This page is credited in full to Dave Cushman who created it. His voice is expressed in black colour text and any additions or comments in blue belong to myself. Credit: Dave Cushman’s website.
Newspaper Bag Method of Uniting Bees
To “unite” one frame of bees to an existing stock
If there is a queen on the frame then it is more properly named “Introduction”
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 (then of Leicestershire, now Dorset). They have used this method successfully for the more than 20 years and they have used it for many different reasons.
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 immediate use.
Former for making newspaper bags 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.
Template for Bag Making 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 around 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!)
Frame being inserted inside newspaper bag
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 of frame.
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 adhering bees, as well as 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 reasonably 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.
A technique rather better known than Dave seems to have thought as the Hon Sec of the Aberdeen Assoc used this over many years.