Did you know that around 90% of wild plants depend on pollination to survive? Bees are an important part of our daily lives, even though most people aren’t aware of the impact they have on our environment.
Many people have taken up having beehives either as their career or as a hobby. Knowing how to install your bees into a hive is vital to ensure it’s done correctly. You want to create a welcoming environment for your bees.
If you’re a beginner beekeeper, you may be intimidated by the thought of installing bee packages into your hive. In this guide, we’ll go over how to install a package of bees, how to install a nuc, and additional tips to make the process seamless and easy.
What Is a Bee Package?
A bee package is a package of bees. The boxes are specially built to ship bees to your location. The packages are sold by the pound and include a queen bee, drones, and worker bees.
For each pound of bees, there are around 3,000 to 5,000 bees. A three-pound bee package will contain around 15,000 bees. That is the recommended amount for a beginner beekeeper.
The packages are shipped through the United States Postal Service right to your door. You may be required to pick the package up from your local post office. When you do, keep your bees in a dark and cool place.
The packages consist of a wood frame with sides made from wire. Attached to the lid is a feed that’s filled with sugar water for the bees. There’ll also be a plastic or wood queen cage inside.
Bee packages are also called nuc boxes if they have a queen inside. The queen is kept near the workers so they can get used to her scent.
Bees can stay in the package for a few hours or up to a day. You should be sure to install them as soon as possible as being in a box isn’t a natural way for them to live.
How to Install Your Bees
As with any visitors, preparing for your new houseguests is essential. Make sure all your equipment is assembled and placed in your bee yard before your bees even arrive. You’ll also want your protective gear to be cleaned and ready, in addition to a pollen substitute and bee feed.
You’ll also need the following equipment:
- Hive stand
- Screened bottom
- Single deep hive body with a foundation and 10 wooden frames
- Feeder and entrance reducer installed
- Spray bottle with sugar water
- Hive tool
- Sharp tool to remove the cork in the queen’s cage
Before you begin installing your bees, mist them with sugar water. That helps calm them. Lightly tap the box to move the bees around, ensuring you mist all of them.
Steps to Installing the Bee Package
Once you have your hive ready and protective gear on, you’re ready to start installing the bee package. Protecting your face is vital as confused bees tend to sting. However, packaged bees aren’t very aggressive.
Smoke is only used when problems arise with installing a package. Keep a smoker nearby in case of emergencies. Sugar water works best during this process.
Remove three to four frames from your preassembled hives to make space for the bees. Use your hive tool to remove the lid from the package. Take off the strap that holds the queen cage, making sure you don’t let it fall into the rest of the package.
Lay the bee package on its side over the space in the new hive. Carefully slide the can that was used to feed the bees out. Take the remaining sugar water from the can and put it into your new entrance feeder.
Remove the queen cage gently from the package and set it off to the side. Turn the bee package upside down over the hive, lightly shaking it so the bees fall in. Tap the side of the package to help move the bees along.
If not all of the bees come out of the package, that’s okay. When most of the bees have gone into the hive, put the mostly empty package near the opening of the hive to encourage them to enter.
This is when we install the queen into the hive. It’s recommended to leave the queen in her cage for a few days so the workers can get used to her smell. There are a couple of ways you can do this.
Some queen cages have a white candy plug keeping the queen inside. You can place the cage into the hive and let the bees eat through the plug to release the queen. If the cage doesn’t have a plug, leave her sealed cage in the hive for a few more days before releasing her into the hive.
You can also use a mini marshmallow as a candy plug if your queen cage doesn’t have one. The bees will eat through it to release the queen.
Once the queen’s cage has been properly installed, put it between two frames. The pressure of the frames will hold it in place. Put back in the remaining frames you took out in the first step.
After seven days, check to see if the queen has come out of her cage or you need to release her yourself. This is also a great time to see if she’s starting to lay and check the foundation of your hive.
And that’s it! You’ll be ready to start harvesting honey in no time.
Enjoy the Bounty of Your Bees
Learning how to install your bees doesn’t have to be a difficult undertaking. Having the proper tools at your disposal and making sure you’re educated on the process beforehand are good stepping stones to ensuring you do the process correctly.
Remember, your bees aren’t aggressive. They may be feeling lost and confused, so treat them kindly.
For more information on beekeeping, check out our learning center.