I've scheduled myself to install 10 packages and 10 queens on Apr. 17th. I guess I can spray some of the packages with syrup and put them in the basement. The queens are a bigger problem because I expect a hard time dispatching the old ones. How would you store the girls? I've heard that one can put them in a queenless colony and they'll be fed. True? How long must it be queenless?
It really depends how the supplier ships them. I had one shipment that had every queen in individule cages with attendents (Kona Queen) and another that the queens were alone in the cages, the cages in a screen box of bees (Strachens or Heitkems).
In both cases I kept them as was for about two weeks until they were all installed. The queen bank a bit longer than the individule cages with attendents.
The ones that came with attendents I fed syrup to twice a day with an eyedropper. The queen bank I sprayed the screen with syrup twice a day, they also had a small block of candy that was shipped with them.
Bottom line is if they have attendents, either in the cage or in a screen bank from the shipper, you can feed them and keep them in good shape long enough to get them all installed, perhaps three weeks or longer. I had two queens that I kept longer than two weeks. One was the runt of the litter and I didn't really need her yet and the other was one that I replaced and thought that I might try to keep her around a bit just in case.
I kept them in the queen bank for three weeks until I got tired of messing with feeding them and put them in a hive that was queenright, but above an excluder. Didn't work, they were dead in just a few days.
There are more ways to keep them viable, but this was my experiance in keeping them in the original shipping containers.
Michael, that is a great tip on the feeding with a dropper. I have 2 queens to arive last week but too cold to work the hives. Maybe in a couple of days it will warm up again.
I would also recommend providing water if keeping them in their shipping containers. I do this with a wet cotton ball (or wet Q-tips in a pinch) placed over the screen. They really drink it up.
As for properly "banking" the bees, I have no personal experience, but recall in ABC/XYZ that you are have to keep them in a queenless hive with bees freshly emerging regularly. Older bees are supposed to loose intrest in feeding all of the queens, perhaps even hostile to them. The fresh bees will regularly feed them however.
I set up a nuc like I was going to do a split (two frames of emerging brood, one of open brood and two of honey and pllen) with nurse bees shaken in from several hives. I made a "shim" that is 3/4" thick. You could cut a hole in the middle of a one by to make this or connect four of them to make a 3/4" shim the size of the nuc. I left the nuc queenless overnight and then I put the shim on top and layed the queen cages on the top bars with the screens down. I kept the queens like that for several weeks. The information I read said it's not worth trying to get the "queen bank" to accept a queen when you are done, so just shake the bees out in front of other hives. So that's what I did.
I haven't done this but www.beeworks.com has a queen bank frame, but it's quite expensive. You could make one from an empty frame. Just staple a four pieces of baling wire across the bottom of the frame. Two on each side to hold the cages in and line the cages up in there so that the workers can get to the screen. Put this in the center.
My theory is the shim is nice for doing introductions of queens to splits in nucs anyway so I don't have to build something special.
But you can also keep a queens for a week or more by just taking a drop of water on your finger and smearing it across the screen wire from time to time. Assuming of course there are attendants.
I give them water like this twice a day.
I knew you'd be on the case. I sent another post which I don't see. (I have a new firewall I'm learning to use)
Thanks to everyone.
With everyone thanking Mike, do you feel invisible? Thats life, I guess. Just wanted you to know that I appreciated your fast reply as well.
[This message has been edited by dickm (edited April 14, 2004).]