Before picking up your package(s) from Warm Colors Apiary, have all equipment for a one-story hive assembled, painted and on a hive stand. Locate your hive(s) using the following criteria:
* Wind break on the North side to protect from winter winds.
* Water should be available within 1/4 mile. Place a container near your hives to keep bees from using water in your neighbor’s yard.
* Leave sufficient space behind and on the sides to work on your hive.
* Allow for air drainage. Avoid placing hive at the bottom of a hill where cold & moisture can settle.
* Orient hive entrance toward south or east. Early sun encourages foraging, and adds warmth to the winter cluster.
* Respect and protect the neighbors. Do not place your colony where people walk, or interfere with the bees flight path. Use fences and buildings to redirect bees to fly up and over people. Place hive(s) in an out of site location.
* Set up an electric bear fence before starting the colony. Fence should be at least three feet from hives, or bear can reach over the wires and knock hive over. Hive stands higher than 15 inches will keep entrances out the reach of skunks.
After picking up your bees keep them in a cool (50-60F), dark location until you can install the package. Brush or spray light syrup onto the screen, being careful not to drown the bees. Syrup should be room temperature. If conditions are above 80F spray water on bees every 4-6 hours until they can be installed into the hive. If bees are running on the screen they are overheating and must be cooled down or released into the hive, It is always best to get them installed in the new hive as soon as possible.
Hiving a Package is best when temperatures are above 60F, sunny with little or no wind. If installing more than one package start later in the afternoon, or early morning and allow time for each one to settle before starting the next. This will minimize drifting and flying between hives as the bees orient to their new location. Bees will often be attracted to the busiest entrance until they become fixed on their new hive. Hiving multiple packages close together can result in all or most bees ending up in one hive.
STEPS to Hiving a PACKAGE
1) Do not use smoke on package bees. Use a light sugar spray to calm bees and keep them from flying.
2) Use an entrance reducer, and place some grass to keep bees inside until they settle.
3) Place four frames to one side of the hive body.
4) Spray or brush the cage with sugar syrup.
5) Pry wooden cover from cage exposing the Queen cage tab and can of syrup.
6) Remove the Queen cage and confirm she is alive and active. If dead call immediately for a replacement.
7) Suspend cage between two center frames, with screen side facing bees, not blocked by comb or foundation. Bees must have access to feed queen and exchange queen pheromone.
8) Shake bees on top of queen cage. Place package cage and remaining bees into open space in hive body.
9) Dribble syrup onto bees and frames.
10) Add syrup feeder. A top jar (over inner cover), or division board feeder is preferred.
If using an entrance feeder, you can fill it and have it in place before pouring bees unto queen cage. If working in an established bee yard entrance feeders can start robbing between colonies. Be careful not to spill syrup to avoid robbing.
Queens should be kept caged for 2-3 days before removing cork on candy end of queen cage. This will allow workers to exchange queen substance and increase the likely acceptance of the queen. Also feed bees continuously during the introduction period. Avoid unnecessary disturbance of the colony unto the queen has been accepted. This will reduce queen rejection and absconding (abandoning the hive) before workers have setup the brood nest. Consider the Queen accepted when brood rearing has started.
MANAGEMENT SCHEDULE for PACKAGE BEES
After installing your bees, keep them well fed, and monitor the queen’s egg laying and brood pattern. The following schedule should provide a guide for managing your new hive(s).
DAY 1 – Do not disturb bees. Check that they are taking the syrup. Remove any grass or obstructions from entrance. Look for pollen on foraging bees legs.
DAY 4 – Use sugar syrup, or a little smoke to calm the bees. Confirm the Queen has been released from her cage. Look for eggs on the center frame (most bees covering). You do not have to see the Queen if eggs are found, if no eggs look carefully for the Queen. Do not pull more frames then is necessary to confirm Queen is present and laying eggs. Be quick and do not disturb longer then is needed. Continue to feed syrup, and add a pollen patty once eggs are found.
If no eggs, find the queen and wait a few more days to find eggs.
DAY 7 – If no eggs or Queen, close hive overnight and check the next day. Still no eggs or Queen, find a replacement Queen and begin introduction. A Queen not laying after two weeks should be replaced.
DAY 10 – After eggs were first confirmed. Check capping’s for worker brood, slightly raised (flat looking) not sticking up. If capping’s look popped up (bullet shaped) they are drone cells and your Queen may require replacement. This can be the result of a poorly mated Queen, or worker bees laying unfertilized eggs. Queens will lay one egg per cell, in the bottom center of the cell. Laying workers will lay multiple eggs in the same cells, and they will be on the sides of the cells.
WEEK 4 – New bees will begin emerging and the hive population will increase. Your package has not grown, only loss of workers, until eggs grow into adult bees (21 days). This is a minimum of four weeks until new bees emerge. Continue to feed & inspect weekly.
Syrup is mixed 1 part water and 1 part sugar. You will use 20 pounds of sugar per colony to draw two hive bodies of comb.