The anticipation is killing me. The packages of bees should be arriving to D&B any day! For some of you, this may be the first time you have installed a package of bees. Don’t fret – below are some basic guidelines on a successful installation.

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  1. The best time of day for installing a package is the early evening, right before sunset and after foraging is over for the day. This encourages the bees to stay together in their new home. Therefore, you might need to store your package for a few hours before installation. It’s best to keep it in a dark place that is about 50-60 degrees F (like a garage for example). Leaving them in the hot sun can kill them.

  2. Make sure you have your hive ready to go – a bottom board, a deep or medium box filled with frames, a feeder frame, inner cover, and top cover.

  3. Feeding your bees is crucial with any new colony. Therefore, prepare some sugar syrup by mixing about five pounds of sugar into a gallon of hot water. This should be poured into your feeder frame after installation.

  4. When sunset approaches, it is go time! Take your package and remove the tin can in the top (this is a feeder can) and quickly remove the queen cage and re-cover the hole in the top of the package with a flat piece of wood or other material.

  5. Take a look at the queen, ensuring she is alive and well.  Remove the cork in the bottom of her cage and replace it with a piece of candy, such as a marshmallow. Some come with a candy installed and all you have to do is pierce a hole in it with a paperclip or other thin tool. This allows the bees in the package to get used to her, accepting her as their queen. The worker bees will then eat through this candy and release her after installation.

  6. Carefully place the queen cage between two frames in the middle of the hive, ensuring that the netting sides of the cage are facing outward (not up against the frame foundation) so the bees can see her once installed. Use the little metal wire that held her in the package to hold her against a frame in your hive.

  7. Next comes the exciting part!  Have a spray bottle with sugar syrup ready to go, and spray the bees in the package thoroughly with this syrup through the netting. This disables them from easily flying and also allows them to clump together, making the next step much easier.

  8. Uncover the hole in the top of the package, turn it upside down over your hive, and make swift up/down movements to shake the bees on top of the frames in your new hive! This step might sound intimidating, but you will find that the bees are not very defensive right now because they don’t have a home or any resources to defend. Plus, the sugar syrup you sprayed on them keeps most of them from flying.

  9. Some bees may still be left in the package. Set it close to the front entrance of your hive and they will eventually make their way to their new home.

  10. Fill up your feeder frame and fit it in your hive on the far right or left of the frames. Give the bees a little time to settle between the frames and then place your covers on top.

This is the absolute basic steps involved in installing a package. I will be creating a video class with more details using the package that I will be installing this spring. Here is a link to another perspective on installing: http://beeinformed.org/2012/03/how-to-install-package-bees/

Keep your bees buzzin’ y’all!

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