TedsWoodworking Plans and Projects

Installing Your First Package of Bees

Many people start their beekeeping journey by ordering a package of bees. This package includes 3lbs of bees and a queen. It will need a little more TLC than a full colony or a nuc since the bees will have to build their hive from the very beginning. The queen will have to be released from her cage and establish her reign, the package of bees will have to build comb and prepare the hive, and the colony will have to gain enough strength to defend itself before it can grow and produce enough honey for you to harvest. The benefit is that you can observe this whole process and hopefully learn to understand your bees better because of it.

Here are 2 different ways you can install a package of bees:

Method 1:

  1. Before your package is delivered you should prepare your equipment. Make sure the box is assembled and ready. Painting, staining, or whatever you chose to do to the wood should be done. The frames also need to be prepared. They should be assembled and have wax foundation in them, if you ordered new and not used. The bottom board and top covers also need to be on and ready for use. If you purchased used equipment then it all needs to be cleaned and disinfected to prevent contaminating your new hive.
  2. When your package of bees arrives you need to check on the bees. Make sure there are no leaks in the box, there shouldn’t be a lot of dead bees on the bottom, and the box’s total weight should be about 4.5 lbs. If , for any reason, you need to store the bees for any length of time you will need to spray them with sugar syrup (a sugar and water combination) to feed them then store them in a cool, dark area.
  3. Bring your package to the place where you have the hive set up. Take the covers off the box, pull 4-5 frames out of the center, and put an entrance reducer in place. Have all of your tools and your feeder ready.
  4. Spray the package of bees heavily with sugar syrup then knock the box on the top of frames to loosen up the bees. Don’t worry about hurting them, they will be fine.
  5. Very quickly lift the cover of the box then remove the feeding can and queen cage.
  6. Dump the package of bees into the empty space in the box. Then slowly replace the frames and wedge the queen cage in between the two center frames with the screen facing the empty space between the frames so the bees can still reach her. Leave the piece of hard candy in the queen cage, the bees will usually free her within a couple of days. Put the feeder in place and close up the hive.

Method 2:


You will want to leave the package that the bees came in sitting beside the hive for a little while so that the slow and confused bees can find their new home. Pick up the rest of your tools and head to the house.

Congratulations! You’ve just installed your first package of bees!

Check on them after 2-3 days and see if they have released the queen. If not, pull out the cork and put the queen cage back. In 2-3 more days check again to see if they have released her. If not – let her out. If so – good! You will want to leave the hive alone for a couple weeks and let them get established. Then, proceed into the world of beekeeping with caution. There is much to learn and plenty to enjoy once you put on the veil.

Comments

  1. Mwebe Osman says:

    Thanx for all your updates pliz. I appreciate them and you’re training me a lot. But I have a question. What type of pest that attacks bees combs and buid some spider web-like strucures which enclose some bees in combs and eventually they die. The rest of bees decide to abscond. The pests look like larva forms of Catterpillar. I will be very grateful if I’m assisted to overcome that problem because it is affecting my progress in bee keeping.

    • Sounds like it wax moths to me, have a look at this picture (an extreme case) and see if this could be it. You can freeze the comb to kill the larvae. Bees can usually keep wax moths at bay so you may have another problem, there isn’t too much empty space in the hive is there? Here’s the picture

  2. Thank you it was great to see ,i need more infomation on the screen on the bottom board and information on the elect fence and solar pack, thankyou Andre’ in Cape Town South Africa
    Post Address no 1 Venus Kirstenhof Cape code 7945

    • Hi Andre, the screened bottom boards are for mite control, what kind of information are you looking for on that? Solar chargers are available at most farm and ranch stores, do you have any in your area? You could always order one online.

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