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Installing a Package of Bees

April 9th, 2009

Yesterday afternoon we headed over to Wooster, OH to pick up the new addition to the Chiot’s Run Family. We now have an extra 10,000 ladies in the household. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, we got our bees! We picked them up from Dave at Ohio Honey Farms, he has a few hives in his front yard (and this is only a small portion of them).
On our way home Mr Chiot’s looked at me and said, “This has the makings of a horrible nightmare. The story would go something like this, ‘I picked up my package of bees and all was going well. I heard something in the back of the car and then a swarm of bees attacked my face. I ran off the road into a ditch ….'” We had a good laugh about that on our way home.
When we arrived home we proceeded to follow Dave’s instructions for, “the easy way to install a new package of bees”. It’s much different than the way the books tell you to do it. We decided his way sounded great, and since he’s a veteran beekeeper we figured he knew what he was talking about.
First we pried to lid off of the box of bees, then we removed the can of sugar syrup and the queen cage (the queens come in their own little cage inside the bigger cage of bees). Then you put the small wooden lid back on to keep the bees inside until you want to release them.
Then the box of bees is placed in an empty super on top of the bottom board of the hive (lid on it’s removed after we get the queen cage suspended above). This process takes the place of banging the box of bees and then dumping them into the hive, this seemed like a much “nicer” option both for us and the bees.
We taped a piece of wood over the opening of the hive to keep the bees inside until we move them outside (this afternoon when it’s warm).
We then proceeded to hang the queen cage in a super with frames (the part the bees build comb on) above the empty box that has the bee cage in it. We wired her in so that the bees could still reach her. She will be released into the hive in 3 days (thanks for the question Christy).
Her cage gets placed over to the side so that the jar of sugar syrup that you put on top to feed them doesn’t drip on her and get her wet.
After placing the super with the queen on top of the box that has the bee cage in it, remove the lid from the box of bees below, then place a the inner hive cover with a jar of sugar syrup on top so that the bees have something to eat.
Then you put an empty box or two (we used 2 because they were small ones) and then the hive cover to keep them warm and to keep them inside.
It was a much easier process than we were expecting, thanks to Dave’s great installation instructions and the cold weather which makes the bees pretty lethargic.
Mr Chiot’s says, “Bee suit is optional”. We only have one bee suit, so I wasn’t wearing one (I decided I didn’t want one, I’m going to be brave and do without). We only had 10 bees that “escaped” when we opened the box, and they were all caught and put into the hive. So our bees are quietly tucked in the garage, waiting for us to put them outside later today when it warms up. We checked on them at midnight last night and all of the bees were out of the original box and clustering around the queen cage just like they’re supposed to.

We’re trying to come up with a name for our hive, any great suggestions?

41 Comments to “Installing a Package of Bees”
  1. Mangochild on April 9, 2009 at 5:33 am

    What a project! Only 10 “escapees” and those all herded back into place sounds like a success to me. I loved looking at the pictures and explanations. I agree, this way of moving the bees sounds much better than the “banging” method.
    Humm…. names for the hive…. the first thing that comes to mind is “The Unusual Gardeners” for some reason – a bee hive is not the typical gardener, but surely does a lot to tend the garden in a beneficial way.

    Mangochild’s last blog post.. Learning in the Local Zone: Microscopy and Drawing

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  2. ChristyACB on April 9, 2009 at 6:15 am your hive! What about The Herd since you herded back your escapees like little wayward sheep. :) Or maybe, Sugar Babies.

    Does the queen stay in that little box forever? I’m a bit confused on that. If so, how do the workers get her eggs? How long will a queen live?

    ChristyACB’s last blog post.. Rooms We Wished We Had

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    • Susy on April 9, 2009 at 7:06 am

      Great question. The queen will get released from her little cage in 3 days (so the day after tomorrow). From what I read queens typically live 3-5 years. We’re planning on requeening our hive early this summer with a queen from the Ohio Queen Project. This project is breeding disease and cold resistant bees specifically for this area. We found a local (about 45 min away) that’s involved and we’re hoping to buy a new queen off of him in June/July.

      Reply to Susy's comment

    • Mr. Chiots on April 9, 2009 at 9:02 am

      Yeahhh…. Mr. Chiots First Comment!!!

