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What to Do the Day Your Bees Arrive

1 of 10 in Series: The Essentials of Beekeeping Schedules

You may not know the exact day that your honey bees will arrive, but many suppliers at least let you know the approximate day they plan to ship your package bee colony.

If your package of bees is being mailed to you, about a week before the anticipated date of arrival, alert your local post office that you’re expecting bees. Make sure that you provide the post office with your telephone number so you can be reached the moment your bees come in.

In most communities the post office asks that you pick up your bees at the post office. Seldom are bees delivered right to your door. Instruct the post office that the package needs to be kept in a cool, dark place until you arrive.

In all likelihood, you’ll receive your “bees-have-arrived” call in the predawn hours — the instant they arrive at your local post office. Postal workers will, no doubt, be eager to get rid of that buzzing package! Please note, however, that this wake-up call is not the signal for you to start assembling your equipment. Plan ahead! Make sure everything is ready for your girls before they arrive.

When the bees finally arrive, follow these steps in the order they are given:

  1. Inspect the package closely.

    Make sure that your bees are alive. You may find some dead bees on the bottom of the package, but that is to be expected. If you find an inch or more of dead bees on the bottom of the package, however, fill out a form at the post office and call your vendor. He or she should replace your bees.

  2. Take your bees home right away (but don’t put them in the hot, stuffy trunk of your car).

    They’ll be hot, tired, and thirsty from traveling.

  3. When you get home, spray the package liberally with cool water using a clean mister or spray bottle.

  4. Place the package of bees in a cool place, such as your basement or garage, for an hour.

  5. After the hour has passed, spray the package of bees with nonmedicated sugar syrup.

    Don’t brush syrup on the screen, because doing so literally brushes off many little bee feet in the process.

You must have a means for feeding your bees once they’re in the hive. You should use a good quality hive-top feeder. Alternatively you can use a feeding pail or a baggie feeder.

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