Installing your 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.
Don’t get caught with your bees with no place to house them. 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.
Install Your Bees
- You’ll want to install your bees in their new hive during the evening or early morning hours when the temperature is cooler (40°F – 50°F).
- Remove four frames in the center of the hive body.
- Spray the bee package liberally with Pro-Sweet, a 1:1 water/sugar syrup, or 1:1 water/high fructose corn syrup mix. Make sure any mixture you are using is at room temperature (around 70°F), any cooler and you risk chilling your bees.
- Tap the bee package sharply on a hard surface to knock the bees to the bottom of the cage.
- Remove the feeder can and queen cage from the bee package and set aside. It’s highly recommended to put the queen cage in your pocket to protect the queen and avoid misplacing her.
- Shake bees into the hive and spread them out on the bottom board.
- Check and make sure your queen is alive. Lightly spray her cage with Pro Sweet, sugar syrup, or thin high fructose corn syrup. Again, make sure to use a room temperature (around 70°F) mixture to avoid chilling your queen.
Install the Queen
There are multiple ways to install the queen into her new hive. Below we have listed two tried-and-true methods to successfully install your queen.
Direct-Release Method – Lower the queen cage to the bottom of one exposed frame, keeping the cork facing down into the hive, and gently open the cage. Observe the queen to ensure that she exits the cage (ideally onto the foundation of a frame) and doesn’t fly away. Carefully replace the frames by adding them closest to the queen first and moving outward.
Delayed-Release Method (Duration: 3-4 Hours) – Ahead of the installation you’ll want a few mini-marshmallows and a hive tool ready. First, remove the cork from the cage using your fingers and hive tool if needed. Make sure the queen is moving away from the cork when attempting to remove to prevent harming the queen. Once the cork is removed, replace with the mini-marshmallow. Replace the frames and wedge the queen cage in between two frames (along the top bar in the front or back of the hive) with the screen out toward the center of the hive. Make sure you do NOT place the queen cage in the center if you are pail feeding with syrup.
Place a pollen patty (Ultra Bee or Bee Pro) on the top bars, not directly under the hole in the inner cover. Then replace the inner and telescoping covers on the top of the hive and ensure the entrance reducer is in place and utilizing the smallest opening.
Be sure to inspect the colony 4-7 days after the installation process for queen acceptance by the hive.
After You Install Your Bees
Make sure to provide your colony with Pro-Sweet, a 1:1 sugar syrup, or high fructose corn syrup mix to encourage the bees to build comb. Feed your bees a pollen substitute such as Ultra Bee or Bee Pro and syrup until they no longer consume it. Check your entrance reducer and increase the opening size when congestion occurs. Once the entrance reducer is at its largest setting and congestion is occurring it may be removed.
Installing your bees is just the first step on a fun and rewarding beekeeping adventure. Don’t sweat it! Watching a mentor or online videos on installing bees can help! We recommend the following: