Just wanted to say thanks to everyone on this site - your comments and discussions have been helpful in getting us up and running.
We just received our package bees (6) this week and got them installed. Everything went according to plan - except that we didn't use enough water on the first package and we had quite a few "flyers" zooming around for a short time. They settled down rather quickly though.
I am amazed at how gentle the bees that we purchased are. When we went in to examine the queen cages today there were quite a few bees that came out, landed and checked us out, and then went back to their own business. All the queens were released from their cages and each of the hives looked like it was thriving.
We decided to use the black plastic frames with built-in foundation. All six hives seem to have taken to them very well. We used Honey Bee Healthy mixed with sugar syrup and sprayed all of the frames before we put them in. The bees really seem to like that particular mixture.
The bees seem to be concentrating all of their wax building in the far corner of the hive body (away from the entrance). They are not (apparently) working on just one frame but instead look to be spread out across the top portion of about six frames - is this normal?
I have also noticed that there are now a lot of birds in the area where we put our apiary. I assume that they are eating some of our bees - but not enough to hurt anything. In general - do birds feed on bees in any significant number?
Our next inspection will be in a little over a week when we are planning on looking for capped brood and queen-rightness. Wish us good luck with this late start!