When are my package bees no longer a 'package'?
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  1. #1
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    Jan 2015
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    Default When are my package bees no longer a 'package'?

    I read keepers on here saying they will never purchase packages because of issues that seem to come up later in the season. Using the life cycle of bees, how long can I consider it to still be a package? What about the bees in my hive this year, from the package I bought last year? After all what are the chances of buying a nuc that was split from someone's package bees?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
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    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    Default Re: When are my package bees no longer a 'package'?

    If you requeen your package with a local superqueen 8 weeks later the whole hive will be local superbees. As soon as they build comb and the queen lays eggs they are no longer a package.

    Btw, many packages fail for other reasons than because they were packages. Plenty of packages don't fail. Blaming the bees is kinda like a carpenter swearing at his hammer.
    Since '09-75H-T-Z6b

  4. #3
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    Default Re: When are my package bees no longer a 'package'?

    Once they're out of the package they're no longer a package in my opinion Once established and successfully overwintered you no longer need to consider them package bees. Most people that are discouraged with package bees either install packages before weather in their area has settled enough to give them a chance, more commonly they weren't properly installed. Most new beekeepers have difficulty staying out of the hive not giving the queen a chance for proper introduction. Yes some years the weather hasn't been ideal for good mated queens but queen mating is dependent on the weather. Getting packages too early in the season is not the best idea for the bees try, to schedule packages for when the nectar flow starts in your area or part of the country and there might be less horror stories about bad packages or queens.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2013
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    Kinder, Louisiana, USA
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    Default Re: When are my package bees no longer a 'package'?

    Quote Originally Posted by Slow Drone View Post
    Once they're out of the package they're no longer a package in my opinion
    Once you put a feral colony in your hive, they are no longer feral.
    Once a queen stops laying, she is no longer a laying queen.
    When a worker bee becomes a forager bee, it is no longer a nurse bee....unless you split and remove the nurses, at which point the younger foragers revert to being nurses........

  6. #5
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    Default Re: When are my package bees no longer a 'package'?

    If you really read into it, most people are generally complaining about queen issues or queen related issues. So I'd say once your queen is replaced it is pretty much not a package anymore. My disclaimer is that I installed three packages this year and that's my only direct experience. My dad and grandpa used packages all the time about 20 years ago and dad says they never had issues that he remembers. Of course there are so many other variables that it is hard to nail any one down. Two of our packages were great. One of them clustered away from their caged queen on the first night when it was about 25 or 30 degrees. She was toast. Replacement queen got going well then turned drone layer. Tried to let them raise a queen but that wasn't happening so I ordered a queen and she was great until she fell or flew off a comb. I had a failing hive (got into spray maybe) so I pulled her as a "what do i have to lose" move and she ramped right up and did very well. Their cluster is not as strong as any of the other hives, but they are still alive. The other two packages that did not have issues built up well and superceded their queens at roughly the same time. The new queens did very well.

  7. #6
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    May 2012
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    Knox, Pa. USA
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    Default Re: When are my package bees no longer a 'package'?

    I also feel once they are in a hive they are no longer a package, I have literally purchased and installed hundreds of packages, I remember a time when a 3 pound package was $12.00 at Montgomery Wards. I think today many use poor package quality bees as an excuse for poor management.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
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    Salem, Oregon
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    Default Re: When are my package bees no longer a 'package'?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tenbears View Post
    I think today many use poor package quality bees as an excuse for poor management.
    That right there qualifies as post of the day; maybe year to date!
    So very, very true!
    I have exactly ONE more hive than you.
    That makes my opinion beyond dispute!

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    Auburn, Washington, USA
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    Default Re: When are my package bees no longer a 'package'?

    A package started with one drawn comb can be very successful. That one comb will put a lot of bees to good use who don't have to waste energy on drawing out comb. I'd purchase one drawn frame if I was purchasing a package just starting out. It is a good investment and probably not more risky than buying a nuc.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    moravia,ny
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    Default Re: When are my package bees no longer a 'package'?

    I have to agree that the beekeeper causes most queen losses. many posts say the queen is balled as they check the hive. others talk about checking the new package too soon and queen losses within 30 days. way too many have never read a basic book as its obvious thru their posts. leave the bees alone and let them be bees.

  11. #10
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    Fort Gay, WV, USA
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    Default Re: When are my package bees no longer a 'package'?

    I consider package bees no longer after the first winter. If they make it, they are now localized bees.
    Thomas Bartram

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
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    Berryville Va, USA
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    Default Re: When are my package bees no longer a 'package'?

    Thanks all. I figured that all of the bees from the package I bought last year have died off except the queen. I lost one colony about three weeks ago. I didn't blame "package". I ordered two packages for this spring but I keep hearing that nucs is the best way to go. I had good success from the two packages from last year until of course one died. I haven't figured out why yet but I was away from June to October and had someone keep an eye on them. I thought I 'caught up when I got back in town but obviously can up short. Better luck and more attention this year.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: When are my package bees no longer a 'package'?

