Installing Package Bees without shaking or smoke

Whilst the shake method to install bees has been successful for decades, after a couple of installations, I couldn’t help notice a considerable number of dead bees in the package as well as at the bottom of the hive. It seems no matter how careful you are, shaking bees will damage them and most likely shorten their lives. By using the method described in this information sheet, your bees will emerge from the package on their terms and as a result will be less stressed, less damaged and if done right almost zero bee deaths.
Step 1. Package pickup from the shop or post office
Prior to accepting your bees, be sure to carefully inspect the package noting any signs of damage that may have occurred during transport, note any dead bees on the bottom of package and make sure the wire is intact and that bees are not likely to escape into the car for the trip home. Take along with you a spray bottle with fresh cool water and give your bees a good spray to hydrate them after the long trip, there is no water within the package so they will welcome the drink. Don’t use sugar solution; they have plenty within the feed can. Be sure the water sprayer has not been used for anything other than water in the past, bees are highly sensitive to chemicals of any kind.
Take your bees straight home (no deviations to the café) and ensure your bees are not exposed to direct sunlight within the car as this could over heat them.
Step 2. Hive setup for the new bees
Be prepared and have your hive ready to go before you get home, preferably in a sunny to part shade site, east to northerly facing direction (south hemisphere) and east to south in the northern hemisphere. Make sure the hive will be on a stand of some kind to protect your bees from predators such as lizards (in my area its water dragons), slugs, ants and rising damp. You will never find a swarm or wild colony on the ground, so it’s best to provide some elevation to make them feel secure.

A list of tools and items you may need for the package install:
• A ready to go hive with two supers (or deeps) and frames to fill at least one super
• Bee Protection, suit, gloves and veil
• Hive tool to remove the package lid, staples and feed can
• Spray bottle with water only
• A piece of wire or string and thumb tack to secure the queen cage
• A small nail to pierce the queen cage (though not necessary)
• A frame of honey, pollen and brood (if you can spare it)
• Feeder with 1:1 sugar and water
Step 3. Day 1: Installing the package
Empty your hive and close up the entrance, insert the full package to one side and then fill the remainder of the hive with frames. If you have another hive and can spare a frame of brood and food, the insert a frame (without the bees) closest to the package, be sure your brood is free of disease, this will help the new bees to feel welcome and give them something to do although this step is not necessity. You should not need any smoke for the package bees installation as you will not at any stage be disturbing them in a way for them to think you are a threat to the colony. You may however encounter the odd bee they may turn on you so wear protection.
Use your hive tool to remove the lid and staples, if there is no lid, then use a piece of cardboard cut to size to cover where the feed can is inserted. To remove the queen and feed can, give the package one or two light taps on the bottom of the hive to knock any lose bees from the queen cage and feed can. Carefully remove the can and then the queen cage and replace the lid back over the hole to prevent the bees from emerging. If the odd bee escapes don’t worry too much, she will be disorientated and not be an issue. Check your queen to make sure she is alive and vigorous. If she has not survived, contact your supplier immediately for a replacement.

Set the feeder can down on top of the empty frames as there may still be a few bees inside. Remove the end cap on the queen cage exposing the candy plug and poke a hole with the thin nail through the candy place the cage (this step is not a necessary one, however if your queen has already been accepted by the workers this will release her in a shorter time period). Insert the cage candy to the side (this ensures the cage is not blocked by any worker bees who may have died) between two frames and fix with the wire or string with a thumb tack to prevent her falling to the bottom of the hive. Have the lid at the ready, then remove the package covering and replace the hive lid and leave overnight for the bees to acclimatise to their new home.
Step 4. Day 2: Release the bees
First in the morning is to open the entrance to the hive and allow the bees to emerge and then stand back and watch the show. Your bees will gradually fly out and their first mission is to cleanse, so don’t sit directly under them as you will get dotted in bee poo. You will notice they start in small spirals as the orientate themselves taking in the landmarks and the new surroundings, these spirals will gradually become larger and larger with almost the entire colony leaving the hive for this flight. After about 30-60 minutes, they will re-enter the hive go into building mode, some will attend to the queen, some will attend the brood (if there is any) and others will feed on the sugar syrup or candy and start drawing out comb. This is a time to leave them undisturbed for at least a day.

