Getting Started with Productive Bees (2023)

My daughter has been getting me back into Minecraft with her, so I set up a private server we could both play on. And since it’s me, I also installed a whole bunch of mods, including Immersive Engineering, Tinker’s Construct, Beyond Earth, and Productive Bees, a beekeeping mod that lets you attract, capture, and/or breed a wide variety of bees that produce various useful resources.

The problem I have with a lot of Minecraft mods is that out-of-game documentation is thin to nonexistent, often consisting of little more than a YouTube video from two years ago for an obsolete version of the mod. In-game documentation has improved massively since the introduction of Patchouli, and these days you can often get help by dropping onto Discord, but no matter how friendly and helpful the Discord is or how complete the in-game book, I generally prefer an offline manual.

In light of that, I figured I’d write a short guide to getting started with Productive Bees, which is a mod I’m having a lot of fun with, but also probably gave me the most trouble getting off the ground with, even with the wiki.

N.b. this guide assumes you are already familiar with the basics of modded Minecraft, but does not assume any familiarity with Minecraft beekeeping even in vanilla.


In addition to Productive Bees itself, you will need:

  • JEI (for recipe lookup)
  • Jade (for information about bee nests and other placed blocks)
  • Patchouli (for the in-game manual)

The mod will still load without them, but they are absolutely necessary to actually understand what’s going on.

(Video) Productive Bees! Bit-by-Bit by @MischiefofMice


  • Get honey and honeycomb from vanilla bees
  • Use it to make Bee Cages, Honey Treats, and Advanced Hives
  • Capture wild bees (with Bee Cages) or lure them (with Honey Treats)
  • Put the bees in Advanced Beehives and give them access to flowers to get special honeycombs
  • Breed bees or offer them special foods to get new bee species

Learning about bees

Productive Bees has excellent JEI integration, so you can learn a lot about bees by looking them up in JEI. They all have “bee” in the name, so they’re easy to search for. Once you find the bee you want, left-clicking will give you information about how to get the bee (what nest type it likes, or what other bees you need to interbreed, or the like), while right-clicking will show you information about what the bee does once you have it – what food it needs, what resources it produces, what blocks (if any) it can destroy/alter, and what other bee species can be bred from it. There’s usually also an “info” tab (marked with a 🛈) with general information.

This also works for most non-bee things; for example, left-clicking on a nest will give you its recipe, while right-clicking on it will tell you what biomes it supports and what sorts of bees it can attract.

If you’re already familiar with JEI, these are the “recipe for” and “uses of” views.

Getting honey and honeycomb

You need to get these from vanilla bee nests, which can be found randomly on trees. If you’re having trouble finding one, there is a chance for newly grown birch and oak trees to come with a beehive; plant a bunch of saplings, plant flowers next to them, and wait for the trees to grow, and each one will have a 5% chance to come with a beehive.

Once a nest is dripping with honey, you can harvest honey by using a glass bottle on it, or honeycomb by using shears. Both of these will anger the hive unless you pacify them with smoke first, so be prepared to run – you can probably defeat the bees easily but then they won’t be around to collect more honey, and you’ll need more than one harvest.

Making your starting gear

You can look up the exact recipes on JEI, but the main things you’ll want to start with are:

(Video) Minecraft Productive Bees - Complete Guide

  • Honey Treats, made with honey and honeycomb
  • Advanced Hives, made with honeycomb, planks, shears, and campfires
  • Bee Cages, made with honey and planks
  • The in-game manual, made with a Bee Cage and a Book

Note that villages often contain Sturdy Bee Cages as worldgen loot, which don’t stack, but are reusable; if you have a supply of those you can skip making your own, although you’ll still want to make one for the manual.

Catching bees

The simplest way to get a new bee is to find it in the world and use a Bee Cage on it. Congratulations! Now you have a bee in your inventory, and it won’t mind being stuck in the cage for a while. You can capture vanilla bees this way, and also a bunch of the other bee types added by the mod like Mason Bees and Carpenter Bees.

To release a bee, just right-click with the filled cage in hand. If you shift-right-click on a hive or nest, the bee will (if it can live there; see Care and Feeding below) choose that as its new home.

Luring bees

A lot of bee types either don’t spawn in the world organically, or do but are easier to get by luring. Using an appropriate nest and some honey treats, many different species of bees can be tempted to come to you.

