What is a package, exactly?

Packages, nucs, hives, boxes. . . We throw beekeeping terms around a lot and I thought it would be good to define a few of them, starting with “packages.” 

A package is basically a wooden cage full of bees used as a starter colony. 

The one above has 3 pounds of worker bees (yes, they measure them by the pound at the bee breeder), a metal can full of sugar syrup, and a separate cage with the queen inside. 

There is enough sugar syrup in the can to feed the bees for just under a week.

The queen comes in her own little cage like these two here. One of these smaller cages is clipped to the inside of the package. The outside of the queen cage is almost always covered with her attendant bees.

At the bee breeder, they shake bees from a donor colony into individual cages. At Koehnens, they line up  donor colonies for shaking. (This photo is actually their queen rearing operation, but shows hives all lined up as an example.)

Once package cages are full, and nailed together in rows, they are placed on a truck and driven from California back to Utah. Shipping bees is an art in itself. 

Then packages are unloaded and ready to sell locally.

Here we are getting ready to shake one of these packages into a hive body box.  

Click here for a video demonstration on how to install packages by the shaking method.

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