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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a!
Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Why We Feed Package Bees

When my daughter Valerie was about 12, we had a reverse surprise party for her birthday.  Early on a Saturday morning, we drove a van to each of her friends' houses, woke the friends up and took them to our house for a surprise breakfast and birthday party.  The friends (their mothers were all forewarned) were totally caught off guard and came in their pajamas without any preparation.  It was a great party and they were glad to be together, but nobody was prepared because that is what defines a surprise.

Package bees are totally unprepared to be dumped into the packages.  They don't know it's coming - just one day their beekeeper takes them and puts them in a 2 or 3 pound package with a bunch of other bees who are equally surprised.  Shut up with strangers plus an unknown queen, they are taken on a journey with no preparation.  They probably don't have any fun unlike Valerie's friends did at her party.

Bees who swarm are ready for the journey.  Ahead of going, they run the queen back and forth through the hive to exercise her and to get her a little thinner for her swarm flight.  The bees who are leaving gorge themselves on honey and hold it in their honey stomachs so they are ready to make wax the minute they find a new place to live.  Like good scouts, they practice the "be prepared" motto to a "t."

So when you install a package of bees, you have to feed them.  Ordinarily I don't feed bees frequently but I do feed packages when I install them.  In essence a package of bees is a totally unprepared artificial swarm.

The packages I installed on Sunday had completely emptied their 2 quart Rapid Feeders when I looked into the hives on Thursday.  I refilled the feeders and probably that will be the end of it.  I only want them to have enough syrup to draw the wax they need to fill the brood box.

After that, the nectar flow is going strong in Atlanta and they will manage well without my help.

2 comments:

  1. Love the idea of a reverse birthday party! I wish my mother would have thought of something that creative :)

    I'm about to get set up with my first hive this year and have been promised a nucleus from an beekeeper friend. They won't be travelling far so I hope they won't be as disorientated as your package bees!

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  2. A nucleus hive is a miniature bee hive. The queen is accepted and established. Usually the bees have already collected some pollen and nectar. It should be fine.

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