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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Gordonsville,VA USA
    Posts
    114

    Default Package bee progress?

    The package bees were installed May 16 this year. We had a few cool spells, rained for a bit also, then the warm weather hit us, and boy it came on. I have observed lots of pollen coming into the hive, I have seen plenty of nectar and pollen stored 7+ weeks in. The girls have drawn out about 5 frames (small cell foundation and empty frames) they seem to be very active and very hygienic. I have kept 1:1 sugar water in top feeder and clean it regularly, have place pollen sub on top of frames over brood, if they needed it , it was there. My question is, after just looking into the hive yesterday, just looking for amount of bees, i will do a more detail inspection later this week. The amount of bees were filling 3 frame spaces (between frames). Is this a small amount at this time or normal, or even on it's way to be that mega hive. Just wondering if this could be considered a normal build up? I just worry about the girls.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Asheville, North Carolina, USA
    Posts
    552

    Default Re: Package bee progress?

    I think you would add a little more info after a thorough inspection to help people answer your questions. That being said, here's some general info for packages that I've noticed over time. The hive will dwindle down until the queen gets everything caught up. That means there are no new bees for at least 3 weeks after installing them. Numbers will slowly increase as more emerge. Be patient, you should notice the numbers incrementally increasing for a bit now. They had to draw the comb, the queen had to lay, then they cared for it for 3 weeks until emergence. It takes time for them to get going from scratch.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Chickamauga, Walker County, Georgia
    Posts
    392

    Default Re: Package bee progress?

    During the first 4 weeks or so, there is of course no brood to replace the bees that are naturally, gradually dying off. During the next 4 or so, the bees "come on-line" and during the next few weeks the hive's population will rise dramatically. If it were me, I would cease feeding altogether at this point: they've got food now. Provide water if there's no natural source, and a place to stand since bees can't swim. We got a few metal chicken-watering cans and filled the trough completely with large river-stones (each stone about the size of a large coin). The bees stand on the stones and sip the water from shallows that never run dry.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Gordonsville,VA USA
    Posts
    114

    Default Re: Package bee progress?

    Thanks jadell,mrrobinson

    Yes the water seems to be priority now. I do have a few watering holes set up for the bees, and they have been busy gathering water. Both of you pretty much confirmed my own thoughts as to the process and the colony getting established. Thanks again

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Campbell, Wyoming USA
    Posts
    425

    Default Re: Package bee progress?

    I wouldn't be feeding syrup if they have nectar and pollen coming in, that's just me. I think three frames of bees after a month and a half is kind of light. I had packages installed the last week in April that had eight frames drawn out within three weeks. I had others that barely had two drawn out as well. The ones that only had two drawn out are now on the verge of having the queens pinched and combined with other hives (or turned into nucs once my queens mature). I'd be looking for potential problems, evaluating the queen and considering replacement, or questioning the quality of the package. I received about six packages that turned out to be dud's. Sometimes it happens for whatever reason.

    My $0.02

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Package bee progress?

    I installed my package May 12 and released the queen on 16th. My hive is in upstate NY (about an hour south of Buffalo) - I have mediums that I am running with about 75% foundationless with small cell waxed foundation for the rest. They have drawn out the bottom box with 6 frames fully both sides and then the end ones about 70% drawn - they look like they pretty much fill up those middle 6 frames with a good number on the end ones. The next box has the four middle frames drawn - now with 1 1/2 frames of all capped honey (made after I stopped feeding). The brood pattern seems good, though I've only found one drone cell so far. They have what seems like a good amount of pollen stored too.

    I fed them about a quart or so a week for the first several weeks and then left them with feed again the last time I went up because I was worried that they weren't filling out fast enough. We'll see if it helped (an advantage of being far away is that you don't mess with them too much, the disadvantage is that I worry about them!).

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Howells, N.Y.
    Posts
    36

    Default Re: Package bee progress?

    G'ville,
    I'd be real concerned if I had a package that only built out 5 frames in 7 + weeks when they have had constant feed. I have hives that I started around the same time and they are working on supers. When did you last do an inspection and look for evidence of the queen or her laying pattern? You didn't mention how much brood there was. I'd get in there and do a good inspection and find out what is happening. Good luck

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Gordonsville,VA USA
    Posts
    114

    Default Re: Package bee progress?

