Newspaper Bag Method
To "unite" one frame of bees to
an existing stock
If there is a queen on the frame then
it is more properly named
This technique adds a
frame of brood and bees (with or without a queen) to an existing
colony, or a freshly made one.
The credit for this idea is due to John Flint and his wife Angela
(of Leicestershire). They have used this method successfully for
the best part of 20 years and they have used it for many different
Although it is a newspaper method there are some subtle
differences and some "homework" has to be done first to make the
specially shaped paper bags.
A Template is required to cut the
newspaper to the correct shape and a former needs to be made to
fold the newspaper into a bag.
Once these items have been made,
it is prudent to make a few bags so that they are available for
First we have to make a supply of specially shaped paper bags
made from newsprint.
We use a wooden former for this purpose and a cardboard template.
Note that this former is tapered...so that the bags, which are
relatively fragile, can be slid gently from it.
The taper does cause the former to be a little more difficult to make,
but it saves time and torn bags.
Make the flat plywood panels first then measure the
thickness of the two sandwiched together. Subtract this measurement
from 38 mm and 35 mm and then you will be able to mark out the
spacers to go between the edges to produce the slightly tapered
former. A little care at this point will save time and frustration
later. Sandpaper the ends of the former, but leave the corners and
edges crisply right angled. Not shown in the drawing, but I planed a
slight taper or "draw" on the ends as well, which means that I can
stack my finished bags one inside the other for easier storage.
The template enables repeated, accurate cutting of the
sheets of newspaper.
Make the template by folding a sheet of newspaper around
the former, making certain that you crease it accurately on the
sharp corners and edges that we left on the former. You can then
unfold the paper and mark out the overlaps. Cut the newspaper to
the desired shape. Test this shape on the former to see that it is
correct and if it is so, transfer the design to a
piece of stiff card. Cut out the shape (the red lines on the drawing)
and use this for marking several sheets of newspaper with a soft
pencil. Cut out the marked
sheets. The blue lines indicate where folds will occur as the bag
is shaped arount the former
Fold the shaped sheet around the former and stick the
overlaps with paper glue or sellotape. (Glue is more reliable, the
sellotape goes "stale".) Prick the sides of the paper
bag several times with a cork board pin (for the bees to smell
through and to provide a focus for the chewing of the paper). Slide
the bag from the former and cut the "ears" that will sit under the
frame lugs, then repeat the process until you have made sufficient
bags. (Once you have tried this technique you will be amazed how
often that you use it, so make plenty!)
To use the bag slide a frame
complete with bees (and the queen if introduction is your purpose)
completely into the bag and close the top flaps using 2 or 3
drawing pins (thumbtacks).
Place the whole assembly in the
receiving colony and leave for several days. All that will
remain, after this period, is two small squares of paper under the
frame lugs. (There may well be shreds of paper outside of the entrance.)
The details given here are for British Standard frames and
equipment, you will need to modify the dimensions to suit other sizes
This technique has proved useful in forming 5 frame nucs...
I place a frame of foundation, two frames of capped brood and one of
mainly stores with an excess of bees (the older ones will fly home),
in the box, with the foundation tight to one wall... Then
I put a bifold frame from a
mating nuc with the queen and the brood that she has laid, in the
paper bag and place that as the other outside frame. The reason for
the outside placement is that I want to re-use the bifold frame as
soon as it is empty and by placing the bagged frame on the outside
the queen will soon move the focus of the nest towards the middle of
the 5 frames.
Revised... 18 October 2001