Note: if you are in the pacific northwest, and want to keep bees, THIS IS THE TIME TO DO IT. You have the month of april to get your hive started, and there's plenty of places selling packages that are local. Check the farm and garden section of craislist in your area or your local bee store. Beez Kneez in Snohomish is a good one.
|tilling between the rows of berries|
|a 3lb package of bees with queen|
|Watching the stragglers putting themselves in the hive|
So the process of "hiving" a package is to set the hive up with its frames, then take the center 3 frames out. You rap the package on a hard surface to knock all of the bees to the bottom, and then carefully pull out the feed can. That allows you to access the queen cage, and you pull that out and then replace the can to keep the rest of the bees in the container.
The queen cage is capped with a small cork. Making sure not to let the queen out you replace the cork with a marshmellow, and then place the queen at the bottom of the hive. Then back to the pack, another sharp rap, and then you pull the feed can and dump the 10-15,000 bees into the space left by the three frames. You'll have to shake it a bunch of times to get most of the bees out, and then you carefully, and gently, replace the frames. I use a hive inner lid, which is shown, and it has an oval hole it in. I'll gently place that on top of the hive and then let the straggler bees find the hive and enter it via the hole. Around sunset they are all in there, and I slip the lid on and that's it.
I don't wear protective gear doing this; the bees are usually pretty mellow, but I do use a little smoke. No gloves, no veil. just calm, purposeful movement. I think I'm getting less sensitive to stings; i did get stung once - i accidentally smashed a bee while lifting the hive, but that happens sometimes.
I like to listen after dark to the new hive. What I like to hear is the chewing sound of the bees doing their housekeeping. it's pretty subtle, but it shows that they are customizing their new home.
I restrict the entrance to the hive to a single 1/2" notch. This allows the bees to keep raiding bees from other colonies out; a couple of guard bees can easily block the entrance, and this helps the hive concentrate on making their new home.