Picked up and installed a package on Saturday. Because it was a little chilly and breezy, I didn't brush off the bees from the queen cage when I removed it. After dumping in the package, I saw that I had a dead queen. A quick call and another hour driving and I had a replacement queen in hand (well, box in hand, but she was alive). I hung the new queen under an empty bar between two fully drawn combs. I usually direct release, but since this was an entirely new queen to this package, I thought it was wiser to hang. I hope that they don't bugger up the two nice combs that she's between.
Anyway, I couple questions for the more experienced of the group:
- The replacement queen was very thin, rather than the nice, plump queen I'm used to seeing. My hope is that she was bred, but maybe just not all that well. My assumption is that the bees will supercede her, which I won' try to interfere with, since they know what they're doing far better than I. Sounds decent?
- The package was noticeably agitated (not mad, just buzzing all over and, if I can project... unhappy). As soon as I walked up with the new queen in my pocket (tactical error!), I started getting a LOT of attention. When I removed the one empty bar to suspend her, they boiled out and zeroed in on my pocket. By the time I made one last check to make sure she was alive, the box (and my hand) was completely covered with bees (I almost forgot to remove the cork on the candy end!). They appeared to be eager to receiver her, but as I've never seen bees trying to attack a queen in a box I decided it'd be prudent to not direct release her, as mentioned above. Anyway, within an hour, ALL the frenzied buzzing around had stopped. There was a lot of coming and going from the reduced entrance, but they looked like cleansing and orientation flights. Some bees were even working dandilions in the yard.
- I said all that to ask this... I hung her about noon on Saturday. Rain is forecast for Wednesday. Should I wait to Thursday to check/remove the empty cage, or do it tomorrow? Or today, even? I don't know how long it usually takes for eager bees to eat the candy out.
- The guy I bought the package from said that he's been hearing reports from all over of higher than normal mortality in 'package queens.' Anyone else hear this? I would suspect that package producers are under a lot of pressure to crank out a lot of packages due to (reported) heavy bee losses last year/over winter.