I have a hive that I want to re-queen. I want to move the old queen and some frames into an observation hive just for fun. I have a package and a new queen for the hive but the weather has been rainy for three days. When I had a clear afternoon I went to remove the old queen but I couldn't find her. (yes, my fault she's not marked.) I swear I looked for an hour and a half yesterday and I couldn't find her. I didn't see any eggs, either, but there were some very young larva and I had opened the hive a day or two earlier so maybe I disturbed her laying. It was getting late so I put an excluder between the deep bodies and called it a night.
So, how long can the bees sit in the package? If I can't find the old queen next try what should I do? (Besides mark my new queen.)
As long as you make sure they don't run out of food and keep them in a quiet dark place, you can keep bees in a package for a week or so. You'll lose some bees from the stress. Some of the cans have a plastic ring and a piece of cloth. These are pretty easy to refill. I fill them with 1:1 syrup. Some just have a can with a few holes poked in them. These, I don't know how to refill. But if you can refill the can they will have a steady source of food. You can feed on the screen, but then you have to consistently feed them until they don't take any more. I watch their tongues to see when they aren't interested anymore. I've fed them nothing but honey on the screen for four of five days and kept them quite well. I know, Jim says bees don't eat honey, but someone forgot to tell the bees. You can use syrup on the screen, but I worry about getting them too sticky with syrup running in where the honey kind of clings to the screen while they suck it up. Some people spray the syrup on the screen. I've put it on with a soft brush.
As far as what to do if you can't find the old queen, they will not accept the new one if you don't remove the old one. I suppose you could put the new queen in the observation hive. [img]smile.gif[/img] But if you can't find the queen how will you know you didn't put her in the observation hive?
Here's a discussion on finding queens.