How do you install a package? [Archive] - Beesource Beekeeping Forums

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09-03-2010, 12:10 PM
For discussion on the process of installing a package of bees into an empty (new) hive. Technique, best time of day, where/hoe to hang the queen cage, etc.

09-04-2010, 07:25 AM
Well when I install packages I do it different than most books tell you.

I don`t bump, dump or spray the bees I let the bees do the work.

With a box of new foundation I remove 5 frames, set the package inside of the hive, remove the "juice" can ( I have a cover for the hole ) then slide the cover off the hole just enough to remove the queen cage and slide the cover back over the hole and check to see if the queen is alive then with a large rubber band around the first or second frame I remove the cork from the sugar end of the queen cage (if its a wood cage) or the cap if its a plastic cage, I don`t put a hole in the candy because in these days most of the candy plugs are of a soft candy, then put the queen cage inder the rubber band with the screen down (candy plug on the end) then I slide the package next to the frames, remove the cover off the hole and put the top on the hive, and put an entrance feeder on the hive. Now the bees will crawl out to the queen. (if I have frames of honey I don`t feed sugar water)

Tine of day: I like to install then late in the afternoon, if its raining a bit just do it if its cool just do it,

Next day I go back and remove the package box and put in 4 more frames and leave the hive for 4 or 5 days then open and see if the queen is out (most of the time sh is out) if she isnt out then I let her out and put the 10th frame in the box.

I was tought this way and I think it is less stressful on the bees than some methods you will read about, here is a link to my photo bucket that showes this method from a book printed in the 1930s so it has been around for a while.

Thats my 2
Have fun

09-04-2010, 10:53 AM
I'm glad this is the first post made. I like to install packages without dumping and bumping as well. There really is no need to do it that way for the beginner. The bees have already been through a lot of stress just getting to your location so why give them more stress?

Michael Bush
09-05-2010, 11:10 AM
The problem with empty space (especially if it's at the top) is you end up with a bunch of wild comb that is another issue to deal with. I'd just as soon shake them in and not have that issue.

09-05-2010, 11:23 AM
I've never had this be a problem since the empty space is only there for a day and the bees are themselves trying to get organized. Leaving it a week this way could certainly produce wild comb.

09-05-2010, 01:05 PM
I know a guy that laid the package on top of 10 frames on its side and put an extra box on and left it for over a week :wsshould have heard the story about wild comb :lpf:

09-11-2010, 06:48 PM
hi all,
found this article that might also be worth reading, i found it to be interesting since it is on the same topic.

09-12-2010, 09:26 AM
Here is just a breif breakdown on how I do it and I have tryed most ways but find this to be the most effective for me and the bees.

Time of day: Afternoon/Evening

1. Get packages organized on top of hives being installed.

2. Spray packages with sugar syrup...this reallly calms the bees and gives them a nice treat after being in shipping.

3. Remove the top piece of wood exposing sugar can and queen cage.

4. If the package is the type where the queen cage is being held up by sugar can I make sure I have a grip on the tab and slowly pull the sugar can up out. I usually give the package a bang before this step as well.

5. Place sugar can off to the side and pull queen up out. Insepct her to make sure she is completely fine and then remove cork on candy side and place her on top of frames.

6. Throw second super on now empty. You can place syrup feeders up in this empty super and this also allows me to just leave the queen on top of the frames with screen side down between a gap in frames.

7. Shake bees into the hive.....I usually shake....bang....shake....bang...till I get 99% of the bees out.

8. Close up the hive and check in 2-3 days to see if queen has been released!


Michael Bush
09-12-2010, 09:35 AM
>I've never had this be a problem since the empty space is only there for a day

I read from new bees that they are having issues because they left the space there longer, several times every year on every forum...

09-19-2010, 07:56 PM
The first package I installed was Queen candie down cage between frames and then shake and bang several times through the top opening, worked ok.
The next time , Queen cage the same but with the bees I removed the nails holding the wire cloth, pulled it back and dumped the bees out the side and not the top. Worked great and alot better on the bees and me. Jim

09-22-2010, 12:00 PM
I live in a relatively dry climate. When packages are available the humidity is likely in the 30% range, perhaps a lot less. I found, through direct comparison, that spraying the bees with sugar water KILLS A LOT of bees because it drys on the bees before they can consume it. You find hundreds of bees walking around the hive unable to fly. So now, if anything I may spray with just some water. At least it doesn't cause their death.
But I too, put the entire package in the hive and put the feeder can on top of the inner cover hole. Works great.


