If you are already planning to pick up your first package of bees this Spring, you will probably want to know how to put them into your hive. I’ll give you a brief run down of what’s supposed to happen, but you don’t want to emulate my installation process. The responsible thing is to refer you to this awesome PDF from NC State’s apiculture program. If you are planning to do this yourself any time soon, take a minute to read it through. You will be glad you did!
Here’s what you’re supposed to do:
- Spray your bees thoroughly with sugar syrup (1 to 1 ratio).
- Carefully remove the lid and feeding can from the package.
- Remove the queen cage, and staple it to the top of a frame. Place that frame into the middle of the hive body, so that the queen cage is oriented horizontally between the frames.
- Remove three or four frames from the hive.
- Pour the package of bees into the hive.
- Replace the missing frames, close the hive and go about your perfect, normal life.
Now of course, if you screw it up as badly as I do, you have to add a few steps, like so:
- Spray your bees thoroughly with sugar syrup.
- Awkwardly pry the thing open and remove the feeding can. Drop the queen cage into the package in the process.
- Use your hand to fish the queen cage out of the small box filled with thousands of bees. (It helps to repeat the mantra “I’m a beekeeper, I’m a beekeeper, I’m a beekeeper” as long as your hand is immersed in bees)
- Attach the queen cage to the top of a frame, spend twenty minutes getting the frame in the right position in the hive body.
- Fumble around with the package.
- Dump bees all over the place.
- Get stung in the head a few times and flail around.
- Desperately shove the hive cover on, forgetting to put the missing frames back in.
- Ice swollen forehead.
Of course I’m not beating myself up about it. It’s the start of a new bee-season, and after a few months of nearly no bee interaction, it’s only natural that I would be a bit rusty. Real talk; having an excuse to put my hand in a box of live bees was secretly a joyous occasion. It’s the beekeeper equivalent of this:
My new girls are beautiful, and my the swelling in my face only lasted a few days! Who could ask for anything more?