@JeffH From my understanding bees are less likely to swarm if they have been weakened by a small hive beetle infestation as their numbers are reduced and they lack the strength.
Package bees can be a great way to start I just got a package a week ago, so a little early to comment on the how these guys go in the longer term. After watching @Michael_Bush install one and talk about it, I went home and put mine in their new home. Once the hive was set up and in place it took all of about 10 minutes to put them in.
I’ve checked my queen now and she has made it out of her little cage and the bees seem to be happily coming and going from the hive and have built some comb.
@rodderick has done a good detailed article on installing bees on this forum:
The method I used was a little simpler, although not quite as gentle:
- Setup your brood box with wooden starter strips and put in a good location (somewhere they can stay as it is not a good idea to move your beehive around the yard)
- Open the hive pull out about 4 frames
- Slide out the feeder from your package then pull out your queen cage placing something over the hole so not too many bees fly out.
- Pull the plastic cap off the queen cage so the bees can chew away the candy plug and place the queen in the bottom of the hive (in cold climates it is best to pin the queen cage to the underside of one of your frames so the bees can all huddle and keep warm there).
- Cut one side of the mesh off the package an give it one short sharp shake to land all ( or most) of the bees into the brood box.
- Put the other frames back in and place the lid on the hive.
- Place the empty package close to the entrance but not blocking their flight path so any remaining bees can walk into the hive.
A bit of an over simplification but that was the general idea. Hopefully we will have a video up of Michael installing a package of bees soon. There are plenty of youtube videos some are good but some advocate spraying them with sugar water and smoking them, I think this puts unnecessary stress on the bees.