    After a very extensive inspection of the hive here is what I found and what I did.
    There were no eggs, no larvae and just a bit of capped brood. I looked and looked for the queen, and no queen. These girls have been very quiet last few days or possible longer. I drove an hour away and picked up a new queen. I checked the hive again once I got back home and still no sign of the queen.
    I place the new queen in her plastic cage and the bees were very interested. Looked like they were feeding her, no balling the cage and seemed very calm about the whole deal. I place the cage between center frames only about half hour ago. I am thinking the hive must have been without a queen at least 24 hours, and they just might be excited to have a new lady of the house. Any suggestion and advice is welcomed.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Milwaukee, WI
    Posts
    378

    Default Re: Package bee progress?

    You might get lucky and have the queen accepted. Worst case is that there are virgin queens already in the hive and then you're in the queen lottery. The safest bet is always to add a frame with eggs to the hive first to give it a "queen test." If they create queen cells, then they are truly queenless and you can decide where to go from there.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Gordonsville,VA USA
    Posts
    114

    Default Re: Package bee progress?

    What I observed looked very promising, the bees feeding her without hesitation, and afterwards it seemed the whole colony perked up, started taking more water mix, cleaning the hive and this was within a few minutes of placing the cage inside. The colony had gotten very lethargic in the last week . I will know more tomorrow when I check to see if the new lady is out. Then we will see, well if there is a show down, I only hope the laying queen wins.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Asheville, North Carolina, USA
    Posts
    552

    Default Re: Package bee progress?

    I would release her tomorrow if she is alive when you check. Let her get to work!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Gordonsville,VA USA
    Posts
    114

    Default Re: Package bee progress?

    That is the plan, she is as I was told Italian/Carniolan Hybrid, hopefully the girls are as eager as they seem and we can get ready for the fall resources to get through winter.
    If she alive?oh my, well I know where I can go now, just hope I don't have too. hummm well I heard that familiar click noise as I heard when I first installed the package. I think it is festooning when drawing comb and slamming the frames together by the bees filling in between, could this bee?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Gordonsville,VA USA
    Posts
    114

    Default Re: Package bee progress?

    Checked to see if Queen Eleanor had been released, and she was still being fed in her cage. The bees were easily moved off the cage, and I pulled the plug, took a little bit for her to see that the door was open, but she came out hesitated a bit then down into the hive she went. After a few minutes I begin to hear that harmonious humm. I have to say once I placed her in the hive a few days ago. the girls perked up, seen more pollen brought into the hive I than the previous days. I figure I will check for eggs in a few days and keeping my fingers crossed that all will be on the up swing. Anything else I should be watching for or aware of?

    Thanks all

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Gordonsville,VA USA
    Posts
    114

    Default Re: Package bee progress?

    New queen introduced on the 7th, then there were approx. 3 frame of bees. I cleaned feeder and just looking at the bees between frames it appears that could be about 1 frame of bees. Dang, 4 days and that many bees missing? Something going on, but I have come to the conclusion, that I will let it run it's course. It will be at least the end of the month before any new bees emerge, so either they hang on and pull through, or I will end up with a few drawn frames of combs for next time. Dang it is one thang then another.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Brownsburg, Indiana, USA
    Posts
    176

    Default Re: Package bee progress?

    I'm a new keeper, and love it, I'm a rough biker kind of guy, ex-public service, retired, and all of my friends keep asking how my bees are doing! I'm really having a good time with my bees.
    I set up shop May 2nd, as of today, I have two supers filled, and the third deep is about 30% filled.
    I feed several days per week due to the drought, and also set out water for them to drink on a daily basis.
    Here is my question, at what percentage should I set my fourth and final super?
    When I inspect the super that has filled the 30% there are lots O bees just walking around but not building comb on the foundations.
    I also opened the top at 30% to get air, I have a screen to prevent any undue activity from the top.
    The temps are around the low 90's each day, they are still working hard.
    Another question while I"m here, I purchased Italians but I have about 10% of Russians in my hive, could it be I purchased a mutt drone, or a Russian when I purchased my bees?
    As a trained observer some of the foragers seem to look like mutts, others look like Italians.
    Is this good bad or indifferent?

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Gordonsville,VA USA
    Posts
    114

    Default Re: Package bee progress?

    I have always been told that they usually build what they think they need. Sounds like you are doing pretty well. If they have stores you shouldn't be feeding them, I would think anyway. The rule of thumb has been to had next box when 80% drawn and filled. It helps if you name each one also. Well at leaste name the queen.

    Now to my package boosting, I have to say once I added a couple frames of brood, the hive got all excited. I watch them on the landing board, feeding each other, what looks like grooming each other, and everyone seem to have gotten all perked up. Thing might be looking up. Now I understand why, when you start bee keeping to start with 2 hives, this was recommended and I really didn't give it much thought, but I see the benefit.

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