Honeybee Pick-up Day: What to Expect

Honeybee pick-up day is a pretty exciting day around here. Now that we've been doing it for a few years, we've got it down to a pretty smooth operating procedure.

The colonies will begin making their way to us from their winter vacation location mid-week. Once the bees arrive here, we inspect each one to make sure they look good. We'll check for a healthy queen, plenty of bees, and food stores. The evening before pick-up day, we will head back out to the bee yard and seal up the entrances of each nuc to keep the bees inside for their transport in the morning. (You're welcome.)

Before pick-up day

  • Be sure you have your hive equipment ready to go. You will need, minimally, a deep hive body to place the nuc frames into. They won't fit in a medium box, so be sure you've got a deep!
  • Scope out the location of your hive. You don't want to move the bees once you place them in your yard, so be sure that the hive is located just where you want it.
  • Have your protective gear and tools ready. You might not need it on pick-up day, but you will want it when you move the frames into the hive.
  • If you plan to feed your new bees (your probably should), have a feeder and liquid feed ready.

On Pick-up Day

  • Pick-up hours are from 6:30 - 8:00 am ONLY
  • You will pull into our parking lot and one of our staff will check you off of the list and hand you a pick-up ticket. 
  • You'll drive up to the loading area. You can absolutely wear your new beekeeping suit if you feel more comfortable. No judgement here.
  • We'll load up your bees and you're on your way!
  • Check out our nuc installation guide for more.info on that part of the process

Live Installation Demonstration  |  7 AM

At 7:00 am, we will do a live demonstration in our apiary. All new beekeepers are encouraged to attend and watch as we move bees from their transport box into their new hive. We'll share some tips and hopefully alleviate any last-minute worries! There is no cost to anyone picking up nucs, but you MUST bring your own protective gear.

Should I Order a Nuc or a Package of Bees?

nuc or package.png

If you're a new beekeeper, it can seem like there are an overwhelming number of decisions to be made when setting up your first apiary. Do I need a bee suit or just a jacket? Plastic frames or wax foundations? Carniolan or Italian bees? There's no right or wrong answer to any of these questions, just like there's no right answer to give when new beekeepers ask us if they should order a nuc or a package.

Here's how we like to explain the difference, and our recommendations for when each is appropriate:

What's a nuc?

"Nuc" is short for nucleus colony, and it is easiest to think of it as a small version of a working hive. 

Top 10 Perennials for Bees

Top 10 Perennials for Bees

What is a perennial? The term "perennial" refers to an herbaceous plant that typically dies back in winter but comes back year after year. Perennials are a great addition to the landscape for a variety of reasons. There are so many varieties to choose from, and there is almost certainly a perennial plant that will solve a garden problem. Some love hot, dry places. Some love damp, shady spots. Some grow tall, some form ground covers. There is likely a perennial that will fit nicely into almost any area of your yard, even a container! 

    Read More

    Langstroth Hive Setup

    My winter project? Make a bunch of short videos answering the basic beekeeping questions we get all of the time. Here's a preview:

    So, you bought all of the parts to put together your new hive, and now it's time to actually put it together. And that's where it can get tricky!

    What part goes where? It all makes a lot of sense when you see it set up in the store, but can get pretty confusing when you have to do it again at home. Here's  a quick video that we think should help.

    Do you have an idea for a video you'd like to see? Let me know! erin@mastersons.net

    Honey Harvest Festival Contest Winners


    Wow! What a weekend! We want to extend a huge thank you to everyone who came out this weekend to celebrate the Fifth Annual Honey Harvest Festival with us! The festival is bigger and better every year, and we had a great time meeting new people and chatting about bees all weekend.

    honey jars.jpg

    The Amazing Volunteers

    A huge thank you to all of our volunteers who spent their time helping out with the event. Beekeepers are pretty great people, we've found, and we have an amazing network of folks in our area. 

     Steve mastered the uncapping process with a smile.

    Steve mastered the uncapping process with a smile.

     Kim got a workout as she extracted honey with the hand-crank.

    Kim got a workout as she extracted honey with the hand-crank.

    Local Vendors

    We are so grateful to the local vendors who joined us this year. Without them, the event wouldn't be nearly as much fun. This year awe had such a wonderful variety of folks here and we hope that you'll continue to support these local businesses.

    hhf vendors.png

    Honey Taste Contest

    And finally...the results from everyone's favorite part of the event!

    honey contest

    and the winner is

    Maria Weber of Orchard Park

    Maria submitted sample #10, which received 21% of the votes cast throughout the weekend. 

