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We installed 7 packages of bees yesterday morning. It was our first time to install packages, everything went well and we were pretty proud of ourselves.

When we were done we stood back watching the cleansing flights getting pooped on in the process. We noticed this one hive seem to have l-o-t-s more bees than the rest but we didn't really know why.

This morning we noticed there was 4 hives with almost no activity so we decided we better open them up to see why. There was almost no bees in them! Only a few bees clustered around the queen! The rest of them went to the hive that had lots of bees yesterday! There was 2 packages where the bees pretty much stayed with the hive we put them in.

This is what we figured happened; we think the bees from these 5 packages must have come from the same hive and the queen from the original hive was in the package where all the bees wanted to go.

This is what we did: From the hive with lots of bees we took 2 full frames of bees and put in each of the 4 hives but we sprayed the hives with HBH first. Then we blocked the entrance.

Here's my question; How long do we need to we leave the entrance closed for them to accept the queens? The queens are still in their cages.
 

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Usually the first few hives installed, when shaking bees from packages, always end up getting more bees. The orientation pheromones are stronger and they drift to those--often at the end of the row. This is another reason to install in the EVENING and even better, a cool evening to limit excess flight.

Personally, I shake packages. However, many will position their queen between frames in a deep box OVER an empty deep that contains the open package with bees unshook and close up the hive (as normal/not bee-tight). In this way, the bees are more confined inside, rather than freely flying and apt to drift.

In your situation, hopefully the entrance is closed with screen (or if using a SBB, the slide is removed) and not blocked off completely, or the bees can be angered and smothered. Redistributing the bees and putting them on lock-down is not a bad idea. IMO, I would not keep the entrance closed more than 24-32 hours, again as long as they have access to air for ventilation and access to feed. HBH will help mask pheromones, so A+ there. I would check to see if the queens were released w/in 72 hours of installing them. Hopefully, there will be enough bees in each to make keep them viable for another 4 days or so, until you can inspect for queen presence/eggs.

You may need to further equalize hives by swapping locations 10-14 days out, to redistribute populations. That is, swapping a stong hive location with a weak one. I wouldn't mess with them too much, just manage them as best as you can.

Sounds like you did what you had to. Welcome to beekeeping!
 

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I think you're fine. I shake bees too. Never liked the idea of opening the package and putting it into the hive. Don't have the time either. I like hiving on a cool, late afternoon. It keeps them close to the hive and keeps them near their new queen. Did some packages on Sunday and we had two days of rain after that. I don't think that's such a bad thing. So, you should be OK. I'd check on them later next week to see if they've taken to the new queens. I suspect that they will have!
 

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I typically ask when the packages where made up. If the bees have been in the cage for 3-4 days, then they have had time to get to know their new queen, and she can be direct released with the bees. The sooner she gets laying the better.
A wild guess is that yours had not had enough time to "bond".



Roland
 

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Update:
All seems to be working out okay. We checked the queens today and had to release 3 of them.
They are all taking sugar syrup with Fumigilin-B. We gave them pollen patties also but they're barely taking it. Probably because they can get it fresh now.
We kept the entrances blocked for about 28 hours.

I have a question; why do we need to wait 10 to 14 days to switch the hives?


These bees didn't just drift to this one hive (which is on the end), they gravitated to it. The first two packages installed went to the end hive and they are located in the middle of the row. Don't ask why they were installed in the middle first, it's a long story. In four of the hives there was only a handful of bees clustered around the queen.

We went into winter with 5 hives started from nucs in the spring and ended up with 2 so we have comb for the packages. It appears the other 3 froze. Lesson learned there! We have SBB but we closed them therefore there was probably poor ventilation.
We fed the nucs heavy in the spring and fall because our weather wasn't good for the bees last year here but we did have a robbing problem. The feral hives around us should've had plenty of stores.
We've decided beekeeping is an expensive hobby but as we all know it's an addiction and we've come too far to turn back now. It has to get better as we learn from our mistakes. (And others mistakes.)
Yesterday DH said; "These bees are going to drive me to drinking." I said; "Let's go in my car, it's faster than yours."
Thanks guys for your replies and encouragement.
 
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