Step 5. Day 3: Remove the package and feed can
Open your hive and remove the empty package and feed can from the hive, brush of any loose bees, use the space to insert an Apithor Hive Beetle Trap (if you have one) on the bottom of the hive and then fill the space with empty frames.

Check your queen, don’t touch the cage but observe, are the workers all over the cage trying to feed her? If so, this is a good sign. If there is any burr and bridging comb in an odd spot or angle, remove it, you want to encourage the drawing out of comb on the foundation or frame.

At this point you are done, take away the top super that was added for extra room, close up the hive and leave for at least 3-4 days to allow for the queen to be released from her cage. Later in the week, re-open the hive and remove the queen cage, inspect the cage to be sure she is released, re-align the frames, refill the sugar syrup if necessary and close the hive again. It may take a few weeks for the bees to draw out new comb for the queen, this is where a frame of drawn out comb and brood gives the colony a head start.


Thank nice explanation.

Thankyou Rod thats a good read an help full to a newbee like me.


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What is the reason to wait a day before releasing the bees from the package? Why not do everything you said but open the package in the first step as well?

Edit: Maybe I misunderstood, are you saying to release the bees but not let them leave the hive for 24 hours?

You can release the same day, I have done this and have never had an issue. However, it is recommended that you keep them confined overnight and release the following morning to give them time to settle in to the new hive just as a precautionary measure.

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Hi Adam, release from the package inside the hive but leave confined to the hive overnight to acclimatise them to their new home.

I have never installed package bees, however I’d be inclined to use a frame of brood (beg, borrow or steal one). I’m thinking I would put the package on it’s side, take the lid off, stand the frame of brood, leaning over the hole the lid came from, as long as you have lots of young larvae on the frame, the bees being bees will cover that frame & start caring for the young larvae. Once that happens you could place that frame of brood in the new hive that has been dabbed with a few drops of lemongrass oil. With the rest of the frames you want to use in place, put the package on top with the hole side down over the top of the frames. Place the queen cage between the frame of brood & a frame on either side. I would have the entrance open from the word go. You would need an empty box to cover the package, then put a lid on.


Feeders is a must to start? I’ve read quite a bit where they suggest not using feeders if you can avoid it so that is why I’m curious. I want to start my new Hive of as best as I can for being a new beekeeper

Feed for package bees, they need to build comb from scratch and the feed gives them the best chance to do this quickly, otherwise they will need to forage and so the establishment of the hive will slow down and there is the possibility of failure if forage is scarce. You only need to feed for a couple of weeks until the comb on a couple of frames has been drawn enough for the queen to begin laying, this guarantees that new brood will be on their way to boost the colony, but this will take at least 3 weeks.

That makes sense. Would using the feeder that comes with them during this time just be fine or should I look towards something else?

On a different, but same topic note: I am getting the Flow Hive Complete (comes with the Flow Super/Deep and Brood Deep) and am currently planning to order 2x Medium Hives ( 8 Frame) so I will have the following final build (top to bottom):

Flow sloped cover | Flow Inner | Flow Hive Deep | Medium | Medium | Deep | SBB.

Based on having those items planned to purchase (already purchased some) I am thinking I’d be using the following when first adding my bees:

Flow Sloped cover | Flow Inner | Medium | Deep | SBB

I only ask to ensure the extra spacing up top with the Flow cover and Inner won’t be an issue and I should stick with a normal Inner and Telescoping Cover so they stay in the Hive body?

P.S. I plan to get a spare Solid Bottom Board, 2+ Mediums, Inner and Cover a few months down the road (before any chance of a split - I HOPE!) when there is more money to do so.

