Honey Beekeeping part two

This guest post by  Petticoat Prepper and entry in our non-fiction writing contest. You can read part one here.

The big day has arrived; your bees are ready for pickup! I was both nervous and excited when mine came. Something I wish I’d had and will for this next group of bees is a sprayer bottle of water. You know those plastic plant misters? It was hot the day mine came and I picked up in my car. The girls rode in the trunk. I was worried about them over heating and stopped often to cool them down. I was afraid some police officer would see me on the side of the freeway fanning my open trunk frantically and think something was amiss…. I think lightly spraying them may have helped. They use their wings as fans and boy were they trying to cool down.

When you pick up your bees be sure to get a container of Terramycin. American and/or European Foulbrood isn’t something you want. Make sure you’re getting bees from a seller with a good reputation. If they get American Foulbrood your bees and hives will most likely need to be destroyed. I gave the girls two tablespoons shaken over them when I first hived them. After that you treat spring and fall, follow the package directions. Also pick up some pollen patties to feed them as this will give them a good start.

Your hive should be set up already. You’ll only need one deep super for now. The bees will build up and you want to make them almost fill each super before adding another. Store your second deep and the honey supers until later in the season.

When you arrive home with them place the box near the hive unless it’s raining then put them out of the wind and rain. Give them a spray of water and let them sit. They can stay in the box for a day or two just be sure to spray with water off and on. The can hanging inside is their food. This day or two of rest will give them time to become acquainted with their queen. Each queen has her own pheromone scent and there maybe some confusion during shipping as many boxes of bees will have been shipped together thus mixing the pheromone scents.

You will need to feed them at first until they have their house set up. 2 parts sugar to 1 part water. Bring your water to a boil turn off heat and add sugar, stir until dissolved, cool completely. This will be the food for them. Pour into canning jars or old mayo jars and screw into the plastic feeder.

Now let’s get ready to hive your bees hopefully on a sunny day with no wind. First, take a shower. Don’t use scented soaps, perfume, cologne or deodorants. Take off any rings just in case you get stung, don’t want to have your favorite ring cut off a swollen finger. If you do get stung, scrape off the stinger never pull it out as there are venom sacks and you’ll only add to the amount in the bite. Stay calm and smoke around yourself quickly. There is a pheromone released by the bee when it stings that signals others to follow and defend the hive; smoke and step away for a minute.

Ok, the smoker is working nicely with cool puffs of smoke and you’re showered and ready to don your official outfit. Sprinkle some baby powder on your hands, according to the dummies book the bees like it. I figure it helps for sweaty palms. Dress in your beekeeper suit making sure to close any openings at ankles, neck and wrists. Take your hive tool, sugar water sprayer and smoker with you; spray the girls with the sugar/water mix. Don’t saturate them but give them enough to get them busy cleaning each other. Pick up the box and give it a sharp rap or two on the ground to force the bees to drop to the bottom. See the little wooden cage inside the box of bees? This is your queen bee and her attendants. You want to remove this box first. Locate the metal tab that hold this cage in place next to the can.

Carefully pry the can of food up while holding onto the metal tab keeping the queen cage in place. Do Not Drop The Queen! Once the can is out, quickly remove the queen cage and replace the can in the box, don’t worry about the bees that escape they’ll stay near the queen. Remove one frame from your deep super and store until next week. Hopefully, the place you got your bees from gave you some mini marshmallows to plug the queen cage with. If not, I guess you’d better have bought some. The queen cage will have a candy plug in the end. You want to remove this plug, use a screw to get a hold on and then gently pull out and replace with 2 mini marshmallows. Don’t let the queen or her attendants escape.

Take a really good look at your queen; you’ll need to be able to locate her next week. If you managed to buy one that’s marked it’s a lot easier to find her. .Once you replace the candy plug fit the queen cage between the two middle frames. There is generally a metal tab on her cage that you can bend over the top of one frame to help secure it in place; if not then wedge between the two frames in the middle. Make sure to angle the plug end up in case one of the attendants dies so its body doesn’t block the queen’s escape route. Also, be sure the screened side is facing down so the bees can bring her food. The bees will eat through the marshmallows to free the queen. Once you’re sure you’ve got the queen secured, it’s time to let the bees out and into their new home.

If they are very active inside the box, spray them again and rap box to drop them to the bottom. Pry out the feed can and set aside. Then shake and pour the bees over the queen’s cage. Some will stay in the hive around the queen and others will fly around. Stay calm and work slowly; it’s scary to be surrounded by this many bees but remember, they are looking for the queen right now and have no honey to defend. You can give puffs of smoke around to help calm them if needed. Once you have most of the bees out of the box sit it at the entrance to the hive, opening facing up. The remaining bees will smell the queen and move into the hive.

If they are very active you can smoke them to calm them down just don’t over kill with the smoke. Shake two tablespoons of the Terramycin over the bees and frame tops in the hive. Place half a pollen patty on top of the frames; you don’t need to remove the paper. Take the inner cover and starting at the back of the hive, slide it carefully into place. This will allow the bees to move out of the way and you won’t squish any. Place the telescoping cover on top of that.

