Medium Boxes Installing Packaged Bees
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  1. #1

    Default Medium Boxes Installing Packaged Bees

    First season beekeeper in Front Range Colorado. Packaged bees arriving beginning of May. Hive is all medium boxes, no deeps. How many medium brood boxes are needed at the beginning when installing the package? One? Two? All three? Thanks.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Medium Boxes Installing Packaged Bees

    I would use two, and here is why. Most videos on youtube showing you to dump the package into a box are a great way to do damage to a lot of package bees in the process, ending up with lots of flying bees and the associated drift. We hive packages very differently, into 10 frame boxes but same trick will work with 2 high mediums.

    We set up the box with frame feeder then 4 frames. Pull the queen cage out and hang it between the first two frames. Cut out the screen on one side of the package and drop bees onto the queen, then set the package into the gap where frames are missing. Final setup, ensure there is at least a liter of syrup in the frame feeder, and pollen patty above the frames. Come back tomorrow and remove the now empty package as the bees that were left in it will for the most part migrate over the combs to the cluster by the queen.

    No shaking, no muss, no fuss, and no flying bees.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Medium Boxes Installing Packaged Bees

    A medium frame is 64% the size of a deep frame, making two medium boxes equal to 128% of one deep. I prefer to think of my frames in frame units, with a deep being 1 frame unit, or FU, and the medium being .64FU. So two medium 10 frames boxes are 12.8FU, or nearly equal to 13 deep frames. This is sufficient for brood, but you will need to use a queen excluder or brood will end up in the third box. Three ten frame mediums are 19.2FU, or very close to the same as a double deep at 20FU.

    Now lets talk about overwintering. I am on the other side of the hills. Front Range is a little colder than we are, but cold isn't the biggest challenge. On both sides of the range we both have have long cold springs with big temperature swings. Getting the bees through that until nectar starts coming in is the challenge. Spring will be when they starve. The alternating warm sunny days followed by stretches of intense cold and late snow increases the acvtivity of the bees, but they can't get out and forage. The active bees eat more food, and then we get a late spring freeze and snow and five days of bitter cold after several sunny days, and that is when the colony starves to death if it doesn't have enough food. I prefer wintering in double deeps. The top box needs to be completely filled, wall to wall, top to bottom, with honey stores and a thick honey dome is required in the bottom box. I have successfully overwintered multiple colonies in one deep with a medium filled wall to wall above it, 16.4FU. Those colonies always needed sugar bricks and patties by March. The double deeps make it through OK, so 3 mediums will be close to the same. If you want a honey super then order four boxes with frames/foundation and a queen excluder.

    You will need a frame feeder. With the uncertain spring weather bees will need to be able to access spring syrup from inside their hive. Make sure you have one. Don't waste money on an entrance feeder. Also, you absolutely cannot afford to ignore mites - especially not in your area if you want to successfully overwinter.

    There is no substitute for what other beekeepers that are local to your area can tell you. Forum member shinbone is in your area. Make sure you touch base with him.
    Last edited by JConnolly; 02-21-2020 at 12:34 PM.
    Zone 6B

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Medium Boxes Installing Packaged Bees

    the will fill out one whole medium faster than they will fill out half of two mediums. less space for a new colony to manage. clear as mud?

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Medium Boxes Installing Packaged Bees

    Quote Originally Posted by JConnolly View Post
    Forum member shinbone is in your area. Make sure you touch base with him.
    The CO front range is 300 miles long and encompasses many massively different climes, my main yard is about 7 miles from shinbone and our bees act very difrently I brood up 2-3 weeks behind hime.. like wise I have out yard 6 miles south and they start producing drones 3 weeks later then the main yard

    were ever you are hook up with one of the local clubs to find out what the best practices in your area are
    "oh well, let us stick to science. let them have their beliefs and intuitions!" -Medhat Nasr

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Medium Boxes Installing Packaged Bees

    Quote Originally Posted by grozzie2 View Post
    I would use two…

    No shaking, no muss, no fuss, and no flying bees.
    I suggest three. Everything else the same as grozzie said, but fill the bottom box with frames and the feeder, and set the package container on top of the frames with two empty medium hive boxes around it for protection. Next day (or the day after) remove the container and extra hive boxes.
    Last edited by JConnolly; 02-21-2020 at 12:57 PM.
    Zone 6B

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Medium Boxes Installing Packaged Bees

    Quote Originally Posted by msl View Post
    The CO front range is 300 miles long and encompasses many massively different climes, my main yard is about 7 miles from shinbone and our bees act very difrently I brood up 2-3 weeks behind hime.. like wise I have out yard 6 miles south and they start producing drones 3 weeks later then the main yard

    were ever you are hook up with one of the local clubs to find out what the best practices in your area are
    Oh yea, I also forgot forum member MSL is also in the area. I completely forgot about him.
    Zone 6B

