Best Bee Supply Companies

Become a beekeeper

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Beekeeper working in apiary.
przemekklos / Twenty20.

 Beekeeper working in apiary.

5 Best Bee Supply Companies of 2021

As homesteading, urban farming, and suburban and country living become increasingly popular, beekeeping can be an exciting addition to your backyard environment. However, beekeeping requires specific equipment that may not be available at local shops.

To make setting up a backyard apiary easier, we reviewed online suppliers and identified the best bee supply companies for Treehugger readers. Whether you’re a hobbyist or hoping to turn your hives into a business, these services can help you get started.

Best Overall: Mann Lake Ltd.

Mann Lake

 Mann Lake

Why We Chose It: Mann Lake Ltd. is our overall best bee supply company because of its long history in the business, ample selection of well-made beekeeping supplies, and online beginner resources.

What We Like:

- Wide selection of supplies, including live bees

- Caters to hobbyists and commercial beekeepers

- Provides helpful online resources

What We Don’t Like:

- More expensive than some other brands

- Some customers complain about shipping delays and issues with orders

Founded in 1983, Mann Lake Ltd. is a Minnesota-based beekeeping supplier that has expanded to California, Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida, and Kentucky, as well as online. Mann Lake’s website features everything you need to start a beekeeping hobby or business, and many of the company’s products are made in-house. 

Mann Lake offers a large selection of equipment for every stage of the beekeeping process—from setting up a hive and building and maintaining a colony to extracting and bottling honey. Happy customers report that the supplier’s equipment is well-made and durable. 

Beginners can choose from several options that range from simple hive kits to complete beekeeping kits with everything from wood frames to protective clothing. You can even buy live bees for nationwide delivery or local pick-up—although we recommend finding bees locally because of the stress shipping can put on colonies. 

And, if you’re just getting started with beekeeping, Mann Lake features educational videos, in-person classes, and a directory of beekeeping associations to help you meet other enthusiasts.

Best for Hobbyists: Dadant & Sons, Inc.

Dadant

 Dadant

Why We Chose It: Dadant is our top choice for beekeeping hobbyists because of the company’s flexible beginner kits and informative online resources.

What We Like:

- Online learning center with extensive resources for beginners

- Flexible beginners kit options

- Offers supplies for candle making, soap making, and other honey-related crafts

What We Don’t Like:

- You’ll have to get your bees and queen elsewhere

- Some shopper report unresponsive customer service

With an interest in beekeeping going back almost 200 years, the Dadant family officially incorporated Dadant & Sons, Inc. in 1948 and continues to provide top-quality beekeeping supplies. Since then, the supplier offers a comprehensive selection of beekeeping supplies suitable for both commercial apiaries and backyard hobbyists. 

And, while Dadant does not sell bees online, its website does provide helpful guidance on how to attract bees during swarm season or install package bees from another supplier. Plus, beginner beekeepers can take advantage of Dadant’s online learning center, which includes monthly beekeeping tips, interviews with assorted beekeepers, and other helpful resources.

Best for Protective Wear: Humble Bee

Humble Bee

 Humble Bee

Why We Chose It: Humble Bee is our top choice for protective wear because of the high-quality products and because the company donates 10% of profits to local beekeeping and bee conservation organizations.

What We Like:

- Products are high-quality and well-reviewed

- Offers several payment options that allow customers to pay over time

- The company’s founders are committed to bee conservation

What We Don’t Like:

- Does not sell other beekeeping equipment

- Some product reviews reflect sizing issues

Founded by two beekeepers in 2014, Humble Bee is an online supplier of protective equipment for beekeeping. Available products include gloves, jackets, base layers, and smocks, as well as full suits and veils. While Humble Bee’s selection isn’t as extensive as other companies on our list, the offerings are all high-quality and the company is focused on providing the best protective equipment available at a reasonable price. 

Humble Bee also features a "no questions asked" satisfaction guarantee and all of its products come with a two-year warranty. You can also read reviews from verified purchasers before committing to a product, so you’re more likely to find the equipment that fits your needs. Plus, shipping is free when you spend about $39 or more, so Humble Bee makes it even more affordable to buy excellent equipment to keep you safe.

