREE SERVICE provided by the Province of Ontario and it is here to protect beekeepers and our bees from several detrimental diseases and pests: American Foulbrood, Small Hive Beetle, varrora mites, and wax moth (to name a few).

It can be quite scary getting AFB or SHB.  We had an SHB scare in Southern Ontario last summer, and very quickly OMAFRA / OBA and our Provincial Inspectors were out trying to track and contain this deadly pest. Let’s just keep it simple, if either of these are not contained they can cause the collapse – the death – of your entire hive and bee yard. They spread incredibly quickly and there is very little you can do aside from destroying – that is burning all your equipment, all your wax, all your hives, and your bees.

Most new beekeepers, and those considering diving into the hobby are unaware that it is a LEGAL requirement to 1. register your bees with the provincial apiarist (which you can do here or here), and to have your bees and supplies inspected 2. BEFORE SELLING or 3. if you need to MOVE YOUR BEES from one location to another.

Don’t fret too much, this is a FREE SERVICE provided by OMAFRA if you are a registered beekeeper. If you are looking at used equipment, make sure you ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS. Look for the inspection stickers on boxes (white, yellow or blue) and ask for a copy of the inspection certificate. Certificates are good for the season so make sure the date is current. These little buggies somehow manage to make their way into the hives over winter, multiplying unchecked and cause some great chaos come spring.

We made this mistake in our first year. We agreed to take a hive from someone  who could no longer take care of their bees and ended up with a complete DISASTER that almost killed the hive we took in, and the hive next to it. Thankfully our yard was registered and the inspector was able to treat and test the hive for several diseases and pests and provide treatment protocols. I would have been gutted due to our own lack of preparedness and research.

Ask lots of questions, register your new hives (only purchase from an inspected breeder — if someone is hesitant to give you this information, don’t buy it), and make sure all your equipment purchased has been inspected. If you do find someone online and their equipment is not inspected, ask them to have it inspected — it is free! If they are hesitant, or say they don’t have time — don’t give them your time. You will pay for the consequences later.

Honestly, the last thing you want to go through is having your apiary or yard quarantined, to have your new bees sickly, diseased and dying, and worse still, to have to burn all your hives and bees because the person you purchased from did not have their equipment inspected and now you have a federally regulated pest. You’ll be out the monetary investment, and you will not have any bees (and you will probably cry). Also, this is a sure gone way to really piss off your neighbours who have bees. If there is an instance or an inkling of AFB or SHB, all yards in the area will be quarantined. That means no one can sell honey, move bees, and well … they may have to destroy all their hives to prevent spread. So, let’s not go burning bridges and hives, please do your research before you buy.

Please educate this spring by reading the Bees Act and sharing this post far and wide!


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