*If it is warm and sunny, and installing multiple packages, drifting can be a real problem. You’ll either want to wait until evening to install, or use a slow release method (not the shaking them out method below). Otherwise you’ll end up with two packages in one hive and an abandoned queen in the other.
BEFORE you pick up your package, have your hive equipment prepared and ready to go. If you are painting a hive, have it painted and aired out for a couple of weeks before you pick up your bees. Set it up in the place where you plan to keep the bees, and have your safety gear ready.
INSPECT THE PACKAGE (especially that the queen is alive) with us before heading home (‘gently’ tap the package straight down and get a look at your queen hanging in the cage, make sure she is moving!).
TRANSPORTING your package of bees and storing them before installation should be done at room temperature–not in a hot car or out somewhere in the sun. If it is late in the evening or if you need to wait several hours or until the next day to install your package, place the bees somewhere room temperature, not very cold or hot (not outside in the cold or heat). A darker spot is ideal.
OPEN THE TOP OF YOUR HIVE in preparation for the install. You should not have a second box or supers on the hive until the colony grows over the coming weeks-month. If you install a package in a box with too much space of undrawn foundation, they will not view it as usable space immediately and during a strong nectar flow, they may swarm.
PUT ON YOUR PROTECTIVE GEAR such as a bee suit, veil, gloves in preparation for the install.
SPRAYING the package lightly through the screen with 1:1 sugar syrup, can be a good way to calm them down a bit before you install them in the hive equipment. This is an optional step.
USE YOUR HIVE TOOL to remove the wooden panel from the top of the package of bees. Carefully remove the tin feeder and queen cage from the hole in the top of the box. Place the queen cage to the side, and replace the wooden panel over the package hole to prevent bees from escaping. Before going further, look carefully at the queen to ensure that she is still alive and healthy.
REMOVE A FEW FRAMES from the center of the brood chamber to create a space in the hive for the bees.
BEFORE SHAKING THE BEES INTO THE HIVE, firmly knock the package on the ground to make the bees drop to the bottom of the box. Be sure to hold the wooden lid in place while you are doing this.
REMOVE THE WOOD PANEL, and quickly turn the package over on top of the hive body. Shake the package strongly to get the majority of the bees into the space in the hive where your frames with foundation (or drawn frames if you have them) are. You might have to shake the package a few times. Don’t be concerned if you notice a large number of bees flying around; they will eventually calm down and enter the hive.
LEAN THE WOODEN PACKAGE BOX near the front of the entrance of the hive so that any remaining bees in the package can crawl into the hive over time.
CAREFULLY PUT THE FRAMES YOU REMOVED back into the hive, trying not to crush bees. When installing in cooler weather, make sure the bees can touch both the queen and feed at the same time when they are clustered.
REMOVE THE PLUG covering the candy end of the queen cage, and install the queen cage with the candy side facing upward towards the top of the hive (in the middle of the box or where most of the bees are), slightly down from the top of a frame (don’t put it right at the very top). Make sure the cage is secure between the frames so that it does not fall to the bottom of the hive.
NOW FEED YOUR BEES a light 1:1 sugar water mixture. This is HIGHLY recommended and almost always necessary with a package of bees, UNLESS you have existing, drawn out frames with existing resources (honey). This will help them build wax on the frames and get established as a larger colony.
INSPECT YOUR BEES 5-7 days after installing the package to ensure that the queen is alive and has been released. Don’t check for eggs, etc. just make sure she is out. If she is dead, or not released and kind of ignored, you *might* have a queen loose in the package from the parent colony. It’s fairly rare but does happen. If that is the case and the other queen is laying, great. Otherwise call us and we will work through it.
INSPECT THE COLONY AGAIN after another 5 days to verify that the queen has started laying eggs. Eggs look like small grains of rice standing up in the center of cells. If necessary, add more 1:1 sugar syrup again at this time.
WHEN THE COLONY FILLS OR DRAWS OUT ALL BUT THE OUTER 2+ FRAMES, go ahead and add your next box with foundation.
REMEMBER TO KEEP TRACK OF MITE LEVELS and treat when necessary. Since you often do not have excess honey the first year, you should consider mite treatment as soon as needed during the summer.