Ricky Bee
04-16-2011, 09:42 PM
I just installed my first package the other day and was amazed at how smoothly it went. The only thing that was unusual was that I bought the package from a local beekeeper, and the queen cage was not inside the main box of bees, but was separate. Here's my video of the installation:

Joseph Clemens
04-16-2011, 10:17 PM
Ricky Bee,
I must admit that when you smacked the queen cage to dislodge the bees clustered on its outside I cringed, then when you kept smacking the package on the top of the hive (again transferring potentially damaging energy to the queen), I cringed again. I hope your queen does okay. I'm just a little more gentle with my queens -- they can be quite fragile creatures.

It was probably a very successful install, and we each go about these things in our own unique ways.

When watching you with those gloves on, it is also easy to see why I haven't used gloves in more than forty years.

I haven't bought a package since the late 1960's, but I have made up a few packages, from time to time, from my own bees and installed them. Just to watch the process. It is exciting to see how a small quantity of bees, with a new queen can become an established thriving colony. However, much more precarious than a nuc or split.

Ricky Bee
04-17-2011, 12:41 PM

Thank you for pointing out that I was too rough with my queen. I guess it didn't seem rough to me at the time, but when I watched the video again I see what you mean. I will definitely be more gentle next time and just brush the bees off of the queen cage.

04-17-2011, 05:08 PM
With the queen in the package, let the package set in a shaded area for 24 to 48 hrs

Using a 10 frame deep lang, 4 or 5 frames out, take feeder can and queen out of package, place queen and can off to the side in reach, bump the package a little, shake what bees I can in. set package aside, lightly mist if needed, hang or insert queen cage between the middle of 10 frames candy side down. Lightly sprinkle some dry pollen sub on top of frames.

Put the top cover on, set the package near the entrance, make sure they have access to syrup boardman feeders near the hive work ok, If I don't want to refill feed every day to every other day, need bigger or more then one syrup feeder. leave for 3 or 4 hours, come back. check if everything went as expected. pick up empty package. in three to five days. check if queen has been accepted, remove queen cage, reduce entrance if necessary.

check on activity and feed for the next 10 to 12 days with out opening the hive

Joseph Clemens
04-17-2011, 06:16 PM
I am assuming you were removing the bees from the queen cage in order to more easily see the condition of the queen. For me, I would, maybe push them gently aside so I could get a peek at the queen, but otherwise leave them all alone (they will help to keep the queen warm and help to buffer her from any other potential trauma). I like how you suspended the JZsBZs plastic queen cage, I've done it that way, myself, a few times.

04-21-2011, 04:16 PM
With a box of new foundation I remove 5 frames, set the package inside of the hive.

I've heard pawpaw tell many a beek this method. Seems like a lot less fly away this way to me.

04-21-2011, 04:50 PM
LoneDrone & others

This is the way my mentor (with over 65 years of beekeeping) tought me and he has a book printed in the 30s showing this method, yes when they fly from the hive the then know where to return.

the kid
05-04-2011, 09:19 PM
the first year I did the slam bang and every year after ,, but this year I did not feel very good so I did a easy install 0 open the package put it on the frames put a box an cover ,walk away ,, 7 hours later 90% of the bees still in package , mybe it was to cool for them to move down , anyway then I did a slam bang .. from now on its a slam bang install
get it over and done ..

06-16-2011, 09:03 PM
Assuming the bees have been on the truck for three days, Remove 3-4 frames, Lightly mist bees with water or thin syrup, thump the package down to clear bees from syrup can, pull out can, remove queen cage, shake bees into hive. Lightly spray the queen, pull plug, set on top bar and watch her walk in. Go to next hive.....When you are done with this step, go back and put pulled frames back in, and grass up entrance if you want.

Crazy Roland

06-16-2011, 09:17 PM
I put my 2 in as follows...

