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After you obtain your new hive equipment, you will want to order your bees (we will ship bees only if a hive is also purchased; otherwise, we sell packages for pick-up). A common type and amount of bees to order is a 3 pound package with an Italian queen. For a few dollars extra, you can have your queen marked. It is a good idea to have your queen marked. This makes it easier to find your queen when you do hive inspections and allows you to keep track if your queen has been replaced (superseded) by the hive. The superseding queen will not have a mark.
If you are traveling elsewhere with your bees, or after you pick them up from us, try to keep the package in a shaded or dark place in the car or truck. If you use a truck, try to avoid excessive wind damage that may occur if you place your bees in the bed of your truck. If you have to travel a long distance at interstate speed, and the bees are in the bed of your truck, place something around them, protecting them from the wind, while also providing sufficient air flow. Bees must have air to breathe just like us!
Will the bees in the package sting you? Honeybees can always sting. However, you will find that by spraying them with sugar water, they are very calm. And, since they do not have any brood or honey to protect, they are not trying to defend their hive. Technically they don't have a queen either. Their morale is low, so they are not nearly as aggressive. When I install packages, I do not wear gloves or hat and veil. I would not recommend it to you, because you don't want a bad experience on your first installation, but you will find the bees to be very gentle. Work with confidence!
Now, you will want to begin opening your package. Do not be afraid. Millions of bees are not going to rush out at you. Work with confidence and enjoy the activity.
Once you remove the top panel, NO bees will come out yet. This panel simply holds the feeding container in place as well as the white strap that has the queen cage on the opposite end, inside the package.
Now begin shaking your bees out of the package and into the new hive. Shake as hard as you want and you'll start seeing them pour into the new hive. You may also want to firmly strike the side of the package with the palm of your hand to free bees that are hanging on to the screen. However, be sure not to strike a bee when striking the side of the box or you might smash a bee just enough to get stung. Notice in the picture, I take advantage of the remaining sugar water in the tin can by placing if over the entrance feeder. I usually poke a few more holes with a nail so the bees will consume it more quickly. After it is finished, I replace it with a mason jar with holes in the lid.
Now you must install your queen. Slow release method is the best. These are not her bees, and she is not the queen they are used to YET! So, you must let them get to know her before she can roam freely among her new hive. Here's how. The queen cage has a screen on top and through the screen you can identify a white candy substance at one end. This is the end that you will HAVE TO remove the cork. DO NOT REMOVE THE CORK AT THE OPPOSITE END OF THE CANDY. Only remove the cork from the candy end of the cage. A hive tool doesn't work well, but screwing in a small screw then pulling it out works well. Once the cork is out, you will see that the hole is still plugged with the white candy. GOOD! Do not disturb that candy plug. As the bees eat through the candy, they will become familiar with their new queen. Then, once the candy has bee eaten, she will emerge from her cage as queen of the hive and be readily accepted by her new workers. After all, they are ready for a queen themselves!
PLAY CLOSE ATTENTION. YOU MUST REPLACE ALL 10 FRAMES!! If you don't, the bees will quickly make comb in place where your frames should have gone. This will be a mess. And they will attach their comb to your top cover and if you wait long enough, you will not be able to open your hive. SO YOU MUST REPLACE ALL 10 FRAMES before replacing the inner and top cover.
Great Job! You Did It!! Place the package box near the front of the hive because it will still have some bees that you were unable to shake out of it. These will find their way into the hive in a day or two.