Installing A Package of Honey Bees

Last spring, we bought a package of Italian bees from Mountain Sweet Honey. This is more or less the same as getting them in the mail except we drove up to their place to get them instead of driving to the Post Office. This is not intended as a full tutorial but will give you a quick idea of what it’s like to work with a package.

To make things easier for us, The Civitts’ had all the packages ready to go right in their garage.

Lots of bees! There’s a can of sugar syrup and a caged queen in that jumble of workers.

OK, just set them on the seat…

Yeah, maybe a seat belt would be good. In the past I’ve always moved bees in the back of my pickup truck.

The top bar hive was prepared weeks ago and is all set for the bees!

You can see the can built into the top now that the cover is off. The white strip is holding the queen cage down in the box.

Pull out the syrup can and the queen cage, then rest the cover over the hole so most of the workers will be held in for a little longer. Some buzz around and some hang on the queen cage shown here.

Sophia chose a top bar hive for her bees. It’s a fine hand me down from a friend that I spruced up a bit. Here, she’s hanging the queen cage between frames. The workers will release her from the cage after a while.

The queen is so important! Be gentle.

In time, the rest of the bees will come out and will look for (really smell the pheromones of) the queen. It’s a whole lot faster to simply shake them into the hive.

After you shake a bunch, you can also leave the box there with the hole facing down and more will crawl out.

Once you get most of them out, you can just leave the box near the entrance and the rest will find their way. Here’s a drone (male) we found. Big eyes and no sting.

Sophia watching them march into their new home.

Sophia checking out the inspection window.