In a few weeks I will get two package bees from BeeWeaver, whom I have never got packages from. I did get some queens from them last year, that I have been pleased with, by the way. I have never really had good success with package bees. I have been beekeeping for about 5 years or so. They just never seem to build up very fast. I have read all the stuff. Over and over and over. Any way, I would like some opinions, please, on your preferred method for getting your package bees off to a good start. I am here in Western Ky if you were wondering.
The first 3 years I started them in 10 frame deeps. After seeing so many people going to mediums or 8 frame boxes, I switched to 8 frame stuff. They seem to start better in the smaller 8 frame deeps than the 10. In my experience. So, I use 8 frame deeps, wooden frames with a mix of plastic & wax foundation. I use inner covers with jar feeder holes in them. I usually feed with two jars & dont let em run dry, because they will fill in the holes on the jar if I do. Put another hive body to conceal the jars & telescoping inner cover. I feed with 5lb bag of sugar in a 1 gallon jug mixed with water the whole first year & those foam hive top feeders through the winter. I have never had a moldy hive, summer or winter. I have had problems with the hive dwindling and shb, or wax moth trouble though.
I have no trouble installing packages, they just dont seem build up as well as I read that they should. They really seem to struggle to fill the frames with comb. I think the weather around the time that packages arrive have had an important role in their success, but I may be mistaken on that. The first few years I was advised to get em early. It seemed to me, early was cold and crappy rainy weather, so I switched to getting them about 3 weeks later in the shipping range, which has been a bit better imo. But again, I may be mistaken on that too. I have had success with a few packages though, not all of them have been bad. For the most part it seems that most of the packages I have purchased, the queens havent been all that productive. By the end of the summer, the colonies dwindle, and she is there, just stops laying or is very spotty. I dont get clipped wings, just marked.
I do somewhat regular inspections, about 1 time a month so I dont disrupt them any more than I have too. In a new colony that isnt building much comb, and inspection is fairly straight forward & quick. With out a bunch of hives, my resources for combining or raising replacement queens is not really an option right now. So, if there is an issue with a queen I am sol pretty much. I have given them a boost with a few frames from strong hives, but I havent had any luck with them having enough time to raise a new queen on their own. I have had bad luck ordering queens & getting them in a timely manner to actually be effective.
My most successful bees have been from nucs or splits that I made. They just seem to already have a jump start & have no trouble adapting to a new hive.
Packages arent getting any cheaper, and shipping costs are going up. How about some tips on what you do with your first year packages? Let me know if my method is not all that great too. I love beekeeping, but buying two packages every year & not really making an addition to my numbers is getting tough to do. So, I am looking for some help if ya dont mind....