So I bought a couple of hives off a lady whose husband dies last week. Did it more as a favor to her to get the bees gone. A friend had bought a couple and did well.
Got them home after dark, left them alone for a day. Opened them up the second day, and they were roaring. Uh oh, no queen, me thinks. Yup. After going thru 4 boxes each, there were many bees, a fair amount of honey, no brood, and no queens to be seen. As the night got late, I decided to toss in a queen in a cage in one box, but since I only had one, I decided to merge the smaller hive with the larger hive (via newspaper). Took the bottom box off the hive bottom, and it came apart on me, leaving gaps all over. Newspaper wasn't going to work. Both hives were queenless for days, both buzzing like crazy, and I figured I had nothing to lose. So I added a second box with some frames of honey and comb, and shook the second hive into the first.
Tonight, I opened the box after dark, and all was quiet. I figured the queen calmed them down a lot. Almost. Actually, there were about 30 bees attending to the queen cage, all the frames I put in last night, and dark air. I'd guess there were over 3K bees yesterday, and today 30.
So how could I have done it better, and caused them to hang around? Did merging them with no paper cause a mass exodus due to the mixed hives, even without queens in each box? I would have thought they would stick around and at least eat honey til the queen was released (they ate more than half the sugar plug in one day, I imagine she will get out tomorrow.