Bee Package Installation – Don’t Forget The Cork!

Bee Package Installation In Brian’s Rooftop Hive Squill

After I installed the bees into Willow, it was Brian’s turn to install his first package of honeybees.  It was hard for me to stand back and let him do it, knowing the bees still make him nervous.   One piece of advice given to me when I was a new beekeeper was “Go into the hive as much as you need to, to feel comfortable with the bees.”  The first year of beekeeping is as much about you becoming a beekeeper as it is about the bees.  It was only a year ago that I would get that nervousness in the pit of my stomach whenever I opened the hive and wondered if it would ever go away.  I can tell you with certainty yes – it has and if you are a new beekeeper who feels this way, you will get there too.  Just follow my mentor Stan’s advice and “Go into the hive as much as you need to, to feel comfortable with the bees.”

Bees clustered on the Queen Cage.

All in all Brian did a pretty good job with the install.  I walked him through it step by step and everything was going fine (or so I thought) until a bee got into his veil.  I could see the panic on his face, but unlike last year, this time he was holding a box of bees and was on the roof – there was nowhere to run.  I told him to calmly put the box down, walk down the ladder and take off the veil, which to my amazement he did.  I think he didn’t want me to write any more funny posts about him running away from the bees.  On a side note, I think Brian is getting a new veil from me as a present so this doesn’t keep happening!

Brian with the queen cage.

Many of the bees from Brian’s hive ended up in the air because Brian did not shake the package close enough to the hive or spray the bees with enough syrup and/or because he waited to put the queen in the hive until after he shook the bees.  I’m sure this confused them even more and some went looking for her.  A lot of the package bees flew over to the hive that I installed moments before and clustered on the front of that hive.  I guess the confused bees are part of Willow now.

Bees clustering on Willow

After we installed the two packages some of the package bees tried to get into Crocus and all out battle ensued.  A poor black bee was getting bitten for having gone into the wrong hive. 

Black bee from a package being attacked by a Crocus bee.

The air was a mass of buzzing bees.  I’ve included a video to show you what it was like on our small rooftop.

After Brian’s hive was done we went to the out yard to install the last package.  It was there as Brian watched me with the girls that he realized he forgot to take the cork out of the Queen cage.  I was surprised by this because I walked him through the install and mentioned that part and he was looking at the cage and had the leatherman in his hand but somehow with the nervousness and the bee getting inside his veil he missed it.  I should have double checked that part for him since it is so important – that’s what I get for trying to be hands off!  So after we installed the package in the out yard, we had to go back into Brian’s hive to take the cork out of the Queen cage.  By now the bees were all over her, but Brian brushed them off then took the cork out and put her back.  Hopefully everything will be okay.  I’m so glad he remembered to do it!

Brian named his hive Squill after the beautiful blue pollen of the Siberian Squill flower.  It is available early in the spring for the bees, when not much else is available for them to eat.  Like the other hives, I’ve made a page on the website so you can track this hive’s progress.  You can also get there by mousing over The Apiary link above and clicking on Squill Hive.  Squill was installed in a Langstroth 10 Frame hive using wired wax foundation.

To see more detailed pictures and descriptions of the package installation, including when Brian got a bee in his veil, view the gallery below.  Just click on a picture then scroll through the slideshow by clicking on the arrows.  If you click on the picture the gallery will close.  If you are viewing this in a reader or by email you may have to read this post on the website for the gallery and descriptions to display properly. Enjoy!


Other Posts You May Enjoy:

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  2. Picking Up The Package Bees
  3. I Used To Think Those Crocodile Hunters On TV Were Crazy
  4. Bearding Bees Are Free To Bee
  5. One Little Bee Made My Husband Run Like A Baby