Last year when I hived my packages I did it without any sort of protective gear at all. I took quite a few stings. Joy.
This year, I didn’t take any at all. As is usually the case, the only protective gear I had on was a veil/helmet combo.
For those of you who are curious, here’s my process for installing packages.
- First, have a spray bottle full of 1:1 sugar syrup
- Before prepping the hives for the packages, spray down the package really well with sugar syrup. The bees start filling their honey stomachs.
- Prep the hives, in this case a single deep brood box. Take out the middle four frames which leaves three frames on each side of the box.
- Spray down the package again really really well.
- Right away lift the package up and slam it down on the brood box to dislodge the bees. Since they’re full of syrup and kinda wet, they don’t really try to fly yet.
- Then, use the hive tool to pry the feed can out of the package, pulling it out.
- Quickly grab the queen cage out and replace the feed can.
- Put the queen cage in a convenient pocket
- Remove the feed can again and dump the bees out into the hive box. Shake a bit, pour a bit, and get most of them out.
- Grab the queen cage and either release her into the hive OR put the cage in the hive. I won’t go into the choices here..
- Replace the missing frames by pushing the sides to the center, sweeping bees out of the way.
- Put the lid on and head out!
I usually feed my packages a gallon or two of syrup to get them situated.
In this case, I left the queen in the cages and will be heading back in a day or two to remove the cage. Unfortunately I dropped one of the cages into the ball of bees at the bottom of the hive, so that one will be fun to grab.
So now I’m back up to three hives. I’ve had a couple offers for more hives, but right now I’ll probably stick with three. But you never know … I do enjoy working with them!