HONEYBEE PACKAGE INSTALLATION INSTRUCTIONS (by "Jester bee" )
"Bees are sold by the pound. The cage are shipped in called a package.
The top of a cage has an opening. This opening is for a syrup can and
a place for the bees to be shook into the package. The queen is also
in this opening in a cage of her own.
A package usually contains either two or three pounds of bees. There are approximately 3,500 bees to the pound. All the bees you get in your package will be dead within about six weeks so it is very important to get the hive started so the queen can start laying eggs and they can start raising new bees as soon as possible. Because each day counts in getting bees started in a hive, you should not delay once the bees have arrived. As a beginner you might want your queen marked. That means the queen producer will place a light paint mark on the back of the queen so she can be located easily when you are looking for her.
Bees that you are able to pick-up from a producer will not face the stress that package bees faced when mailed. Once the bees arrive at the post office, you will get a call informing you that your bees are in! Beekeepers getting bees in the mail, will often find a number of dead bees at the bottom of the cage. Again it is normal for the number of bees to die each day and longer the package is in transit, the more dead bees you will have in the bottom of your cage.
When hauling bees, bees are very sensitive to wind blowing directly on them and to the heat of the sun or enclosed vehicle. If the temperature reaches 100 degrees or more, you will lose a lot of bees. A sign that something is wrong is not hard to learn. If the bees are quite and calm, everything is fine. However, if they are rushing about the package, and some bees are sticking their tongues through the screen they are too hot. What can you do? Get them in the shade out of the sun.. Second, sprinkle water on the screen wire. We use a spray bottle just for these purpose, make sure you use a new one, remember that soap, detergent, chemicals, and insecticides can kill bees. Normally we mix sugar with the water - one pound of sugar to 1/2 gal. of water. When sprayed on the screen lightly, the bees will take up the water and sugar and the rushing around will stop. One other point -- when rushing around in a package cage, the bees put out a loud hum. Listen for hum and look for rushing bees. take action if you see of hear either.
Now, how do you get the bees from the cage into your hive?
1St -- Install the package of bees in the evening hours. Several hours before sun down is fine.
2ND -- Check to make sure you have everything.
a. Is all your equipment ready?
b. Do you have all your protective equipment -- veil, gloves, etc?
c. Do you have your smoker lit?
d. Have you given the bees some water and sugar syrup by spraying lightly on the screen wall of the cage?
e. Do you have a hive feeder and is it full of syrup. The bees will need a lot of food in the first couple of weeks to draw the foundation into comb and start raising brood bees. Make sure the bees always have sugar available to them until they get strong enough to add your honey supers. If the bees have enough flowers producing nectar that they can work then they will not take the sugar. The bees can use quart or more of sugar syrup a day. It is important to use an entrance reducer during this time to help prevent other bees from robbing the sugar from your hive. If they do this they will fight with your bees which are trying to defend there home and kill many of them.
3rd -- The package
There are various methods for putting bees in a hive. The package has a hole for a can in the top of the cage. This can is protected with a wood lid stapled or nailed into the cage. Pry up the wood cover. You will see a can. The bees can not get out yet! You will also see a thin plastic strip running down into the cage along side of the can. This plastic strip is attached to he queen cage which holds the queen. It will be important to remove the queen cage from the package before you put the bees into the hive.
The next few moments will be exiting. If you are ready to get the bees out of the cage, here is what you will have to do.
METHOD # 2 - "Placing the package into the hive"
If you are a bit timid about dumping bees out of the cage, you can use this method. First, remove five frames from the brood chamber. The package will fit into the space you have just created.
Second, follow the steps above about removing the queen cage from the package. In this case, you will locate the queen cage between the two frames nearest to the package. It is best to pour a few bees from the package out over her so the others will follow, but it is not absolutely necessary. Do not place the queen cage back into the package. The bees will go to the queen. If you place the queen cage in the package , the bees will stay there. You do not want that. After you place the queen between two frames, you again shake the bees to the bottom of the package and remove the can. Quickly set the package with the open hole side facing up to the brood box. The bees will now crawl out the opening. Your job is done for today.
If you used the second method of putting the package into the hive, you must go back a day later to remove it. If you do not, the bees will eventually build comb in it and around it. The queen will lay eggs in this comb and if you try to get this mess cleaned up, you run the risk of killing your queen as you work. We recommend that you check the queen cage in three days to make sure the queen is out. Do not disturb the hive for five days or so. There is no need to pull any frames out of the hive to look at the bees -- we know that you are dying to see what is going on. However, bees are still adjusting to their new queen and may kill her if they are disturbed. Be on the safe side, just wait. After one week, you can open your hive and check on the progress your bees have made. You will or should find that they are building new comb and if you look closely, you will see new eggs in the cells. This is an indication that everything is okay. In two weeks you should see capped brood. If after two weeks you see no signs of eggs or larva or capped brood, you need to get a new queen fast. They can be sent next day delivery. You will have to repeat the entire introduction process over that was discussed before. It will set your hive back considerably. The earlier you find queen laying eggs the more you can relax and enjoy the success of getting your hive started."