We are new (as in one-week) beekeepers. We have absolutely no hands-on experience other than our own; what we know we've gleaned from books and a two-day seminar at Michigan State. And we are in a pickle.
Last weekend we installed our package bees in two English garden hives -- they're smaller than average, 8-frames, with a little peaked roof. We dumped them over the frames (the queen had already somehow gotten out of her cage in the one box, and we kind of fumbled the other one out into the other bees as we were trying to open the box -- no fondant inside). I then, because I didn't know any better, put the inner cover over the bees, then put a two-chambered top feeder over that...I'd seen someone on the Internet do it that way...and then I put the top over the feeder.
When we opened the hives after a couple of days, we found chaos...no bees in the wax foundations; all the bees up in the roof of the hives, making comb. Apparently they found the upper entrance made by the notched inner cover more to their liking, and "moved in" up there.
We've tried to ask local beekeepers what to do, but since they all use the standard flat-topped telescoping covers they don't seem to understand what we're saying...and we've just been getting utterly contradictory advise about everything else from them anyway.
I've pretty much gotten to the point of calling this our "learning year," letting the bees do their own thing and enjoying their pollination services without actually working them. But -- we really do want to learn how to manage hives, and we really do want to harvest honey. And I'm concerned about the bees' welfare, especially in the colder months.
Can anyone, especially anyone with some experience with the hobby-sized English garden hives, help us? What do we do next? Is there any way at all of persuading them to move into the foundation, short of completely destroying their home now and making them start all over? (Something I'm loathe to do since we've majorly disrupted them twice now, and we've only had them for 9 days.) I'm really feeling like a failure right now.