These basic beekeeping methods will help you hive your new bees and maintain them successfully. Before buying queens, packages, nucs, or colonies please read through these steps. It will help you determine the best method for you. Also, if you have questions about the process you will have time to find the answers before 10,000 bees are buzzing in your hands.
- Prepare your hive before the nucleus arrives.
- Prepare a feeder with honey or sugar syrup (dissolve 6–8 lbs. of sugar in 1 gallon of water). The entrance of the hive should be reduced to a width of about 1–2 inches by stuffing grass or newspaper into the entrance slot.
- Remove frames or combs from the hive body (you need to make room for combs from the nuc).
- Wear a hat and veil, and light your smoker. Take the lid off the nuc and gently smoke the top of the frames.
- Carefully place the frames of brood and bees from the nuc into the hive. Be very careful not to mash the queen.
- Initially, the 4 frames of brood and bees should be no more than one comb of foundation away from the feeder (if you are using a frame feeder in your hive).
Close the hive.
- In 4–10 days enlarge the entrance to 2–4 inches, add feed and check for eggs. The eggs look like miniature grains of rice positioned vertically in the bottom of the cells.
- If you do not have any eggs, please contact us immediately. If a nuc fails to flourish or even dies, typically it is due to the nuc’s queen not surviving transit or the hiving process.
SCREENED SHIPPING BOXES WITH UP TO 3 LBS OF WORKER BEES
- Prepare your hive before the bees arrive.
- Prepare a feeder with honey or sugar syrup (dissolve 6–8 lbs. sugar in 1-gallon water). Reduce the entrance to 1–2 inches with grass or newspaper. If you feel you need to contain the bees 100%, use a screen.
- Gently remove the feed can and queen cage from the package, then replace the can. This procedure is made easier by tipping the package over, or by prying the can up with a hive tool.
- Look in the queen cage to make sure the queen is alive. If the queen is dead, contact us immediately and hive the package with the dead queen.
- Remove the cork from the candy end of the cage and hang it candy-end down between 2 of the center frames in your hive. The bees must have access to the screen on the queen cage.
- Remove 4 of the outside frames and set the package of bees into the hive. Remember to remove the can so the bees can crawl out. Alternatively, turn the shipping cage bottom up, over the hive, and shake the bees into the hive over the queen. Cover the hive and do not disturb it for at least a week.
- After 1 week, enlarge the entrance to 2–4 in. The queen should be out of her cage and eggs present in 1–2 combs. If you have started the hive on foundation only, the bees should be drawing wax on 2–3 frames.
- Starvation of the bees is the most significant hazard to success. Continue feeding the colony, taking care not to get robbing started, until you are sure the bees are producing enough honey to sustain themselves. Robbing is when bees from another hive ‘attack’ the colony, robbing it of all of its honey and pollen. Robbing can cause the death of a colony. In the beginning, too much feed is better than too little.
Queen (push in cage)
RELEASING THE QUEEN ONTO THE COMB SAFELY BEHIND A WIRED CAGE
A push-in cage allows the queen to start laying eggs immediately and will increase the chances of acceptance. This method requires handling the queen, which must be done with great care.
- Make sure the hive has no queen or queen cells present.
- To make a push-in cage, cut a flat 6”x6” inch screen wire. Cut slits 3/4” in from the top right and left, as well as the bottom right and left. Fold at the cuts to make a 3-dimensional box.
- Select a comb with emerging brood. Brush the bees off the comb and place the push-in cage over an area of empty cells, a few emerging brood cells and open nectar.
- Remove the queen from the candy cage and put her under the wire cage. Do not allow any other adult bees under the cage. Push the cage into the comb, leaving enough room for the queen to move freely underneath. Make sure bees can’t get under the cage.
- The frame with the queen and cage should be placed in the middle of the brood nest (if no brood is present, place in the middle of the cluster).
- Remove the push-in cage after 4 days or after the bees are no longer clinging to the cage. If the bees are clinging to the cage instead of calmly walking on it, they have not accepted the queen yet and more time is needed before the cage is removed.
- The colony should be disturbed as little as possible for the next 2 weeks, while the queen establishes her brood nest.
WOOD OR PLASTIC CAGE
THE MOST COMMON AND SUCCESSFUL QUEEN INTRODUCTION METHOD WITH A 97% SUCCESS RATE
- Make sure your hive does not have a queen. Remove the cork from the candy end of the queen cage. Use a small nail or like tool to gently open a small hole in the candy. Be careful not to poke through and stab the queen, or make the hole so big the bees can crawl through.
- Wedge the queen cage between 2 of the center frames with the screen on the cage exposed downward toward the bottom of the hive so that the bees can access the queen through the screen. The bees must also have access to the hole in the candy end of the cage.
- Make sure the candy end of the cage is slightly lower than the area of the cage occupied by the queen. Make certain the queen cage is securely embedded in wax or is secured to the top of the frames. If the cage falls to the bottom of the hive, the queen may not survive. The queen must be placed in the brood nest or the part of the hive where bees are clustered.
- Close the hive and wait 1 week before opening it. When you make your 1-week inspection, the queen should be out of her cage, and she should have eggs laid in 1 or 2 of the combs. Some queens can take a little longer to begin laying. If you see she is released but there are no eggs, check again in 3–5 days. If she is not out of the cage, release her into the hive by removing the screen and allowing her to walk into the hive. Be careful not to let the wind or her wings carry her away from the hive.
ALWAYS HAVE HELP SMOKING AND MOVING A FULL-STRENGTH COLONY
- After unloading your colony, make sure that the bees are free to fly and that you have provided adequate ventilation. A colony with 7–9 combs of brood, bees and honey should have at least 6 inches of open entrance space at the bottom (though more may be advisable, especially in hot weather or full sun exposure).
- Unless you have no time to inspect within the next 2–7 days, we recommend allowing at least 24 hours for the bees to recover from the move before opening the cover and inspecting the hive.
- When inspecting, you may wish to wait at least 3 days after the move to do so as the presence of embryos or eggs more than 72 hours after the move will confirm that the queen survived the move.
- Check the colony for the presence of eggs or embryos, or visually locate the queen to assure that your hive is queenright.
- Check your hive for adequate space for the colony to put nectar and store honey. If there is no empty comb or foundation in the hive, add a super of foundation or comb to provide a place for honey storage.
- There is usually no need to feed a full-strength colony immediately after moving it to your apiary site. Exceptions include acquisition of your colony in drought or extreme heat or cold, or other periods where prolonged periods where the weather precludes or reduces bee foraging activity.