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Frequently Asked Questions


 

When do I order package bees?

When should I hive my new package of honey bees?

What kind of frames should I use when starting with package bees?

What do I feed the honey bees in the spring?

Where do I place my hive?

 Do I paint the inside of the beehive?

How often should I check my new hive?

Can I keep bees in a straw skep?

When should I add a second hive body or super?

How much honey should I leave on the hive to over winter?

What should I look for in spring in the colony?

Should I Buy a Package of Bees or a Nuc?

 

When do I order package bees?

You should order package bees for spring delivery. Place your order as soon as possible since suplies of bees are limited and your supplier, too, may have to order. The bees should be delivered after the date of the last hard freeze for your region. The package honey bee suppliers will be able to help you determine the best delivery date.

When should I hive my new package of honey bees?

The best time to hive the honey bees is late afternoon or early evening. Spray the honey bees with sugar water while still in the shipping container. This will make it easier to put the honey bees in the hive.

What kind of frames should I use when starting with package bees?

 It is best not to mix solid plastic frames with wood frames when hiving package bees. It is confusing to the bees when mixed. We recommend using wood frames when hiving package bees.

What do I feed the honey bees in the spring?

It is best to feed a mixture of sugar and water in a one to one ratio. The bees will use the sugar syrup mixture until natural sources are available. In the fall, use a two part sugar to one part water mixture if the bees do not have adequate winter stores.  

 Where do I place my hive?

If you are in the city, you should put the entrance of the hive facing a high fence. This will force the bees to fly in a high flight pattern, avoiding neighbors. It is good to give the hives a wind break to protect them. You can also place the entrance facing the sun to allow the bees an early start in the morning. The hive can also be placed on concrete blocks or a wooden pallet to keep it off of the ground.

 Do I paint the inside of the beehive?

No, paint the outside of the beehive only. Allow the paint to dry thoroughly before installing the bees.

How often should I check my new hive?

You can open the hive after a few days to see if the queen has been released. Look in the Queen Cage to see if the Queen has been released. If the Queen has been released, you should check for eggs and larvae to be sure she is active. If the Queen has not been released, enlarge the hole in the candy in the Queen Cage. Three weeks after you have hived the package, you can examine the colony again. Be sure to keep feeding the colony sugar syrup during this time to stimulate comb building. You should see sealed brood in the colony at this time.

Can I keep bees in a straw skep?

No, honey bees are required to be kept in a beehive with removable frames. This is to allow inspection for diseases. It is the law in all states.

When should I add a second hive body or super? 

You should add the second hive body or super when the majority of the frames in the first hive body are fully drawn out, (8 or 9 frames). A second super should be added after the first super is about one half full.

How much honey should I leave on the hive to over winter?

As a general rule, you should have a full super or second hive body and 20 to 30 pounds of honey in the brood nest. This will amount to a total of 60 to 70 pounds of honey for winter and early spring consumption.

What should I look for in spring in the colony?

You should check for evidence that the Queen is laying eggs. You should also check the honey stores and pollen supply. If the honey stores are low, you may start feeding sugar syrup in a one to one ratio of sugar and water. The bees may consume about 10 pounds of sugar syrup in a one-week period.

Should I Buy a Package of Bees or a Nuc?

 

Package bees

 Advantages to buying a package of bees.

• You know where the bees came from.

 • Package bees have been inspected. They should be disease free. 

• With a package of bees you can plan and schedule the time to start your hive.

• Your package queen will be a young queen.

Package bees are shipped in screen wire cages for the purpose of starting new colonies.

They are sold as two pound, three pound, and four pound packages. The three pound

package is the most popular.

 

Some disadvantages of starting with a package of bees.

•The major disadvantage of starting with a package is the time it takes the hive to develop

a large population to gather a honey crop. If a honey crop is early, the package bees will

not be strong enough to gather a large crop, but if the nectar flow is late, a package can

gather a surplus of honey.

• The bees in the package are there to support the queen. They were shook from a

hive with a queen into the cage you receive with your queen and bees. The queen in

the cage is not related to the bees in the package. Thus, you will have an introduction

problem. If released too early, the new queen may not be accepted by the bees.

Without a queen, the bees will perish within six weeks. This is why it is important to

check shortly after you hive this package to make sure the queen is released from her

cage, and you find evidence that she is accepted. If you see her or eggs in cells

everything is okay. If not, you need to find a queen real quick.

• The bees and the queen may not be the same color. This upsets some beekeepers but

the bees in the package are going to die within a six week period to be replaced by the

new bees produced by the queen. The quicker the queen is laying eggs, the faster the

 population will grow. It takes a worker bee 21 days to develop from an egg to the adult bee.

• Many packages fail because the beekeeper either did not know what to look for

or just didn't check the hive after installing the package until it was too late to save the hive.

•You can and should still feed them syrup.

 

Nuc (A small hive with a queen, brood and some frames of bees)

Advantages to buying a nuc.

A nuc is nothing more than a small hive of bees. It does not come in a full size hive

body. Often nucs are sold in cardboard boxes which provide a temporary shelter

for the bees.

•The nuc will have a laying queen (usually a young queen), several pounds of bees,

drawn comb in which the queen is already laying eggs, some honey, pollen stores and is

roughly four to six weeks ahead of a package of bees in development.

•The bee population in a nuc will not decline because new bees are emerging to

 replace worker bees that die.

•A nuc will have a steady growing population and the queen acceptance problem is

something you don't need to worry about.

•The hive made up with a nuc will develop

much faster than a hive made up with a package of bees.  

One word on cardboard boxes, they are meant to be temporary not permanent shelter

for the bees. Cardboard does get wet and in rainy weather it will collapse. 

 

Some disadvantages of starting with a nuc.

•Since nucs are hives in progress, they will have used equipment in them.  Used equipment has

the possibility of carrying diseases. Always make sure you buy nucs from a reputable

dealer who is inspected on a regular basis.

•Nucs will be more expensive than a package of bees.