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!