      The queen is kept in the cage for a few days because she was not raised by this colony therefore they have to get used to her scent. The colony starts to feed her and tend to her and as they do so they pass around her pheromones to the other bees. In a couples days, they have accepted her as their true queen and she is ready to start running the show.

      Reply to Mr. Chiots's comment

      • DeeDee on April 9, 2009 at 10:48 pm

        of course my fave picture is mr chiots in the suit :)

        to DeeDee's comment

  3. Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary on April 9, 2009 at 6:33 am

    I was just showing my son your post and this is his suggestion:

    Buzzlegump, lol.

    I have no clue??? LOL

    Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary’s last blog post.. Chocolate Birthday Cake

    Reply to Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary's comment

  4. kristin on April 9, 2009 at 7:57 am

    That is freakin’ cool. I’m really surprised neither my husband nor mother-in-law has suggested getting bees. It sounds like something they’d be into. I know my husband’s grandfather had them at one point, though.

    A name for the hive? Like, the hive itself, or the swarm that lives in it? I suppose you could call the hive Gotham. You know, big city, lots of people swarming in it . . .

    kristin’s last blog post.. Bonnie’s Babies

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    • Susy on April 9, 2009 at 8:14 am

      Perhaps after seeing how easy it is ;) you’ll have some bees next year.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  5. Julia on April 9, 2009 at 8:11 am

    Ooh, you’re brave! I’m all about raising my own food, but am immanently scared of bees. I’ve heard that honey bees don’t sting, but after that last trip to the hospital….

    Julia’s last blog post.. Food Styling (Recipe: Fettucine with Spring Mushrooms

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    • Susy on April 9, 2009 at 8:17 am

      Honeybees do sting, but usually only when provoked. It depends on the kind of bees as well. Our bees are currently Italian bees, they’re very gentle. We’re hoping to requeen this summer to a Carniolian Mix Bee (they overwinter better), I think they’re fairly gentle as well.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  6. Sande on April 9, 2009 at 8:57 am

    Tell Mr. Chiots that the bee escape happened to a beekeeper acquaintance of mine in Ann Arbor. He was transporting a load of bees and they got loose all over the car, stuck on all car windows but not angry or aggressive – just there. He just kept driving, but his bee covered windows were such a distraction to the other drivers he had to get off the expressway and take back roads the rest of the way to his destination. The story even ended up on local radio shows it was so novel.
    Your photos are a great step by step demonstration.

    Sande’s last blog post.. Square Foot Gardens and Spring Flowers

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    • Susy on April 9, 2009 at 9:44 am

      That’s so funny. I’m actually not not worried about getting swarmed, I worry more about yellow jackets, not honeybees. I know I’ll get stung a few times, but hey it’s good for you (free apitherapy). It’s supposed to be good for all kinds of things (unless you’re allergic that is).

      Reply to Susy's comment

  7. Chicago Mike on April 9, 2009 at 9:22 am


    As far as names:

    The BuzzHerd
    The MIni Collective (all the bees could be called Comrade)
    The Arcology
    The Apis

    Reply to Chicago Mike's comment

    • Susy on April 9, 2009 at 9:48 am

      I like the Mini Collective (I could paint the hive red).

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • ChicagoMike on April 9, 2009 at 2:25 pm

        The queen can be Mother Russia. Or the Czarina.

        That sounds fun to me. :)

        to ChicagoMike's comment

  8. Martin on April 9, 2009 at 9:24 am

    Love your site–the photos are great! What kind of camera are you using?

    As for a hive name, I can only say this: after you set up your hive and the bees are all comfortably buzzing inside, close your eyes and just listen to them… “feel” them for a few minutes. Breathe in the aroma of the hive–the woodenware, the wax foundation, the springtime air. Then open your eyes and look at your hive. What name comes to mind?

    Martin’s last blog post.. The queens are free

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    • Susy on April 9, 2009 at 9:48 am

      Thanks for asking, I actually posted about my camera(s) a while back. I used to use a Sony Cybershot (still what I use for most macro shots) but I bartered some work with some photographer friends for a new to me camera & lens around Christmas. Here’s what I’m using: /2008/12/31/trading-up/

      Reply to Susy's comment

  9. Seren Dippity on April 9, 2009 at 10:16 am

    My dad had bees for a while. Shortly after I was married. I used to come over and help when they harvested the honey. I loved it! I didn’t work with the bees, I was a bit too timid and scared of the stings, but I helped filter and bottle the honey. And help eat it. And help discover tons of recipes to use the honey for.

