The Package is an excellent movie with Gene Hackman chasing Tommy Lee Jones (the package) all over Germany. I won’t be spoiling the movie for you if I tell you that Hackman wins. Sort of. I had to go to IMDB to check the release date and yes, it confirms that I’m old – 1989.
Bees are also sold as packages. Last fall I ordered Buckfast bees from R. Weaver in Navasota, TX. Buckfast bees were bred by Brother Adam at Buckfast Abbey in Devon, England and are adapted to cool, damp climates with long-lived, fecund queens and high honey production. They are also remarkably sturdy. They shipped last Monday from Navasota and arrived Saturday morning – five days of grueling cross-country travel. It was 50 degrees and drizzling here when I picked them up and they were a cold, compact mass around the can of sugar syrup and queen cage in their wire box.
I soaked the outside of the box with a sprayer filled with sugar syrup, and as the hoop house slowly warmed up to 60 degrees they began to move around the box and buzz loudly. We fed them several times during the day. By 4:00 p.m. it was really as warm as it was going to get and we installed them in the hive. I don’t normally have assistance with the beekeeping chores, but R. has expressed an interest. Here he is spraying more sugar syrup on the boxed bees, keeping them sated and calm while we put them in their new home.
There are many good tutorials on installing packaged bees in a hive, but I’d say my biggest revelation was to not smoke them. They don’t have a home to defend at this point, and you don’t want their new home (the hive) to smell of smoke and interfere with their adoption. The process went smoothly, the queen was lively in her little screened box, and it was great to have a second pair of hands.
Only a few casualties! A front piece fell out of my bottom board – these things happen – and I had to block the new, going-nowhere, entrance off with hay. Later I found the piece and taped it in (they can live with some duct tape as long as they’re not going to ever be on the sticky side) and blocked the main entrance down with hay for warmth and ease of defense. We filled the feeder with sugar syrup and let them settle in.
Buckfast bees from R. Weaver Apiaries in Navasota, Texas. They’ve once again proved to be incredibly hardy and wonderfully social – thanks, Risa!