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Introducing a package to a flow hive with foundationless frames

When you add a package to a hive in the spring where it can still get cold (32 F) at night, where do I place the queen so she does not get to cold.

Thank You,

That is a question best asked for an answer from your local bee group as to when is the best time climate wise to do that.
When I make up a new hive I always used wired in foundation bought from a reputable bee gear shop so that the comb is built out faster.
To my way of thinking if you introduce a package into a hive of frames only by the time the comb is built out enough to introduce a queen that has somewhere to lay enough eggs a fair number of the bees in the package will have died of old age.
Interested in reading other thoughts and I’m sure there will be many.

I watched a video of adding a package to a flow hive and they put the Queen at the bottom of the brood box. They did this in Australia where it is a lot warmer. In a colder climate, I was wondering where you put the Queen in a Brood Box when you first add them -top of the box??

Thank You,


When you add a queen in a cage it is normally placed between a couple of frames in the center of the box and at the top of the frames. I’m in Qld Australia, a sub tropical climate. That is how I have introduced a new queen and it would be warmer to some degree at the top of the brood box than at the bottom. I’ve not heard of a placing the cage at the bottom of the brood box, it isn’t common practice here.
I guess the colder the climate the more important to have it at the top of the brood box.

I agree with Peter in relation to using wired in foundation. You really want a large percentage of each brood frame to contain worker comb. You’ll get that result by using properly fitted wax foundation.

As for the queen, I also agree with Peter.

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Hiya Lamb, that’s an astute question to ask when your weather is still more wintery than springy! I’m in the Philly area of Pennsylvania & my first colony was a package that I installed in March. It snowed here the next day and was still raw for the first week after. I was so worried about the colony staying warm enough I covered the box with a down jacket. You might consider adding some insulation to the outside of your brood box and also using an insulated outer cover instead of the Flow lid, if that’s the kit you’re using. Also, be sure to reduce the entrance and if your bottom board is screened, put the coreflute in the uppermost slot.

The queen cage will have a small plastic strap, so you can attach the free end to the middle of the top bar of a central frame with a thumbtack. The cage then hangs down in the upper middle area of the box, allowing the bees to cluster around her when it’s 40F or less outside.

About those foundationless frames, you might consider adding some reinforcement for the combs if you don’t want to use wax foundation. I fitted all my deep frames with three bamboo skewers, standing vertically across the inside area of each one. Makes new comb much more stable & not difficult to cut old brood comb away from.

Anyway, let us know how you make out with your new bees!

Thank You for your helpful reply.

I live in Colorado, so it can still snow here possibly in April or early May.


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Where are you getting your package from? Is it being shipped, or are you picking up? I am asking because if you are picking up the day the package was created, my advice would be different from a package which has shipped. Either way, check whether your queen cage has a candy plug or just cork. If it is cork, you are going to need a mini marshmallow if you want the bees to release her. You pull the cork out first, when the queen is away from the cork end, and quickly push the marshmallow into the hole.

Here are the options I would consider:

  1. If the package shipped with a caged queen in contact with the bees, I usually release her directly into the hive as I install the package. That is because the bees have been with the queen for several days already, and have accepted her by that point. Get the bees into the box first, and once they have spread out over the frames (takes about 30 minutes, gently remove the cork/stopper very close to the middle frames in the hive, so that the queen can go straight down into the hive. She can then wander freely in the hive and the bees can look after her more easily. Make sure the cage is very close to the frames when you remove the cork, or the queen may decide to fly off instead. Yes, it has happened to me… :blush:

  2. If you want to do a delayed release, I would put a rubber band or two around a frame, and put the queen cage in the middle of that frame, held in place by the bands. Make sure the mesh faces outwards if you have foundation or comb in the frame. I also remove one frame from the brood box, so that there is enough space for nurse bees to access the mesh and feed the queen. Two or three days later, I then check whether she has been released. If not, I set her free. I remove the empty cage at that point, and put the extra frame back in so that the box has the usual 8 or 10 frames.

