I'm so excited to get my two new bee packages today! I've been thinking a lot about what type of hives to start the new bees in, what type of hive to use, and the method or process to use. Past this, I've also been thinking about what will my bees be like? Will they be happy sweet bees or grumpy mean bees. I'm not too worried since we already have awesome bees from C.F. Koehnen and Sons, and they have been fantastic!
Through my extensive research and I've found a lot of information on the areas of consideration and I've already planned and/or taken actions in the following areas:
- New Home - double nuc resource hive
- Getting my started frames ready
- Sugar water spray or smoke???
- Research Bee Install Method - i.e. shake or natural release
To prepare the home for my new bees I've found that bees do better at managing their hive space when they have just a bit more space than needed, but not too much that they are overwhelmed. This made the decision very easy to put them in a nuc box to start the new hives. I could then decide if I wanted to manage them in a nuc box long term as a resource hive or place them into a standard hive configuration. In my research on nuc boxes, I ran across a double nuc box that is made from BetterBee. Now that's better for sure! These hives have some great reviews and a lot of beeks on YouTube like this configuration as well for resource hives. Since I was planning on two new bee packages, it was settled, double nuc it is!
Next I wanted to make sure my new package of bees would be off to a great start so I took inventory of the drawn frames I have available for them. I wanted to make sure the queen had frames she could start laying eggs in right away and a few resource frames that had bee bread and honey. I also learned that new bee packages also have a higher success rate if you install a frame of brood from another hive with a few nurse bees 10-14 days after install. It is said that this helps preventing the new bees from thinking the hive does not have a laying queen. It certainly cannot hurt the new hive!
Next is the confusing part for me: Do I use sugar water spray or smoke on the new bee package install???? My initial thought was that sugar water spray and smoke are typically used for different things. I always thought that sugar water spray is primarily used for spraying new frames to encourage the bees to draw comb and for new packages to let them know this is their new home. Since I was using already drawn combs I'm pretty confident any new set of bees would love the smell of their new home. I've read that sugar water spray is used to calm the bees down as an alternative to smoking them. It keeps them busy. Smoke is used as primary method to calm bees down since it make them think their hive is at risk and they move away and gorge themselves with honey.
Well....as you can and will see I'm installing these new bees into a home that does not have that new car smell that's full of used frames and the method I use to install will not disturb the bees and make them grumpy.
Ok, hive built, location determined...check. Frames placed...check. No sugar or smoke....check. Now it's time to install the bees!
I researched quite a bit which install method to use and gave this a lot of thought. It seemed like if I were a bee that was removed from my home, traveled many miles with a bumpy ride, the last thing I would want to happen to me would be shaken out of a small wood box into a bigger box. I liked the method of simply setting your queen cage in the new hive and placing the bee package box inside the hive and letting the bees walk out. But there was one problem! The bee package box was about the width of 5 frames and that would fill my nuc box and there would be no frames for the bees to call their new home.
Ugh.....and wait....Oh!!! I thought, I have a double nuc box silly, lol. I can load up the bottom two boxes with the frames I've carefully selected. Then put in my queen cages in each box. Open the two packages and place them directly on top of the bottom nuc box frames open side down. Then put on the second empty story nuc boxes to protect each package. Put on my inner covers and lid. That sounds much easier!
So that is exactly what I'm going to do. I will update this post with pictures and results. Have a great day!!!!
The new bees are installed! The process went pretty smooth with the exception of the day we set the packages in the hives it was very cold. We put a little bit of candy in the plug for each queen cage and set the packages upside down on each hive and then covered them with the second story. The next day we removed the second story and 99% of bees had already left the package box. We did use a little smoke to make sure they stayed calm and down in the lower story of the boxes. One of the queens was already out of her cage and we direct released the other queen. We then put the feeders on and all done!