1. pull queen cage and place candy side up between 2 frames

2. mist bees with water, remove syrup can, and shake bees in

3. close the hive

4. place shipping cage on ground in front of hive

5. walk away

I was nervous I reckon when I did it so I forgot to remove any of the frames like suggested here and in the books I've read. It took about as long to wait for them to go down into the frames as I guess it would for you to carefully put those removed frames back in. If I ever buy packages again I'll probably do it the same way.

01-06-2012, 09:53 PM
Go with a nuc...better chance for sucession and you'll bee much happier.

01-26-2012, 08:19 AM
I have a video on my web page showing a beginner how to install a package.

05-03-2012, 08:38 AM
This is what I did to install packages in a top-bar hive (hTBH):

Since I picked up the package at a local store, I first thumped the package to the ground to "drop" the bees so that I could see that the queen cage was there and that the queen was moving around in it. (No sense driving home with one that isn't.)

Upon getting the packages home, I set 'em down on towel and newspaper, out of the sun. I mixed an approximate solution of sugar and plain water, well stirred, and with a food paintbrush (bought at a grocery store) painted that solution onto the screens and repeated this until the bees didn't seem so interested in taking more. (A hungry bee is an angry bee.) I didn't spray them; I don't want to coat 'em with sugar.
I put on a veil, lightweight disposable rubber gloves (to keep human scents and oils off), shorts and a T-shirt. I took the packages to the hives, prepared the area, went over what I was going to do in my mind. I had: a prying tool, needle-nose pliers (didn't need), a flat-blade screwdriver. And perhaps most importantly (I think): a bee-brush. It's a soft long-bristled brush that can gently move a bee out of the way without harming or provoking her. I didn't have but would need: a jackknife blade or a box of push-pins with which to withdraw the cork.
I did direct-feeding of confectioner's sugar, poured on a piece of newspaper in the bottom of the hive, slightly dampened. (Note: don't use sugar with cornstarch. Don't use "brown" sugar. White sugar, perhaps whipped in a coffee-grinder, works fine.) Dampening lets them realize it's food not trash. I did this ahead of time.
Remove enough bars to accommodate the opening in a package and your arm; four or five. Set them aside on the other bars.
(Ready? Okay... lets's go.)
Strike the container against the ground. The bees fall to the bottom with a thump. (Believe it or not, this does not piss them off.)
Remove the wooden panel. Pry the metal can out ... can be very difficult to do(!) :scratch: ... if there's a trick to this then someone please tell me ... some bees start coming out, let them come. Ignore them; they'll probably ignore you. Set the can aside face-up, watching always to be sure that bees are not underneath. (As needed, set the wooden panel back in place, sliding it to avoid squishing bees.)
Remove the queen cage. Unroll the strap if any that held it. Shake the bees off of it into the hive with a snapping motion. (Thump.) Check the queen. (Hi, mom...) Set the cage into the hive temporarily, leaning against the side.
Pick up the box again, with the wooden panel slid in place, strike it (corner-wise now, watch for bees) onto the ground. Thump! The bees fall to the bottom again.
Now, pour. It's like trying to get the pick out of a guitar. Hold at various angles; shake vigorously. Strike a corner on the ground again. (Thump, they fall to that corner.) Repeat. Take your time. (Yup, they're buzzin' around everywhere now...) Dump 'em right on top of that cage.
Do this two or three times. When you've got as many of 'em out as you reasonably can, set the cage down (look! brush!) in front of the hive. The rest will eventually find their way in.
Now for the queen. Reach in and remove it by the strap. Shake 'em off into the hive with a snap of your wrist. (Thump.) Gently brush the remainder off into the hive with the brush. Use a lazy sweeping motion of your hand, always. The idea is to get them to "move, please m'lady" (and to give them no choice).
I did a direct release. Use the push-pin to remove the non-candy cork, then promptly put your finger over the hole. Variations include: smearing a bit of your own marshmallow into the opening; lightly dampening her wings with plain water if you're really worried she'll fly. I did none of these things.
Reach right in there and set the cage down among the bees; on top of them if necessary. Cage side up, opening unobstructed. Don't drop it. Remove your hand. (If I had a Lang, I guess I'd set it wherever the bees wound up.)
Now, methodically close up (take your time), observing as you do so that she's surrounded by bees and clearly on her way out. Use the bee brush to gently sweep bees out of the way as you replace bars by first sweeping everywhere you're about to put anything especially your fingers, setting the bar down on one end, and lowering the other, jiggling it up and down to persuade 'em. Give bees time to move out of the way. The bristles of the brush can be used to gently push them down. A light mist of peppermint-oil water (see below) also prompts them to "get out of the rain."
Remove one entrance cork.
I set the feeder-can upside down on a board that the hive sits on, on a couple of thin slats to create a space that bees could get to, and left it there for several more days as a further source of food.
You're done. Step back and look over the situation: the cage is where you want it; the cork is removed; all the top-bars are all the way down; you didn't leave any tools or push-pins or what have you in the hive or lying about. Yes, yes, all is in order: life is good. Replace the cover carefully (sweep, sweep). Having a written check-list is a good thing to do.

