Issue with my 1st package of bees

I purchased a package of bees this past Sunday and installed the bees on Sunday. Tuesday afternoon all of my bees swarmed. I am a novice in regards to beekeeping and was trying to establish my first hive.

Here is my situation, I have a new hive setup Flow. Yesterday afternoon they swarmed away to a bush on our property. I inspected my new hive and there were no bees in it. The queen bee cage was still intact with three worker bees and the queen. On the bottom of the hive box I see this wax mass that I believe must have had a queen pod and it probably hatched sometime relatively close to making up the 3 lb package of bees. I’m attaching a photo for you to look at. This morning using my package box I was able to retrieve most all of the bees and have reinstalled the bees into the hive. I set the caged queen back in the package box and placed this just near the new hive. Only a few bees stayed with the caged queen. My thinking was that they would choose where to go and they chose to stay in the new hive box. After about 30 minutes not seeing any of the bees swarm to the caged queen I removed the caged queen and box away from the new hive.
I monitored it today to see what transpired and it appears that the bees have calmed down and I think it is all normal again.

My question is what to do with the caged queen bee? Do I try to find a home for it? Or do I need to hold on to it for a few days? As I said I am new to all of this. It would be a shame for the caged queen to perish.

Any input would be appreciated.
Thank You,

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Hey Grier, welcome! Wow, that’s an interesting start to your beekeeping adventure - yes I’d say that is a queen cell and your bees swarmed with her. Good job capturing them and getting them settled back in your hive :hugs:

Do you know any other beekeepers nearby who could sell you a queenless nuc, or maybe even get another shook swarm (AKA package) that your caged queen could go with? It would be a shame to waste her, I agree. Having two colonies is really nice by the way - you’ll get the hang of things that much faster & have resources on hand for these oddball situations that do arise.


I agree with everything that @Eva said. It would be really advisable to find a local bee group & find a mentor. Finding someone who can sell you a queenless nuc would be a great idea (asap). Even if it was only two frames of brood covered in bees would be all that’s needed to put that queen into.

Because the bees absconded from that hive previously, maybe a good idea would be to smear 2 (no more than 2) drops of lemongrass oil inside the entrance & under the lid. That might hold them there.

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You might already be doing so, but be sure to feed them 1:1 sugar water as they get established.

Not sure that the sugar:water ratio makes that much difference. More concentrated syrup should spoil a little more slowly. Most important to keep them in supply!


Thank you Eva and Jeff for your input. I am feeding sugar water and I did put two drops of lemongrass oil on the top of middle frame a few days before putting the package of bees in the hive box.


Well I checked my hive and maybe 2 dozen bees are left. They must have slipped away sometime. They built about 5 inch diameter comb so maybe with my next package of bees they will feel more comfortable in my new hive box. Time is getting late here in North Carolina to start, but a local place has some bees coming mid may. Hope to get another package then.

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I’m wondering if your original supplier would be willing to help you out somehow, since the bees they gave you should not have had the means to make a queen.

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Unfortunately when the bees were swarming I called them and no one would answer. I then called later that evening and no one would answer. I left two voice messages explaining the situation. The next day after I collected the swarm I emailed them again. Still no response. I don’t think I will mess with them anymore. I have contacted another place and have requested a new package of bees if they are available. They are supposed to be getting some packages for delivery on May 15. It’s a little late for North Carolina but I have to try. Such is life.

Hi @Grier , I would highly recommend trying to get a nuc in preference to a package. A nuc comes with brood, hopefully in all stages. The brood will hold the bees from absconding from a new hive. A local bee club might be able to help in that area. Alternatively, if you can acquire two frames with BIAS to add at the same time as you install a package, that should hold the bees there.