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Please help me understand what happened and what I can do. I brought my bees home yesterday and around 7pm I put the bees in the hive just like a demonstration I attended. I made simple syrup and added honey b healthy to the batch. I hung the queen cage off one of the frames in between 2 frames. Next I removed enough frames for the box to fit into the hive. I sprayed the bees with plain water and then opened the package and placed it in the hive. All of them seemed very active. Of course I used my smoker throughout the process as well. I placed the feeder and entrance reducer at the entrance and blocked the smallest opening with a tissue. The queen looked healthy and active as well. When I returned the hive was buzzing like normal. I didn't open it just listened. 24 hours after hiving them I opened it to remove the package and see if the queen was free. What I found was almost every bee dead including the queen. The bees that we trapped on the outside of the hive looked great today but the few bees inside the hive that had survived were very dark, almost black and could not fly. Am I cursed? Am I the worst or dumbest beekeeper ever? What do I do now with this hive? This is my first attempt at beekeeping and don't know what to do now.
 

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Did you block them in ? How hot is it in Texas right now?
Did you have ventilation ?
Sure don't sound right they dead fast sounds like over heating if that makes since.
 

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I did block them in. It was what was demonstrated to me by a local apiary. They said to block it for the first 24 hours. It was a high of 88 today so not too bad by Texas standards. As for ventilation, I had an inside and outside telescoping lids. That's about it. So you think it was me that killed them all? What other mistakes could I have made that I need to do differently next time?
 

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Looks like you've had temps in the 70's and 80's. Were there any other openings in the hive? If you closed off the only source of ventilation, it is likely that overheating did them in as the previous poster said.

The only thing to do with this hive now is to try to obtain another package or wait until next year. Maybe next time do the fast installation by pouring them out of the package directly into the hive, getting them out of their cluster immediately. Provide adequate ventilation and don't seal them in. I can't see any possible benefit to doing that. They need to be able to cool themselves and one of their ways to do this is to cluster outside the hive while temps are high inside.

Sorry about your unfortunate start in beekeeping.

Wayne
 

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Wow, that must be a very depressing way to start your second day as a beekeeper!

I was wondering about a few details: when you said you had the inner and outer cover on, did you have it set up so that it can ventilate correctly? Depending on how you set the two pieces together: notch up vs. notch down on the inner cover and getting the overhanging space on the telecover so that it allows air to flow out the inner cover's notch. or not. It is possible to have it set up so that the overhang is on the side away from the inner cover's notch, so little or no air exchange will happen in that case. Now, you may know this and have had it set up correctly, but it is an easy thing to forget about when you're new. I did so once or twice, and finally marked the two covers so I could tell at a glance that it was set on correctly. (I wasn't trying to get extra ventilation, just avoid an entrance portal by robbers, so the opposite of what you were doing - I wanted to block the notch!)

Another thing I wondered about was whether this was completely new woodenware and if you had painted or treated it recenty with something that is toxic to the bees? Or if the components themsleves might have been made from treated wood. Is there anything else in the hive except normal bee stuff?

What about the tissue you used to block the entrance? Was it just a normal unscented, uncolored, Kleenex - or something else? BTW, although I've never hived a package (my bees are all from swarms), I would think that the bees would stay inside with the queen, and not need anything to hold them in. Or perhaps you could (temporarily) set a queen excluder down under your bottom hive body (above the bottom board) to keep Her Ladyship inside, while allowing the workers out to forage and fan. You could also make a partial entrance reducer from screening (#8 hardware cloth, or a short section of that perforated metal corner protector stock that is used when sheet rocking). This would bar the entrance of robbers, while still allowing for a lot of through-hive air flow.

I would also contact your package supplier, although it does sound like excess heat may have done them in. But a reputable supplier would want to know if there was problem happening this fast. And hopefully you can get another package organised for this year.

I am really sorry this happened, and I hope it doesn't discourage you completely. and I hope you have bteer luck next tiime!

Enjambres
 

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Exactly waynesgarden.I just want to add don't use your smoker isn't needed when installing a package.The smoke didn't kill them,but in my opinion whoever did the demonstration did.The package could have already been overheated when you picked them up.If you put them in your trunk left them unattended with the windows in your vehichle rolled up that could contribute to it also.Bees generate their own heat even in a package.It's not hard to overheat.Keep them cool and out of the wind.The trunk of a car or the back of a pickup truck aren't good for transporting bees.Don't give up try again!
 

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Mine ride in the passenger seat :lpf: I also leave them in a cool garage overnight and install on the day after pickup, gives them one more day with the queen plus they settle back down from the travel. My question, who comes up with this put the package in the box gig? I have only ever seen or heard of shaking the bees down into the box then dumping. They are always calm in a package at least have been for me. This is the first year I heard of that method and it seems that both instances were unsuccessful, and this one fatal. I dump em, leave a small entrance on the bottom, top slid back for an escape on the top, and check on the queen after 3 days. I am sorry for your loss, dont give up. There are tons of good answers here. Good Luck.
 

