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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Union County, Ky, USA
    Posts
    215

    Default Opinions on starting packages, please..

    In a few weeks I will get two package bees from BeeWeaver, whom I have never got packages from. I did get some queens from them last year, that I have been pleased with, by the way. I have never really had good success with package bees. I have been beekeeping for about 5 years or so. They just never seem to build up very fast. I have read all the stuff. Over and over and over. Any way, I would like some opinions, please, on your preferred method for getting your package bees off to a good start. I am here in Western Ky if you were wondering.

    The first 3 years I started them in 10 frame deeps. After seeing so many people going to mediums or 8 frame boxes, I switched to 8 frame stuff. They seem to start better in the smaller 8 frame deeps than the 10. In my experience. So, I use 8 frame deeps, wooden frames with a mix of plastic & wax foundation. I use inner covers with jar feeder holes in them. I usually feed with two jars & dont let em run dry, because they will fill in the holes on the jar if I do. Put another hive body to conceal the jars & telescoping inner cover. I feed with 5lb bag of sugar in a 1 gallon jug mixed with water the whole first year & those foam hive top feeders through the winter. I have never had a moldy hive, summer or winter. I have had problems with the hive dwindling and shb, or wax moth trouble though.

    I have no trouble installing packages, they just dont seem build up as well as I read that they should. They really seem to struggle to fill the frames with comb. I think the weather around the time that packages arrive have had an important role in their success, but I may be mistaken on that. The first few years I was advised to get em early. It seemed to me, early was cold and crappy rainy weather, so I switched to getting them about 3 weeks later in the shipping range, which has been a bit better imo. But again, I may be mistaken on that too. I have had success with a few packages though, not all of them have been bad. For the most part it seems that most of the packages I have purchased, the queens havent been all that productive. By the end of the summer, the colonies dwindle, and she is there, just stops laying or is very spotty. I dont get clipped wings, just marked.

    I do somewhat regular inspections, about 1 time a month so I dont disrupt them any more than I have too. In a new colony that isnt building much comb, and inspection is fairly straight forward & quick. With out a bunch of hives, my resources for combining or raising replacement queens is not really an option right now. So, if there is an issue with a queen I am sol pretty much. I have given them a boost with a few frames from strong hives, but I havent had any luck with them having enough time to raise a new queen on their own. I have had bad luck ordering queens & getting them in a timely manner to actually be effective.

    My most successful bees have been from nucs or splits that I made. They just seem to already have a jump start & have no trouble adapting to a new hive.

    Packages arent getting any cheaper, and shipping costs are going up. How about some tips on what you do with your first year packages? Let me know if my method is not all that great too. I love beekeeping, but buying two packages every year & not really making an addition to my numbers is getting tough to do. So, I am looking for some help if ya dont mind....


    Rob

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Westford, MA
    Posts
    32

    Default Re: Opinions on starting packages, please..

    This is my second year with packages. Last year's package with Italian queen made it through the winter but the queen died. Not sure when but most likely during the peak of the winter. They had plenty of stores going into winter.

    The package was fed syrup mostly 1:1 in the spring and fall. They were treated for mites with hop guard in the fall (it was a little late) and after I noticed deformed wings. The egg laying was spotty but they did manage to build 2 deeps about 8 out of 10 drawn comb in each deep.

    The new packages are one Italian and two from BeeWeaver coming middle of May. Also want to raise my own queen by making a split from one hive, so will have a nuc going into winter.

    This is what I plan to do:
    1) Feed syrup for at least a month.
    2) Treat for mites in 6 weeks (not sure about the BeeWeaver hives since they claim to be free of mites).

    Kevin

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,646

    Default Re: Opinions on starting packages, please..

    First question, are all teh packages from the same supplier? if so time to switch. Second, you don't mention mites or treatment of.

    As for raising queens, check out Mel dissolkens system... It will work well for you if you use it. Normaly I do a lot of mine late june By july the new queen is going to town for the fall flow. (I am just a bit north of you) By mid june the flow is under way and the workers your old queen are producing will not be mature in time for the flow, so its a good spot.

    The biggest problem in my opinion, is most people give packages to much space right off the bat. keep them crowded and when you add space teh queen will respond better.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Reddick, FL (Ocala)
    Posts
    125

    Default Re: Opinions on starting packages, please..

    From a discussion on another thread here,

    You may want to up your sugar/water ratio a bit.
    Water is 8.4 pounds per gallon (thanks Radar, I was very tired and wrong!)
    A 5lb bag per gallon would be approximately 0.6:1 sugar to water.

