Source: How to inspect a honey bee package

I remember my first bee order.  I was excited and watched and read everything I could about installing bees into my hive.  The one thing that I never even thought about was if the bees I would pick up were healthy. It wasn’t until I was on my way to pick them up that I started to wonder about what a healthy package should look like.  I wasn’t really sure if I would be able to tell.

As I walked into the room with hundreds of boxes stacked on top of each other, the only thing I could think of, was that I wanted one with lots of bees and one with the screen secure and not leaking bees.

Here are the two packages that I chose:

Bee Package

Each package consisted of a screened wooden box, 1 can of sugar syrup, 1 queen cage with a mated queen, 3# of bees and a wooden lid.  The amount of honey bees is dependent on what is ordered,  typically it’s 2 or 3 pounds of bees.

There’s a few things you should look for, when you get your package, before you pay. Once you pay, they are yours, even if they die within the week.  It is assumed that once they leave the beekeepers property it is in your hands to keep them alive and healthy:

  1. Bees should be in a cluster, as seen in the picture above.
  2. A few dead bees on the bottom is ok – you don’t want the package if there is a thick layer of dead bees on the bottom.
  3. There should be more workers (female bees) than drones (male bees) – drones are just a drain on resources. Drones do no work within the hive and they feed on stored honey or get the nurse bees to feed them.
  4. The screen on the box should be secure on all sides – bees flying around in your car is not always appreciated by your passengers.
  5. Bees should not appear swollen – swollen bees can be an indication that you have sick bees.

Once you have picked up your bees you should immediately install your bees into their new hive.  If you can’t:

  1. Store them in a cool place
  2. If weather is hot you can use a fan to lightly blow air through and around the cage – a sign of them being too hot is that they will no longer be in a cluster.
  3. If too hot, you can mist with water or a weak sugar solution on the screen to help cool them off.

I hope this helps you to choose the right package.

~May all your wandering take you to many wonderful places.

Source: How to inspect a honey bee package