Here is our guide, tips, and tricks for installing package bees in their new hives - make sure your hives, syrup, and bee yard is ready before your packaged bees arrive!
If you have ordered a package of bees and are impatiently waiting for their arrival, don't fret! You can use this time to prepare the ideal home for your new bees.
On pick-up day, you must get your bees home and installed immediately. Have your hives, bear fencing, and a feeder ready and in place, with sugar syrup made up and ready to go.
Your packaged bees will be in screened boxes at the time of pick-up. These boxes are meant to be temporary homes, and the bees will be vulnerable. If they aren't installed promptly into a ready hive, they can quickly die from overheating, starvation, or overcooling.
How to Prepare For Package Bees
What should I do before my bees arrive?
* Prepare sugar water for feeding your bees (1:1 ratio of sugar to water). Your package will require at least three weeks of supplemental feeding upon installation. You will likely need two 25-lb bags of pure white cane sugar (not beet or unrefined sugar) to establish your package in their new home.
* Please take the time to look into the proper techniques for installing packages in advance of pick-up day. Here is a YouTube video of Sarah installing a package from 2019: https://youtu.be/Y-FpsfKuchw
* Acquire all the necessary equipment, paint your hives, and set up your bear fencing well in advance. Package pick-up day is not the time to do last-minute shopping — please come fully prepared to get your bees home promptly.
I have my package. Now what do I do?
* It is always a good idea when transporting bees to have your protective gear with you.
* Be careful transporting your package and avoid them falling over or knocking around. Please carry them carefully and keep the box in an upright position.
* Consider using a mesh laundry bag to put them in during transit.
* Bring ratchet straps if they will be transported in a truck bed.
* Keep your package protected from wind and sun. Do not leave your package in a hot car, the sun, or high wind.
* Install your package immediately in your hive - rain or shine! They are very vulnerable in their box and can easily die. If the weather is horrible, you may keep them in a shady indoor location (ex. a garage) for a day or two, but mist them with sugar syrup two times a day.
How to Install a Package of Bees
* Spray the bees with a bit of sugar water and then tap the package box to knock the bees to the bottom.
* Remove the feeding canister from the package, along with the queen cage.
* Install the queen cage and hang it from one of the center frames with the candy plug uncovered and facing up. Be sure the screened part of the cage is NOT blocked by a frame so that bees can smell and attend to the queen.
* Remove 4-5 frames from the hive body, shake the bees into the hive, and carefully slide the frames back in.
* Place the open package box out in front of the hive and the remaining bees will eventually move in.
* Place the feeder on your hive, fill with syrup, and keep it full. Check it daily and refill it as needed.
* Give your bees a week to settle in and then inspect your hive. Plan to do weekly inspections and be prepared to add the next super. As a rule of thumb, this will be when you have (5) full frames of brood in 8-frame boxes or (7) full frames in 10-frame boxes.