Package Bees Ordered

Stocking

A new beginning.

Wyoming’s spring weather has been unusually warm and mild. And while out and about digging the garden, I noticed a few bumblebees and wasps trying to find a new home. Interesting!

And the weather has been mild enough to allow some limited foraging on the cherry blooms. Noticed some wild bees and a honeybee.Now that’s not a full recovery from the devastation the bee populations have suffered over the last several years. But it’s enough for me. A beekeeper must be full of hope, especially in the spring.

So, I’ve decided to get some package bees and start over.

It’s been awhile since I’ve been around package bees, something like the late 90’s. But I contacted Ken Smith who hauled and sold them in central Wyoming. He’s not in that business anymore. But he referred me to Brian Houtman who had taken over from him.

After a pleasant talk with a busy Brian, I’ve ordered 5 three pound packages. They are due to arrive by the end of the month. And will be put on new comb. So, I’ve got lots to do in just a few weeks:

  • reclaim and process all old comb
  • scrap, scorch, and disinfect all woodenware
  • procure summer and winter beeyard locations
  • get some sugar feed stockpiled

I like to use a push in cage and confine the new queens on comb for awhile before releasing them. It gives the 3lb glob of unrelated and traumatized bees time to:

  • settle down
  • form a cohesive unit around the new queen
  • pick up comb odor
  • begin foraging

The queen can begin laying without any harassment. And that helps packages succeed.

But this time, without any comb, I’m going to keep the queens confined to their queen cages. And then manually release them about a week later. I’ll:

  • gently open the hive
  • look for any worker bees tightly clinging to or biting the wire on the queen cage
  • if so, I’ll keep the queen confined and inspect that hive in another week
  • if not, I’ll release the queen and close up the hive

It should be a good chance to take some photos and describe how to quickly and easily handle package bees. I’ve done it thousands of times as a commercial beekeeper.

And I’m looking forward to beeing in the saddle again.

-bW

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6 responses to “Package Bees Ordered”

  1. Christy Hemenway says:

    YAY!!! BEES!!!

    Hi Dennis —

    I’m confused by your two comments regarding comb – copied from above:

    1) After a pleasant talk with a busy Brian, I’ve ordered 5 three pound packages. They are due to arrive by the end of the month. And will be put on new comb.

    2) But this time, without any comb, I’m going to keep the queens confined to their queen cages.

    I suspect you mean new foundation? So you’re not going foundationless – in light of the contamination found in foundation?

    — Christy

    • -bW says:

      Hi Christy

      I should have written “will be allowed to draw new comb”. Without comb, it’s impossible to use a push in type queen cage to keep the bees away from the queen for awhile.

      Beside that, I will be setting a few hives on small cell size foundation as I’ve got a few more ideas that need a little work. And I’ve got lots of odds and ends in new beekeeping supplies I want to use.

      -bW

  2. MikeH says:

    Hi Dennis,

    I’m glad that you’ve decided to continue to keep bees. I look forward to hearing how this year goes.

    Regards,
    Mike

  3. Barry says:

    Ah, nothing like the spring bee fever! Glad you’re starting back up. I’m finally to a point where I’m taking out old comb from frames, rewiring them and putting in my own wax foundation. Feels good!

    • -bW says:

      Hi Barry

      The sights, sounds, smells and feel of working with wood and wax is a great experience. I’m still in the gunky cleaning out part. But that will soon change once I get those package bees established.

      -bW

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