Introducing Bees to a New Hive

Bees can be introduced to a new hive in a variety of ways. A swarm may be caught, a nucleus hive (nuc) can be obtained from another beekeeper or a box of bees can be purchased from a reliable breeder.

Introduction of Bees by Purchasing Them by the Box

One way to introduce bees to a new hive is to purchase three pounds (approx. 10,000) bees and a queen from a reliable bee breeder. The box of bees is ordered in the winter to be delivered in the spring. The best time for Northern New Mexico is after May 1 when the weather is becoming warmer.

Here are the steps to introducing them to the hive:

The beehive is ready for the introduction of the bees. It is placed off the ground at a comfortable height to work over the top with the door facing to the southwest.

The box of bees is placed on top of the hive after the hive cover is removed. (The opening to remove the bees is under the yellow plastic cover. The queen cage is under the smaller yellow plastic cover.) Five or six of the topbars are removed about 6 topbars from the front of the hive

The queen cage is removed and set aside. The majority of the bees are shaken to dump them into the hive. The empty box is laid on the ground close to the hive so that the remaining bees can find the hive where the queen has been placed. (They should find their way into the hive within a day.)

The queen cage is hung inside the hive between the 6th and 7th topbar. It is either secured with a wire or held between the two topbars when the hive is closed. (The queen cage will contain the queen and several attendants. The plug is at the bottom of the cage is removed to allow the bees to eat through the candy plug.)

At this time food is added in the form of honey or specially prepared sugar water in a container to the middle of the hive. (Be sure to put straws or sticks in the container to allow the bees to walk down to the liquid without getting stuck and drowning.)

The topbars are replaced and the cover replaced. (Adding a couple of rocks on the top of the cover is a good idea to keep the wind from blowing it off.)


The hive is left alone for 4-5 days. At that point you must go back into the hive to check to see if the queen has been released from the cage. If she has, remove the queen cage and replace the lid. If not, dig out the candy plug and replace the cage as before. You must go back in to the hive in a couple of days after that to be sure she is safe in the hive. If she is dead she must be replaced as soon as possible by contacting the original supplier. (Sometimes she will be killed by the worker bees if they have not accepted her.)