    Wondering about the other honeys? Here's the breakdown of where they came from and the percentage of votes each won.

    1. 14% - Orchard Park
    2. 13% - Angola
    3. 4% - Alden
    4. 7% - Hamburg
    5. 9% - West Valley
    6. 9% - Newfane
    7. 10% - Lockport
    8. 5% - West Seneca
    9. 7% - Holland
    10. 21% - Orchard Park

    As you can see, every single honey in the contest had some fans, so what this means to us is that ALL honey is awesome. Thank you to all who participated by submitting samples and voting! We'll do it again next year...

    Cell Count Guessing Game

    In our kids area, we placed a single medium frame out with the instructions to guess how many honeycomb cells the bees could build on it. We had lots of guesses (some great, some not so close!) and the winner with the closest guess was:

    Mika Walten

    The actual cell count for that frame was 2,772, so Mika's guess of 2,750 was the closest! Congrats!


    Plant Hardy Mums for Fall Color


    Ever since I was a little kid working here at the garden center, the arrival of the mums meant fall was really here. The smell of the mums as they come off the truck is still one of my favorites, and the bright pops of color throughout the greenhouses are welcome after all of the annuals have faded away.

    Three reasons to love hardy mums

    fall mums
    • Mums do well in containers. Whether you need to spruce up some tired annual planters on your front porch or need some pops of color for fall entertaining, mums are a great choice. 
    • Mums bloom when most other stuff is done. While some annuals are still looking good at this point in the season, many have passed their peak bloom times and there's not a whole lot of color left in the garden. A border of hardy mums adds fall interest.
    • Hardy mums are perennials. Yep, that's right! Those beauties you buy in the fall can be planted in the ground and will reward you with fall color for years to come. Some simple routine maintenance is all that is required to keep them looking great from year to year. You can even divide them.

    Planting and care tips

    Hardy mums are perennials, meaning that they will come back year after year. In order to keep them looking their best, follow these simple steps:

    • Plant in a sunny location, receiving at least six hours of direct sunlight per day.
    • Water regularly until established, making sure leaves do not wilt. Avoid wetting the foliage, as this can promote disease.
    • Pinch back growth by about one half every three to four weeks until the Fourth of July. This promotes branching of the stems, which results in more blooms and a more appealing overall shape.
    • Divide mums in the spring, just as new green grown begins to emerge.

    Beeswax Soap Recipe

    When you're a beekeeper, you find yourself with lots of beeswax laying around and you find ways to use it. One of my favorite uses for beeswax is in soap making. We'll host a soap making class a little later in the season, but here's the recipe I've been using for a few years now and it's my favorite.


    • 360 g olive oil

    • 225 g coconut oil

    • 175 g palm oil

    • 32 2 castor oil

    • 7 g beeswax

    • 264 g distilled water

    • 114 g sodium hydroxide

    • about 1 tablespoon honey

    • 1 – 2 tablespoons fragrance or essential oils, as desired

    This recipe has worked well for me, creating a creamy colored bar that does not turn to mush in the shower while still providing good lather. 

    Not into making your own soap? We sell it here in the store.

    Explore Our Wildlife Habitat

    Last year, we updated our nursery yard to create a wildlife-friendly environment. Almost immediately, we saw toads move into the stream bed, bees and butterflies visiting the pollinator gardens, and so many species of birds visiting the feeders. It is such a peaceful place to visit!

    We want to encourage little explorers to wander through the yard and see what wildlife they can spot, so we've created a scavenger hunt checklist. The lists will be available in our Kids Garden area, and anyone who completes the scavenger hunt can return the list for a Wildlife Explorer Badge. (Ok, it's a sticker, but who doesn't like stickers?)

    Bring your little ones in and go on a wildlife scavenger hunt together. Hopefully you'll feel inspired to invite nature back into your backyard!

    Getting our Website Back

    A few weeks ago, our website was hacked, flagged, and then shut down by our server. We've been, inconveniently, offline since then.

    Rather than remaining angry about this disruption during what is a very busy time for us, we decided to look at the bright side and take this an opportunity to re-design our site and bring even better content to you.

    Please bear with us as we add more information back to the site, and don't hesitate to give us a call at the store if you have any questions at all.

    Also, a HUGE THANKS to everyone that came out to see us at the Plantasia show this weekend! We had a great time, and we're feeling excited for spring!