View Full Version : Installing package bees?
03-24-2004, 02:30 PM
OK, I am new to beekeeping and have read my butt off and have a question. Do I want to stuff grass in the entrance to the hive after installing my bees. I am getting two different instructions from what I read. Alos any other tips would be welcome. I am using a SBB and a standard deep to keep them in. I have a miller feeder for feeding. I am getting two packages or regular old Italians.
03-24-2004, 05:02 PM
>Do I want to stuff grass in the entrance to the hive after installing my bees.
Not necessary, but can't hurt either. If you are really worried, put the queen excluder under the brood box and above the SBB. If the queen can't get out the rest will stay for sure.
Don't leave the INCLUDER on for more than a week.
03-24-2004, 05:26 PM
sprinkle some sugar water over a couple of frames of foundation, and you could even lighter spray/mist the package (not queen cage) with water prior to installing. Any bees not dumped into the hive will find there way within 15-30 minutes. Initially if more loose bees are going in the entrance, than are coming out, you know its working. After this initial 15 minutes, than some bees will start making thier way out to orient themselves. If bees are not scenting the entrance or are piling out of the hive, something is wrong.
Not sure where all the information is coming about packages leaving and losing bees. Swarms are one thing, but I have never lost a package, used a queen excluder, or anything else, and this well over a couple hundred packages. I guess I should ask "Has anybody had problems with installing packages?"
Packaging a hive is exciting the first time and really basic. Very hard to screw up. Just don't take the wrong cork out.
03-24-2004, 06:18 PM
There are all sorts of ways to hive a package, and most all of them work most all of the time. The grass gives them a little time to get organized. The includer keeps the queen in and gives them time to start building comb etc. In both cases the concept is to keep the bees there long enough for them to decide to stay. Odds are they will anyway. The hive is as about as nice a home as they can hope to find.
I've done everything from directly relasing the queen into the hive the day I installed them to the typical hole in the candy introduction. I've dumped them in. I've put an extra box for the stragglers to climb out into the hive, I've put the box outside of the hive with the stragglers. I've done it a lot of ways. Once in 30 years, they all moved into the hive next door and left the queen behind in her cage, but other than that they all did fine.
Pick a method and try it. See how you like it and adjust next time.
03-24-2004, 10:40 PM
<<I am getting two different instructions>>
Then you didn't read very much!
03-25-2004, 06:48 AM
Thanks to everyone for the help.
Dcross, I know what you mean, but I was just refering to only the grass part. You are right about every book having a different way of doing it.
03-25-2004, 07:56 AM
Here's my method of installing a package
To install a package of bees in a regular hive, feed them so they are calm and not taking sugar syrup by either spraying on the side or brushing syrup on the side of the package until the bees stop licking it off. If the weather is really bad, put the bees somewhere in the house that isnt drafty, feed them with the syrup on the side of the box and wait until the next day. Quiet and dark are also pluses. The basement is often a good choice. If it looks like the weather is going to be bad for several days, you may have to just do it anyway. When you are ready to install them have your hive where you want it to stay. One box on the hive will do for starters. Open the lid to the package and pull out the queen cage. Put the lid back on. Pull the cork out of the candy end (if there is one) or put a miniature marshmallow in the hole after you pull the cork out (if there isnt a candy in it) and wedge the queen cage with the screen facing down between the center frames in the hive. If it wont fit, you may need to remove a frame. Sometimes I staple something on the back of the cage (careful the staples aren't too long and hurt the queen) to hold it on the top bars so it doesn't fall in, like a piece of cardboard or hardware cloth. Open the lid and pull out the feed can and put the lid back on. There are now some bees in the air that were on the can. Keeping the box right side up (lid on top) strike it on the ground hard enough to dislodge the bees hanging in a cluster in the box. Now remove the lid, turn it upside down and shake the bees into the box with the queen. After youre not getting many bees anymore, hit it again on the ground to get the bees dislodges and shake them out again. Repeat until there are only a hundred or so bees left in the box and put the box on the ground in front of the hive with the opening facing the entrance of the hive. After the bees have settled in enough that you can close the cover, put the cover on the hive. Always move slowly and gently to let the smart bees move and not get squished. Some are not smart and will never move out of the way, but you should give them the opportunity. Now that you have the lid on, leave them alone for a week or two.
