Starting a New Bee Hive

by workerbeej on 20 February 2010

in How to Keep Bees


In this video, Colorado beekeeper Dan explains how he installs a 3-lb package of bees with queen into their new hive, showing the protective clothing, tools and equipment that he uses.

He places his hives on a hivestand (base) with a sloped landing deck on the front, set up on wooden pallets levelled into the ground to keep everything dry. His supers are 10-frame full-depth and the frames are filled with plastic foundation — more durable than wax, “and the bees don’t care,” he says. A thump of the package sends the bees to the bottom, then he sprinkles a little sugar water to distract them before dumping the bees into the new hive.

The process for installing the caged queen is demonstrated: removing the cork from the cage and replacing it with a piece of candy that the bees will eat away in a few days, releasing the queen.

An entrance reducer cuts down on the territory that this small new colony will need to protect. Sugar water (syrup) in a feeding jar with holes in the lid is provided for the bees to find and feed on, as it’s too early for forage plants to be much in bloom. Interestingly, he uses a field feeding system — the feeder is set out near the hive, rather than placed directly in or on top of the hive.

You’ll notice a two-wire electric fence set up around the hives. Dan explains that Colorado has quite a bear problem, and the 9000-volt fence gives enough of a jolt to the nose of any curious bears that they’ll keep away. It’s a “short pulse” current, however, so no real harm will be done to the bears or to any passing pets or children.

Later in the video, three days later, you’ll see that it seems like the queen didn’t make it out, so Dan comes to the rescue. He opens the cage, taking care that the queen won’t fly away, and shakes her gently into the hive between the frames.

If you have any comments or questions about this video, please contact Dan by email at mtnbee@msn.com.

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