I prefer the direct release, as I don’t have to go back into the hive and disturb the bees a few days later. But I have done both methods and both work. It also helps to feed the bees right away, using an in-hive feeder. If you use an inverted jar or bucket feeder, do not put the queen cage in the middle frames - you don’t want her getting cold and wet from dripping syrup. :thinking:

Hope that helps.

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A few suggestions Lamb1from a beekeeper north of you.

  1. Use plastic foundation (my preference) or wired wax foundation if possible if you don’t have built out comb…save the foundationless frames for later after you have more comb built out.
  2. Comb build-out will only occur if the bees are warm enough and you have an easily accessible source of liquid feed…make sure the feed is 2:1 sugar to H2O (saturated)…not thin syrup as it will ferment.
  3. Seal the top of the brood box so no heat is lost…I use a 5 mil poly cut generously to lap over all sides of the brood box by 3 inches.
  4. Use whatever insulation you have…as mentioned above by Eva, a down jacket would be excellent or you can use what I use as seen in the photo. If possible, you could insulate under the brood box and as has been mentioned, close down that entrance. I keep my bees inside an insulated beehouse so the insulated floor takes the chill away from the base of the hive.

Note below the small stick layed crossways from the last frame to the feeder…this allows a free walkway to the feeder for the bees after the plastic sheet has been placed on top.

I supplement my packages with a bit of pollen substitute (patty)…there is a study I am aware of that indicates if brood is raised with a shortage of protein, that brood when mature loses it’s ability to produce wax. In your situation, you will need healthy future bees to build-out all that new comb. Sometimes early pollens in cold climates are very low in protein - bee supply shops usually will sell individual patties.

After 2 to 3 weeks you can expect your new frames and packages to start to look like this below…and they are toasty warm underneath the plastic…you can see them working without disturbing them. When you see wax being built under the plastic sheet, all is well…the queen is laying.

If they run low on feed, just gently peel back the plastic over the frame feeder and refill…when the frames are mostly built out, remove the feeder and spread the brood nest apart…inserting a new frame in the middle of the brood box.

Dawn has explained queen release well…I direct release all my queens immediately as I know the packages are a few days old. Marshmallows work but make sure they are fresh and soft or the bees can’t remove them from the candy plug hole.

Good Luck


That’s a surprising but not shocking piece of info - lots of developmental impairments are in store when young creatures don’t get what they need at the proper stages of growth. Thanks for mentioning that, it’s very valuable to keep it in mind, Doug!


Nice pick up Eva. :+1:
This is interesting as it’s always advised to feed 2:1 sugar when promoting comb building. Rarely is their protein source mentioned, if ever.


Although this paragraph references the article done by Mark Winston…Canadian bee scientist…it still gives you the general idea…the actual research article I read years ago on the importance of bee nutrition was fascinating…and was the impetus to feed my hives pollen patties or equivalent at specific times throughout the year.

"Before examining what factors affect the efficiency of wax production, it is important first to understand the physical and chemical processes by which beeswax is produced. Beeswax is produced in the wax gland complexes of a honey bee’s abdomen. The wax gland complex consists of three cell types: epithelial cells, adipocytes, and oenocytes (Cassier & Lensky 1995). These three cell types work together to produce and secrete the hydrocarbons, fatty acids, and proteins that are present in beeswax. The adipocytes and oenocytes make up what is known as the fat body, and these cells produce the wax while the epithelial cells are mainly there to provide transport tubules for transporting the wax to the surface of the abdomen to be secreted (Hepburn et al. 1991). Honey is the main ingredient of wax that is digested in the fat bodies. The complex sugars of the honey get broken down into the basic carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen and are put back together as hydrocarbons and fatty acids (Winston 1987). Pollen is also important towards effective wax production because pollen is made up of vitamins, minerals, lipids, and proteins, which are all needed for proper wax gland development, and pollen provides more necessary ingredients for wax production (Winston 1987)."

Another fresh pollen substitute…bee bread…scraped off my plastic foundation brood frames and fed back to the bees can only be sourced from hives free of brood disease.