Info sheet "Package bee installation"
Your Package Bees: HOW TO INSTALL AND CARE FOR YOUR BEES
Copyright 2021, Rocky Mountain Bee Supply LLC, All Rights Reserved
Watch the video: https://youtu.be/zJplmynh_0g
Thank you for purchasing a package from Rocky Mountain Bee Supply. A package of bees typically consists of a wooden or plastic box, three or so pounds of worker bees, a caged mated queen, and a can of syrup for the trip. Your package bees are coming from Northern California in a climate-controlled truck. Packages are great for installation into any type of hive, especially those with already drawn out wax comb on frames or bars. If they are going into a brand-new hive with no existing comb…FEED FEED FEED!
To transport your package home:
Check your queen before your load your bees. If she’s not moving around or is dead in her cage…you must notify us immediately before you leave the property and we’ll replace the package with another. Once you leave the property, we will not replace the package or the queen…so please check her. If you do get home and have a dead queen, or you go to release her and she is dead, you can call us and we will have replacement queens for sale.
- Package bees are usually very well contained in their box; if you’re worried, you may place it in a mesh (they need to breathe) laundry bag. Keep them at room temperature…if you’re comfortable, they are too. Don’t put them in the trunk. Make sure they won’t slide around in your vehicle on the way home.
Please go directly home to install your package. If the weather is totally awful, you can place them in the house or garage and take a can opener and open the top of the syrup can and put more 2:1 sugar water syrup in until the weather breaks. Remember, by the time they get here, they’re pretty much out of food.
- Set up your hive: one deep box with all of its frames, bottom board, entrance reducer, inner cover, top cover, hive stand, feeder, etc.
- Have your 1:1 sugar water prepared and ready to put into your feeder. Pour some of your sugar water into a spray bottle as well (if it’s cold out, then don’t spray the bees directly…just a little spritz on the frames.)
- Have your pollen patty standing by.
Wear your full protective gear.
Lightly spritz the inside of the deep box, the bottom board, and the five blank frames with your 1:1 sugar water. If your bees are really cranky and its warm enough outside, spritz them with some of the sugar water.
- With your hands firmly holding the package box, thump it down firmly on a level surface to shift the cluster of bees to the bottom of the box.
- With your hive tool or a flat head screw driver, pry out the feeding can and set it aside. Slide out your queen’s cage and cover the hole with the bottom of the can or a piece of board or cardboard. Inspect your queen to make sure she’s moving around…place her in your pocket where she won’t get chilled.
- Remove about 5 to 7 frames to create a space in the middle of the box and set them aside.
- Remove the can or piece of board, turn over the package box and shake the bees into the empty space between the frames. Shake as many out as you can, but don’t worry if you don’t get every last bee.
- Very gently, replace your 5 to 7 frames on top of the bees…letting the frames settle gently on the bees as they crawl up onto the frames…DON’T FORCE THIS!!! If you sprayed some sugar water on the frames, they will be very happy and busy to clean that up! This may take a few minutes. Some bees may decide to fly around…this is perfectly okay.
- Hang your queen in between two of the middle frames or bars sort of off center so she won’t get dripped on from an internal feeder, making sure that the screen side of her cage is facing the front or back of the hive so that the workers may access her to feed her. Secure her cage with metal tab on the foundation near the top of the frame… if it’s cold use a piece of string and extend her down further so they can keep her warm.
- Place your pollen patty either: directly on top of the frames/bars to one side or on the top of the inner cover (don’t cover up that middle hole).
- Replace the remaining hive components (if you’re using an internal feeder…set this up at this time) to include your inner cover and top cover.
- Make sure that your entrance is reduced down to the smallest hole to prevent robbing until the hive gets stronger.
- Set the package box in front of the hive…any stragglers will smell their queen and sisters and find their way into their new home.
- You may see your bees come out of the entrance and do a funny loopty doo…this is their orientation flights to locate their hive when they begin to go foraging.
In 48 to 72 hours, you will need to release your queen. Don’t forget to do this!!! Wear your protective gear, and remove your covers. Find your queen’s cage. Removing the cage, check your queen is doing okay and moving around. Check for acceptance behavior: workers trying to feed her with their tongues. (If they look like they’re trying to sting her with their butts or bite at her feet…then she hasn’t been accepted yet…give her another day.)
Watch the video: https://youtu.be/yfmy6qawwDU
- Remove about three middle frames to create space. Holding the cage down as far as you can into the space you just made, take a screw, nail, or small pocket knife, and remove the small cork on the bottom of the cage…being careful not to hurt her. She’s going to shoot out like a rocket.
- Very carefully and gently, replace the frames and close the hive back up.
Do your first hive inspection about 7 to 10 days after installation. You are looking for wax comb being drawn out on blank frames or, if you have drawn out wax comb from an old hive…day old eggs and wet brood: you may not spot your queen, but if you see eggs and larvae…then you know she’s there.
REMEMBER: if you install a package of bees on blank foundation or foundationless frames…it’s going to take your queen some time before she begins to lay…she has to have drawn out wax cells to start laying…if you want your bees to get a busy start building comb…you must feed them. If you fail to keep a constant supply of sugar water on them, they are going to have a slow start and may not build up enough stores for winter. Please feed your packages. We cannot stress this enough!!!
Please remember: depending on your bees, the weather, how much you feed, the presence or absence of a nectar flow will determine how fast your bees draw out the comb on your frames. It could take 6 to 8 weeks for them to fill out the bottom deep box…more time if you fail to feed them.
FEED. FEED. DO NOT STOP THIS WHOLE SEASON. You will feed a 1:1 sugar water mix (Don’t let them run out) until they’ve reached 2 deeps or the equivalent of 80 to 100 pounds of honey. At this point, if there’s time before fall prep, you can add a honey super for your honey.
If you haven’t taken a basic beekeeping class, you need to, or get a seasoned mentor.
- These packages have been pretreated for varroa mites, inspected multiple times before you get them, and are healthy with a newly mated queen. Because they are live insects, we cannot guarantee their health and viability after they leave the store and are out of our control. Please feed your bees and don’t stop. We can’t stress this enough.
There are no refunds on package purchases.Once you leave the property, and the bees are out of our control, they are yours. If you are having issues, have a dead queen, or need help, please contact us as soon as possible.
Please don’t throw your package box in the trash. If you’re not going to use it, please return it to the store so we can recycle it.
Rocky Mountain Bee Supply
Copyright 2021, Rocky Mountain Bee Supply LLC, All Rights Reserved.