Installing bees in our new top bar hive

April 10, 2009 | By | Comments (3)

Our new bees arrived this week! We asked our fans on Facebook for name suggestions and …

We’ve named the new queen Califia, after the queen of the mythical Island of California! Thanks to Chryss Yost for her suggestion on our Facebook page.EmptyTopBarHive

Califia’s girls are to populate our topbar hive.  We’ve never installed bees before. It was quite an experience.

Bees in the carKimberley picked up the wooden box of bees (this photo is of the box of bees in her car). She was safe in the car; the screened sides of the box contained the bees. A can filled with sugar syrup hanging down in the center of the box kept the bees fed, and the queen, suspended to the side of the can, kept the bees happy.

And, all suited up, we began the “installation.”

Removing Can from box

We pulled the can from the box, then took Califia’s little cage from the box. The bees clumped around her and didn’t want to leave her, and we had to gently shake and brush them off.

Then Brianne (who just installed her own bees last weekend) removed the little cork in the queen cage and stuffed in a marshmallowRemoving Cork




The idea is that the bees will eat through this candy plug in a few days and release her. We hung her little cage inside the hive.

Then we installed the bees. It was really more like dumping them.


Kimberley banged on the side of the box, then shook it over the hive and a ball of bees fell into the bottom of the hive.



Dumping Bees

They surged like a wave up the sides, and began clumping around the queen.


Not all the bees came out of the box, and there was quite a bit of banging the box on the ground and shaking it to dislodge the remaining bees. In the end we put the box on the top of the hive and told the 50 or so reluctant bees to find their own way out.

Bees were flying everywhere, dazed and confused, but once we put the top bars in place, they began to settle down and come to their entrance holes to fan the pheromones that tell the other bees “this is home.”

Fanning on a top bar

After about 2 hours, most of the bees had settled down and were scouting the area. At the end of the day, we could see them (through the observation window!) in a big cluster around the queen.

Now we wait excitedly for our new worker bees to build their natural comb on our top bars!

By Kimberley Burch, Sunset imaging specialist and Margaret Sloan, Sunset production coordinator


  1. Ron Chess

    put package bees in top bar hive they didnot stay in side they clustered on the out side over the entrance hole

    June 4, 2013 at 7:12 am
  2. Caroline

    We just got bees for our top bar hive too. All new to us and all so exciting. THis will be fun to watch and compare 🙂
    Arlington, WA

    May 2, 2009 at 6:27 am
  3. DaisySoapGirl

    Wonderful. Just wonderful.

    April 30, 2009 at 12:59 pm

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