Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Installing Packaged Bees


We can thank the postal service for helping in the proliferation of honey bees. Every spring live honey bees are distributed across the country in small screened wooden boxes by postal workers. These packaged bees are used to establish hives, replace winter colony losses, and expand beekeeping operations. Packages of bees include a number of worker bees, usually three pounds, or around 12 thousand bees. The package also includes a mated queen bee housed in a small cage. The package of bees cannot be considered a colony; it is comprised of bees removed from numerous hives. When the bees are packaged, they are not familiar with the included queen, which was raised separately. It is only after the bees are exposed to the queen’s pheromones that the group organizes as a colony.

During the spring, beekeepers across the country use packaged bees to expand their colonies. Procedures for installing packages of bees are taught at local beekeeping associations. In today’s picture, Richard Hillis assists Agnes Stark install packaged bees in Agnes’ Arlington, Tennessee bee yard. Melissa Bridgman also assisted Nobuko Igarashi install bees at her Midtown Memphis home. Each group was successful in establishing their colonies using techniques they learned from the Memphis Area Beekeepers Association. They protected the bees when they received the packages by storing them in a cool, dark area until it was time to install the bees. They kept the bees from dehydrating by spraying a little sugar water through the packages’ screens. The beekeepers were careful to place the queen cages in the hive so that workers could access the screen around the queen to feed her until her release, and they positioned the candy plug so that the workers could access it. The time involved for workers to eat away the candy plug allows the bees to become accustomed to the odors and pheromones of their new queen. The beekeepers will wait about five days to check for the successful release of the queen.
--Richard

3 comments:

  1. Firstly I wish very nice harvest in future time,later thank you for nice sharing and informat─▒ons.With my best wishes

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  2. I am new to beekeeping, got my first package a couple of weeks ago. When I went to place the queen cage, and pulled out the small cork, the candy was actually already gone, and the queen came right out. I placed the cage into the hive and added the 3lbs. I haven't yet seen eggs (this is week 2), and will open the hive on Saturday to investigate again. I wasn't expecting that to happen, ever had this happen?

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  3. I thank each reader for the kind words, and I hope that these small pieces lead to further discussion and investigation. Beekeeping thrives on the sharing of ideas.

    The rectangular wooden queen cages are usually manufactured with two small holes, each covered by corks, to be used as entrances and exits for the queen. The cork on one end covers the candy plug, and the cork on the opposite end leads directly into the queen’s compartment. Beekeepers have been known to remove the wrong cork, allowing the queen to exit without the delay that the candy plug affords.

    Queen introduction into any hive is never 100 percent successful. It is possible that the queen was not accepted by the bees in the package. However, you should be able to introduce a new queen into the hive and establish a colony. Best wishes.
    --Richard

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