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Re-Populating A Hive With A package

 
Jerry Ward
Posts: 188
Location: S.E. Michigan - Zone 6a
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Hello All,

My hive died over the winter, some time in Feb or March, and I will be putting a package back in it in late May. What configuration should I have the hive setup as when I add the bees? My equipment is 3 deeps and two mediums. I have some frames full of honey and others of drawn comb and others with foundation that they just started drawing out. I also have some foundation-less frames that I like to harvest honey from (crush and strain, no extractor) and empty frames with foundation.

I saw bees coming in and out on a warm day in January and then I checked on them in late March and they are all dead. I had two deep langstroth boxes for over-wintering and the top one was about 80% full of honey so I'm pretty sure they didn't starve. When I pulled some frames out it looked like the bees were going about there normal "bee business" and then just died. There were bees going in and our of cells and ever the little bee chain on the bottom of one of the frames. I speculate that we got a warm spell and the bees thought it was time to get moving and then it dropped down into the lower 20's or even the upper teens for several weeks and they froze.

I'm in S.E. Michigan if that makes a difference.
 
jacob wustner
Posts: 64
Location: Western Montana
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bee chicken fish goat hugelkultur hunting
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Jerry,

The reason your hive died, no one can tell you. How to set up for a package, easy. Take everything off except the bottom deep super. So you have a bottom board, with a deep super and a lid. Put 2, 3 or even 4 frames of honey to the outside of the super and empty combs (fully drawn) in the middle. There are demonstrations for installing a package, but basically shake them into your deep with the middle frames out, then carefully work the frames back in without crushing any bees.

Try not to open beehives in the winter, no matter what the temp. If they don't have enough honey to last until april, then you didn't leave them enough. But if you open the hive too often in the winter, even on warmer days, you make them more susceptible to disease.
 
Jerry Ward
Posts: 188
Location: S.E. Michigan - Zone 6a
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It turns out that I have more frames of honey than drawn comb. Is there any advantage to putting in 6 frames of honey or will they just run out of space quickly?
 
Jerry Ward
Posts: 188
Location: S.E. Michigan - Zone 6a
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I tore my hive completely down last night and was startled (yes I screamed like a girl) when I pulled a frame out of the bottom hive body and there was a mouse on it. How he got in the hive I cannot imagine, I was using a bottom board with the narrow opening (3/8' I think) and I don't think there were any other holes. I didn't see a lot of mouse damage, only about 2" section of wax in one frame, so I don't think he was in there very long.
 
jacob wustner
Posts: 64
Location: Western Montana
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bee chicken fish goat hugelkultur hunting
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If you put full frames of honey in the middle, the bees will have to eat it up or move it so the queen has a place to lay. If you have 3 or 4 empty frames in between those six you should be ok. And yes it could mean that they will need more space added sooner. I would put in 3 or 4 frames of honey in your box that the package goes into, and put the extra frames of honey on the outside of the next super you are going to put on top when it comes time.

Finding mice in a beehive is a very common occurrence. They usually gnaw at the opening until it is wide enough for them to squeeze through. Mice can make themselves pretty flat. The best defense against mice getting into your hives is to have strong colonies, or a reduced entrance for weaker colonies, and to store your equipment in a safe place when there are no bees in them.
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3356
Location: woodland, washington
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I don't keep bees in frame hives, so take my advice with that in mind.

I would use all three deeps as the brood chamber and build just top bars to put on the uppermost deep with no frames or bars below in the rest of the brood chamber. maybe a stick in there for comb support. then I would use the medium supers for honey harvest using your frames. I would use one (or maybe two) fewer frames than will fit in the supers so that the honeycomb can be drawn out further and more honey stored with less wax.
 
Matthew Cuba
Posts: 1
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Hi - just wanted to mention how I did my package install last year.

I personally thought that shaking the bees out of the package seemed... well... unnecessarily aggressive. I wanted a calm install and so what I did was put an empty deep on the bottom, removed my queen cage and the can of sugar water from the package, put the wood lid back on top and then put the package box on the bottom board inside that empty deep. I had a medium with frames ready to go and put the queen cage in that between two frames. Then I just took the wood lid off the package box, picked up the box of frames and set it on top. I stuck an empty box on top and put the sugar syrup can (there was still syrup inside) atop the frames and then I buttoned up the hive with the inner/outer cover.

The bees then found their way out of the package and five days or so later I went out to check on them, removed the empty deep and the now-empty package box and put the hive back together.

This was a very calm experience. I try to be really calm and slow around the bees and this method worked well for me.

Make it a great day,
Matt
 
Hey, sticks and stones baby. And maybe a wee mention of my stuff:
The stocking stuffer game for all your Permaculture companions
http://www.FoodForestCardGame.com
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