Hiving Time

At 7:45 pm, I started the process of convincing 14,000 bees to get out of the screen box that contained them and into the bee hive box that I had set up that morning.

There are basically three ways to hive a package of bees:

  • Dump the bees out in front of the hive and let them crawl in,
  • Set the open package box inside the hive and leave it, or
  • Dump the bees out of the package onto the top of the open hive.

It was 54 degrees and nearly dark, so dumping the bees out in front of the hive was out. Placing the package box inside the hive seemed really easy but it would need to be retrieved later and the bees might start making comb inside the package box. It seemed that shaking the bees out onto the hive box was the way to go.

These bees were packaged in Georgia less than 24 hours earlier. They were in great shape. I don’t think that there were 10 dead bees in the whole package. I sprayed the bees with sugar water several times before I opened the top to get the queen. The queen lives in a little cage inside the package box. The queen cage has a cork that covers a candy plug on the bottom. You remove the cork, then place the queen cage between the two center frames of the hive. Next, you shake all the bees out on top of the frames, covering the queen.

It went smoothly — no stings. Since it was cold, I didn’t bother with the veil. One bee did get her stinger stuck in my shirt while I was trying to shake her off.

Ironically, 30 minutes later and too dark to see well, I go back to the hive to show my brother-in-law. I picked up the empty package box to show him but it wasn’t exactly empty. I pinched a pair of bees when I grabbed the package box and got stung twice. If you plan to keep bees, then it’s not a question of if you get stung — just a question of when. At least I didn’t have to wonder about “when” for very long.

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