Saturday, March 29, 2014

Buzz, Buzz, Installing Bees

When we first got bees several years ago, we ordered and installed two colonies.  One of them left after two days!  Everybody, gone!  We didn't replace them and since then we've been flying solo with one hive. 

Well, one hive is great, but when an ice storm comes along and a fallen limb blows apart the only one you have, you decide a second hive might not be such a bad thing.  Though this scene looked bad and we questioned whether they would survive, there was still a cluster in one of the hive boxes, so I assumed the queen was still alive.  We put everything back together, fed them sugar water for a few days and watched and waited.  I checked them after a week or so, and I saw capped brood, which means babies on the way and a laying queen, pollen and the start of honey.  As of today, they are working like gangbusters bringing in pollen and nectar.

I picked up and installed my second colony today.

When you order a package of bees, this is what you get. This is 3 pounds of bees. The small rectangular box beside it is called the queen cage, and it holds the queen as well as a few of her attendants.

Here is a close-up of the queen cage.  The white end is actually candy, and this is what she and her attendants eat while trapped in her cage.

The end of the queen cage with the candy is capped with a small cork. The cork is removed to give the new bees access to the candy. They will eat their way through the candy to release the queen. Once the cork is removed, the queen box is suspended in the hive body where the bees will be installed. She is still protected by her cage, but she will be able to send out pheromones to establish herself as queen. At this point, she is not their queen, but by the time they get through the candy and release her, she should have sent out enough pheromones to establish herself as their new queen.

This is where the bees are going to be dumped. It's a hive body with 10 frames.

The blue push pin is holding the queen cage in place. The top is pried off the package of bees and you basically shake them out of the package into the hive. Most of them come out in a large mass and they proceed to work their way down into the hive body.

After you've shaken out as many bees as possible, the package is placed in front of the hive to encourage the rest of the bees to migrate into the hive body.

Finish with a nice container of sugar water to feed them since they don't have any honey or pollen collected yet.  Let's hope this one stays put!

Happy beekeeping,



  1. Great post! I'd love to keep bees one day, they just seem so fasinating. Hope you get some honey from them after all your hard work.

    1. Thanks, Kev! They are fascinating and the more you know that more you realize you don't know, especially with bees.

  2. Every year I say I'm going to get bees but ordering time comes and goes! So glad your one hive survived, but I do agree two will be best.

    1. Yes, timing is important, especially when you are just getting started. And, most beekeepers order their bees in the fall for spring delivery because the bee farms sell out so quickly.

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