How Do You Install A Package Of Bees?


For well over 100 years new beekeepers have received packages of bees in the mail to install in their hives. As strange as it might sound, it is very effective and practical. Bees will arrive at your local post office in a wooden screened box. This box is equipped with a sugar water or hard candy dispenser and a cage to keep the queen separate from the bees. Now what? How do you install your new package of honey bees?

Preparing To Install A PackageTo prepare for the arrival of your bees, purchase a new spray bottle and mix sugar water, one part water to one part sugar. Do not use old spray bottles that have been used with chemicals. As soon as you receive the exciting (or perhaps frantic) call from your post office that your bees have arrived, rush out with joy to pick up your bees! Before leaving the post office with your new package(s), spray your bees with the sugar water. Spray an ample supply of sugar water through the screen. Use the mist setting, not the stream. The bees have been traveling for several days so the sugar water will replenish their energy.

Sometimes, the weather might be too wet or cold to install your bees the same day they arrive. In this case, simply keep them in a cool basement or dark room and spray them with sugar water 3-4 times a day. They will usually be fine for a few days if you must wait. Some dead bees on the bottom of the package is common. A couple of inches of dead bees might be a problem, indicating they need to be installed soon.

As you prepare to install your bees, you will find that spraying the package with sugar water helps to calm the bees. Now, here's how to effectively install your bees into your new hive. Choose a good time of the day, when it is sunny, warm and not too windy. Mid to late afternoon works well. Be sure and take all your equipment to where you will install your package. You will need the following items:

1) Spray bottle with sugar water (1:1 ratio) 
2) Hive tool 
3) A wood screw (for removing queen cage cork) 
4) A comfortable amount of protective clothing 

Be sure your new hive is located exactly where you want it to stay for awhile. Now you will need your bottom board, 1 deep hive body, 10 frames and foundation, inner and top cover and an entrance reducer. Place the entrance reducer on the smallest opening for the first few days. Remove 4 of the center frames from the new hive body. This is the space you will shake your bees into. But first, spray all 10 frames, both sides, with the 1:1 sugar water mixture. This will attract the bees to the foundation and give them a warm welcome to their new home. Bees love sugar! Since your bees are not an established hive just yet and have no food in the hive, feed your bees for a couple of weeks.

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