Package Bee Production

The term "package bees" is used for a number of young worker bees (usually approximately 1 kg) hived with a newly reared and mated queen; these bees together have the potential to develop into a honey-producing colony.

Package bees are normally produced at relatively low latitudes where spring comes early, and are sold at higher latitudes where it is difficult to keep colonies over the winter; many northern beekeepers find it more cost-effective to kill some or all of their colonies when they harvest the season's honey, and to buy package bees next spring. (If they overwinter no colonies, they can follow another occupation for 6 months or more; at least one beekeeper spends the Canadian winter beekeeping in New Zealand, where it is then summer.) The site where the packages are produced should be earlier weatherwise, by 2 months or more, than the site where the bees are used. A package bee industry is most likely to be viable where a single country stretches over a sufficient north-south distance (at least 1000 km, and up to 2000 or even 2500 km). But in New Zealand, package bees are produced at the end of the bees' active season and sent by air to Canada, where the season is just starting.

Package bees are prepared as follows. First, all the bees are shaken off the combs of three or four colonies into a specially designed box, taking care that the queens are left behind. The bees are then poured through the "spout" of the box into package boxes, each standing on a weighing machine, until their weight is either 1 or 1.5 kg, as required. Each box is given a young mated queen in a cage, and a can of syrup with feeding holes. (Enough bees are flying around to return to their hives and keep the colonies functional.) For transport, the package boxes are fixed by battens in groups of three or four, slightly separated; they may travel 2400 km, and the truck needs special ventilation. Air transport, though possible, presents various difficulties.

Beekeeping for Beginners

Beekeeping for Beginners

The information in this book is useful to anyone wanting to start beekeeping as a hobby or a business. It was written for beginners. Those who have never looked into beekeeping, may not understand the meaning of the terminology used by people in the industry. We have tried to overcome the problem by giving explanations. We want you to be able to use this book as a guide in to beekeeping.

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