Hive/Install a Bee Colony From a Package

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Introduction: Hive/Install a Bee Colony From a Package

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In this instructable I'm going to show you how to start your very own beehive with a package of bees. There are many ways to start a hive, such as buying a nucleus hive from a beekeeper, buying a package of bees, or even catching a swarm of bees in the wild (kinda Pokemon-like, except its not a Beedrill).

I'm assuming you've got all the components you need for the beehive body. Generally, for starting a colony, you will need a bottom board, deep body, inner cover and an outer cover. Once your colony expands, it is up to you to decide what size hive bodies you want to keep adding (keep weight in mind! Honey is heavy.)

Many thanks to my good friend David Miller who helped me take some pictures during the process. My hands were either sticky or full of bees and his help was awesome to have!

Step 1: Level the Boxes

First, you'll want to level the hive bodies and bottom board. Just grab any regular level and make sure the hive is not rolled in any direction.

The bees use gravity as a guide, so if the boxes are tilted too much, the comb may be built pretty crazily!

Step 2: Pick Up the Packages

Pick up your packages. Look at the picture to see what to expect when you pick up your tens of thousands of new pets.

Step 3: Take Care of the Queen

Fist, you'll need to take out the queen and place her in between two frames. Your package will probably have a wooden covering. Take this off and you'll see there is a can of syrup and the queens cage. Packages vary by the farm, so your queen may only come out once the can is removed.

Either way, once the can is removed, you should cover the package opening again with the wooden piece. This will stop bee from leaving and make things a bit more calm for you.

Usually, the queens come in a tiny cage with a few attendants. One of the sides is blocked with cork, the other with sugar candy. Sometimes the queen is marked with bright paint so she is easier to find. This makes it very easy for beginning beekeepers to identify their queens. You can call your supplier and ask them if the queens are marked. If she is not, you can mark her yourself, or work with her not being marked.

Take off what is covering the sugar candy. Make sure this end is up, this makes sure that if the attendants die, they will not block the entrance.

Place the queen cage between two frames secured as securely as you can, rubber banding the frames together or rubber banding the queen cage to a frame works well. Make sure the mesh is not covered by anything (i.e. not pressed against the foundation or frame).

The bees will eat the candy an adopt the queen (through her scent) during this process.

If the queen is not alive, you should contact who you bought your bees from ASAP.

Step 4: Place the Package Inside the Hive Body

Now place the package inside the hive body. Usually you'll need to remove five frames to make it fit, but you may need to remove one or two more to make it fit.

Step 5: Open the Package

Now, remove the wood covering again.

Take out the can of sugar syrup. This is usually best done with a hive tool and a free hand. Put the can near the entrance of the hive. Any straggling bees will make their way inside eventually.

If you've been spraying the bees with sugar water they are probably very calm. You can now place the inner an outer covers on.

Step 6: Close It Up and Let the Magic Begin

Put on the inner and outer covers.

Some Beekeepers also recommend using an entrance reducer to make it easier for the newly established colony to defend themselves, but I've seen it done with or without an entrance reducer.

Wait about 2 days for the magic, which is beeyond our understanding, to happen. Come back and check the bees released the queen and remove the package box. If they have not, you may need to wait a bit longer.

Later, you should check that the queen is laying eggs. If you see no eggs, the queen may not be alive and you should buy a new one. Some Beekeepers local to you may raise and sell queens.

I'm a beekeeper in the greater Boston area. Let me know if you have any questions!

Step 7: Bonus Points for Bee Kisses

Many also enjoy spraying sugar water on their hands, and placing their hands against the package of bees to feel the bees lick their hands. If you are so inclined, feel free to do so with your face. It tickles a lot!

Thanks for reading!

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29 Comments

Nice ible, but i was wondering if getting stung is ever an issue or are they stingless?

Hi! Thanks for reading!

These bees can sting! In my area I don't think I know anyone that keeps a stingless variety of honey bee.

Even so, the stinging is not an issue. The honey bees are really quite docile and don't want to sting you (as they would die doing so; their stinger is attached to their internal organs causing them to be pulled out upon stinging).

When hiving or installing a colony, such as in this instructable, the bees are even more docile. They have no hive, honey, or queen to protect yet. The bees do become more defensive in the Fall, so that they protect their honey stores for the winter.

Please let me know if you have any other questions!

Sorry, not talk but instructable.hi!

Hi Brendan, thanks for your reply, yes, it is important to support the bee keepers in particular now a days with so much bee morality due to pesticides and land mismanagement. Ok, thanks for your instructables and can't wait till your next talk in particular of how to capture a swarm from the wild. Regards Fernando.

Sorry, I ment to say what is the keeper do with the wax, is it reusable once the honey has being taken out?

The wax is absolutely usable once the honey is taken out. Using typical extractors, the capping wax (the bees seal the comb with wax after the honey is inside) is taken off and the frames are put into what is basically a centrifuge. The frames are spun so the honey spins out of the frame and collects at the bottom of the tank the centrifuge is in.

The capping wax, since it is usually so clean, is usually reserved for cosmetics (though it is still used for candles and more). The honeycomb wax that used to contain the honey can be put back in a beehive for the bees to use (meaning they don't have to expend the energy to make more wax). This is not done if the wax came from a diseased hive, however. Beekeepers also like to only keep the same wax honeycomb for a few years because it will start to get really dirty (the bees walk over it and it can accumulate substances foreign to the hive such as dirt).

Let me know if I can answer this question any better or if you have anymore questions!

Hi and thanks for all the explanations about the wax. Should a worry about eating honey with the comb as it may be too old or dirty?? And, is there a way to tell when a bee keeper has mixed sirup with honey to increase his profit, you seems to have opened a can of worms now!!. Don't answear my last two cuestions if you don't want, I will continue to eat homey regardless. I am shure that the bee keeper fraternity is composed of proud and honest people.

There usually isn't much to worry about, we are indeed proud and honest. The wax you are buying is almost certainly clean! I've never seen cut comb honey with dirty wax (it would look really unappetizing if it was dirty). Typically, honey that you buy is always 100% honey, just read the label. I always recommend going to a farmer's market and buying right from the beekeepers themselves--you'll be supporting local beekeeping and getting to know your local beekeepers!

any suggestions on where to buy the bees?

Great write up!

Hi There! Thanks for reading. I would recommend getting in touch with beekeepers local to you, they can likely point you in the right direction.