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I installed my first ever package last night and thought it went okay. The bees had been in the package since last Monday so I removed the cork from the queen cage completely instead of just exposing the candy. I did still put the cage in the hive though because it was dark and I just couldn't see the queen to see whether she had left the cage yet. There were a few stragglers in the package so I left the package near the hive entrance in hopes that those bees would find their way to their new home. When I woke up this morning it looked like there were still some bees in the package, but I was in a hurry to get some cultures growing in my lab so I figured I'd take a look at the package when I got home from work. It started raining before I got home and when I went out to check on the package, it appears that almost all the bees left the hive over the course of the day and returned to the package. And then died in the rain. I did see a few crawling still so I took the package and put it under the covered part of my porch. I also put some syrup on a plate next to it in hopes that they would find it.

Anyway, I'm not 100% sure that the bees are dead so I was hoping some of you could offer some advice on what to do with them.

Further information that seems relevant:
The low tonight is 50 and that appears to be the coldest night this week.
The forecast also shows rain for the next two days straight, so I don't know if I should open the hive at all.
I do not have a garage.
I do have some of those Wall-O-Waters that I use to protect my seedlings when I first put them out in the garden.
I took a quick peek under the top cover of the hive to see if there were any bees in the top feeder: I saw two.
I used a screened bottom board on this hive.
 

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I picked up 10 packages last year and it flooded right before I got there. The bees were soaking wet and looked pretty bad but, the package producer assured me they would be fine once the dried out and told me if not to let them know and they would replace them. I was quite skeptical but, once they dried out most of them were fine. Hopefully most of yours will be ok too.

I like to leave the queen in the cage even if I'm sure they have accepted the queen. It will help hold them in the hive long enough to get them working on comb. Once they start working the hive they are less likely to abscond. Good luck. This is another reason why having two hives is a good idea.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for your quick reply. That is reassuring that your bees dried off and made it. Did your supplier say anything about keeping them above a certain temperature while they were wet?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Update: when I went to reinstall, there was a decent cluster in the hive. I shook what I could out of the package and this time didn't leave the package by the hive. I put it in my side porch so they'd be protected from the rain.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Also, since y'all have shared wisdom with me I should share a piece of "wisdom" with any other new beekeepers: don't go commando under your bee suit if you live within sight of any neighbors. If you do, you won't be able to take your suit off outside without exposing your fun bits to the neighborhood!

Not that I learned that at midnight last night or anything . . .
 

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Also, since y'all have shared wisdom with me I should share a piece of "wisdom" with any other new beekeepers: don't go commando under your bee suit if you live within sight of any neighbors. If you do, you won't be able to take your suit off outside without exposing your fun bits to the neighborhood!

Not that I learned that at midnight last night or anything . . .
haha! Now that is great advice! I usually only wear the suit over the top of my existing day clothes. I'll add a little of my own experience - bees seem to get rather temperamental as evening approaches and they are settling in. The best time I find to check in is right about midday after the foragers have left for the day and the rest of the hive is busy tending to chores.
 

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Also, since y'all have shared wisdom with me I should share a piece of "wisdom" with any other new beekeepers: don't go commando under your bee suit if you live within sight of any neighbors. If you do, you won't be able to take your suit off outside without exposing your fun bits to the neighborhood!

Not that I learned that at midnight last night or anything . . .
I'll help you inspect your bees anytime :D:thumbsup:
 

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I wish people would learn to just slam the package on the ground and pour the bees out. It's not hard and it avoid SOOOOO many problems... No, they won't mind, they will just be glad to be out...
Agreed. I wanted to be as gentle as possible with the first packages I installed hoping to not upset the bees. After doing a few packages, you start to realize that the faster you get them in the hive and closed up, the better.

So now comes the really hard part Christine: leave them alone for a while. :)
 

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Next time you still have some bees in the package, and it's getting late, cold, or threatening to rain, get an empty super and put it on the hive over the inner cover. Put the package in the super. If it's a medium super you will probably have to lay the package on its side. Shim it up with a couple of sticks so the bees can get to the hole in the inner cover. Most will go down into the hive.
Come back the next day and shake out any remaining bees. Remove the super, and you're done.
 
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