Best for Processing and Marketing: Betterbee

Betterbee

 Betterbee

Why We Chose It: We love Betterbee for honey processing and marketing because the supplier makes it fun and easy to harvest and process the fruits of your beekeeping.

What We Like:

- Wide selection of tools for making candles, soap, mead, and skincare products

- Offers pre-made honey and beeswax products

- Features an online information center with beekeeping resources

What We Don’t Like:

- Some customers have reported limited or out-of-date product descriptions online 

Like other bee supply companies on our list, Betterbee stocks an impressive inventory of beekeeping supplies including hives, live bees (for pick-up only), and harvesting and processing equipment. However, Betterbee’s popularity becomes truly evident in its selection of custom honey labels, containers, and supplies for making candles, soap, and skincare. 

In addition to a full selection of harvesting and processing equipment, customers can choose from over 20 labels (with custom options available), as well as plastic and glass honey containers, caps, lids, and comb honey containers. Betterbee also boasts an impressive selection of candle molds, wicking, and packaging, plus other candlemaking tools and supplies. 

If you need some extra inspiration, Betterbee also sells a number of items and bee-related crafts online and at its store in Greenwich, NY.

Best Customer Support: Good Land Bee Supply

Good Land Bee Supply

 Good Land Bee Supply

Why We Chose It: Good Land Bee Supply is our favorite bee supply company for customer support because it is responsive and listens to client needs when developing products.

What We Like:

- Bases product decisions and inventory on customer needs and feedback

- Large selection of tools and supplies for hobbyists and larger apiaries

- Several ways to contact customer support

What We Don’t Like:

- Doesn’t offer tools for making soap, candles, or other products

- Limited selection of beginner kits

Good Land Bee Supply stands out because of the company’s dedication to meeting the needs of its customers—both amateurs and professionals. Not only does the supplier make it easy to contact its customer support team, but it's also committed to getting the right tools in the hands of its clients. 

To do so, the website offers a curated selection of high-quality products to help you set up and maintain your hives and, ultimately, extract honey. What’s more, the Good Land team makes an effort to develop its product offerings based on customer feedback.

That said, Good Land doesn’t offer supplies for crafting candles, soaps, and other items out of honey and beeswax—though there are plenty of other suppliers that offer these items.

Bottom Line

Beekeeping can be a tremendously satisfying hobby and addition to your backyard—but it also requires research and equipment. Many of the best bee supply companies offer online resources and beginner kits to help you get started. That said, even serious beekeepers can stock up on equipment and supplies at the stores on our list. Our overall best bee supply company—Mann Lake Ltd.—offers a huge range of inventory for professionals and amateurs at reasonable prices.

What Beekeeping Equipment Do I Need?

To get started with beekeeping, you’ll need a hive, queen and colony, hive tool, and a smoker to subdue your bees. You should also invest in some protective wear, like a full suit with a veil and gloves. If beekeeping is a new hobby for you, it may be easiest to invest in a beekeeper's kit that will meet your basic needs. Once your honey is ready to extract, you will also need tools for extracting, processing, and bottling your harvest. 

How Many Acres Do You Need to Raise Bees?

It’s estimated that each colony of honeybees needs access to at least one acre of flowers, blossoming trees, and other vegetation to flourish. However, this number can vary based on the availability of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and other sources of food—as well as whether pollen and nectar are available throughout the entire spring and fall. Required acreage also depends on the type of land, with open meadows being the most hospitable. 

What Is the Best Time to Start Beekeeping?

Spring is the best time to start beekeeping because it will allow your new colony time to increase in size and store honey before winter begins. That said, you should pay attention to local conditions to gauge when the weather is getting warmer. 

To ensure you’re ready to get started when conditions are right, take time to order equipment and learn about beekeeping before purchasing bees and moving them into their new hive. You should also let your neighbors know that they may experience increased bee activity in their yards. 

How We Chose the Best Bee Supply Companies

To select the best bee supply companies, we compared nearly 20 online suppliers based on factors like product selection, pricing, and nationwide availability. We also reviewed each company’s customer support options, shopper satisfaction, and online resources—especially for hobbyists and those just getting started with beekeeping.