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Installing the Bees in Their New Hive

This post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.

Back in January when I ordered my bees, the April pick-up date seemed very far away. But the day finally did arrive, and hubby and I drove an hour and a half to pick up "the girls" at the home of the beekeeper who taught the class I took. Then it would be time to install the bees in their new hive.

I feel as though I've come to beekeeping rather late in the game. Lots of you already have bees, and at my age I'm just bee-ginning. (I'm sorry, I had to write that, just once - don't worry, I won't do it again.)

My 10,000 bees came packed in this special cage called a Bee-Bus.

My package of bees came packed in this Bee-Bus. I've never used one of the wooden cages, but I think this is probably a great improvement on the wooden variety. You can watch this YouTube video which compares the two styles. The Bee-Bus has plastic mesh sides that are thick enough to prevent stinging through the cage. I hadn't even thought about them being able to sting through the screened side of the wooden cage.

The Bee-Bus also provides more ventilation for the bees inside. It's easy to open, and the queen's cage is right up on top in an indentation so I didn't have to pull the queen's cage out of the main cage, and I wouldn't have bees flying around me until I was ready to pour them in the hive.

Plus I was able to inspect the queen in her little cage before we left the beekeeper's home. We both knew she was alive and well. There were three worker bees with her in the little queen cage.

The beekeeper told us to put the bees inside the cab of the pickup so they could benefit from the air conditioning. Hubby was a bit nervous; he asked me to make sure the top was on the Bee-Bus securely, and the bees buzzed loudly in the back seat all the way home. Once we were home, I set the Bee-Bus in a shady spot while I prepared to take them to their new hive.

On my way to the hive
On the way to the hive.

Originally I'd bought an entrance feeder for the hive, but after reading several beekeeping sites I decided it was too risky, that other bees could try to rob my new little colony.

You can read about the basic equipment needed for new beekeepers here, where I recommend what I've found useful and let you know what I decided I didn't need and why.

I honestly hadn't realized that we had so many local bees until last month when they found one of my hummingbird feeders that wasn't snapped completely shut. The feeder was covered with bees all day long - bees that weren't mine. So I decided than an in-hive feeder would be a better choice. I ordered this Harvest Lane feeder (affiliate link) from Amazon that replaces one of the frames inside the hive.

Pull out four frames so there will be room to pour in the bees. The black in-hive feeder is shown at the top of the photo.
The black in-hive feeder is at the top of the photo.

Following the beekeeper's advice, I removed four frames from inside the hive and set them aside. I opened the Bee-Bus, removed the queen cage, and attached it to one of the middle frames with a large rubber band. After replacing the frame in the hive, I removed the can of sugar syrup that was packed inside the Bee-Bus, thumped the cage on the ground to loosen the bees inside, and poured the bees on top of the queen cage.

I set the Bee Bus nearby so stragglers could find their way to the hive.

I set the open Bee-Bus near the hive entrance so stragglers could hopefully find their way into the hive on their own. I replaced the four frames I'd removed, very carefully so I wouldn't squash any bees, set a 2"x3" piece of pollen patty (affiliate link) on top of the frames, and replaced the hive top. We're having a very windy spring so I strapped the top down on the hive.

You need to feed your new bees! Here's how - and why.

Three days later (did I peek at the hive before the three days was up? Of course I did, I couldn't resist! But I only checked on them from afar!) I opened the hive to remove the cork from the queen's cage. After topping off the sugar syrup in the feeder, I turned my attention to the bees. They were clustered around her cage, right where they should be.

The bees were clustered around the queen's cage just like they should be.

I carefully moved a couple of bees off the little cage with my gloved finger. The easiest way to get the cork out is to screw in a small screw with your fingers and then pull it out, cork and all. I had to take her cage out of the rubber band to do this but sure enough, the cork popped right out. 

To remove the cork from the queen's cage, put a small screw in it with your fingers, then pull it straight out.

The bees were upset when I removed the queen's cage and it was nerve-wracking to have them flying around my head and landing on me! I kept reminding myself that I was wearing "armor" and they couldn't hurt me. I stood still until they calmed down and went back to doing whatever they had been doing. 

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They've started building comb on the frame around where her cage was, and that's exciting. They all seem to be doing exactly what they're supposed to do, as far as I can tell. Now they'll eat the sugar candy that blocks the entrance hole to her cage where the cork was and in a few days "Queen Hazel" will emerge and rule her adoring subjects. 

There's still so much to learn, but I've passed the first two tests: installing them in the hive and the first hive inspection. And despite my greatest fears, they are still alive (and so am I). I should gain confidence as time goes by. My next challenge will be spotting Queen Hazel in the hive on the next hive inspection. I hope I can identify her among the worker bees.

Should you get bees? Absolutely! If I can do this, so can you!

The images below are affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.


Related posts you might enjoy:
It's Time to Pick up the Bees
4 Tips for Ordering Bees
Late Spring Wildflowers

How to install a package of bees in their new hive.

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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  1. I admire your courage and determination. AS much as I love honey, I am too big a klutz to even think of trying. Wish you lived close, I'd come see your bees! Congrats!

    1. It would be so much fun to have you tag along, Carol!

  2. So excited for you to have bees on your land. I hope to do this again after we move, we found it to be such a relaxing activity and honey bees have this sense of calm. We had the Italian variety which are known to leave their hive. They're travelers so they lasted about one and a half seasons before they took off. they still come and visit the farm which is neat. Oh and your never to late in the game for anything...

    Carole @ Garden Up Green

    1. I didn't know that about Italian bees, Carole. Mine are Carniolan. Yours must have run out of room in the hive and swarmed? I hope you can get more once you move. Thank you for the kind words about not being too old. :-)

  3. This month marked our first year anniversary with our bees. We have 2 hives. It sure is fun learning about them. Good luck!
    :) gwingal

    1. Happy bee anniversary! There is a LOT to learn, that's for sure, but I'm finding them fascinating. :-)

  4. What fun! My nephew is a bee keeper!!

    1. I'm finding that bees are fascinating! Good for your nephew!

  5. Congratulations- it must have been hard trying to be calm when they landed on you! We live in the city so I just don't feel safe having bees around. I have been reading about mason bees though -no honey just pollination. I thinking that would be neat. They don't sting either I guess.

    1. Mason bees sound like they might be a good solution for you, Vickie.

  6. Bees are on our list, but not something I've tackled yet--so if you're late to it, I'm waaay behind! :)


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