Ordering a Pack of Bees
I am a new beekeeper, trying this out for the last 2 years or so. I have failed with 2 hives and learned some things not to do and am still on my path learning how to do this. There are 3 ways to start a bee colony. You can attract a swarm, buy a nuc, or buy a pack of bees. I hope to try all three methods, but today I bought a pack of bees.
A pack of bees is exactly like it sounds, is a box filled with bees. It includes a queen, drones, and worker bees. They do not have any comb, or frames. Once my bees were ready to be picked up, I prepared their area for their arrival.
First thing the bees need is a hive. They also need food and water, so I filled their waterer up (the upside-down yellow thing), I had a broom handy to be able to gently move the bees, a can opener to be able to open the sugar water (Food) they were packed with, a mason jar to transfer the sugar water to, a lid with holes punctured into it, and a feeder, so I can introduce the feeder to the hive (the white circular plastic piece). OK home, food, and water - Check.
We live in NJ, and it is currently March. This is a tricky time of year for this area, some days are 70 degrees, sunny, and beautiful and you think "Maybe we can open the pool next month", other days its 30 degrees, with 4" of snow on the ground. Because cold can be fatal to bees, I added some frames with comb already on it. This way if the temperature drops, it will give the bees some insulations and a place to hide and stay warm. Alright, only one thing missing. The bees.
Remove the square block on the top of the package.
Last layer. I always get nervous here, because I'm allergic to bees, and this is the last step before they come out.
That large circle is a can full of sugar water. The smaller circle, is attached to the box that the queen is in.
In the queen box, there is one side that is a cork, and one side that is candy. You are supposed to expose the candy side, and the bees will eat the candy to release the queen. By that time, they have established a home in your hive, and become accustomed to the queen.
However - I messed this up 2/2 times and removed the cork - this time the queen escaped - briefly. We caught her and put her in a plastic queen clip. If the queen leaves, so will the entire colony.
Place the queen (still in her box) in the hive. Place the sugar water to the side for a moment and start dumping the bees into the hive. They kind of just fall out in giant clumps of bees.
Next time I will record live. I had to stop taking photos, because I couldn't take pictures with the gloves on, and bees were everywhere.
Once most of the bees have been placed into the hive, gently and slowly put the lid on the hive. Put the sugar water into the mason jar and add the feeder to the entrance. Place the package close to the entrance of the hive. The rest of the bees will find their way home.