    Just got off the phone with my mentor and discussed upping my ratio to closer to 2:1.

    A ten pound bag minus 2 cups or so to 1 gallon of water would put you pretty darn close to a 1:1 ratio.

    Most opinions seem to favor a heavier than 1:1 ratio for nucs/packages from what have gathered. They seem to build out comb faster whether or not nectar is flowing.

    Will be trying a ten and a five pound in my 2 gallon(little over half full) feeder bucket and let you know how it goes. Popping top on the nuc tomorrow and putting out new feed also.
    Last edited by crazylocha; 04-18-2013 at 12:34 PM. Reason: measurement clarification

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
    Posts
    1,310

    Default Re: Opinions on starting packages, please..

    If you can come up with it at all, even just 1 frame of brood would go REALLY far to help your packages get off to a better start...give 'em some "fresh meat" emerging while the package bees are starting to age & dwindle, before the first round of brood from the package queen has fully developed & emerged.

    TBH, I've never ordered a package yet (all my hives are from cut-outs, or splits from my other hives), but I have used the above approach to "help out" a couple colonies I got from cut-outs where I wasn't able to save any of their own brood comb for them (I won't use any comb from a hive that I find out has been sprayed with Raid), and it worked well.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Monroe County, Pennsylvania
    Posts
    167

    Default Re: Opinions on starting packages, please..

    Try sticking with one type of foundation....wax OR plastic. 1:1 is fine up until October, then switch to 2:1. You must feed all summer long on package bees. I don't use the styrofoam feeders. I have had much success with the wooden top feeders. Try adding a teaspoon of Honey B Healthy to your sugar water. It may entice them. Also sounds like your queens could be weak. Try ordering packages from another supplier and see if this helps. Some are better than others.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Westchester NY
    Posts
    238

    Default Re: Opinions on starting packages, please..

    You should be inspecting alot more and you will find problems much quicker and be able to deal with them before the hive is too far gone. For a new package I would be inspecting progress weekly
    http://www.peekskillnurseries.com
    Specialists in Ground Cover plants since 1937. Talk to me about ground-covers!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Union County, Ky, USA
    Posts
    215

    Default Re: Opinions on starting packages, please..

    Hey, thanks for the replies.

    gmcharlie: Yes, most of those packages were from the same supplier. That is why I went with beeweaver this year. The shipping is actually outrageous, imo, but they next day ship them fedex, so that is where the cost is. And the space issue is what I think is an issue. Thats why I think i will stick to 8 frame equipment. And by the way, I will check out Mel dissolkens system that you mention.

    I dont have an issue with varroa. I sift them with powered sugar 3 or 4 times a year and it seems to be an acceptable method. I havent seen any of my hives die from disease that I can tell. Either wax moths & shb get in there because of small colony & I have had a few die over the winter with not enough stores & wouldnt go up to feeder.

    Crazylocha: I will change up my sugar mixing method too...

    MaydayMalone: I like the foam feeders & will probably stick with them unless I have some issue with them. The only issue I had with them is they hold so much syrup it will mold before they can take it. I have to put in a little and keep an eye on it so they dont suck it empty. I only use the foam ones in winter. If you take it off for an inspection, bees are covering the bottom and you cant turn it over or you dump your syrup. Plus, nothing is worse than lifting 2 gallons of syrup off the top cause they wont take it. The jar feeders are the way to go once spring hits, imo.

    Thanks for the information.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,646

    Default Re: Opinions on starting packages, please..

    Add a little clorox bleach to your feed, abotu a teaspoon for 3 gallons seems fine.

    I am betting you have a bigger mite problem than you know if you have small hives and the moths and beetles are gertting them. Look at Randy olivers methods for mite counts.... You will be surprised I bet.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,673

    Default Re: Opinions on starting packages, please..

    I got packages from Bee Weaver last year - No issues other than 1 rapid supercedure. I fed them 1:1 and they built up fine. As new packages don't have much in the way of a field force they did not produce any surplus honey for me and I ended up feeding them to get them up to winter weight. In the fall they got 2:1 syrup. The comment earlier in this thread about feeding a heavier syrup than 1:1 to a newly started colony is the first I've heard of that way of doing things. Not to say it is bad, just different from how I do things.

    I hope to unwrap them in the next few days to see how they over wintered. I've walked by the yard several times and there were bees coming and going from most of the hives and I saw one bee close to the hives gathering pollen from an Alder catkin.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    3,898

    Default Re: Opinions on starting packages, please..

    Wax moths and hive beetles mostly over run hives that already have another problem. Any hive can have them, but they aren't usually a big problem for strong hives.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Delhi, New York, USA
    Posts
    330

    Default Re: Opinions on starting packages, please..

    I am also getting two packages this year....I am hoping that using frames with wax and honey on them will help....what do you think of this?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Union County, Ky, USA
    Posts
    215

    Default Re: Opinions on starting packages, please..

    The hives that I have lost could have had mite problems. All the bees have always looked healthy. No messed up wings or deformities. Even when the colonies were about exhausted. The ones I am referring to didn't ever get to be strong hives from the start.

    I had a hive or two not make it through the winter that I believe starved. Those could have had mite problems that didn't allow them to have good young bees going into winter. I understand that, but my main struggle is getting the packages built up strong on the first place.

    I have two hives of Russians that have been the best packages I ever got. They built up thick over the summer & made it through the winters good. They are a little hot every now & then, but that's the price I guess. I have never had an Italian package that did well. Italian nucs did well, but I requeened them with buckfast from beeweaver last year..

    Seems as if the wax moths & shb move in when they start to dwindle because no brood is being raised. No shortage of pollen & nectar, just seems like they have been slow to build up. Its kinda frustrating because right outta the gate, there is only so much that I can do for me. But, I want to make sure I am doing what I need to do correctly.

    I do need to learn to raise my own queens too. That would help me in a pinch....

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,646

    Default Re: Opinions on starting packages, please..

    Actually comb is nice but honey is pretty much worthless in the spring for building hives. FEED FEED FEED syrup...1-1 or thinner. I can put onpen honey and syrup in the yard and they pretty much ignore the honey. they need the "nectar: for brood.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,646

    Default Re: Opinions on starting packages, please..

    Something else is missing. 80% of the US uses Itialians, and do just fine. good build up is normal obviously, but continued poor build up is peculiar. Last year in our area was a son of a ____ and hives were spotty due to drought. but probably 3/4 or more of packages take of just fine. I would be looking close. for me last year was a terrible year. EFB from lack of nectar flow, and that compounded the mites.....

    Not trying to be negitive, just realistic. when others are succeeding somethings missing yet. took me months to figure out all the reasons I had spotty problems last year. I requeened, and other tricks to no avail on some hives, others boomed....


    Charlie

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Delhi, New York, USA
    Posts
    330

    Default Re: Opinions on starting packages, please..

    Quote Originally Posted by gmcharlie View Post
    Actually comb is nice but honey is pretty much worthless in the spring for building hives. FEED FEED FEED syrup...1-1 or thinner. I can put onpen honey and syrup in the yard and they pretty much ignore the honey. they need the "nectar: for brood.
    Thanks for the info...

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Delhi, New York, USA
    Posts
    330

    Default Re: Opinions on starting packages, please..

    Where did you get the Russians from? Thanks...Deb

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Houston, Texas, USA
    Posts
    460

    Default Re: Opinions on starting packages, please..

    I started 3 packages from the BeeWeaver Navasota facility on 6 Apr. I put 1/2 of a pollen patty in each and put a top feeder on with 1:1 sugar, added Honey Bee Healthy and Amino Bee Booster 1 gallon on each hive. I had to add another gallon to one of the three since then. When I did my 4 day queen release check all three hives, 10 frame med., they already had started comb on half of the frames, but did not pull any to see how deep (Walter Kelley foundationless frames type F) the comb build was. If the wind dies down I plan on adding a second med. box and pull one outer frame from the lower box to the new upper middle to entice more build out. This years batch are fast builders!
    Mike
    N5RWH - 9a

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Delhi, New York, USA
    Posts
    330

    Default Re: Opinions on starting packages, please..

    Quote Originally Posted by mmmooretx View Post
    I started 3 packages from the BeeWeaver Navasota facility on 6 Apr. I put 1/2 of a pollen patty in each and put a top feeder on with 1:1 sugar, added Honey Bee Healthy and Amino Bee Booster 1 gallon on each hive. I had to add another gallon to one of the three since then. When I did my 4 day queen release check all three hives, 10 frame med., they already had started comb on half of the frames, but did not pull any to see how deep (Walter Kelley foundationless frames type F) the comb build was. If the wind dies down I plan on adding a second med. box and pull one outer frame from the lower box to the new upper middle to entice more build out. This years batch are fast builders!
    I, too, purchased a package from BeeWeaver and Rweaver this year, one package is Buckfast....should get mine in about 2 weeks...up here in the Catskills it is still a little cold, and has been very windly lately.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,646

    Default Re: Opinions on starting packages, please..

    Ohh that Blank in the above post should have been "gun"...... some here seem to think other thoughts!

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