We lost half our honeybees this year.  See “Want to see what a dead bee hive looks like”  for an explanation as to how they died.  The photo above is one “package” of honey bees, complete with a mated queen and about 3 lbs of female honeybees.  So just how many honeybees weigh 3 lbs?  About 10,000 give or take a few. The girls arrived by truck from California, along with thousands of packages shipped to Michigan every year,  to replace the usual losses local beekeepers experience.  The reason most of our honeybees come from California or Georgia is because we can get them delivered before the first blooms of spring arrive in Michigan.  This gives them the best chance to increase their numbers to the point where they can produce honey in excess of the amount they need to over winter.  Normal Michigan winters require that a typical hive over winter with 60 to 70 lbs of honey.  If given some drawn comb and the right amount of nectar, one of these new hives can produce well over 100 lbs of honey giving us around 20 to 50 lbs of honey the first year!

Installing the California honeybees in the Byron hives

Installing the California honeybees in the Byron hives

Honeybees Package

A closer look…pretty easy.  Bees are fairly calm considering the traveling they have done

After shaking the bees into the hive through the round hole filled previously by the tin can, I insert the queen cage and close up the hive for a couple of days.  After things have had a chance to calm down, I return and release the queen.  Notice the queen cage covered with bees near my left hand and hive tool?  Many beekeepers directly release the queen into the hive with the new bees and are successful.  I have done it this way myself when time was short.  However, if time permits, I like to go a little slower to be sure she is accepted.  Occasionally, the bees will kill a queen that is released right after installing a package in the hive.

It seems a bit late to be starting a new package but the weather has been so cold all over the US so packages are a little late this year.  Lets see how they do…