Order your packages now for pickup after noon on Saturdays, April 1 and April 22*. At 2:00 P.M. on the day of pickup, see a demonstration on installing package bees. Conveniently located in the exact center of Montgomery County near Valley Forge, Norristown, and Lansdale turnpike exits. Package includes 3-pound workers with Italian queen.
Please email Packages@pabeekeeper.com if you would like a gift certificate for your order.
Click here for Package Order Form.
Please read the recommendations and warranty for Starting Packages or Queens.
Signup for this class is coming soon.... This course is scheduled for five Sunday sessions from February thru July at Worcester Honey Farm. Only 25 people for each group of classes will be accepted and advance registration is required.
Click here for more Hands-On Beekeeping information and registration form.Enrollment status: Space still available.
Web Site: www.pabeekeeper.com
Recommendations and Warranty Information
Number of Hives:
We cannot express how important it is to have at least two hives or a bee-buddy with a hive with the same size frames. If you are unsure if your hive has a queen, the easiest way to diagnose the hive is to insert a frame of eggs. Without access to a second hive, you may not be able to raise a new queen or recover from a drone-laying worker hive. See Laying Workers below. If you do not heed this warning, you may not be able to recover or restart your hive, should there be a problem.
Please inspect your package carefully before you accept it. If you are unhappy with the package for any reason, do not take it. Once you receive the package, it is your responsibility to keep it alive.
Do not place the package in heat nor in the light--that will kill the bees. Keep them in the dark around 50-60 degrees until you install them in the hive.
The holes in the feeder cans in the packages are not scientific, do not rely on them to keep your package alive. Please spray packages down with sugar water periodically until they are installed.
When you install the package, if the queen is dead, call and we will find a replacement. Before installing the queen, make sure that she is alive in the cage. Inspect the corks to be sure that no cork is missing. When installing the queen cage, be sure that the screen is open to the bees--do not place the queen cage screen against the frame bar. Install the queen where the cluster will form--do not put the queen on the bottom board, as it is the coldest part of the hive. We will have a limited number of extra queens available through April. If there is queen failure during April and we have queens available, we will offer a queen to you at our cost.
We recommend that you keep the sugar water entrance near the queen cage--the best way to feed is through a jar with holes over the inner cover. If the weather is colder than 50 degrees at night, the bees may starve if the cluster is not touching both the sugar water and the queen cage. We do not recommend boardman feeders, top feeders, or frame feeders if the temperature at night is colder than 50 degrees, especially if you are installing a package in a new hive with no drawn comb.
For feeding packages, we recommend light sugar water the consistency of nectar (1:1 sugar to water). One recipe is 5 lbs sugar to 3/4 gallon hot water from the tap. Use only white granulated sugar. Do not use honey that is not your own, brown sugar, organic sugar, nor molasses. Some of these may kill your bees or spread American Foul Brood (AFB), an extremely contagious bee disease.
If the bees from your package become lethargic or start to pile up on the bottom board or bottom of the hive, they are most likely starving. There is something wrong with the sugar feeding system, the feeder is not next to the cluster, the sugar water has spoiled, the holes to the feeder are clogged, etc. This problem is not a virus or genetic defect. Each year this happens to a couple packages out of a thousand--and most often with top bar hives. If the hive has not gone too long, you can spray the bees with light sugar water and allow the sun to warm the bees. This may revive them. Please do not starve your bees!
It is very important to leave the queen caged until the workers have settled down and accepted the hive body--possibly 4-5 days, especially if the box is freshly painted or has never had bees before. The packages are fresh and often the queen has been with the workers for not even 24 hours--not enough time for the workers to have accepted the new queen.
If you install more than one hive in the same location, the package bees may drift and one hive may become stronger or weaker than the others. You can minimize this issue by using entrance reducers, placing grass in the entrance, or installing the packages later in the afternoon.
If the queen dies or is not accepted, place a frame containing some brood in the hive. This will keep the bees from leaving and also prevent laying workers. (See below.)
We recommend that you do not order packages for top bar hives if the weather is expected to be cold (below 50 degrees at night), unless you have a way to feed the hive with sugar syrup directly near the queen cage. We have had success applying Fondant on the side of the divider board and suspending the queen cage next to the Fondant. We recommend that you purchase a marked and clipped queen if you are installing into a new top bar hive, as the bees may abscond if there is no smell of wax or propolis and all of the smells are foreign.
Should you have any problems with queen acceptance, we plan to have some spare queens, which you may purchase at our cost. Please do not let the hive go for long without a queen or brood, as workers will start laying drones. (See below.)
Single Queen Purchases or Replacement Queens (Not Queens in Packages):
Please inspect your queen before you take her. Be sure she is alive and kicking. Check that corks are in both sides of the cage. Once you receive the queen, it is your responsibility to keep her alive.
Do not put place her in the light--that will kill her. Keep her in the dark at room temperature until you install her in the hive.
You must remove any existing queens before you install the queen. It is an extremely good idea to move a frame of eggs over to the hive first, and then check in 2-3 days to see if they form a queen cell. If they do not form a queen cell(s), your queen will probably not be accepted. If you see multiple eggs or many drone cells, See Laying Workers below.
If you do have a problem with queen acceptance, please let me know and you may purchase a queen at my cost subject to availability.
Please check your nuc before you take it. If you are unhappy with the nuc for any reason, do not take it. Once you receive the nuc, it is your responsibility to keep it alive.
The workers are females and therefore have ovaries. The queen pheromone and the brood pheromone keep the workers from laying eggs. If your hive goes queenless or you think the hive has no queen, we recommend that you place a frame of eggs in that hive. The presence of brood will keep the workers from laying eggs.
If your hive is queenless and all of the brood hatches, the workers will then start to lay eggs (unfertilized drone eggs) and you will see many eggs in a cell and bumpy drone brood all over. At that point it is nearly impossible to recover the hive. (When this happens in nature, the hive will die.) Most beekeepers take the loss, dump the bees out, and start anew.
Do not let it get to that point; place eggs or brood in a hive whenever you think it may be queenless. We highly recommend that you have at least two hives or a nearby friend or neighbor with compatible-framed hives who can provide you a source of at least a frame with a few eggs.