    The package is no longer a package when the colony at large accepts the queen. That does not mean the colony will survive winter.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  14. #13
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    Littlerock, California, USA
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    Default Re: When are my package bees no longer a 'package'?

    Quote Originally Posted by StickQuid Gold View Post
    I read keepers on here saying they will never purchase packages because of issues that seem to come up later in the season. Using the life cycle of bees, how long can I consider it to still be a package? What about the bees in my hive this year, from the package I bought last year? After all what are the chances of buying a nuc that was split from someone's package bees?
    I gleaned this from another thread at some time and kept it for personal interest. I share it here with you, I cannot account for its accuracy.

    Bee population of package bee installation:
    Day 23 or 24 shows lowest bee population.
    Day 30 shows return to package initial population.
    Growth continues.
    Day 40 shows twice initial package population.
    Day 42 marks the point when all bees in hive are truly your bees.
    Day 50 shows three times initial bee population.
    Day 59 marks beginning of population stabilization as deaths offset births.
    “Everything will be all right in the end... if it's not all right then it's not yet the end”

  15. #14
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    Default Re: When are my package bees no longer a 'package'?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tenbears View Post
    I also feel once they are in a hive they are no longer a package, I have literally purchased and installed hundreds of packages, I remember a time when a 3 pound package was $12.00 at Montgomery Wards. I think today many use poor package quality bees as an excuse for poor management.
    Monkey wards and package bees....... What a combo that must have been. At the end they were so poorly run I'm sure all the packages they sold were dead before beekeepers could kill them.

    Anyone on here have a package of bees that they purchased from MW thats still alive? If so Lunch is on me next time your in norcal...

  16. #15
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    Default Re: When are my package bees no longer a 'package'?

    Quote Originally Posted by ccar2000 View Post
    Day 42 marks the point when all bees in hive are truly your bees.
    If I had to pick a point in time when the "package" is no longer a "package", this would be it.

    The worker bees that were shaken into the package boxes were not offspring of the queen. At this point in time (day 42) all the workers belong to the queen, it's her colony now.
    To everything there is a season....

  17. #16
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    May 2012
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    Rockford, MI
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    Default Re: When are my package bees no longer a 'package'?

    Once the packaged bees are emptied into the hive the are no longer considered a package since they are free of their confines. IMO.

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    Park City Ky
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    Default Re: When are my package bees no longer a 'package'?

    Mike... That is exactly what i would say.

    The minute you open the package and the bees go into some other environment they are no longer a package, BUT, they are still package bees. They came from the package you received.

    Initially the bees are from numerous colonies, and a newly mated queen that likely did not come from any of those colonies. THEN, as mike said above, at some point, between 2 and 3 months, after all the original package bees have died, the entire colony is offspring from the queen that came with the package, they are no longer package bees.

    If you move from Texas to Florida, you are still a Texan. BUT, if you have children in Florida, they are Floridians, not Texans.

    cchoganjr

  19. #18
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    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: When are my package bees no longer a 'package'?

    Quote Originally Posted by StickQuid Gold View Post
    Using the life cycle of bees, how long can I consider it to still be a package? What about the bees in my hive this year, from the package I bought last year? After all what are the chances of buying a nuc that was split from someone's package bees?
    As long as the queen is viable, seems like your colony of bees will always be originated from a package. If you do the best you can for your bees and they do well and survive Winter and go on to do well the second season, does it matter where they originated from?

    If you buy a nuc from someone who buys packages of course there is a chance that the parent colony of the nuc originated from a package. But again, so what if you do well and your new bees do well.

    I'm not sure what is going on with all of the beekeepers who have sworn off buying packages, but I do know that there are plenty of inexplicable things that cause colony mortality to a point of frustration, that assumed causations are often incorrect, and that often "a poor carpenter blames his tools".

    When I have a colony or colonies that die I look the equipment over and eliminate possible causes if I can, did they starve, did I handle this one differently from its neighbor, are there signs of disease, did the miticide not work or was it improperly applied, why didn't the other hives die,etc., etc, and then I decide that if I can't figure it out, and there is no sign of disease, I made a mistake, but I don't know what it was and I let it go and reuse the equipment. It bothers me for a while, but it doesn't keep me from carrying on.

    Stuff happens, bees die. I don't automatically blame their source.
    Mark Berninghausen

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: When are my package bees no longer a 'package'?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cleo C. Hogan Jr View Post

    If you move from Texas to Florida, you are still a Texan. BUT, if you have children in Florida, they are Floridians, not Texans.

    cchoganjr
    Aye Cleo, how ya doin'? My bees are bees that Summer in NY and Winter in SC, some with queens from GA and some with queens from colonies that also Summer in NY and Winter in SC. So do mine have dual citizenship or maybe some have tri citizenship? So far no one has asked for their Passports.
    Mark Berninghausen

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    Utica, NY
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    Default Re: When are my package bees no longer a 'package'?

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    So far no one has asked for their Passports.
    I thought you had to have papers to move bees around?
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

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