When the kind folks at Our Handmade Life Co-op recently placed a large order for packages from Wolf Creek Apiary they generously allowed members of the Ann Arbor Backyard Beekeepers to save on shipping by adding individual package orders to it. We have taken advantage of this offer and ordered a queen and three pounds of bees for each of the two hives we intend to have, the one we purchased last year and a new one we hope to build.
In addition, as suggested by Our Handmade Life Co-op, we ordered an extra three-pound package without a queen. These bees will be split between the hives so each will start with roughly four and a half pounds of bees. Indeed, Keith Steller at Steller Apiaries has even recommended to us using two packages for six pounds of starter bees per hive. The greater the initial workforce, the quicker the comb is built, the more cells become available for the queen to lay in, the more foragers bring in pollen and nectar, and in general the faster the box of bees becomes a working colony. It also somewhat reduces the risk of population crash before the first new bees emerge (assuming, of course, that the queen neither departs nor dies but settles down to laying eggs), although none of the initial workers will survive more than thirty-five days or so.
The bees are due to arrive in the first week of May. We have until then to construct our second hive, which project will, of course, be the subject of one or more future posts.