Spring is here, and with it, a new set of bees! The last time I ordered a package of bees, it came in the mail, and I found the mental image of the postal workers handling it very amusing. This time however, it was just a local pickup from a nearby apiary. I opted for a package rather than a nuc, as I already have plenty of drawn out frames:

After the death of the last colony, the frames were all cleaned and stored in a freezer over the winter. I’m not too concerned about disease, as there was no sign it was anything other than a starvation related issue; be it some undersupply/robbing or varroa-induced. Either way, the drawn out frames should give a huge kickstart to this colony. A few have some damage, and one or two have a little bit of mold on them, but nothing the bees can’t clean up and repair.

Getting the bees into the hive is simpler than it might seem! They want to stay clumped together near the queen, and most aren’t interested in flying around much. Additionally, without an actual hive to defend at the moment, they aren’t as aggressive as one might assume. This means you can just pry open the box, take the queen and feed can out, and then dump and shake the pile out into the hive directly. There’s plenty of opinions on different and gentler ways to do it, but this seems to work just fine. What I’ve got pictured here is some bees that didn’t make it out in the initial shaking. The remainder in the box and those like you see on the ground here will make their way back into the hive on their own over time, so I’ll just come back the next day to grab the then-empty box.

I was also lazy and paid an extra five bucks to have my queen marked, as you can see with this lovely shade of green on the fine lady. The last time I had a queen arrive with a package, the queen cage was plugged with candy; the workers would slowly eat it and then free the queen, giving them time to acclimate to her. This is because package bees aren’t related to the queen, and for the most part aren’t even related to each other. The apiary just gets a box, dumps in a few pounds of bees, then adds a queen from a separate queen-rearing operation and seals it up with some syrup for them to eat on their trip. This means the workers need a bit of time to accept what ‘their’ queen smells like. If you let her out too early, they would likely just end up killing her!

In any case, this cage is plugged with some cork, so I just need to actually go back into the hive in a couple days to free her so she can get to work.