    He had to eventually give up the hives because they DO sting. If I understand it correctly most people become desensitized to bee stings the more they get. But dad was one of the rarer type who became more and more sensitive every time he was stung. It got to where a sting would start affecting his breathing, so it became too dangerous. I say rare, but I really don’t know how common it is for this to happen to people. Even wearing the bee suit and being careful it is almost impossible to avoid all stings.

    Good luck with your hives. They look beautiful.

    Reply to Seren Dippity's comment

    • Susy on April 9, 2009 at 10:22 am

      I’ve heard that as well. Most people become desensitized to them (except for a few). I used to be slightly allergic, but last time I got stung I didn’t have any problems. We’ll see how it goes this summer.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  10. Dan on April 9, 2009 at 10:25 am

    Now that is an exciting post! It will be great to watch your bee keeping progress. Just out of curiosity, what might a bee set up like that cost in total to get up and running?

    Dan’s last blog post.. Garden Mish Mash Post

    Reply to Dan's comment

    • Susy on April 9, 2009 at 10:44 am

      Well, I paid $72 for my package of bees, you can get them cheaper, but I wanted to go with a local source that was known for good quality bees.

      I got the hive given to me by my dad along with most of the tools, so I’m not positive on the amount for those, I think it’s like any hobby, you can go expensive or you can cheap. Here are a few places to check out hive supplies:

      You can get plans to build a top bar hive here (, I believe they are much cheaper to build (we may be trying one next year for a second hive), and they’re supposed to be really great for the small home hobbyist.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  11. inadvertent farmer on April 9, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    Awesome…your hive and suit look so squeaky clean. I can guarantee it won’t be for long!

    You are off to a great start with your new additions…congrats and have fun! Kim

    inadvertent farmer’s last blog post.. "Mama…Why Do Puppies Have To Die?"

    Reply to inadvertent farmer's comment

    • Susy on April 9, 2009 at 5:31 pm

      I know, now that we let the ladies out today they’re already messing up the hive. I should say they’re giving in “character”. I really like the look of the old weathered hives that Dave had.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  12. Claire on April 9, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Wow! I love this – I would adore to have bee’s – what a project!
    I am so looking forward to seeing how you get on with this.

    Claire’s last blog post.. Getting there…

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  13. Christine on April 9, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    Hi guys,
    Love the bee posts. Only wish I could have them. But as I’m allergic, it will always remain a dream :( oh well there are always you guys to follow :) yay! Keep up the great work. For a name for your hive, I like the Mini Collective as well. Take care
    Chrissie & Co.

    Christine’s last blog post.. Easter week

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  14. Maureen on April 9, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    This post was like a beekeeping start-up tutorial…thanks!

    We have bees on our 2010 resolutions :)

    Maureen’s last blog post.. An Announcement (alternate title…EEK!)

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  15. edh on April 9, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    Yay! Congratulations on getting everyone all hived up; I like your guy’s approach, much nicer way to get to know each other than just knocking them all loose. We get them locally (well, 2 hrs away) in a 5 frame nuc, so that’s a little easier. The postmaster really didn’t think it was a whole lot of fun the time we ordered package bees by mail; you can picture the phone call, “Um, yeah hi, there’s a package down here with your name on it, and it’s buzzing. How soon can you pick it up?” He didn’t even really like it when we got a queen by mail, and that was just a few bees.
    I was a lot happier handling bees once I got my own bee suit; we started off like you, my husband had one and I did without. I find it a lot less stressful, and I’m less inclined to hurry when I’m all zipped up in a suit and veil. Especially since I developed an allergy a few years ago. My doctor said I could keep having bees as long as I promised to keep an epipen on me when working with them. (And wear the suit)
    Glad to hear you’re going with Carniolans; we’ve had way more success with them than Italians.
    Can’t wait to see/hear more!