Insert the plastic feeder with filled food jar into the front of the hive at the entrance. I find with the slope of my hive I have to shim the feeder to make it more level. If I don’t then the food seems to flood out instead of dripping out slowly. The entrance reducer will most likely not fit with the feeder in place. Stuff the entry with grass or leaves to reduce the area leaving only about 2 inches of opening. This will give the girls a smaller spot to defend from invaders. They will remove this on their own as they feel more confident in their ability to defend their new home. Once you see they’ve done this you can clean the remaining grass and leaves out with your hive tool. You’ll use the entrance reducer later to help combat stealing. In the morning you’ll be able to remove the box and return it for the deposit.

Congratulation! You’ve hived your first bees. Now leave them alone for the next week, no peeking. Just be sure to keep the food jar filled and enjoy their gentle hum. Part three will go over the types of bees in a hive, their jobs and your first inspection.

This contest will end on February 16 2013  – prizes include:

Well what are you waiting for – email your entries today. But please read the rules that are listed below first… Yes

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of TheSurvivalistBlog.net. He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. HomeINsteader says:

    You knew we’d be tempted to peek, didn’t you?!! Thanks, again. Good tutorial.

  2. Thanks for another find Pack addition to my Prepper’s Book!

  3. “If they get American Foulbrood your bees and hives will most likely need to be destroyed”

    From the beekeeping books I’ve read, the treatment for American Foulbrood is:

    1. Dig a hole large enough to hold the hive, all the tools you’ve used on the hive, all the frames that have been in the hive.
    2. Put all of the above in the hole.
    3. Pour gasoline in the hole.
    4. Apply match.
    5. When the fire dies and the ashes are cool, if there’s any recognizable pieces, repeat 3-5.
    6. Fill in hole.

    • Rob Crawford,
      Any metal tools that have been used can be disinfected with bleach. In theory, you can also disinfect the supers, but they are inexpensive enough that I would destroy them and all of the other wooden parts of the hive, using your steps above.

  4. Petticoat Prepper says:

    Yes, that is my understanding. It’s not something I’d wish on anyone! It would just be awful to have to do in a hive of girls.

  5. MountainSurvivor says:

    This is a great crash course on honeybeekeeping. I’ve wondered about it, put it off, but I’m giving it second thoughts. Thanks, Petticoat Prepper.

  6. Petticoat Prepper,

    Why did you put the girls in the trunk? If you set them on the back seat or the floor behind the front seats, they’ll stay cool, and they really don’t present any danger to you unless you get T-boned by a large truck, in which case the bees are the least of the problem.

    On the Terramycin, I don’t know anyone who uses it, and I know of no one who has had foul brood in my area. If you plan on selling your honey, wax, and propolis, many folks want “natural” honey, and then using Terramycin keeps you out of this potentially large market. I agree on the pollen patties to give them protein as they’re getting the hive situated and growing, as well a thin layer of fondant placed or rolled between two pieces of newspaper. For those of you who make cakes or iced cookies, this is the same fondant, which is mostly powdered sugar.

    Using a 1-gallon paint can you can make 1:1 syrup without heating. Place the contents of a 4 or 5 pound bag of sugar into the can and fill with water. Stir until dissolved.

    When you remove the queen cage, make sure and keep it warm by placing it in a pocket. Simply setting the cage down can shill the queen and potentially kill her. After you remove the cork plug that sits above the candy plug, I’m not sure why you’re removing the candy plug and replacing it with marshmallows. The idea of the candy plug is to allow the bees to eat their way through it to release the queen. It will take three to four days to eat through the candy plug, but only a few hours to eat through the marshmallows. The 3+ days gives the girls time to assimilate to the new queen (via her pheromones). I’ve only seen marshmallows used when there is no candy plug in the cage.

    We generally don’t need smoke when installing bees, because we make sure they’re rather thoroughly coated with the sugar syrup, which makes them clump together and pretty much, keeps them from flying. It also keeps them busy grooming each other to remove the syrup, which is also feeding them. Finally, installing your bees into the hive just before dusk pretty much ensures that they will stay there and not fly off. By the time they’ve groomed each other enough to fly and begin their orientation flights, it is already dark and they simply stay in the hive and start making it into their home.

    You stated, “In the morning you’ll be able to remove the box and return it for the deposit”. Around here I don’t think there is a deposit; however, it is worth checking on. Thanks for the information and the article. Also, keep in mind that I am not trying to contradict the information here, just add to it from a different perspective. Beekeepers, like many other hobbyists all have their own take on how to do things, and that doesn’t necessarily make any of them wrong, just different.

  7. Texanadian says:

    well done.

  8. Part one is good but part two not so much. Another terminology list in this part would really help me follow this. Example: at first I thought American foulbrood was a company selling the bees until I read the comments. You never do explain it or the terramycin whatever that is.

    • Petticoat Prepper says:

      Oh sorry! I was trying to keep to 5-6 parts and not over 2,000 words each part. The book mentioned before, “Beekeeping for Dummies” covers more plus a local bee club is helpful. Asking questions when something isn’t understood is helpful to all. So ask away!

