5 Tips to Keep your Package Bees from Leaving

It is pretty common for package bees to leave their brand new hive only days after being installed. It's unfortunate, but this happens quite often to new beekeepers through no real fault of their own. Even though it happens frequently, there are some steps a beginner can take to reduce the risk of the new package of bees from leaving

5 Tips to Keep your Package Bees from Leaving

 


1. If using brand new equipment, rub beeswax over the inside of the wood boxes. Any beeswax will do the job, even a beeswax candle. 

 
 

2. Feed bees plenty of sugar water, never letting it run out. For packages or nucleus hives, think in gallons of 1:1 syrup, not in quarts. Stop feeding when they have enough comb and capped honey to survive the winter.  

 
Foxhound Sugar Water Gallon
 

3. Don't rush to release the queen, the worker bees need to build comb for her to lay eggs in first. Release her immediately and she won't have any comb to lay eggs in and it significantly increases their chance of leaving.

 

A queen cage, with only a queen in the cage. Often they have a candy/fondant plug and several worker bees with her too.

 

4. Place a frame of fully drawn comb in the box; dark comb is best, but any drawn comb will do. Comb will become dark when a queen lays an egg in it; dark comb also produces a pheromone that encourages packages to stay.  If you are new to beekeeping, this is impossible unless you can buy one from another beekeeper.

 
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5. Place a frame full of capped and uncapped brood in box. This is the most beneficial thing you can do to force package bees from leaving. Bees are very unlikely to abandon uncapped brood, even if it is not their own.

 
 

 

Once the queen has been released and starts laying eggs, it is unlikely that she and the other bees will leave the hive. The pheromones that come from a laying queen, open brood and beeswax all combine are a strong enough anchor to keep your package bees from leaving. One you have these present, you have successfully installed your package. 

Do you have any tricks of your own to keep package bees from leaving? If so, leave them in the comment sections for others to know about. 

Happy Beekeeping