03-25-2004, 10:25 AM
Here is how I was taught to install packages. First set up your hive with 9 frames so the queen cage will fit in between the frames. Next remove the syrup can and place to the side. Remove the queen cage and then cover the top of the package of bees. On the queen cage remove the block so the bees will be able to eat the candy to release the queen. Install the queen cage into your hive body. Next pick up the package of bees and hit it on the ground to dislodge bees, remove cover and shake some bees onto the frames. Place inner cover on the hive. Next I use some scrap pieces of interior trim that I have lying around. I Take the package and turn it upside down on top of the inner cover and lifted up with the scrap pieces of trim so the bees can exit. Then I will take the syrup can and sit on top of trim on the inner cover also. No reason to let good syrup go to waste. Then I place a empty hive body on followed by the top.
03-25-2004, 10:34 AM
I've done pretty much that method too. It worked fine also.
03-25-2004, 11:36 AM
What about using my miller feeders? I assume that I can install them at the same time I put the bees in? Of course that means I can't put the bee package on top of the inner cover though. I like that idea but if I leave it sit outside the hive won't they go in to be with the queen?
03-25-2004, 11:54 AM
If you have most of the bees and the queen inside, the nasonov pheromone that the cluster gives off will attract the stragglers as will the queens pheromones.
If you want to stack the deck a bit, spray the hive with lemon pledge just before you install the bees, or put some lemongrass oil in.
All in all, it really won't matter that much. They will all get together anyway.
About the only exception is if it's a chilly day (below 50 degrees F) and it's late in the day when you install, the bees left in the package might not have the time and heat to sort it all out. Otherwise they will find their way quite easily.
03-25-2004, 03:47 PM
I assume that you can install packages for two hives one right after the other, or sould I wait untill the first hive has settled down some?
I cleared out an area around where my hives will be and made hive stands out of firewood rounds with 2x4's across them, they are about 4 feet apart.
03-25-2004, 08:38 PM
One comment based on the Minnesota beginning beekeeping course taught last weekend by Marla Spivak. When introducing a queen with a package, they direct-release by simply removing the staple and bending back the screen, then letting the queen walk directly onto the frame. Two cautions: do this IN the box (queens will fly away) and be careful not to let the screen flip back and smack the queen.
The rationale behind this is that, by the time packages make it to Minnesota from California/Texas/Florida, the bees have been together with that queen for several days, and they're already used to each other. "All beekeeping is local." If you live closer to the bee breeders, this advice doesn't apply, since you can't depend on the shipping delay to give them all time to get friendly with each other. I believe that three days minimum is the guideline.
The U of Minnesota uses this method routinely for 100+ packages a year. We were told that in 1200 packages installed this way during Marla's tenure, they've lost two. One of those was from a student who demonstrated that indeed queens will fly if held outside the box. So I'd say that 1199/1200 is a pretty good record.
For introducing queens into established colonies, they do use the usual candy-delay method.
03-25-2004, 09:01 PM
Do you kill the atendant bees before putting the queen into the hive when installing a package?
03-25-2004, 09:47 PM
I've never gotten a queen in a package with attendant bees. The bees in the package feed the queen through the screen.
03-26-2004, 05:48 AM
kevin123 has a good question. Since I am installing to packages and the hives will only be about 4' apart can I do one right after the other. Or do I need to suit up again after a little while. If so how long do I wait?
03-26-2004, 06:58 AM
I just do one right after the other.
I remember my first package of bees - I was scared to death but enthused at the same time - it's like your first date.
But it's a piece of cake really.
Rule #1, do this when it is NOT WINDY if at all possible.