      Honey bees have issues with fungal and bacterial deseases. Common ones to the Pacific Northwest (my area) are:

      Nosema: a gut parasite
      American Foulbrood: a spore forming bacterium
      European Foulbrood: a spore forming bacterium
      Chalkbrook: a brood disease caused by a fungus

      Varroa Mite: a parasite that damaged a massive number of honeybees a few decades ago. It’s not gone but it’s better.
      Tracheal Mite: clogs the trachea and sucks hemolymph among other stuff.
      Wax moth: More a pest as they lay eggs in the wax comb.

      Terramycin is a medication for treating bees.

      Hope this helps.

      • HomeINsteader says:

        PP, I have already admitted that I know NOTHING about beekeeping – but I did find the following, which looks interesting. This has to do with using Terramycin.


        I hope I’m not muddling things here.

        • Petticoat Prepper says:

          Nope, not a problem. Looks like what’s on the label of my Terramycin.

          I always think more info is better; thanks for the link! I have their ‘extender patties’ in an up coming post called ‘grease patties’ and theirs is similar. The same post has ‘sugar cakes’ similar to their ‘candy boards’ without having to cook. BUT, good link!

  9. Petticoat Prepper says:


    Appreciate the additional info! Lots of different thoughts between folks and I think some depend on your area. This is such a huge subject so the more information the better.

    In my area they recommend the Terramycin in the spring and again once you remove the honey supers in the fall . I’ve been told that the spring application will be gone by the time they start filling the honey supers but I’m sure for an organic farmer this wouldn’t work.

    Yes, I’ve a typo so to speak regarding the ‘candy plug’ (old fingers and eyes) I really ment to replace the cork plug with the mini marshmallows. My queen didn’t have a candy plug. If yours does then check for a cork plug to remove to give the bees access to the candy plug.

    Interesting that you don’t have deposits on the box. We have a $5 dep at one place and $25 at another. Could just be that I’m in the ‘recycle capital of the country’?

    As I said in part one I’ve been doing bees a year and I’m no expert. There were lots of bees flying around where I got mine and thus I had free bees fliting about. I really didn’t want them in the car with me. Depending on what I have this year when picking up the new girls I may have them inside the car. I had probably about 20-30 bees inside the trunk (not in the bee box) that flew away when I opened it the first cool down. Oddly enough I did get rear ended when bring them home…but it was just a tap. This next batch of girls is coming out of Ruhl Bees so they maybe different than the place last year.

    I ended up smoking my girls some as DH was yelling at me while hiving them and one of them got me. Doesn’t pay to be stressing while working on the girls…at least for me! I figure the smoke is a good thing to have just in case. Maybe I needed more syrup on the girls?

    Good advice to hive towards dusk. I remember being rather concerned that some of the girls were heading to the flowers etc. and being worried they wouldn’t find home again. The guy I’d bought from told me to hive them in the early afternoon after giving them a day or two to get used to the queen. As it was my first hive, I followed to a T the info I’d been given on his hand out. Like I’ve said; I’m more a ready, fire, aim gal which means I don’t always get it right the first try 🙂

    • Petticoat Prepper says:

      You know, I just realized that I got a new for me car not quite a week ago. It’s an SUV type (small one) so I guess the girls will be inside with me this trip! 😛

    • Petticoat Prepper,

      I think the area can dictate a lot of things about raising any critter. At least anecdotally, I think the northwest of the country gets a lot more rain, and I can see that being an issue, especially with spore based diseases.

      We may have deposits on the box and I didn’t know about it. I’ll be sure to check, since I have no real use for the box after dumping the bees, and any money back would be welcome.

      Ready, Fire, Aim? You’re not the only one, and I suspect there are more than a few folks on this forum that have done that in some area of preps. As long as you survive it and learn from it, then it’s all good.

      Looking forward to your next chapter.

  10. Thank you Petticoat Prepper for the two beginning articles.

    I’ve wanted to have my own bees for several years now, and your article actually got me started – in that I just became a member of the El Dorado Bee Keepers, and will attend my first meeting on Saturday. Becoming a member allows me to purchase bees and supplies at a discount – (from the website)
    ***Please note only members of the club are allowed to purchase from the club *****
    Hive kit – one each – assembled hive body with frames, bottom, inner cover, top, feeder – $80
    Tool kit – one each – hat, veil, hive tool, smoker, brush – $75
    Package of bees – $70

    and they said the bees should be available in March or April – so I guess I’m on my way, and I’m excited. Think I’ll plant some buckwheat for my new pets.

    • Petticoat Prepper says:

      Woo Hoo!!! You go girl! I thought of my bees as pets at first too. I just couldn’t keep the names straight, R R R. They are just fascinating little things. I look forward to hearing your adventure.

      You’ll never taste better honey than what your bees will give you. I’m excited for you!

  11. Tactical G-Ma says:

    Good job, PP. I actually understood and the only experience I have with them is stepping on them while running barefoot as a kid.

  12. HomeINsteader says:

    LOL, TGMa! Your Mom wasn’t hollerin’ “stop runnin’ with the scissors” at ya’ – she was hollerin’, “stop runnin’ with the bees!” . Funny.

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