honey bee management

Easiest package installation ever

Seattle beekeeper Tracey Byrne calls herself a “beepeeker,” a term that needs to go in the glossary. You may remember Tracey as the woman of many talents who also raises springtails on her bottom boards. This morning Tracey sent the following description of her recent package installation along with some instructive photos. Lots of us in the northern parts have yet to receive our packages, so this is a great reminder of an easy way to install.

It’s me, “Tracey of the Springtails”, with some photos of our easiest installation ever. We read your directions of how to let the bees do it, rather than shaking the box out, and changed it up a wee bit:

First, we had two packages to install, and four deep frames of honey from an empty nuc. We put two frames of honey into each deep, in with the already built out frames of our two empty hives. Then we just removed the can of syrup and the queen in her little cage, and set the box of bees on its side in the hive.

We replaced the cork with a bit of marshmallow, set the queen cage back in, and then put the cover on. (No need for the syrup.) We then let the hives sit for 2.5 days, and when we took the cover back off: empty box and empty queen cage! Yay!

Thank you for the tip. What an elegant (and lazy) way to load the hives. We loved it.

New package ready to be installed.

New package ready to be installed.

Package on its side; syrup can and queen cage removed.

Package on its side; syrup can and queen cage removed.

Ready for the cover.

Ready for the cover.


  • I also took your advice on just placing the package into the brood chamber, rather than shaking them out. Or I did in one at least. For the other hive I use mediums rather than deeps, and realized that the package stood too high to put the cover on! It didn’t occur to me to lay it on its side above them as in the picture above. I just shook them in.

  • An excellent word—I want to join the beepeeker club! My claim for membership is that we made inner covers with plexiglass inserts on our hives over the winter. As anxious new bee-parents, we wanted to be able to take quick peeks without popping the lid. They worked really well, and we could see when our one hive needed extra food.

  • Perfect, exactly what I have done the last few times, but, I put a couple of small wood shims on top of the frames and leave the can, holes down on the shims, in the hive for more feeding. It does work great and is a very calming experience with no bees flying around frantically. I love it.

  • Everything I have read says to leave the bees to themselves for 7 days after installing a new package to keep them from absconding. When I open my hives after the 7 days they usually have built burr comb all around the queen cage and I have to scrape that all off. I would have thought that the package cage would be a nightmare to get out by then…stuck to the bars and possibly free comb hanging off the top cover.

    • Joe,

      I leave the cages in overnight and take them out the next day, but I leave the queen cages in another two days or so. I’ve never had a problem with absconding as long as comb building was begun before I released the queen. There are many ways to do the job; this is just my way.

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