How do I hive my package?
Have your hive ready – woodenware onsite, hive body, bottom, cover, frames all assembled, foundation embedded, feeder ready - before the package bees arrive. Be sure the hive has been provided with honey or sugar syrup for feed. You can also install a comb of honey if you have some set back for that purpose. Syrup should be mixed at a 1:1 sugar to water ratio by weight. That’s 8 pounds of sugar to 1 gallon of water.
Langstroth:The entrance of the hive should be reduced to a width of about 2 inches by stuffing grass or newspaper into the entrance slot. You may close the entrance for the first 24 hours so long as daytime temperatures don’t exceed 85 degrees Farenheit and the hive is not in the direct sun. Do not permanently close the entrance because the bees will smother. You may increase the opening within 2-4 weeks.
Top-Bar: We recommend using screen to trap ALL the bees inside the hive (making sure to add feed first) for at least 24to 48 hours. After 24 to 48 hours, open the entrance for 1-2 bees to fly, but don’t make the entrance too large. If you have access to honeycomb or wax, tack it or stick some to one of the top bars to make it more appealing and decrease the chance of absconding.
Take the cover off the package, remove the feed can, we suggest a hive tool or strong magnet, and remove the queen cage. After removing the queen cage, you may cover the opening of the package with the can or the cardboard temporarily until you’ve installed the queen and are ready to hive the package. Look in the queen cage to make sure the queen is alive. If the queen is dead, telephone us immediately for a replacement.
Remove the cork from the candy end only of the queen cage and hang the queen cage, candy end down, between two of the center frames or combs in your hive. The bees must have access to the screen on the queen cage. You can increase the pace of the queen emergence by poking a small hole in the candy with a twig or toothpick or nail. Don’t poke the queen! At this point, make sure you have feed in the feeder and then you may remove four of the frames from one side of the hive body and place package of bees into the hive with can removed, then replace the lid or cover of the hive and the bees will crawl out. You may return later that day or the next to remove the empty shipping cage and replace the combs / frames that you removed earlier. At this point its best not to disturb the hive for at least a week except to refill the feeder.
Another method for hiving a package is to remove and install the queen as described above, put syrup in the feeder, then turn the shipping cage bottom up, over the hive and shake the bees into the hive making sure some of them fall between the frames where the queen cage is hung. Gently cover the hive, taking care not to crush the bees and do not disturb the hive again (except to briefly open the cover and refill the feeder) for at least a week. After one week the queen should be out of her cage and should have eggs (actually they’re embryos) laid in one or two combs. If you have started the hive on foundation only, the bees should be drawing out one or two sheets of the foundation and there should be some embryos (most beekeepers call them “eggs” in some of the freshly drawn comb. Eggs are very hard to see in new wax, so look carefully and bring your magnifying glass if you don’t have sharp eyes. Starvation of the bees is the biggest hazard to successful establishment of the package of bees. Continue to feed them, taking care not to get robbing started, until you are sure the bees are producing enough honey to maintain themselves.