Actual time? Less than 5 minutes. No stings. (YMMV.)

I use peppermint essential oil in a mist spray of water as my only distractor. (It also kills stings and masks the alarm scent.)

I went back into the hive three days later to remove the queen cages. I didn't need to do that, and i actually dislodged a small piece of comb because for some reason I didn't expect the bees to start building at one end. The cages were sitting there, abandoned and ignored. I already knew the queen "could get out" because I watched her start to do so. What I really needed to do at that point IMHO was just to observe. (When you do retrieve it ... just reach right in there with your (gloved) hand, and gently take it.)

The thing to realize is that you're going to be surrounded by bees and they might land on you (one got into my veil .. oops, step back and let her out), but as necessary just use the brush to sweep them off. (Or don't: "may I help you?") Anything you'd do with your hands or by blowing on 'em ... use the brush instead. (Those approaches don't work; the brush does.) Do the work with "focused concentration," and you'll be done in a trice.

If you do get stung: finish your current move, take the mister bottle and spray the area at once. (The peppermint confounds the alarm scent.) Remove the stinger; a not-sharp knife blade is useful. Adjust your equipment. Focus... Proceed.

It is a good precaution to have an otherwise-uninvolved observer at a distance. Someone who could help or call 9-1-1. God forbid anaphylaxis ...

07-25-2014, 09:15 PM
Some good replies, and I will say Don has a good vid of it, make sure to check it out!
I will also say.. Of all the methods described, I have not seen a "wrong" way to do it.. Like most things beekeeping, how you choose to do it should best suit YOU and how you WISH to do it..
Having said that...
The bees have been dumped into a box with bees from other hives. Given a queen they do not know, and shipped across the country. They were distributed, often sat around in a garage or truck waiting for their new owners, THEN, they were installed in their new hive and asked to go back to life as normal..
I thump and dump with VERY light syrup.. why? Well, i LIKE the idea of letting them calmly walk out of their box into the hive.. what I do NOT like is disturbing them even one more time than is necessary once they are "home".. A bee can fall out of the sky, land in the grass and walk away unscathed.. Unless you get rather violent when thumping and dumping they are not harmed.. I personally eel that little extra trauma.. while they work at licking up the syrup on themselves and their neighbors is less traumatic than having someone re open the hive and rearrange things in what "we" want them to consider home. Even when i remove the queen cage, I get In, and Out as quickly and smoothly as I possibly can..
My method can be seen here... A little cursing when my wife gets stung.... Shows how I put the queen cage in as well.

Installing packages is 3/4 of the way down the page... Enjoy, and remember, read what EVERYONE says, and then make it suit YOU!

04-06-2015, 02:41 PM
This is about the best vid I have seen on installing a package!!

04-28-2015, 07:27 PM
I'd like to preface this with the fact that I'm a completely inexperienced bee-keeper. (installed my first package 2 days ago). However, it struck me that this thread is lacking some of the 'gotchas' that I read elsewhere, heard from experienced bee-keepers, or collected from other threads in other forums on this site, etc... specifically related to installing packages in TBH's and in colder climates / colder weather. Most of the directions in here seem aimed at installations in warmer weather / warmer climates, and there doesn't seem to be a lot of comments on 'preparing the hive prior to installation'. I've seen a lot of 'what happened' threads lately that seem related to not having some of these things in place....

Most of these are not MY wisdom... but other bee-keeper's wisdom that I'm collating and repeating here. Feel free to add / disagree! I am no expert..

