Hiving a package is a relatively simple task for the experienced beekeeper. However, it may be a bit more daunting for a new keeper. Please follow along as we take you through the steps to install a new package of bees.


Take a moment to examine your new package of bees. You should have either a wooden box with screened sides, or a plastic box. Since the bees we are helping to provide this year come in wooden boxes, we will discuss them exclusively in this article. Looking down on the top of the box, you should see a metal can in the center of the box. This can contains the sugar syrup that the bees needed to survive their trip to Minnesota. Next to the can, you should see a slot cut in the wooden top with either a metal or plastic tab sticking through the slot. This is attached to the queen cage inside the package. There may also be a strip of wood holding the feed can in place. If there is, please carefully remove it at this time.

Looking at the side of the package, you will see a large cluster of bees covering the feed can and also covering the queen cage next to the can. You may see some dead bees  on the bottom of the box. This is normal. However if there is a layer of dead bees more than a bee deep, you may have a problem with the package. Please contact us if you have any questions.

It would be wise to wear your protective gear from this point on.

Step 2:

Holding the box with two hands, thump it firmly on a solid surface. This will cause the bees covering the feed can to fall to the bottom of the box. Using your hive tool, pry the can loose from the box and pull it out of the box. Next, you will want to grab the tab of the queen cage that is sticking out of the box and slide it to the opening where the can used to be. Remove the queen cage and gently shake off any bees that may still be attached to it. Place the queen cage iyour pocket to keep the queen warm. Next replace the feed can in the package to keep the bees from flying out to find the queen.

Step 3:

Remove 4 or 5 frames from your hive box and set them aside briefly.

Step 4:

Remove the feed can from your package and while turning it upside down over your brood box, shake out as many bees as you can into the brood box. You may have to tap the sides of your package to convince the bees to let go and fall into the brood box. You may not get all of the bees out during this step. Place the empty package with any straggler bees in front of your hive opening. They will find their way into the hive over the next few hours.

Step 5:

Gently replace two of the frames that you removed in step 2 leaving some space between them. Next, take the queen out of your pocket and examine the queen in her cage. One side of the cage will be screened and you should see her actively moving around inside the cage. Note that there is a cork in one end of the queen cage. While watching the queen walk around in the cage, remove the cork when she walks to the other end. Immediately put your finger over the hole to prevent her from flying out. With your other hand, take one of the mini-marshmallows that we have given you and push it into the hole in the side of the queen cage after she walks away from the hole.

Step 6:

Separate the two frames that you installed in the previous step and secure the queen cage between them as you push them back together. It is important to make sure that the screened side of the queen cage faces sideways into the gap between the two frames. Bees will feed the queen through the screened side while other bees eat the marshmallow that you used to plug the hole in the queen cage.

Step 7:

Replace the other 3 frames that you removed in step 2. Place a pollen patty over the top of the frames near the edge of the brood box. Next, install the inner cover.

Step 8:

Place a feed jar over the hole in the center of the inner cover. Place an empty brood box over the inner cover and feed jar, and install the top cover. Check to see that your entrance reducer is set to its smallest opening.

Congratulations! You have successfully installed your package of bees.