There are different types of feeders, but you should use internal feeders where possible to prevent any cross contamination with other bees in your area. I use a feeder much like a frame, it inserts into the same slot where a frame would sit and top this up every 3 days or so. This is just what I use, have tried a few others and I always come back to this frame feeder. The disadvantage is that you have to open the hive to fill.
As for the hive bodies, just stick with a single brood box and lid (any lid) until your bees have built out most of the frames and there are bees covering 6-7 frames in an 8 frame box, then add a super.

Ok so I will need the extra Medium to use as my 2nd Hive during the process of getting my bees into the Deep Brood box, but then I’ll just cut it down to the single Deep Brood Box and toss on the Inner and Cover that come with the Flow Hive (pitched roof style)? I’ll then just need to keep adding boxes as they fill them out?

As for the feeder could you give me a link to one? I saw Mann Lake LTD had something like that, but honestly their catalog isn’t the easiest for a newbie to follow. I’ve read about several different options.

They start here for Mann Lake and these are similar to the ones I use. Just make sure the depth will match your hive. Give them a call to be sure.

Wow those are cheaper than I thought…which is nice to see :smiley:

@Michael_Bush since you use to be over in my neck of the woods does this seem like a good idea for the size of setup I’ll be doing? Other than needing to crack the hive to fill (doesn’t seem like too bad an idea during the first parts of inspecting the newly installed package)

I’m not sure I follow exactly the question nor your plan. But here is what I would want. As far as minimum space to install a package a five frame medium box is big enough, but whatever is a box you will be using will work. I would dump the bees in. To me it’s just a more complicated thing to put the package in and then have to come back and take it out. The bees can quickly build comb and they may build it where you don’t want it. But usually they build it at the top. The decision to release the queen I would make based on other factors. If you’re foundationless and in Western Nebraska, I would direct release because hanging the cage will lead to a bad comb which will lead to more bad combs and leaving the cage on the bottom will lead to the queen dying in the cold when the bees cluster up top (in a warmer climate I would put the cage on the bottom if I know it won’t get cold enough for the bees to cluster). I would put them in one box. Minimal space is helpful. I would plan to expand so that the brood chamber is eventually the size of two ten frame deeps. That would be either three ten frame mediums or four eight frame mediums or other equivalent. The can that comes in the package can be fed to them if you have a way to do it. Over the hole in the inner cover will work. I’m not sure why you think the inner cover and sloped cover that comes with it won’t work. My only problem with the sloped cover in Nebraska is that I can’t easily put bricks on it… so you might want to strap it on with a rachet strap. Which isn’t a bad idea because of the wind anyway. Personally I would either cut down the deep or save it for a bait hive… A deep with medium frames in it isn’t a bad bait hive to trap swarms…

Any kind of feeder will do if you need to feed. The cheapest is to prop the front of the hive up and pour syrup on the floor but that only works with a solid bottom. A frame feeder, a jar feeder on the inner cover hole etc. all work. It takes an extra box on the inner cover to do the jar, but you always need extra boxes…

Since I only feed when I have to, and most years that is not at all, I use what is cheap and easy…


Actually, the Flow Team did a great video of Michael installing a package. Check out the YouTube video

Dave Newman
Newmies Bees

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Hello, A new beehive owner. My bees arrived today. I’ve been watching prep and installation videos for a while. Bees came in a box with no feeder. That was a first thing that puzzled me. When I opened a Quinn cage - there was no marshallow or any other sugar substance to be eaten by the worker bees. so I panicked that the Quinn may fly away and placed the cage on the top of the frames, left the delivery cage next to it, covered all with the screen and a lid. Now I’m worried that the workers will eat the Quinn. What do I do now?
Thank you for all the advices.

Please take some photos. It is very hard to imagine what you are talking about. The workers will not eat the queen (Quinn), but I have no real concept of what you have set up. Photos would really help. Thank you. :blush:

I’m too afraid to open the hive now …the little queen cage had no sugar substance - so after the cork was removed, there was nothing left to hide/ protect the queen bee.