Package Bee Transport Guidelines

Package Bee Transport Guidelines and other useful tips for getting your package bees home and ready for installation. So, the wait is over and your package pickup day has arrived, or maybe USPS will be calling soon letting you know your bees are ready for pickup! There are a few things you should have ready before this day arrives in order to make sure you can transport your package bees safely while maintaining temperature control and the bees do not get stressed out during their trip.

Prerequisites

Before bee pickup, there are a few things you should have ready – see [Before Bees Arrive] for hive setup information.

Package Bees Transport

[picture of package bees]

The bee packages are like mini space heaters which is why they have screened sides that allow excess heat to easily dissipate.   They need plenty of fresh cool air so they don’t overheat.   Running the air conditioner during package bee transport is the best choice or if not available having the windows rolled down will allow the bees to stay cool and ventilated.  If it is cold on your pickup day, this may not be necessary, but do not worry about covering them or turning heat up high – the bees do better uncovered and can keep themselves warm.  50 degrees is ideal for package bee transport as it keeps them clustered and calm.

Keep the packages out of direct sunlight as the sun exposure will heat them up and cause them to overheat/stress out.   Also, putting the bees into enclosed spaces like a trunk that is exposed to the sun is a poor choice as the temperature in that area can increase to dangerous levels in a short time.

If you are transporting them outside of the vehicle (in the bed of a truck, etc.), you need to keep the bees out of the sun as this can overheat them.   If the temperature outside is cold you may need to protect them from road wind as the breeze can chill the package below a safe temperature and stress them out.   Remember that the wind chill factor while doing 55 down the road can be significantly cooler than the ambient air temperature. Again, we typically like to keep a package right around 50 degrees if possible.

If you are transporting many bee packages you may want to brace them together with wood pieces to keep them separated – we can assist on pickup with this if needed.

Additional Package Bee Temperature Control

If temperatures are warm, an old school technique to keep bees calm and temperature cool is to mix up a light solution of sugar syrup 1:4 (one part sugar to 4 parts water) and spritz this solution on the screens before loading them into the vehicle.   Don’t soak the bees but spray just enough to wet the screens so the bees can lick the syrup off.   The sugar gives them food while the water helps with controlling cooling.   Spritz and put them in your vehicle quickly so you don’t attract other bees flying around to your vehicle.  Do not use higher ratio sugar mixes like 1:1 as this can sometimes be too sticky and cause the bees to become stuck together and fall into a big wet clump.  If the temperatures are cool out, do NOT spray the bees as you do not want to chill them.

For short distances in a temperature controlled vehicle, sugar spritzing is not needed.  They do not need the spritzing for food – there is a syrup can in the package already – spritzing is just for cooling/calming.

[picture of braced packages]

Note that sometimes the wooden packages themselves can get sticky (due to spritzing or a leaky syrup can) so you may want to put cardboard or plastic down on your seats/floor for the package(s) to sit on.  Remember to keep the packages upright as a tipped over package will leak syrup and make a big mess!

[picture of packages in vehicle?, mesh bag]

Will the bees get out of the package?

This is a common question we get – the bees will NOT get out of the package, but there is a possibility that some loose bees will be on the outside of the bee package. These are ALMOST ALWAYS ‘hijacker’ bees attracted to the package and NOT bees escaping from the package.  We brush off any we see, and you can also check before loading them into your vehicle but there is the possibility you will miss some.

Typically the bees on the outside of the package stay put but sometimes they lift off and buzz around inside the vehicle.  Bees flying around inside the vehicle are attracted to the sunlight so will fly to the windows and hang out there.   You can roll the windows down slightly and they will fly up to the top and out of the vehicle.  This is the easiest way to get them out of the vehicle. 

If this “loose bee” possibility concerns you then you should consider placing the bee package into a mesh transport bag.  Any bees in the mesh bag should be kept with that package and shaken out when the bee package is installed.  Do not close the bees up in a bin or box as they will not have sufficient airflow.

Package Bees Journey Home

Make sure that you head straight home after picking up bee package(s) and don’t stop at sit-down restaurants or to do shopping.   Unexpected things can happen to unattended packages in vehicles.   Bee packages can stress out quickly and these stresses will impact the ability of the colony to get off to a good start and thrive!  

Once you arrive at home, if you are installing the bees right away set the bees outside in the shade next to the hive while you suit up and get ready.  If you are installing later in the day or the next day due to weather, etc., bring the bees indoors in to a cool area if possible and out of direct sunlight.  They will have food in the syrup can inside the package, but if they are flying around / agitated then you can spritz the sides of the screen with 1:4 sugar syrup which will cool and calm them.  Syrup cans typically last a few days,  but you should still expedite your package install so the bees don’t run out of food. The sooner you get them installed using these package bee transport guidelines the happier they will bee.

[picture of package in shade and one on counter in house]

Package Bee Transport Guidelines Summary Do’s and Don’ts

Do:

  • Have your hive setup and tools ready beforehand
  • Put package in a ventilated, cool vehicle and maintain temperature control
  • Keep bees out of direct sunlight

Don’t:

  • Close bees up in a closed container or area with no airflow
  • Leave bees in vehicle while running errands
  • Sugar spritz packages when it is cool outside

Next

[Installation Instructions for Package Bees]

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