1. The biggest concerns in cold / inclement weather seem to be freezing or starving bees (or starving bees freezing because they starve). So most of your preparation should be aimed at improving their ability to meet THEIR priorities, which are:
a) keeping the queen alive
b) keeping brood alive
c) keeping the rest of the package alive

Typically the queen is hung a bit below the top of the frame, or, in a TBH, below the bar a bit. Bees will naturally cluster around the queen, towards the top 1/3 of the comb / frame area. Make it easy for them to keep the queen alive. Putting the queen on the floor is a death sentence.

There is no substitute for drawn comb in any weather for a new install, but particularly in cold weather. Not only will they pack it full of syrup if it's available, but they'll climb into it and cluster tighter and have an easier time keeping warm / alive. Plus, in any package, having drawn comb lets the bees store pollen / syrup and have laying space available immediately when the queen is released - seems to jump start them. Talk to your local beekeepers.. for my TBH I cut some down from a lang frame and wired in.

I'd really resist putting a package in with brood in really bad weather. They will keep the brood alive at the expense of all the bees in the package, and will struggle to survive.

In colder (below 35-40f / 10C) weather, if the duration of the poor weather is short (a couple of days) the best reccomendation I've seen is to keep the package in a cool garage, in the dark, and install on a nicer afternoon. It improves the survival rate significantly.

Feed. Remember, below 55F (15c) they have trouble feeding from syrup, below 40, they usually can't / won't. You may have to warm the syrup once a day for them to survive. Depending on your hive, in-hive feeding may be possible for you and is reccomended if it is (frame feeder best, bag ok but problematic for many and can cause flooding / death).

DO NOT SPRAY YOUR BEES WITH SYRUP in cold temperatures prior to installing. Cold bees are cold. Wet cold bees are dead bees. They often can't clean / dry well enough to survive as the temperature falls overnight.

DO provide pollen patties - in Lang, hang the queen in the center of the box, dump bees right on top of her, put a pollen patty directly on top of that. In TBH, in the same bar section you hung the queen so the cluster can feed without leaving her as syrup may not be avail. nearby

Insulation is good - I've seen several people's reccomendations, but in a lang, insulated floor, insulation panels replacing the outer 4 frames, insulated roof seems to work well.

Ventilation - use a reducer, particularly with cold winds expected. In TBH, plug spare holes loosely with grass, let them decide whether to unblock or not. Top ventilation reccomended to prevent condensation in all hive setups - cold wet bees are dead bees. do NOT wrap with plastic - plastic traps moisture. Tarps, blankets, breathable items ok, as long as the ventilation is unblocked.

04-16-2018, 07:59 PM
Regarding the method where you put whole new swarm box into a hive, tomarrow will be day 3 and queen still needs cork replaced with the candy. When I do that tomarrow do I smoke them or use syrup spray? Or just a feather to brush bees away to get at the queen cage that’s attached to a frame? They have been eating from internal feeder.


Tim KS
04-16-2018, 08:37 PM
The video posted by RickyBee was hilarious. :D I wonder if he still treats his bees so 'gentle'? :lpf:

04-17-2018, 01:05 PM
We ended up using smoke the bees seemed a little bit aggravated but we didn’t get stung. They seemed a little extra difficult to move around with a feather with their bellies full of syrup. Swarm cage is out, candy plug is in. 5 days will check if she’s been released.

04-24-2018, 03:20 AM
hi all,
found this article that might also be worth reading, i found it to be interesting since it is on the same topic.

Im not new but will get my first packages in beekeeping career and Im slightly nervous.

I think I will do like in this link except I have comb and honey comb to use.

05-14-2018, 05:32 PM
For what it's worth, I just posted a little youtube video for how I just installed a package a few days ago.

Check it out! (

05-17-2018, 08:51 AM
Do package bees abscond if given old brood comb and honey comb ( without brood)?
I dont want to use an excluder.

05-17-2018, 10:31 AM
found this on the FB, yes, it's fake..
How NOT to install a package

I've installed a few and never used an excluder.
I'd assume old comb will help. I installed on old comb this spring and it didn't hurt.
The queen was released @ install and I saw pollen coming in the next day. So I suspect she started laying almost immediately.