Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Package & Installation

The Queen cage is a small cage containing the Queen and sometimes several attendants.  It is used to ship the Queen either individually or as part of a 'Package'.  

Typically, there is a small hole at the end of the queen-cage for the queen to exit by.  It is plugged with a cork on the outside.  It leads into a larger hole filled with a bee candy stopper (corn syrup & sugar).  The queen is trapped in a compartment on the other side of the bee candy.

To release the queen I remove the cork exposing the candy.  Then set the queen cage into the hive between 2 frames.  After which the bees are added separately.  The bees eat through the candy.  Which in turn releases the queen.

While the queen is waiting to be released the bees feed her through the screen.  This process gives the bees time to acclimate to the presence of their future queen.  Otherwise they could reject her.
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This is the shipping box for the bees. The large can is filled with sugar syrup to feed the bees while they are in the box.  The small silver circle is a flange which is connected to the queen cage.  Before I remove either one, I spray the bees with a 1:1 sugar syrup. I also spray all of the frames with the same 1:1 sugar syrup solution. Then I tap the cage to knock the bees down to the bottom of the box.  After which I remove the queen cage and cover up the hole with the wooden plank.
Once removed the queen can be inspected.  There may be attendants with the queen or not.  In this case there is a handful but 2 are dead.  At this point the beek removes the cork covering the 'bee candy'.  The apiary these bees came from uses the tin disk that holds the queen cage in place instead.  So off comes the disk.

Now I punch a small hole through the bee candy.  This tells the bees they can free the queen by eating through the candy.  Some queen cages come with a nail attached.  My Wife lent me one of her sewing needles for this task.  Be careful not to stab any bees!

Now orient the cage so the top is up.  The top being the end with the bee candy.  Then attach a strip of wire or paper board to the side of the cagePaper board is what they make cereal boxes out of and just about everything else in a store that isn't wrapped in plastic (**Update** - use tin or plastic strips, or wire.  These bees chewed the paper board apart).  Make it an inch thick since the bees will be chewing on it.  Secure it to the cage with either a thumbtack or office staple. 

To hang the cage on a frame, again, use a thumbtack or office staple.  Remember candy end UP!.  the candy side is the exit out.  If it is facing the bottom and an attendant dies she will block the exit.  Then the queen will be trapped. Also make sure the screen is in a direction that will have better access to the other bees.  Perpendicular to the frames will do it. 

Now take the syrup can out of the big box and shake the bees into the hive directly over the queen cage.  Roll the box from side to side to get the bees out.  Then place the box by the front entrance so the few remaining bees can walk into the hive.  
When the bees slowly crawl up the frames toward the queen is a good sign.  If they quickly ball up around her is a sign of rejection.  This looks good.

After which I replace the outside frames and move all the frames back into the centered position.  Slowly!  Then I add the Hive Top Feeder filled with 1:1 sugar syrup medicated with Fumagilin.  I put on the inner cover & the telescoping cover.  Then reduce the size of the entrance.

That's how I hived my 2010 Package!


Hemlock said...


I hope this answers your question...

immwia said...

This was amazing. I really felt like I was there and now I understand how the queen gets out. Thank you so much for doing this post.

Can't wait for a name on the new hive as I already feel invested in her success.