Starting a Package of Bees
It was the dawn of a new era at the Ag Center when, on March 30, Reda Harvey from the Mill Spring Ag Store and I embarked on a trip to bring a package of bees to their new home.
The bees returned to the Ag Center where I was eager to begin. We set out the box in a prepared hive body with a small super on top, tacked the queen to a frame, and waited for the bees to release her. Today, we have an active colony but one that still needs attention. There are few points that I learned from keeping a new package of bees that are important as the colony establishes itself:
- Keep them fed
Package bees arrive in early spring at the start of the nectar flow. The nectar flow is wasted if bees use their entire energy drawing comb. It takes 8 pounds of nectar to make one pound of wax in the hive, so to help a new hive get established one feeds sugar syrup. There are different types of feeders, but they can be as simple as a zip-lock bag.
Mix 1:1 sugar syrup by weight, so use about eight pounds of sugar for one gallon of water, and feed until the comb is built out.
- Don’t check them too often
Eager beekeepers like to check their new colony to see if they are getting established. It is important to make sure that the queen is free and out of the queen cage after a few days, but it is not necessary to check your bees too often. I just looked to see if the comb was drawn out today, and it has been about three weeks since we got the hive.
Read about the event where we got our bees here: