Starting Beekeeping with the Help of Package Bees

By Charles •  Updated: 03/29/23 •  9 min read

Starting a beehive can be an exciting and rewarding experience! Purchasing two packages of bees is a great way to start a new beehive. When ordering your bees, you’ll receive two separate packages, each containing several thousand worker bees, one queen bee, and enough feeding syrup and pollen substitute to last about a week.

With the right knowledge and preparation, you can successfully and safely install the bees in their new home.

Starting Beekeeping with the Help of Package Bees - Beekeeping 101

Starting beekeeping is not always easy, and it requires making a financial investment, understanding bee behavior, and understanding the importance of beekeeping for our environment. To help in this endeavor, package bees can be used as your starting point, allowing you to gain an understanding of beekeeping in a practical setting.

This article will discuss the process of acquiring package bees, what to expect when you receive them and details on properly introducing package bees to your hive. Furthermore, this article will guide you in the essential steps necessary in order to encourage the health, wellbeing and growth of your hive with adequate nutrition and hive size, preventative measures regarding pests, and how to harvest honey.

With the right knowledge and a can-do attitude, anyone can start and successfully manage their very own honey bees!

Table of Contents

What are Package Bees and what Benefits do they Bring?

Package bees are a convenient and popular way for beekeepers to quickly add more bees to an existing hive or to replace those lost due to disease or other issues. Package bees are available from bee suppliers in wooden or cardboard boxes, with an attendant queen bee inside.

Starting Beekeeping with the Help of Package Bees - Beekeeping 101

The benefits of adding these package bees to a hive are numerous: they are hardy, adaptable bees and have no fear of swarming, they respond quickly to proper nutrition, they bolster local gene pools and add additional genetic variety, and they have a relatively low cost compared to alternatives like queen purchases or breeding programs. Package bees can be instrumental in saving a struggling or diseased hive or quickly augmenting one with additional worker bees, enabling it to flourish.

Preparing Your Beekeeping Environment

Preparing an environment for beekeeping involves a great deal of thoughtful planning. Before starting there are a few considerations that should be kept in mind.

Starting Beekeeping with the Help of Package Bees - Beekeeping 101

First and foremost, it is important to select an optimal geographic location for the hives. As bees need access to ample sources of food, water, and other natural resources, a location which offers these items is paramount to setting up a successful apiary.

When deciding on a location, try to pick a spot which has minimal human disturbance and offers a sheltered home for your bees. Additionally, make sure to check local ordinances and regulations before hiving your bees to ensure that you are in compliance.

Lastly, it is important to research the needs of your particular bee species in order to ensure that you have the right equipment and setup for their needs. Beekeeping is an immensely rewarding experience, and taking the time to plan and prepare your environment beforehand will give your bees the best chance for success.

Selecting and Ordering a Package of Bees

When starting a new bee-keeping adventure, selecting and ordering the right package of bees is essential in setting up a successful and lasting hive. The essential components of a typical package include a mated queen, workers, and drones which are contained in a cage.

Starting Beekeeping with the Help of Package Bees - Beekeeping 101

When ordering your package, it is important to consider the age and health of the queen, the number of bees in the package, the size of the hive the package will go in, and the timing of when the package will be most successful. Many beekeepers order their packages in the early spring for a successful installation and healthy bees.

Unpacking and Introducing Package Bees

Unpacking and introducing new packages of bees can be an amazing experience! These packages, containing 10,000-12,000 worker bees, are shipped from California to locations throughout the United States. Prior to opening the package, equip yourself with tight fitting, protective clothing and a smoker with fuel.

Starting Beekeeping with the Help of Package Bees - Beekeeping 101

When the bees arrive, swiftly place the package in a cool area to prevent them from becoming overly active. When the bees get too hot, they become more aggressive and more difficult to control.

Carefully cut the top off of the package, using a sharp knife to make sure you do not damage any of the enclosed bees. Pour the bees into the hive frames, and add a starter can containing sugar syrup and a feeding bottle with condensed syrup in the form of candy for the colony to depend on.

Once your package of bees is in its hive, introduce a hive entrance feeder with a mixture of syrups which will give the bees a necessary boost to begin creating a strong colony.

Feeding and Maintaining Package Bees

Feeding and maintaining package bees is an essential part of successful Beekeeping. To get your package of bees off to a good start, it is important to feed them enough sugar syrup to sustain them in their new home.

