Bee Packages - Bee in Harmony, Rowe Apiaries, Part I

Bee packages – Part I – Season 4

Just got more bees from Rossman Apiaries and decided to write this quick post on installing bee packages. The bee packages arrived overnight and were delivered by our trustworthy UPS guy, who promptly warned me that the metal mesh edges are very dangerous. Indeed, they were. Despite pocking myself countless times on those wires, the operation went pretty smoothly. Nothing is more relaxing than installing bee packages on a pretty, sunny, but cool late afternoon. Here is my step-by-step plan.

1. Upon arrival, I set the packages in the shade, and started misting them with very light sugar water. (two table spoons for a spray bottle). I did it three times, while preparing the rest of equipment. If I had to pick them up from the mail office (as I have done before), I would have set them up in the shade until the evening, and misted them every two hours. Misting for me means spraying lightly, not drowning the bees.

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2. I got a bottom board, a deep super with medium frames, a shallow (honey) super (without frames), an inner cover and an outer cover for each package of bees.

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3. I set the bottom boards and the deep supers on the stands and installed the frames (after equipping each with a wax strip). All but the middle (I would say slightly off the center) three frames were spaced and ready. The three frames go back in after the bees are shaken in. I set the covers and the shallow supers by the hives, ready to be installed.

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4. I filled the recycled plastic containers (from orange juice) with light sugar syrup (1 part sugar to 1 part water). The sugar I use is organic, from Costco, which is why it is not clear.

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5. I got to the hardest part: removing the carrying strips and the plywood lids off each package. That is where I had to use my faithful tool: an old sheetrock putty trowel. After cramming it between the box and the lid, I was able to widen the gap for the hive tool to fit and finish the job. It may be easy for some, but it is always a challenge for me. After breaking into sweat, almost cutting my vein on the wire mesh, and stubbing myself with the hive tool, I opened and set those packages one by one on the hives.

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6. It was easy from that point on: a) lightly mist the bees, b) tip over the shipping box until the corn syrup can starts falling out, c) take the can out carefully, shaking off the bees, d) take out the queen cage and attach it to a frame, e) turn the box upside down, slightly shaking, and let the bees fall out.

7. I shook the bees, striking one corner of the box on the ground and dumped as many bees into the hive as were willing to depart that box.

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8. I placed the remaining three frames in the hive, installed the inner cover and the feeding container.

9. I shook the bees in the box again and dumped them on the top of the container.

10. I closed the hive with the outer cover and set the shipping box next to the hive, on the stand.

There are just a few more things, I would like to mention here. I don’t use my smoker when I install bee packages. Very few bees fly around, most looking how to get into the hive. Even if they can’t get into theirs, they will probably find another hive.
I did not use thick gloves (I use regular disposable medical gloves) and I have plenty of arms exposed. The only time I get stung is when I get tired and become careless by grabbing hive tools, covers or supers and squeezing the bees sitting on them. Usually, it happens once a year. I always take Benadryl afterwards. I take children’s Benadryl, because years ago I was attacked by yellow jackets and had a pretty bad reaction. Finally, I always wear a jacket with a veil. I know that some people don’t; and yet, I read about an accident when a sting to a jugular vein became lethal. So, I think that being extra careful is important when it comes to protecting the head and the neck. I will post update in a couple of days, when I will be checking on my new hives!

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