To do this:

  • look at the bee in JEI to learn what kind of nest and biome the bee you’re trying to attract likes
  • build the nest
  • place it in the appropriate biome
  • double check with Jade that it says it “can attract bees in this location”
  • build a small enclosure around it; the bee will appear directly in front of the hive and without an enclosure they are prone to flying away and getting lost
  • right-click on it with a honey treat
  • wait

Jade will show you how long you have to wait for the bee to arrive, and you can speed things up by using more honey treats. Once the bee arrives, you can break the block and the bee will remain safely inside while you carry it around.

(Video) Getting Started with Productive Bees | All The Mods 7 EPISODE 8

In multiplayer I have sometimes noticed the Jade info saying that the nest is empty after the timer runs out; this appears to be a client-server sync error, and if you pick up the nest there will probably be a bee inside after all.

Annoying bee species

ZomBees and Skeletal Bees are annoying because you can’t lure them explicitly; instead they’ll randomly spawn in dark, empty hives. Your best bet if you want these is to build a hive or three in a sealed cave somewhere and check on it every few days.

Nomad Bees are annoying because they’ll take over the hives used by other solitary bee types. Fortunately there is a limit to how many times this can happen per hive, so if you keep capturing the nomad bees when they come out and re-homing them somewhere away from your hives, you’ll eventually deal with the problem. (Keep at least one or two for breeding, though!)

Care and feeding

Once you have a bunch of bees in your inventory, you need a place to keep them. Bees generally come in two kinds: solitary bees, which need single-bee nests and produce no resources, but are useful for breeding, and gregarious bees, which need beehives and produce honeycombs and honey.

No matter what kind of bees you have, the first thing you should do is build an enclosure. Real-world bees will range far and wide in search of nectar and return to the nest safely, but Minecraft bees are not nearly as capable and will often get lost forever. To avoid this, you should completely enclose your beekeeping area (roof included), ideally in a bunch of smaller per-hive cubicles— 3x3x3 is a good interior size for this. You should use full blocks for building (e.g. glass blocks rather than glass panes), because the bees will often get stuck on partially-solid blocks.

Finally, install the appropriate nest or beehive, and (if the bees aren’t already in it) release them next to it. If you plan to automate resource collection, make sure you install the beehive somewhere that makes it possible to attach pipes/cables/conveyors/etc to it.

(Video) All The Mods 8 Ep. 20 Productive Bees

Resource production

Bees kept in advanced beehives will produce honeycomb as long as they have access to food. To see what food they need, check the uses-of screen for each bee in JEI (right click); the “flowering” tab will tell you what food they need in order to produce combs. For most bees, this will either be flowers, or some set of blocks related to the resource they produce — e.g. iron bees will need iron ore or blocks.

At various times of day, the bees will emerge from the hive and, if food is available, sample it and return to the hive, producing resource honeycomb. The honeycomb can be taken out of the hive by hand or piped out; to turn it into useful resources, it then needs to be run through a centrifuge, which will produce wax, liquid honey, and bee-specific resources such as redstone, raw iron, wood chips, etc.

Small amounts of honey will also be produced in the hive itself, and can be extracted by putting glass bottles in the hive. It’s worth doing so even if the centrifuge is giving you all the honey you need, because for every bottle of honey you’ll also get a plain honeycomb, useful for making more beehives and hive expansions.

Block Conversion

Some bees also have a “block conversion” tab when right-clicked in JEI, which means that if they encounter these blocks in the wild, they may transform them into something else — for example, Magmatic Bees will convert cobblestone into lava source blocks. You should check this both to make sure that you don’t build the enclosure out of something the bees will destroy, and to see if it’s potentially useful; paired with appropriate placing/harvesting infrastructure, the cobblestone → lava conversion makes for a slow but effectively unlimited source of lava.

If you do plan to make use of block conversion, I find it’s best to place it at the same level as the food, rather than positioning them at different heights; if you do the latter the bees tend to fixate on one at the expense of the other.

Breeding and metamorphosis

A lot of bee species can’t be found in the wild, but must be created by crossbreeding other bee species. (This information is also available in JEI.) Actually doing it is straightforward – get the two parent bees in an enclosed space using bee cages, right-click each of them with the breeding food listed in JEI (usually just flowers; note that this is not necessarily the same food used for producing honeycomb!), and wait briefly for the baby bee to appear.

(Video) Productive Bee Basics: All The Mods 7 Tutorial

Some bees require metamorphosis instead; for these, take the first-instar bee and right-click on it with the resource needed to trigger its metamorphosis.

It’s also possible to produce bees using genetic engineering, and some bees can only be created this way, but since I haven’t touched the genetic engineering mechanics at all yet, I’m not going to attempt to detail that here.

Happy beekeeping!


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