Much of the craft of beekeeping involves positive and negative experiences being passed along among beekeepers. Recent blog pieces involving installing packaged honey bees brought comments and questions from several places around the world. Discussion came from Russia and New Zealand as well as several locations in the US. New beekeepers were interested in gaining insights from successful package installations, and seasoned beekeepers were willing to share their experiences. Two specific topics were discussed: wetting the honey bees before placing them in the hive and methods of placing the bees in the hive. I like to give a package of bees a light spraying of sugar water as soon as I receive it to help hydrate the bees after shipment. Before hiving the bees, some beekeepers like to moisten the bees’ wings with sugar water. The wet bees are not as eager to fly, and they may be easier to house in a new hive. In either case, it is important to be careful not to chill bees by spraying them if the weather is cool. The other topic discussed among beekeepers involved placing a sheet of cloth on the ground and allowing the bees to walk across it to the hive’s entrance. If a queen, confined in the hive, is emitting strong pheromones, workers will fan pheromones at the hive entrance and attract colony members to the hive. If all goes well, the bees “march” into the hive. The problem that may arise is that packaged bees are often not organized as a colony. Bees poured onto a cloth may merely fly away. A safer introduction method may involve pouring the bees directly into the hive.
For different perspectives on beekeeping, see http://ludditeapiary.blogspot.com and http://kiwitopbarhive.blogspot.com. Each descriptive writer keeps bees in a different type of hive using similar beekeeping principles. The Luddite keeps bees in Warre hives; Marcia uses Kenyan top bar hives. In today’s photo, Mary Phillips successfully completes installing packaged bees in Langstroth hives. Each shares ideas.--Richard