Re: Can't keep bees! (need advice)
lissa's definitely on the right track -- approx. 1:1 sugar-to-water ratio, PLUS spray/mist the frames with diluted lemongrass oil BEFORE adding the bees/queen -- NEVER spray lemongrass while a queen is in the hive, it can cause supercedure; after adding the bees, put a jar/pail top feeder full of syrup over the inner cover's hole so that the syrup is accessible from the inside of the hive, and IMMEDIATELY place a robbing screen (like from Brushy Mountain) over the hive entrance with the entrance reducer already placed such that the reducer's opening is as far as possible from the top entrance of the robbing screen (that's for the Brushy M. model) and open the screen's top entrance -- the distance between the food-scent-emitting reducer opening and the robbing screen's only open entrance induces maximum confusion in the robbers. The lemongrass is similar to queen pheromone and leads the bees to think it's a previously-occupied, and thus suitable, hive; it and the sugar water seem to help mask the plastic odor -- airing the plastic frames well before spraying would likely help too .
Sometimes it almost seems to require whips and chains to get bees (at least for some package Italians) to draw wax-coated plastic frames, but the preceding should tip the odds in your favor.
Also, once you've got the swarm queen into the hive, put a plastic queen excluder between the hive entrance and the queen for the first week or so -- if it's a mated queen, it'll at least slow her down if not prevent her from leaving instead of laying -- if it's a virgin queen, removal after the first week is important so she can keep going on as many mating flights as possible. P.S. Beware of robbing ANTS. Good luck!
Dang it, Operator! For the 100th time, I said the Beekeepers' Singles Line, *NOT* Dial-A-Prayer!