The Best Way to Install Package Honey Bees thumbnail image

The Best Way to Install Package Honey Bees

Installing your honey bees into their new hive can be a quick and rewarding process. Follow these instructions to ensure that you and your bees are ready for the big moment.

Pre-Installation Prep

Make sure you're prepared for your bees! Ensure all equipment is assembled, painted and placed in the bee yard before your bees arrive. Make sure you have all the necessary equipment ready to go; protective gear is clean and ready, hive tool is near. Don’t forget to have bee feed and a pollen substitute at the ready, too!

Caring For Your Bees Before Installation

It’s important to install your bees as soon as possible. If you are going to transport your bees, make sure they are strapped securely and are NOT covered in a blanket or winter wrap otherwise the bees will overheat.

If you are unable to install your bees right away, keep them in a dark, quiet place, preferably around 50°F – 70°F. Do not chill or overheat your bees.

Feed your bees by generously spraying or brushing Pro-Sweet, a 1:1 water/sugar syrup, or 1:1 water/high fructose corn syrup mix on the screen sides 3-4 times a day.

Plastic Cage Package Bee Installation Instructions

Follow the instructions below or print our instructions guide.

To give your bees the best chance of survival, install them right away. If the temperature is below 40 F please refer to “Tips for Cold Weather Installation”. Make sure the bees have access to sugar syrup.

Step 1: Put on your protective clothing.

Step 2: Start your hive with only one hive body. Remove 4 to 5 frames from the center of the hive and set aside. Place the entrance reducer on the smallest opening as the exit. (Keep the entrance reducer in place until the colony is well established, this generally takes a week).

Step 3: If you received more than one package, cut zip ties connected packages, then you will need to separate by pushing them apart where they are connected. Always work one package at a time.

Step 4: Remove cover of the can using a hive tool

Step 5: Remove the feed can and the queen cage. To remove the queen cage from the package, the following steps must be done relatively quickly to prevent bees from escaping.

  1. Lightly mist the bees in packages with sugar water using the all purpose sprayer. Skip this step if installing when the weather is below 40 F.
  2. Tap the package of bees on the ground lightly to drop bees to the bottom of the package.
  3. Remove the feed can and set aside.
  4. Remove the queen cage and store in a safe space out of the wind and cold (if your queen is dead, please contact us within 24 hours).

Step 6: Install the package bees

  1. Pop open the tabs at the end of the package to open the door. This might prove difficult, we suggest placing a hive tool under the tab and prying it open.
  2. Flip the package so the open door is over the hive.
  3. Rock the package back and forth while tapping the bottom and sides of the package,

Dumping the bees into the opening created by the frames you removed. Note: Most of the bees will fall out during the process.

  1. Place the near empty package at the hive opening. Any remaining bees will enter the hive.

Installing your queen cage

Step 7: Replace 3 or 4 frames into the center of the hive, being cautious to avoid squishing bees. Leave one frame out of the center of the hive to allow enough space to install the queen. Install the queen cage and use the appropriate method below based on the specific cage:

Step 8: Attach and suspend the queen cage between the middle two frames so that it will not fall. Make sure you’ve faced the screens towards the front of the colony.

Step 9: Place inner cover and outer cover over the hive.

Step 10: Feed the bees. See “Care After Installation of Package Bees”

3-5 days after installing your package bees, check on the queen to make sure that she has been released from her cage. If the queen has not yet been released on the 5th day, manually release her by holding the cage close to the hive and using the hive tool to pull back the plastic tab allowing the queen to walk out of the cage and onto the frame. Once the queen is released into the hive, replace the frame inthe center that was removed for spacing purposes during installation.

**Be sure to re-check the queen in 10 to 14 days to ensure that you can see eggs and larvae present in the hive. If no eggs or larvae are present in the hive, fill out a claim on our website. Report your claim within 14 days of receiving your queen to honor our queen guarantee.

Care After Installation of Bees

Feed the bees heavily until the colony is well established (at least the first 3 weeks) using Pro-Sweet liquid feed or a 1 to 1 sugar ratio water mix. If using sugar water you may also wish to consider adding a stimulant such as ProHealth, which prevents fermentation and is mixed with sugar water. Do not add a second deep or supers until bees have drawn out 7 of 10 frames. We recommend an in-hive Pro Feeder to ensure bees have access to feed no matter the temperatures.

Tips for Cold Weather Installation

If the weather is too cold to hive your bees (under 40 F) here are some tips to keep them warm and healthy until you can install them.

  • Place your package of bees in a dark, cool area (garage, basement, etc.) Temp should be 50 to 70 F
  • Once, inside, try not to break the cluster
  • Apply a light mist of sugar water to the screens of your package twice a day
  • Try to install your bees as soon as possible