Installing Packages In Bad Weather

Installing Packages in Bad Weather


What do you do when you need to install a package of bees but the weather is bad? You waited all this time to start beekeeping but now the weather doesn't look too good when you need to install your package. You are hearing mixed reports on whether you should keep them in their package cage or go ahead and install them into your hive. 

Let me address this more in my video below...but before I do, are you fully confident in starting beekeeping? If you are new to beekeeping consider taking one of our online classes, especially our Basic Beekeeping. It will give you the tools you need to start the right way and avoid so many pitfalls. We offer online beekeeping classes that you can take from the comfort of your home, on your schedule at your own pace. No need to travel to a class, after all you are a busy person and need time to keep bees! 

David Talks About Installing Bees In Bad Weather...

What do you do when you cannot install your package of bees due to adverse weather conditions but they have been in the package for over 3 days?

First, spray them with sugar water, 1:1 at least 3 times a day. Breakfast, lunch and supper. You eat three meals a day, so should your bees. This should give them several more days to survive. Some beekeepers transport packages in trailers with minimum suspension and this often shakes all the liquid sugar out of the cans on long hauls. This often kills many bees in the package as well. Check your package well and do not accept if there are a lot of dead bees on the bottom. Also, demand to see your queen before accepting your package. The provider will shake your package cage and verify the queen is moving. 

If you find that you cannot install your package due to a week long of cold rainy days you have a challenge on your hands. First, accept the face that things are not going well. But you have to make the best of it. Your bees were in a nice warm climate with plenty of blooming flowers. Now they are likely up north in cold, snowy/rainy weather and no nectar. If you are in the north and received your bees before April 15, you received them too early. Try not to obtain packages in the north until after April 15.

Okay, now what? You need to get them out of the package so they can release their queen and start eating food other than the insufficient shipping food. Choose a room that can be made dark and kept around 50 degrees. Anything warmer may cause the bees to fly around the room too much. This room should not be inside a house or building where people live in case the bees should escape. An outside garage or shed would be the preferred building.

Next, with the lights on, take your package into that room along with the hive you wish to install it into. Just before you install your package, spray it with sugar water again. Always where your protective gear. Now, shake your package into their new hive.

After you have installed your package removed the queen plug place your queen cage between the frames in the middle of the box. Replace all 10 frames and place the lid on the hive. Turn off all lights and wait a couple of hours. Then, go back and place a screen over the entrance so no bees can leave the hive.

Now your package is installed and sealed in their new hive. This works better if you are using a screen bottom board because bees need air. If you do not have a screen bottom board, then you may want to use only your inner cover as the lid, and place a piece of screen securely over the inner cover oval shaped hole. Now, do not use an entrance feeder because in the north, spring means cold days and nights and bees will cluster when temps drop to 50 (f). Instead, use our Burns Bees Feeding System. This will allow you to keep sugar water and protein reaching the top of the cluster no matter how cold it becomes.

This has gained you some valuable time. Your bees are installed, they cannot fly out, the queen will be released by the bees in a few days and this room provides them extra warmth from the below freezing temperature outside. If you keep the room completely dark very few bees will attempt to fly out of the hive. You could even drop the temperature down to around 40 degrees now, and the bees would cluster together and be happy as long as you have the Burns Feeds Feeding System on. This is only on one deep box. You only install your package into one deep box. 

As long as the temperature is not below freezing at night outdoors, you can place the hive where you want it outdoors and remove the screen from the entrance. So, if tomorrow night's low is 38, you can go ahead in the morning or afternoon and carry your hive to its permanent location. Just be sure all hive pieces are securely fastened to each other. I place a tie-down strap around the entire hive and tighten so the hive becomes one solid hive as the strap holds all pieces securely together. You DO NOT want the hive to fall a part while you are moving it!!

If the temperature outside is still cold, you can keep them in this dark room 2 or 3 more days until the nightly low temperature is above freezing.

If light leaks into the room or someone accidentally turns on the lights, then it will cause the bees to fly out of the hive up to the light if there is a space around the screen in your entrance. Turn off the light and they should return to the hive if the room is kept cool.

You can also do this on a porch, out of the rain, on rainy days. 

You may have taken a Basic Beekeeping Class but do you know how to manage your bees in the spring? There are many things to consider such as when to add another box, how to control swarming, when to reverse the hive bodies, and much more. Beekeeping is harder than you were probably told. Consider taking my ONLINE SPRING MANAGEMENT COURSE. These 4 videos will walk you through the challenges of spring. Here's how it works. Purchase the course, then we will send you an email with worksheets and links to our course videos. You can watch them any time, at your convenience, from your smartphone, tablet or computer in the comfort of your home!!

Here at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms we are here to help you get started keeping bees. We are down to earth, ordinary folks, a family business that turned a hobby into a business. We take great pride in our work and do all we can to keep our customers satisfied. I was born and raised in Tennessee, a hard work family that believes honesty and hard work is rewarding. Indeed it is. I want to thank all of our loyal customers who have treated us so kindly and also welcome all new customers as well. Thank you.