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Main Content

Installing Your Honey Bees in a New Hive

Honey Bees

If you are like most new beekeepers, receiving your bees is new and exciting. You can help ensure a positively successful experience by having your hives set up and ready to go with a full feeder before the bees arrive. Choose a location that is out of the way of children and separate from pets or livestock.

Remember that bees are sensitive and require ventilation and a steady source of nourishment to maintain their constant high activity rate. Because their package food supply is limited, bees should be introduced into the hive within 24 hours of receiving them. Following these steps once your bees arrive makes the process quick and easy:

1.            Remove Top and Frames: Remove the hive top and inner covers from your hive and pull a few frames from your hive body, setting them aside nearby. This makes room while you introduce the bees.

2.    Remove Feeder Can: Carefully use a screwdriver or hive tool to pry the feeder can loose. Slide it up and out of the box, placing a barrier over the hole to keep the majority of the bees in their box. This makes things a bit easier at this stage.

3.    Remove Queen Bee Cage: You will notice a strap or string attached to the top of the box. This strap holds a small cage containing your queen bee. Carefully detach the cage and remove it. Remember to keep the barrier in place over the feeder can hole.

4.    Remove Cork from Queen Bee Cage: Upon inspection of the cage, you will notice a small cork placed in the hole on the side. This will eventually be the exit for your queen as she enters the hive with the rest of the bees; however, it is extremely important that the bees be given a chance to accept their queen. This is accomplished over a period of several days as the hive works to free the queen. To facilitate this, carefully pry out the cork, but above all, do not release the queen! You must keep the queen contained in her cage by blocking the cork hole with your finger. Replace the cork with a marshmallow, piece of nougat, or other soft candy for the bees to eat their way through as they free the queen over the next few days.

5.    Attach Cage to Frame: Use a staple or thumb tack to attach the queen cage to the center frame in the middle of the hive box, with the cork already replaced with marshmallow, nougat, or soft candy. Be sure that the screen side of the cage is facing sideways, away from the foundation. Then replace the frame into the hive.

6.    Pour Bees into Hive: Remove the barrier covering the feeder can hole and pour the bees over the frames into the hive body. It is okay to bump the box in order to shake the bees out as they clump together.

7.    Gently Replace Frames: Once most of the bees are out of the box, gently replace the frames you removed back into the hive body. The bees will move to accommodate them. The last frame you replace should not be one that is up against the queen cage, so that you don't accidentally detach the cage when you push the frame down into the hive body. Then place the top and inner covers on the hive body and set the package box on its side on the top to allow any remaining bees to leave the box a move inside the hive.

8.    Wait 30 Minutes: After 30 minutes shake out any remaining bees. Then place the entrance reducer in front of the hive with the smallest entry open to keep out predators and make the hive easier to defend. Afterwards, remove the package bee box and feeder can from the vicinity of the hive to prevent the bees from mistakenly attempting to reestablish their home in the shipping box.

9.    Do NOT Disturb the Hive: It is very important that the hive is not checked or disturbed for a minimum of seven (7) days. Interfering with the hive before this time has lapsed may result in rejection of the queen and her death.

Congratulations!!! That's it. Your bees have been introduced to their new home.