How to install the package (packaged) bees

  There are three most commonly used method of package bees installations. And I named them: "Pour the bees directly over the queen cage", "Placing the package into the hive", and "Direct release".

METHOD #  1 - "Pour the bees directly over the queen cage"

- Place package on its side. To keep bees from flying, dip bee brush in syrup and brush gently onto screen wire;
- Using hive tool, pry open top of package bees;
- While holding top of package, lift from ground a few inches and then set back on ground to knock bees to bottom;
- Once opened remove syrup can and remove queen cage. Cover package hole while preparing queen for install;
- Remove cork/candy cover. Place queen cage between top bars, candy end up slightly. Use wire or push two frames together to hold;
- Pour the bees directly over the queen cage. Tap package to get the remaining bees together;
- Place inner cover gently back on hive being careful to cluster now;
- Be sure to reduce entrance to a small opening. This will help the bees guard the entrance until the colony grows.
(Dadant $ Sons, Inc.)

METHOD  # 2 - "Placing the package into the hive"

METHOD  # 3 - "Direct release"

Some additional recommendations:

You have to remove queen cage in 3-5 days after installation.

Some beekeepers (Me too) poke a small hole through the candy with a needle, nail, toothpick or piece of wire. The hole encourages the bees to chew the candy, thus releasing the queen more quickly.

Some beekeepers prefer to place cage with the screen side facing the bottom of the hive. This will make it easier for the bees to feed the queen through the screen until candy plug is eaten away.

After installation, you should examine your bee hives only in case of obvious necessity. Before you plan to disturb your bees, think about the appropriateness of such a step. Remember, that during the honey flow season, each opening of the hive leads to significant losses of honey Also, every time you inspect your hive there is a chance that you accidentally could damage or kill the queen. Therefore, try to find answers to your concerns based on indirect observation and outside attributes like newly emerged bees with damaged wings, an adult worker bees with damaged wings or bees without wings.
An additional example of my "pollen collection as proof of the presence of a healthy and mated queen" theory:
you have just settled a new colony into a hive or placed a new queen into an existing colony and want to know whether she is alive and whether she started laying eggs. Instead of disturbing your bees, look carefully at workers' behavior.
If the worker bees are actively bringing pollen to the hive, it's a 99.9 percent guarantee that everything is okay with the queen or at least "base for the new queen" (queen cells, eggs or young uncapped larvae) is presented.
The biology of the Honey bees (Apis mellifera) explains my statement: worker bees collect the pollen and then mix it with some nectar. Such form of mixture (called beebread) is a protein-rich food used to feed the larvae (immature bees).
But you definitely have to inspect the hive in a situation when the workers in that hive are not bringing pollen, while the workers in the rest of your colonies are. One of the reasons that workers are not bringing pollen could be the absence of the queen or the queen is still unmated or the queen is unhealthy.

In a situations when you want to make sure that the queen is present, you can follow my recommendations:

1. Try not to do it during cold or windy weather.

2. Upon removal of the inner cover, first check the underside of the inner cover for the queen.
Usually, the queen is located in the place where there is the highest amount of worker bees. Generally, it is not recommended to take out first the frames with the most bees due to a chance of damaging or killing the queen. Therefore, it is better to start this task with the frame, which contains fewer bees, generally on the side of the hive. If the first frame is fastened to the side of the hive body you can slide a scraper/spackle knife between them.

3. Take one side frame out and inspect it visually. There is still a chance that the queen could be there, therefore you should not put the frame on the ground, but use a nuc box as a temporary location. For the same purpose you can also use a Frame Holder (Frame Perch).

4. Continue by initially shifting the second frame into the open spot on the side and then lifting it out. Inspect the frame to see if the queen is there and return the frame into the side spot. Continue this motion as necessary with the next frames, by first shifting then lifting and replacing frames in a sequence until the queen is located.

5. Once you are satisfied that everything is okay with the queen, it is better to put back the frame with the queen in reverse motion. In other words, put the frame with the queen into an open spot and then shift it back into place. Then shift the rest of the frames towards the frame with the queen and put back the very first frame into its original place.

6. In addition, note that it is better to inspect frames directly above the hive, just in case the queen falls from the frame. If you haven't found the queen on your first try, don't be disappointed and don't try to repeat the task right way. Sometimes the queen can be on the wall or the floor of the hive. It is better to close the hive and come back in a few hours. Chances are the queen could move onto a frame during this time.

7. Finally, it is not necessary to see the queen. If young larvae are visible in the cells you know a queen was present at least a few days before.

  You have to be well prepared for the new Packaged Bees.

Try to establish packaged bee colonies in virgin hives with virgin foundations to avoid disease transmission.

Never use old hives with black corners.

You should disinfect your old hives, if you do not have new hives. Usage of flame is also helpful.

April 29, 2008

  Because the outside temperature was too cold and the supplier sold me 2 pound packaged bees (instead of and for the price of 3 pound packaged bees), I reduced the number of frames and installed an insulation block in advance - before bees have been released from the packages.

If you do not have natural honey you can pour any remaining syrup into Division Board Feeder or Top Feeder.

If you do not have any feeders you can pour syrup into empty combs.

Never use Entrance Feeder if you have adult neighboring colonies!

April 29, 2008

I think, that Method #1 is the easiest. In my situation all four colonies occupied hives in 5 minutes. Dadant company also recommends this method.

It is essential that you keep on feeding the bees until they have an abundance of nectar available.

Please remember that any shortage of feed causes reduction in brood rearing.

April 29, 2008


On May 3 and 4, 2008 workers of new colonies started actively bringing pollen to the hive.


On May 11, 2008 I checked new colonies and made some photos for educational purposes.

Links to related info:

Package Bees

Boris Romanov,   March 10, 2001

Last Modified: February 12, 2009


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