Starting Beekeeping with the Help of Package Bees - Beekeeping 101

A 1:1 ratio of sugar to water is ideal and can be administered through a top-feeder or a frame feeder. It is important to check to make sure you have the optimal amount of bees for the amount of drawn frames in which they will establish a hive.

Additionally, it is important to monitor the growing population so that it doesn’t become overcrowded, as this can cause swarming. Lastly, mites and other pests can be an issue, so accessing treatments to keep these pests on low levels is essential.

Monitoring Honey Production with Package Bees

Package bees are an effective way for honey-producers to increase their annual honey production. By timing their arrival to a beehive to ensure the optimum pollination of their flowers and crops, bee-keepers are able to monitor their bee population size and bee health more efficiently than splitting colonies, introducing new queen bees and/or maintaining existing colonies.

Starting Beekeeping with the Help of Package Bees - Beekeeping 101

Package bees can be purchased by mail-order or from bee-keeping supply stores and will arrive in an enclosed box with an inert and air-permeable covering and accompanying the box are sugar packages and queen bees specially mated for the purpose of honey production. Overall, the use of package bees is an efficient and worry-free way to increase a beekeeper’s honey production and to monitor their hive activity.

Splitting and Requeening Packages

Splitting and re-queening packages is an essential part of honeybee management in Apiculture. Splitting involves dividing a single established colony of bees into two or more smaller colonies with a new queen bee in every package.

Starting Beekeeping with the Help of Package Bees - Beekeeping 101

This is done to begin a new bee colony, increase bee numbers in an existing bee colony, or to replace an old or failing queen bee. When splitting a package, the worker bees and frames with brood, honey and pollen are separated, while a new queen bee is placed in each package.

Re-queening involves replacing an old or failing queen by introducing a new queen bee, often two weeks after the original queen has been released. This is done to ensure that the new queen is accepted and raises a young healthy brood.

Splitting and re-queening packages ensure the colony remains healthy and productive for yields of delicious honey.

Managing Parasites and Diseases

in CattleProperly managing parasites and diseases in cattle helps to promote healthy cattle herds, prevent the spread of diseases, and protect production costs. Different management strategies may need to be employed for different types of parasites and diseases; for instance, a livestock vaccination and deworming program is frequently used to prevent the spread of contagious diseases.

Starting Beekeeping with the Help of Package Bees - Beekeeping 101

Additionally, pasturing animals separately and cleaning and disinfecting or rotating pastures can help reduce the presence and spread of parasites. To ensure optimal herd health, it is important to establish a comprehensive management and prevention plan with a veterinarian.

Building your Beekeeper’s Tool Kit

Building your beekeeper’s tool kit can seem like an overwhelming task. Having the right tools and resources on hand is essential for keeping your bees healthy and prosperous, but it is also important to make sure that you have enough, there is no point in buying supplies that you will never use.

Starting Beekeeping with the Help of Package Bees - Beekeeping 101

A basic starting kit contains items such as a bee suit/jacket, gloves, smoker, hive tool, hive boxes, feeders, tools for queen rearing, queen excluders and more. A standard hive usually requires up to 5-6 boxes, along with extra boxes for supersedure and re-queening needs.

Finally, it is a good idea to have an extra hive frame on hand to easily move frames from one box to another. With the right set of tools, a beekeeper can successfully manage and maintain their colonies.

Troubleshooting Tips and FAQs

Troubleshooting tips and FAQs are incredibly helpful when trying to resolve technical issues. Reading the FAQs in order to understand how various features work can help you gain a better grasp of the technical aspects of the product or service.

Starting Beekeeping with the Help of Package Bees - Beekeeping 101

In addition, troubleshooting tips often offer an exhaustive list of potential solutions to common problems. By trying out different troubleshooting steps, you can quickly pinpoint the source of an issue and often correct the problem on your own.

Finally, answering helpful FAQs provided by customer service representatives can sometimes provide an effective solution in the shortest amount of time.

Last words

As you move into the process of starting a beehive with a package of bees, you should keep in mind the process is easy and requires very little experience and knowledge. Be sure to follow the steps above, ask for help when needed, and stay focused on the mission of managing and maintaining a successful beehive.

With the right knowledge and dedication, you can have an amazing and successful bee keeping experience. May your hives be plentiful and your bees happy!