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Medium Boxes Installing Packaged Bees

    lol point was the area is massive and the OP could be the equivalent of a few east cost states away...


    given no experance with meadum brood chambers, I must ask, why is every one suggesting a dubble meadum?
    Would you put a 5 frame meadum nuc in a dubble chamber? or would put it in a single and let it grow before adding another box later like you would with deep gear?
    the nuc "should" have bees emerging shortly and grow at about 1-2 frames a week, the package is going to get smaller for the next 24 days or so, maby more if on foundation not drawn comb
    "oh well, let us stick to science. let them have their beliefs and intuitions!" -Medhat Nasr

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Medium Boxes Installing Packaged Bees

    I don't think anyone is saying to start in a double medium. The extra boxes, sans frames, are for when hiving the package and go away afterwards. Start in the single. But they'll outgrow the single medium pretty fast so OP better have it on hand. The single medium is equal to a five frame nuc plus one more frame, less if we account for a frame feeder. Ultimately at least two mediums will be required for a brood chamber at a minimum. OP should purchase/make at least three mediums per package, four would be better.
    Last edited by JConnolly; 02-21-2020 at 02:06 PM.
    Zone 6B

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Medium Boxes Installing Packaged Bees

    Two. It would be better if they were 8-frame (I have all 7-frame mediums). More than 2 boxes is too much space for a 3 pound package. If the weather allows feed heavily with 1:1 sugar syrup to promote drawing comb. Keep feeding until there are drawn combs for one box.
    Last edited by philip.devos; 02-21-2020 at 03:15 PM. Reason: Add: "for a 3 pound package"

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Medium Boxes Installing Packaged Bees

    Quote Originally Posted by JConnolly View Post
    A medium frame is 64% the size of a deep frame, making two medium boxes equal to 128% of one deep. I prefer to think of my frames in frame units, with a deep being 1 frame unit, or FU, and the medium being .64FU. So two medium 10 frames boxes are 12.8FU, or nearly equal to 13 deep frames. This is sufficient for brood, but you will need to use a queen excluder or brood will end up in the third box. Three ten frame mediums are 19.2FU, or very close to the same as a double deep at 20FU.

    Now lets talk about overwintering. I am on the other side of the hills. Front Range is a little colder than we are, but cold isn't the biggest challenge. On both sides of the range we both have have long cold springs with big temperature swings. Getting the bees through that until nectar starts coming in is the challenge. Spring will be when they starve. The alternating warm sunny days followed by stretches of intense cold and late snow increases the acvtivity of the bees, but they can't get out and forage. The active bees eat more food, and then we get a late spring freeze and snow and five days of bitter cold after several sunny days, and that is when the colony starves to death if it doesn't have enough food. I prefer wintering in double deeps. The top box needs to be completely filled, wall to wall, top to bottom, with honey stores and a thick honey dome is required in the bottom box. I have successfully overwintered multiple colonies in one deep with a medium filled wall to wall above it, 16.4FU. Those colonies always needed sugar bricks and patties by March. The double deeps make it through OK, so 3 mediums will be close to the same. If you want a honey super then order four boxes with frames/foundation and a queen excluder.

    You will need a frame feeder. With the uncertain spring weather bees will need to be able to access spring syrup from inside their hive. Make sure you have one. Don't waste money on an entrance feeder. Also, you absolutely cannot afford to ignore mites - especially not in your area if you want to successfully overwinter.

    There is no substitute for what other beekeepers that are local to your area can tell you. Forum member shinbone is in your area. Make sure you touch base with him.
    This is an excellent post and it stresses the importance of paying attention to your colonies in the late winter / early spring. So many beekeepers...especially new ones...start to feel better when the early spring comes around and they see activity at the hive entrance. But in many cases, those bees are on their last stores and there's not much to forage. Worse, many beekeepers have gone out mid-winter and put pollen patties or substitutes in the colony which has created a false food source. The bees get kick started into action at a time when the real world is unprepared to support them. If the patty runs out or if the bees can't easily get to them or their honey stores, the extra brood that is now in the hive cannot be maintained and the entire colony is at risk. If you have to feed, don't stop. And be concerned about those wild temperature swings (especially the volatile ones) that can create a condition where the cluster moves in the colony and then gets anchored due to very cold temps in an area without much food. There's not too much you can do about weather excepting trying to reduce exposure to wind but you can plan and think ahead for food stores with the best method being to make sure your colony is heavy before winter settles in.

