This is the second article in our beginner beekeeping series. In the first article we talked about what you need to get started in beekeeping, including the hive and sources for bees. This article will cover moving mail-order bees into your prepared bee hive. We will start with preparing the hive then go through the steps to move the bees into the hive. Make sure your hive is assembled with all the parts mentioned in the first article. If your bees arrive before your ready to move them into the hive, you can store them for up to 3 or 4 days at the most. You may have noticed a small container of syrup in the shipping cage with the bees. This is for feeding the bees during shipment. If you plan to store the bees for a few days, you should prepare some syrup of your own to feed them until their move in date. The bees should be stored in a quiet, dark location that gets plenty of fresh air and stays about room temperature.
To prepare syrup for feeding your bees, boil 2 quarts of water then mix in 5 lbs of sugar. Make sure all the sugar dissolves then let it cool completely. To feed the bees, use a brush to apply the syrup to the sides of the shipping cage. Feed the bees twice a day while in storage. If you have not already done so, assemble your have and move it to the permanent location. Painting the hive with linseed oil will help preserve the wood, but some keepers dont paint the hives at all. You should an entrance feeder for your bees with your starter kit. Fill the entrance feeder with some of the syrup you prepared earlier. Go ahead and remove half the frames from the hive. Make sure all the frames have wax foundation already in place. The bees use the wax foundation in the frames to make cells for storing honey. Feed your bees one last time by applying the syrup to the side of the shipping cage until the bees are no longer interested. Now we are ready to move the queen into the hive.
Its time to get out that new smoker and light it. You will need it soon to smoke the bees. Also put on the veil and gloves and long sleeves. Bring the cage over near the hive and bump it on the ground so all the bees fall to the bottom of the cage. Remove the queen cage and recover the cage to prevent the bees from escaping. Remove the plug blocking the end og the queen cage. You should see a layer of way inside the end of the cage. Make a small nail size hole in the end, but be careful no to harm the queen. Place the queen cage in the hive between the top bars of two of the frames still in the hive. Place it with the wax side up. Once the workers move in to the hive, they will eat away the wax and release the queen. Again bump the cage on the ground to put all the bees on the bottom. Pour the bees into the open space of the hive and make sure some get on the queen cage. Gently reinsert the five frames that you removed earlier, being careful not to crush any bees. Space the frames out evenly. Place the inner cover on the hive, again being careful not to hurt the bees. You can use the smoker to move the bees if you need to get them away from the top. Now you can replace the outer cover.
Place the full entrance feeder in the entrance and use some hay to block the rest of the opening, so the bees can not escape. At this point your bees are moved in. Don't open the hive for the next week. You can do quick checks to make sure the feeder has syrup, but otherwise don't disturb the bees. After the first week, you should open the hive ands see if the queen is free from her cage. If she is not free, make the hole in the wax a bit larger and put the cage back in and close the hive and check back in a few days. Make sure the feeder is full. If she is out of the cage, check the frames and see where she is laying eggs. At this point the bees are moved in! In the next few days I will post more beginner beekeeping articles about caring for the bees and collecting honey. In the meantime if you have any questions or comments about this article or any other yardsteading topics, please feel free to post in the forum.