    Reply to edh's comment

    • Susy on April 10, 2009 at 9:14 am

      That’s funny. We were talking about that, getting bees at the Post Office (and chickens too). At least our rural Post Office is probably more used to it than a city one.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  16. Sandy on April 9, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    Great tutorial. This is something we might try next year and your post was quite helpful and informative.

    Sandy’s last blog post.. Portland raised bed garden and baby chicks

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  17. Setting up our Bee Hive | Chiot's Run on April 10, 2009 at 4:46 am

    […] afternoon we moved the ladies outside (for those of you that didn’t visit yesterday, read about the ladies here). We carried the hive outside when it was warm and set up in the spot we picked at the back of our […]

    Reply to Setting up our Bee Hive | Chiot’s Run's comment

  18. […] excited to join the ranks of other bloggers getting bees. Susy and Maya have both gotten their packages and installed them already. Mike inherited hives with his […]

    Reply to (not so) Urban Hennery » Blog Archive » {104:365} Last Minute Cramming's comment

  19. Traci on April 17, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    You guys must not be too far from us. Wooster is about 1 hr from here. My husband went to ATI & he was saying people come from all over the world to take their Bee keeping classes.

    Reply to Traci's comment

  20. Randy Watterworth on May 12, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    I ordered a nuc from Dave at Ohio Honey Farms. I have not heard from Dave in regards to picking up the nuc but have lost his phone number. Internet search was unsuccessful. Can you provide his number? Thanks

    Reply to Randy Watterworth's comment

    • Susy on May 12, 2009 at 5:01 pm

      Dave & Cara Heilman
      Ohio Honey Farms
      4346 Lattasburg rd
      Wooster, OH 44691
      330-466-7162 Cell

      Reply to Susy's comment

  21. Crazy New Beekeepers | Chiot's Run on July 7, 2009 at 4:53 am

    […] you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know we’re new beekeepers. We got our first hive back in April. We’ve been checking on the bees regularly and they’re doing quite well. The week before last […]

    Reply to Crazy New Beekeepers | Chiot’s Run's comment

  22. How to Install a Package of Honey Bees on September 29, 2009 at 7:55 am

    Hey this is a very interesting article! Thanks! Just check the detailed info there How to Install a Package of Honey Bees

    Reply to How to Install a Package of Honey Bees's comment

  23. Beekeeping on December 8, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    Thanks for demonstrating the installation process for a package of bees. This is of great help. Photos are great as well.

    Reply to Beekeeping's comment

  24. Checking the Bees in Spring | Chiot's Run on March 16, 2010 at 10:20 am

    […] again if they’re both strong by early summer. It wasn’t much later than this last year that we got our first package of bees. If you’re interested in getting a hive now is the time to buy. Make sure you ask around to find […]

    Reply to Checking the Bees in Spring | Chiot’s Run's comment

  25. claudia on April 6, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Expecting my package of bees in 2 weeks– have read and reread installing a package via the banging /pouring method and am interested in your passive method, How do you eventually take the packge out and put the frames back in? Do you put a few frames in the upper box with the queen and then move that down to the botttom box? Thanks

    Reply to claudia's comment

    • Mr. Chiots on April 6, 2010 at 3:44 pm

      Start with the top super full of frames minus 1 so you have room for the queen cage to hang among the frames in the top super. Once you have the queen set up, remove the little piece of wood the is covering the hole in the package. I thought (being new) that the bees would just come swarming out but the opposite is true, only 1 or 2 escaped before we put the upper super and the empty lower super together.

      When you are ready to remove the package, remove the bottom super completely. This is best done with two people, one to lift the upper super off, the other to pull the lower super out with the (now empty) package. Your upper box becomes your only box. The bees will only need one box until they get the comb drawn and start filling it with brood, nectar and pollen, when all the comb is drawn and frames are starting to fill up, add a second box. If there are a few bees walking up the walls just set the empty super outside of your hive. They will find their way back in.

      If that doesn’t make sense or you need to know more, let us know. I should have made a video about how to do it.

      Reply to Mr. Chiots's comment

  26. Bee Keeper on June 22, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    Great job there! Installing a package of bees in such way is a work of an expert. Thanks for sharing and showing these steps on how to install bees in a proper way.
    .-= Bee Keeper´s last blog ..Hello world! =-.

    Reply to Bee Keeper's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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