    Finally, since this thread is really about medium boxes and package installation I'll toss my vote in for the new package installed (in some manner...I personally have no problem shaking bees) in a single medium. I believe that there's no need for another medium unless it's a temporary housing for your installation method. If the package successfully settles in and accepts the queen (so many problems with that nowadays), you'll need another box soon enough but not until they're ready and need enough to raise brood in it.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Medium Boxes Installing Packaged Bees

    I believe that there's no need for another medium unless it's a temporary housing for your installation method.
    agreed, but as I haven't bought bees in the last 9 years, I turned to my old friend math..
    3500 bees per pound, 2500-2000 bees per deep "frame of bees"
    3x3500/2000= 5.25 deeps X1.36 gives us 7.1 mediums if they are drawn out, more cluster space per frame if they are not.
    the package adult pop will take about a month to return to its original size, then grow rapidly

    We get crappy weather often in may, even late may, a foot of wet heavy snow shuts down flows and flying fast and package starvation is a problem..
    I suggest divert as they can use in weather too cold for syrup and keep a few baggs in the the truck march-end of may for just in case.
    I was all ways a fan of frame feeders and use a lot of them, but with packages it seems we can get to cold for them to use it.
    When you see the loose cluster size of 5.25 deeps, smaller in the cold, and shrinking for the 1st 25 days or so you can see how they could get marooned in 10f deep set up and unable to feed, if this is before they have time to draw some comb and put up some stores, their dead
    The local advice for packages is a jar feeder on top of the inner cover (in contact with the cluster) and covered with a hive body will alow them to take syrup at lower temps.. the heat of the cluster warming the metal lid and the metal warming a few mm of syrup in contact with it.

    I have no use for 1/1 and don't suggest any one out here should either, calories and calories and I don't see a benefit in feeding them the extra water, thicker suryp means less trips to fill the feeders
    "oh well, let us stick to science. let them have their beliefs and intuitions!" -Medhat Nasr

  14. #13
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    I'm in Louisville.
    I have 2 hives in my backyard and a couple out yards.
    As MSL said, the flows are very different. My backyard hives get a crop of honey early, the others are 4 to 5 weeks later. If the weather holds I can get some nice dandelion honey.

    I use mediums also.

    Anyway, use a single medium to start. And a jar feeder over the inner cover hole. But don't completely cover the hole. Let it breathe. Use an empty super to protect the jar feeder.

    I use 4 mediums as permanent brood nest. I never have to feed in spring plus it is easier to raise a couple queens with a vertical split.

    When I have installed packages I get a spray bottle of sugar syrup with a couple drops of vanilla extract added. I spritz the bees with a little syrup. Gives them a little snack , calms them and cuts down on the flying bees everywhere. Also helps with queen acceptance. The bees are eager to release the queen, the vanilla syrup seems to mask her scent a little and I have not had a queen be rejected.

    Keep feeding them . The crazy spring weather can kill a beautiful fruit tree bloom overnight.

    I normally give a second box when they have 8 frames drawn. Move the outer frames in one place in the box so they don't skip drawing all the frames.

    Good luck and have fun

  15. #14

    Default Re: Medium Boxes Installing Packaged Bees

    Good advise. Thanks. I didn't mention that I am using 8 frame mediums, so 2-8 frame mediums isn't that much bigger than 1-10 frame deep. To clarify, bees will located in Littleton and Denver, Colorado.
    Last edited by sheltercat; 02-23-2020 at 06:21 PM.

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    Default Re: Medium Boxes Installing Packaged Bees

    Deleted by sheltercat

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Medium Boxes Installing Packaged Bees

    Quote Originally Posted by sheltercat View Post
    bees will located in Littleton and Denver, Colorado.
    I help out at our club teaching apiary @ the Littleton Cemetery. We often have 2 sessions a mounth out there starting in march, good way to get some hands on with beekeepers who have been at it a while
    "oh well, let us stick to science. let them have their beliefs and intuitions!" -Medhat Nasr

  18. #17
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    Default

    I caution against disturbing the bees until they have accepted, released queen and she is laying. Anecdotally it seems there are less acceptance and supersedure problems when they are not disturbed (because bees don't like runny nervous queens).
    If you are installing several packages grozzie makes a good point. I would amend it to suggest you put as many frames in the bottom box as will fit with the package. I would not take the package out the next day, maybe about 3 or 4 when they are settled in and I can remove queen cage (to push frames together and make sure she is released by then). At that time you can fill the top box with remaining frames. Check for eggs around day 7, there should also be larvae. I would wait longer if I think all is well but if your supplier will replace queens they will want to know soon. At that point if all is well you can fill frames in bottom box or remove it if it's cold....
    If you don't mind banging the package, don't leave overhead space and have the queen at the top of the space given. Bees move up to the queen not down. You want the cluster hanging from the top bars just under the inner cover. (Don't leave the empty package on the top bars.)
    Follow local advice regarding feeding.
    Lastly, have at least 2 colonies per location for comparison and help. If you are only getting 2 packages install them in one location and expand into the other with splits later (or next year). Have fun!

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