Installation question

George_in_MA(z5/6 MA)April 18, 2005

Our first time keeping bees. Our two colonies of bees arrived today, and Lori--who wanted them in the first place--had to be to work at 11 A.M., leaving me, with my fear of bees and wasps, to install them in the hives.

I shook what I thought was the bulk of the first package of bees into the first hive and laid the shipping container aside. After I put the top on the hive, I looked over to see a large number of bees crawling on the container and clustered around the hole. I didn't think it was a good idea to open up the hive again, so I didn't. The container is only about one foot from the entrance of the hive. My question is, will these bees eventually know to join the others inside the hive? If not, I'd appreciate suggestions regarding what my next move should be. Thanks in advance.

By the way, I called Lori at work and told her that she's going to install the other package of bees tomorrow.

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SteveInNC(Zone 6-1/2)

I haven't ordered bees that way in years, but as I remember they send the queen separately. Since the queen isn't causing the hold-up, the bees will go in eventually - normally.

However, if these packaged bees came with a queen, and the queen is still outside the hive, that's a different story. The (accepted) queen is a magnet, and will draw all the other bees to her. Wherever she is.

Feed these bees! That will help!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2005 at 8:32AM
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ccrb1(z5 IND)

yes, if you put the bees on foundation, you can expect to feed and feed for several weeks.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2005 at 9:42AM
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George_in_MA(z5/6 MA)

The package came with a queen cage (a queen and several attendants). I removed the cork that leads to the piece of candy and hung the cage between two of the frames, candy facing upward, so that the other bees can chew their way through to free her.

We installed the second package of bees in the second hive today. If there's someone out there who can get every living bee out of the container, I'd like to see it.

We did a more thorough job this time--more bees dumped directly into the hive than my first attempt--but still there must have been at least a couple of hundred bees that remained in the container. Again, we put the mostly empty container on the ground, the hole of the container directly in front of the hive entrance, with the hope that the outside bees eventually join the rest of the colony inside.

Right now, late afternoon, things seem to be busy at both hives. Lots of flying, and lots of bees visiting the large bucket of water that I placed several feet away from the hives. Still, there are a good number of bees crawling on the outsides of the shipping containers.

Each hive is equipped with a frame feeder containing sugar water (a 5-pound bag of white sugar melted in 2 1/2 quarts of water). I'm thinking that the inside bees will eventually communicate to the outside bees that the food is inside, and that will solve things. SteveInNC, did you mean that I should leave sugar water outside the hive for the outside bees to eat? That would be easy enough to do, but I haven't read that it's done.

Thanks for the feedback.


    Bookmark   April 19, 2005 at 6:29PM
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SteveInNC(Zone 6-1/2)

Internal feeder is best. That's all you need.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2005 at 8:36AM
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ccrb1(z5 IND)

be careful you don't drown too many bees on a frame feeder. I've opted not to use them.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2005 at 10:01PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

I'm curious, why not just feed them with honey?

    Bookmark   April 21, 2005 at 1:14AM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

You can put some kind a float into the frame feeder, a piece of wood would work.

Bee keepers are greedy, they take away the honey and feed them with sugar water, [cheaper]
Honey they can sell.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2005 at 2:19AM
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ccrb1(z5 IND)

Feeding the bees honey from the store would be a sure way to spread disease. If people knew how impure the imported honey was... they wouldn't eat it.

Sugar syrup is best for bees.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2005 at 7:47AM
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I just don`t understand why it is tought to dump the bees out of the package when you can remove 5 frames and set the package inside the hive and let them crawl out to the queen then go back the next day and remove the package and out in 4 of the 5 frames and after the queen is out put the 10th frame back LET THE BEES DO THE WORK !!

honeyman46408=lazy beekeeper

    Bookmark   April 22, 2005 at 7:03AM
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ccrb1(z5 IND)

With somewhere close to 10% of packages absconding last year in this area, the idea of dumping out the package is so you don't have to go in the next day and disturb the bees. One needs only go in later and remove the queen cage.

Of course, with the problems with small hive beetle and packages that have been hyperdosed to "appear" clean, I just don't understand why people don't just buy a nuc locally.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2005 at 8:14AM
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I would abscond too if some one sprayed me with sugar water and bounced me and dumped me but them that wouldnt bee disturbing me

    Bookmark   April 22, 2005 at 8:14PM
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ccrb1(z5 IND)

No doubt, the bees are not real comfortable in a crowded package cage either. However being sprayed with sugar water is not likely a negative thing. Almost every package I've seen is near starvation because the tin can feeders with a half dozen holes is a very poor way for the bees to get enough food. Spraying the bees with sugar water seems to calm them, and it certainly keeps them pre-occupied.

I suppose you could place the queen cage between frames, put on the inner cover, and invert the package over the hole in the inner cover, if you think the bees would prefer to walk down.

Absconding is often thought to be caused by a queen who was not mated, or poorly mated. The quality of queens in packages has been a complaint for a long time, but it seems to be worse now packages are in short supply every year.

That's the nice thing about nucs. You can immediately judge the temperament of the colony, and see the queen's laying pattern.

Plus installation is as simple as transplanting four frames into a hive body. A little smoke, and it's done in moments and you don't need to go back to let a queen loose, or to remove a cage, or push the frames together.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2005 at 5:35PM
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