I’m concerned about upcoming installation of bees in 2 new hives. I’ve read negative remarks about shaking bees into the brood boxes causing flight and loss of the colony. An alternative method suggestion is to simply place the opened cage into the box after placing the queen. Has anyone had trouble with installing bees or tried this method?
Greetings Claude to beekeeping,
I can FEEL your concern n apprehensions. From what I read n understand here your buying a package n not a Nuc … No sweat !
Even with Nuc’s I’ve read (not personally had) bees taking off for greener pastures.
When I was a kid (back in the 1950’s n 60’s that’s all we did was shake them out of the screened box. One time I did remove enough frames to one slide of the brood box. We were real Novice that one time … We hung the queen down between wired wax frames that time. It worked out but from then on … Dad n I just take-out several middle frames n shook the bees in n never lost one. Not sure if that was luck or the bees were just glad to get out of that small package box. There are plenty of good package vids so not going to explain the process more.
If your still concerned add a cotton ball with a couple drops of lemon grass oil n rub a bar of beeswax on inside of your new hive to make it more homey smelling ! You can even spray the inside of the box n frames with a little 1:1 sugar water (don’t drought the place … A dab will do it)… Personally I’d shake them in … Hang the queen per direction, add your feeder (what ever your choice is ~ I prefer top feeding )… But all methods get the job done normally… I’d make a couple dry runs/practice to make sure you have everything you need at hand n ready.
After this once is over you’ll be a “PRO” at it. Keep a log of your process n notes to improve if something needs to change or it would have been nice to have something available … No matter what… Take your time n don’t panic … Others I’m sure will add to my comments. We all have had similar n few different experiences.
Now enjoy the experience n put that "might happen thing on the back burner area .
Good luck n again Welcome to beekeeping Claude !!
Cheers again n Congrats
Gerald up here in Washington Stare
Flow made a very nice video showing @Michael_Bush installing a package of bees into a flow hive. Michael has many decades of experience and there are some nice tips in the video, including using a drop of Lemongrass Essential Oil to persuade the bees to stay. I suggest you take a look here:
Here’s the email/forum post I see several times a year… “I put the box in the hive and came back several days later and they have build all their comb in the package!” or some similar complaint. Just shake them in. There is no downside to that. There is a big downside to having them start comb in the package. If you INSIST on “being gentle” in your install, then add an extra box on the bottom and put the package on the bottom and either release the queen or put the cage at the top of the top box. Remove the box THE NEXT DAY.
Thanks for the info Gerald. I’m in New Orleans, Louisiana and will be keeping the bees in Mississippi where I have 40 acres. I have seen a number of videos on installing but came across one farmer that has 27 hives and had lost a number of them to flight. He said he got the suggestion to place the box into the brood frame from “JP THE BEE MAN” who happens to be a local celeb swarm catcher. (unbelievable videos) Since using the advice he says he’s not lost any.
I have 2 hives to install so I may try both methods. Let you know the outcome. Thanks again
Hi Dawn. I actually saw Michael’s video right after I posted. Thanks for the reply
Ahhh Michael , now I have 3 plans from which to choose. I like your double box suggestion. I think I’ll do that as well as shake on package for the experience. Thanks for the video and the reply. Cajunkee[er
It is very interesting to me to see people’s fear of shaking. Not just packages, but even frames. I think many experienced beekeepers far prefer shaking bees off frames compared with brushing them off, including @JeffH, @Dee and Randy Oliver. I know that your point is a little different, but I actually think that the bees care less about the shaking than the beekeeper. Yes, there is a noticeable increase in buzzing when you shake them off, but it only lasts a few seconds. The bees decide when to let go when you shake, and they are not going to hold on long enough to damage themselves. By contrast, with a brush, they may be half-squashed by it when they decide to let go, then they get rolled underneath it, damaging and even killing them.
I think we all need to learn to shake more effectively - it is kinder to the bees, and when you watch Jeff and Michael do it in videos, it really isn’t a big deal.
I “pound” them off the frames. Getting bees off of or out of anything is always about surprise. Trying to be gentle is not effective and often (in the case of brushing) can make them much more angry. If you grab the end of the top bar in one hand and pound that hand with a double tap from the other hand you will dislodge 98% of the bees.
Here’s a picture of C.C. Miller doing it:
“Pounding Bees Off Comb
"Mention was made of getting bees off combs. Sometimes shaking is used altogether, sometimes brushing, and sometimes both. The weight of the comb has something to do with the manner of shaking. The most of the shaking–in fact all of the shaking, unless the combs be very heavy or the bees be shaken on the ground–is done as shown in fig. 26. (the picture posted above) Perhaps it might better be called pounding bees off the comb. The comb is held by the corner with one hand while the other hand pounds sharply on the hand the holds the comb. By this manner of pounding I can get almost every bee off a comb with a few strokes, unless the comb be too heavy.”–C.C. Miller, Fifty Years Among the Bees
Our bee club had a package installation/splitting class and I filmed two completely new beeks going through the exercise.
Maybe you’ll pick up a tip or two. (like spraying with sugar water to keep them from flying)
I did a no shake method. The bees will follow the scent of the queen. Once she is positioned in the hive simply set the open package in front of the hive and let them walk in. It takes about 30-45 mins for them to all get into the hive, so if you have a lot of hives to do this might not be the most time efficient way to do things, but I have a single hive in my backyard, I don’t need to do things “fast”.
Welcome back, Adam!! Missed ya loads.
Yes, I agree, welcome back @adagna.
On the subject of installing a package, I don’t believe there is any need to shake the bees. As long as the queen is in the new box, the bees will follow.
You could put the queen in the new box with the frames in place & simply place the package on top of the frames. I’ve never installed a package, but I’m guessing that’s how I would go about it.
Cute n fun video ! It’s always enjoyable watch n confidence level jump by heaps n piles when they successfully complete a new process. ( the vid even had a bit of humor side to it )… Kind of the right of passage type for those two gals. They sounded very excellent about doing IT ! That’s roughly one way I’ve done it years ago. Most of our bees in my youth came from swarm n we bumping n shook a little then let the queens scent inside the hive do the rest.
I wrote a How-to on this a couple of years back, I have done a few package bees in my time and settled on this method, it will mean that you need to visit your hive two days in a row, so may not be effective if you want to install your bees and come back 3 days later.
Thanks for directing me to your Article. I really think this would be best for me and the bees
I notice the background of your profile picture has sailboats. Are you a sailboat enthusiast. I have an old 1984 Tartan 3000 that i recently finished restoring the interior. Thanks again for the info.
I live near the coast in Sydney and I do love to sail though I haven’t done much lately. My hat goes off to you, interior restoration on boats is a labour of love for craftsman. I have a mate who owns a 50ft timber ketch fully restored which I have been lucky enough sail with him, however it cost him his house and I don’t think my wife would be overly impressed in selling the house for a boat, and besides where would all the beehives go? …
You’re correct it needs to be a project of the heart. I started by pulling a couple of trim pieces out for a shipwright to replace a section of water damaged hull teak and portals. Once refinishing those pieces and comparing them to the rest of the boat I was trapped. It was a 2 year project which I learned I could do things I never thought was possible. Luckily I still have the house and my wife. Actually I think she enjoyed my hours in the shop and out of her hair. I envy your readily available fabulous water to enjoy. I hope to get as much enjoyment from my girls. Happy Sails To You!
Ok, I got my girls hived today. These two videos are basically raw video, so if the humor is bad, or if the guy in the video (me) is fat, I dunno what to say!
If I say anything false, incriminating, or otherwise in bad form, I’ll edit it out, if I ever figure out how to edit videos or Youtube.