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[HR][/HR]I haven't hived a package for over ten years now, but when I did it, I would remove 5 frames, attach the queen cage near the center of the remaining 5 frames, shake the package over the queen and then put the cage with the remaining bees in the box where the 5 missing frames were and then close up the box for the night. In the morning I would remove the now empty cage and replace the frames.

There is no reason to close up the entrance to the hive unless you were doing a direct release of the queen on all foundation or foundationless frames since they won't leave without her. Which is why I wouldn't do that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you everyone for your responses. I'm devastated that it looks like I may have caused this. I didn't jump into this willy nilly. I read several books and jumped on forums and websites and did a ton of research before investing. I'm passionate now about the bees and wanting to do this not for money or even the honey is secondary, I wanted to contribute to the success of the bee population today. Now it seems I've made a grave mistake. I picked my bees up and the rode home shot gun and I waiting for the cooler Texas temps for the evening and wanted everyone home so I could teach my kids about bees. My experience with R Weaver aviary has been top notch from the ease of purchase to customer service and the free class they offered. But I don't know about the notch described in this thread. I bought an already painted and ready to go starter kit from R Weaver so their was I'm assuming no chemicals inside the hive. My package was buzzing and thriving and queen looked active and healthy. The temps were in the 80s this afternoon and mid 60s last night. My ear test to the hive this morning sounded perfect with plenty of buzzing. I used the queen excluder on the bottom but also blocked the entrance with tissue (uncolored and unscented) because the class demonstrated blocking it with paper or leaves or some such. This afternoon was warmer than the past few days but not like a Texas summer so I wanted to wait the full 24 hours to peek. First thing was I removed the top cover and I saw a lot of dead bees. Then I opened it up and my heart sank. Thousands do dead bees lined the walls and bottom. The survivors couldn't fly. The 20 or so that I blocked from entering the night I hived them looked perfect. The survivors inside looked black and sick and flightless. The queen cage had progress made on the candy but the queen looked melted for lack of a better term. My hive is in the black yard in mostly sun but partial shade in the morning and late afternoon. I guess that I overheated them. I still don't understand the proper placement of the inner and outer cover because I don't see the notch described by y'all. I wrote the apiary and will wait till Monday to hear my options but for a guy that read "Beekeeping for dummies" cover to cover I feel like the biggest dummy ever. I'm heart broken and won't block the entrance next time but I'm still asking for clarity. 1st could there be anything else I did wrong and should not do again and 2nd can you please be VERY specific about how I set the covers until my queen is free. Talk to me like I'm stupid because that's how I feel right now. I'm not giving up but I don't want to ever be responsible for killing anymore honey bees. Also mine are buckfast bees in a suburb of Houston if that means anything that you could also advise on. Thank you and feel free to be brutal and candid. I care too much about this endeavor to make another mistake like this. Thank you all who've already replied and anyone else that can advise me. I'm also joining the fort bend beekeepers and attending my first meeting on the 13th of May to meet others and seek advice.
 

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In beekeeping as in anything else that is new to you there is a learning curve and experience to gain. Mistakes are inevitable. Killing
bees is inevitable until you have learn not to kill them anymore. We all have been there before. It is not that you are stupid but for your lack of hands on experience in beekeeping. Bring a mentor or a bee buddy with you the next time you hive a
package. I still think a package is not ideal for beginners. It is better if you can buy a 5 frame nuc or a full hive to start with for a better chance of success. Moving forward is all you can do now. Learn from this one as part of your education.
 

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Extreme bummer. I don't do anything special with my covers - but remember I am in Maine and you are in Texas. Practices in response to regional conditions are huge in beekeeping! Beekeeping is a learning experience - develop an understanding of what the practices are and why they are followed. Mimicking may have a place when you are first learning but as you unfortunately found it can have sharp teeth.
 

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I did block them in. It was what was demonstrated to me by a local apiary. They said to block it for the first 24 hours. It was a high of 88 today so not too bad by Texas standards. As for ventilation, I had an inside and outside telescoping lids. That's about it. So you think it was me that killed them all? What other mistakes could I have made that I need to do differently next time?
Sorry to tell you this, but from what you wrote it appears you cooked your bees. The first thing that struck me was that you sprayed them w/ water and I wondered if you got them too wet. But then you described blocking them in, into what I assume is new equipment implying no cracks or holes there fore tight.

Bees produce a lot of heat all on their own, especially evident when confined.

Sorry to be so blunt, but, education is expensive no matter how you get it. This experience should teach you not to confine bees w/out some way for fresh air to get into your hive.

Next time leave the entrance reducer out. Next time dump the bees into the hive after spraying them lightly w/ sugar syrup. Many folks don't bother w/ spraying w/ sugar syrup at all.

Better luck next time.
 

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I did block them in.
This.

So sorry! It is not your fault you were just following instructions. We all make mistakes. I hope you can find another package and give it another try.
 