Rule #2, if your gloves are not fitting right, wash them in water and let them dry. wear them a little after they dry. you need dexterity. Wear your bee suit. After you deal with the syrup can you will have to wash your gloves again (sticky!).
As far as getting the bees into the hive, I shook mine out of the package. Others have had success putting the package in front of the hive but when I tried this they just sat in the package filing their nails, others flew away never to return. I wound up shaking them into the hive.
A word of advice, take the cork plug out of the queen cage and very carefully poke a tiny hole through the candy plug and put the queen cage in the hive before shaking the bees into the hive. You want as much queen smell in the hive as soon as possible. Windy days are not good package days if you ask me.
When I hived my bees I removed a couple frames so I could easily get the bees into the bottom of the hive and also be able to get the queen cage in easily. You don't want to spend a lot of time with the hive open with grumpy bees trying to figure out where they are. Leave the frames out for a week.
Just be careful when you put the 2 frames back in (7-10 days after you hive the package) to not squish any bees or the queen. No amount of smoke you use will keep them from boiling out of the hive looking for the perpetrator of squishing bees.
I used the 1 inch wide entrance reducer, btw. Once you get a super full of bees you can open it a bit wider. You don't want the wider one if you can avoid it - other things, like mice and moths, can get in and destroy things. Once the colony is strong there will be enough guard bees to keep most invaders out - at that point you can use the wider reducer - once you have 2 hive bodies of bees you could remove it altogether. But once it starts getting cold in the fall and mice start looking for ways into YOUR house, they will also look for a nice cozy beehive...
You should read George Imirie's pink pages for tips on feeding, etc. http://www.beekeeper.org
[This message has been edited by jsb (edited March 26, 2004).]
[This message has been edited by jsb (edited March 26, 2004).]
04-13-2004, 05:46 PM
I probably screwed up tonight. I put the Georgia packages in 4 days ago, on Friday evening. My packages were delivered with the queens in screened cages with about 4 attendant bees. There was a ribbon of screen from the queen cage stapled to the top of the package. Before I dumped in the packages I stapled the screen ribbon to one of the top bars, thereby suspending the queen cage from the top of the hive. So tonight I pulled up the queen cage and it was covered with bees, they swarmed out even though the temp. was 40 degrees and the wind fro the north. I wanted to check to see if the queen was out yet. Well she wasn;t. the candy plug was only half way gone. So I popped off the cork from the other side of the queen cage and dumped the cage and all back in. Tried to avoid crushing as many of them as possible and put the hive back together.
Now what should i do?
Went back and read the posts. looks like I shouldhave just left them alone...
I am thinking that I will just ignore the other 2 hives for another 3 or 4 days to give them time to dig out their queen before checking on them?
Supposed to warm up in a few days...
04-13-2004, 07:22 PM
>I probably screwed up tonight.... So tonight I pulled up the queen cage and it was covered with bees... I wanted to check to see if the queen was out yet. Well she wasn;t. the candy plug was only half way gone. So I popped off the cork from the other side of the queen cage and dumped the cage and all back in. Tried to avoid crushing as many of them as possible and put the hive back together.
Now what should i do?
It's a package. They are a bunch of bees from different hives with no queen. They've been with this queen for several days now. I don't think there will be any problems. But waiting might have been better. I often just direct release with packages so I don't have to go back and check to see if she's out, remove the cage etc.
>Went back and read the posts. looks like I shouldhave just left them alone...
Wouldn't have hurt.
>I am thinking that I will just ignore the other 2 hives for another 3 or 4 days to give them time to dig out their queen before checking on them?
I would. Let them settle in. Let them release the queen etc. Did you poke a hole in the candy? If not you might go in in 2 days and make sure they either got her out or poke a hole in it.
04-14-2004, 07:19 AM
<Did you poke a hole in the candy?
>If not you might go in in 2 days and make sure they either got her out or poke a hole in it.
OK, thanks michael