Oregon State Beekeepers Association

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Beekeeping 101 - Installing Packages

Certainly the most common way to start a colony, or start beekeeping is to install a package of bees into an empty home-to-be. There are nearly as many ways to get bees from shipping cage to functioning unit as there are people installing them.


A box with some or all drawn comb is better than all foundation. It gives the bees some place to be and store food immediately. It reduces the amount of gathered food required for wax production, freeing it for brood food.  Bees can be ‘moved in’ by dumping them inside the box (with 3 frames removed, then replaced, to accommodate the mass). The easiest way to install bees without stirring them up is to remove enough frames to accommodate the bee cage. Pull out the feeder can and the queen cage. Install the queen cage (see instructions in the Installing a Queen section) between two frames with the screen down the isle between the frames not facing the wax. Place the bee cage in the box where you removed the frames and put the lid back on the hive. When you return in an hour all bees should be out of the cage and getting to know their new surroundings. At this point you can remove the cage and if any bees are still in there you can shake them out.


Once installed several precautions are recommended. The first rule is feed, feed, feed. Then feed more, until they don’t take any more. Feeding well into the summer may be required if adequate forage isn't’t available.


Treating for nosema should be considered since a new package is under stress and the presence of tracheal and Varroa mites is a possibility that must be reckoned with.   Checking for queen acceptance and then queen production is a must, but there is a fine line between too often and too seldom observations. Edge toward the too often, but just barely.   Once established, remove feeders, add supers and prepare for the honey flow and harvest.

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See a contact list by location of beekeepers who collect swarms of honeybees.


See a contact list of beekeepers who provide pollination services.


Download the Farm Direct Rules PDF document.


Download the OSBA Membership form.


Download the Oregon Dept of Agriculture Hive Registration form.


View or download the Endowment Agreement with Oregon State University.


View instructions for donating to the OSU Endowment for the Northwest Apiculture Fund for Honey Bee Research, Extension and Education.

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