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That is a bummer for sure. Don't let it get you down, it happens. Just try again and by all means tell the "instructor" to not teach them to "block them in". They got overheated, no doubt.
The notch on inner cover can either go up or down. Hotter months I run mine down. Make sure that the telescoping cover does not block the notch. Run the tele cover all the way forward.
Your second shot will work for you. The members on this site for the most part are amazing people, willing to help at the drop of a hat.
 

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Sorry to hear about your bad experiences. You have not gotten a straight answer on the covers, so I will try to explain that for you.

The inner cover is meant to provide a bee space between the top of the frames and the cover. It is also meant to help provide ventilation and extra air space. Without it, your bees will place a lot of wax or propolis to stick the cover to the frames. With a telescoping outer cover, there are overhangs that make it impossible to stick your hive tool in to separate the frames from the cover.

The inner cover may come with or without a notch. The notch is in the wood around the edge of the inner cover. The notch is usually on only one side of the inner cover. An inner cover with a notch (to the left) can be seen here

http://www.betterbee.com/Products/Nuc-Boxes-and-Components/Double-Nuc-Inner-Cover

Betterbee used to sell inner covers without notches, but the new owners of Betterbee think they should be notched, so decided to notch them all. The notch is typically placed upwards in the summer. In winter, the notch is placed downward. In winter, with the notch downward, the bees can leave the hive more easily for a cleansing flight. With the notch up, they would have to leave through the hole in the inner cover, traverse half of the hive length to get to the exit (all the while getting colder), and they would have thus "wasted" a lot of their limited flight time before they were too cold to fly.

The guy saying that you should block the entrance with some grass or something might have had a little caveat you (or he) missed. Usually that advice is meant for after you move a hive so that the bees get a signal telling them to make sure they do orienting flights. The blockage is just a mild one so the bees have to wiggle through stuff to get out. With a package, there has been so much mayhem that they have already gotten that message and do not need to be blocked in. We do usually advise putting in an entrance reducer so the bees have a smaller entrance to defend from robbers. Closing the entrance is a definite no-no. It also brings up that you need to investigate what you hear and try to filter it out a little.

Moving a bunch of packages last year, it really hit home how much heat they generate. We had 3 foot fans, water misters, and total shade and still had trouble keeping packages as cool as we would like in 70 degree weather. In Georgia where we picked them up, they were in what looked like a beer cooler room. We asked about bringing bees in a refrigerated truck and were told the refrigerator unit would not be strong enough to keep the bees cool. They make a lot of heat.

The dairy farmers in the last 20 years have really been figuring out ventilation, and a lot of what we learned there applies just as much to bees. Hopefully the beekeepers catch up on understanding the importance of ventilation.

Chris Cripps
[email protected]
 

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Another option is to install a nuc instead of a package. For me it is easier. It does cost more, but the way I look at it is you get frames of bees with drawn comb, eggs, etc. A frame of capped brood sell here for 16-18$ each. I never block the entrance for a nuc, no reason for them to leave. Just another option. Anyway, try not to feel to bad, I have made my share of mistakes at beekeeping. If you decide to try another package I would not smoke them, you can have a lit smoker close by, but no reason to use it. I do spray the package very lightly with syrup and h-b-h before I open the package.
 

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I am so sorry this happened to you and hope you won't give up. You did as you were taught and that is hard. There are so many "do this...but NOT if this or when this or this happens..." and "don't do this...unless this or this." It really does start to come together after a while -- about 4 years in my case and still I run into a puzzler nearly every time I open a hive.

My first package absconded two days after install. Every bee gone. I had prepared for nearly a year and was heartbroken. Then someone in the bee club in NW Arkansas where I lived caught a little swarm for me and I never looked back (and never bought another package...).

Does your equipment have screen bottom board? That combined with a ventilated top cover (This one is from Brushy Mountain: http://goo.gl/fwSasn but I prefer this one from Rossman b/c I can feed a hive if needed and still have ventilation: http://goo.gl/CYB0dH ) really helped get through summers in Arkansas and eliminated bearding and a lot of fanning in the afternoons.

Keeping bees cool enough in hot weather is more challenge than I ever imagined. I am sorry you had this terrible experience. Hang in there. It really is worth it.

4th year beek - 8 hives
Blue Ridge Mountains, 3000 ft.
 

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As pointed out by above posters, you didn't do anything wrong. You followed bad advice. I too, started with packages of bees, three to be exact. Were I to make another start, it would be with established nucs. The nucs are a work in progress. You could probably find a nuc in your area. Good luck, and as they say don't get down on yourself.
 

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I understand why they suggested blocking them in, to settle them down in them permanent home and to reduce drift etc. If this is your only colony I don't think it's necessary. I have hived many packages, and I have never used water, HBH, or blocked them in.

I have had success, waiting till evening, 1/2 hour before sunset, and shake them in. They won't fly much till morning, then they will orientate themselves.

Good luck, definitely try again!

Luke
 
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