>Michael, on packages you free release, or at least sometimes you free release. How long do you recommend the bees be with the queen if you plan on free releasing. The reason I ask is that I'm getting a package that supposedly will have been made up in the previous 24 hours. That seems like too short a time to free release.

The mentality of a package is entirely different from an established colony. A package only needs about two hours. A package is a bunch of bees shaken together, often from different hives, who find themselves homeless and queenless. In two hours they will pretty much accept any queen. The mentality of an established colony is they are home things are fine, they figured out their queen is missing in about 2 hours and they start fanning Nasonov hoping to lead her home. They are not desperate for a queen. The have a colony with brood and eggs, they can make a queen if they need to, but they would like to get theirs back. You put a queen in a cage in and they aren't quite sure what to do. Some will want to attack her and some will want to take care of her. After a day they are probably more on the side of accepting her. But four days is a safer bet. If you are in doubt about them accepting the queen, you can always leave them in the package an extra day. You could even set the package in the hive so it gets the Nasonov smell in it, and then release them all the next day. You can leave the queen in the cage if you like, but you have to realize it almost guarantees a messed up comb. With foundation, it's usually just one messed up comb. With foundationless one messed up comb leads to another and you end up with a total mess.