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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been keeping bees since 2010. Last year I lost my only 2 hives. I've ordered a package which is scheduled for pickup in April. I have plenty of boxes, frames (new and used). For feeding I have a top hive feeder and several jars.

I'm trying to remember back to 2010 when my mentor helped me with my first install. I recall the dumping of the bees into the box and he did a manual release of the queen. The bees did accept her. What I don’t recall is when we started the feeding. I know we used the top hive feeder, I just don’t recall if we put it placed it on the hive at the time the bees went in or came back the next day.

With the manual release the queen is already in place so there is no need to check her in a few days. If I place the top hive feeder on the time of install, won’t there be lots of bees on top of the frames to deal with? If I strap the queen in her box to a frame and place the top hive feeder, then I’ll have to move it to check her release in a few days.

Wish I could remember the process better.

Looking for recommendations and what worked for you.

Thanks

Jim
 

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I would not do direct release with an expensive mated queen and without backup queen or eggs. Most full-proof way to install a package:
1. Setup a 10-frame box with 5 frames on one side of the box (drawn or with foundation). Leave the other half of the box empty.
2. Remove queen cage from the package by lifting the feed can quickly. Set the feed can back in the hole after removing the queen cage.
3. Uncork the candy side of the entrance on the queen cage.
4. Hang (and optionally staple queen cage strap to top bar) the queen cage between two frames near top bars, entrance facing down.
5. Remove the feed can completely and dump the bees on top of the queen cage with few shakes. Don't try to get every bee out but get the bulk of the bees dumped in the box. Leave the empty package (feed can hole facing up) on the empty side of the 10-frame box. Close the hive.
6. Feed as soon as you set them up so they can start drawing combs. Frame feeder or top hive miller feeder preferred. Or any feeding that is "internal" to the hive: quart ziplock bags with holes, quart jar with holes, etc.
7. Come back in 2-3 days to remove the queen cage and package box. Populate rest of the hive with new frames with foundation. Check for eggs during this visit.
8. If queen was NOT released then direct release the queen at this point.
 

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I would not do direct release with an expensive mated queen and without backup queen or eggs.

8. If queen was NOT released then direct release the queen at this point.
I agree with everything you said, particularly the "don't direct release the queen". Sure, most times the package has been together long enough so that a direct release works, but things happen. Particularly when and inexperienced beekeeper is driving. There is absolutely nothing wrong with allowing the bees to slowly release the queen, and I strongly recommend new beekeepers follow this guidance. 3 days in the life of a colony is nothing, but a queen that is lost due to direct release that has gone bad IS a big deal.

I'd slightly augment your #8 point as follows:

8. If queen was NOT released then observe the behavior of the bees on the cage. If the bees appear aggressive (stuck to the cage like glue or clearly trying to sting through the screen) then pull the cage and quickly check the colony for a second queen. If they appear to be feeding the queen, then direct release her and observe how they respond to her.

VaJim:

FYI, there's a local training opportunity that may help answer some of your questions. I'll be teaching two sections of this class.

http://www.tidewaterbeekeepers.net/event-3175770
 

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5. Remove the feed can completely and dump the bees on top of the queen cage with few shakes. Don't try to get every bee out but get the bulk of the bees dumped in the box. Leave the empty package (feed can hole facing up) on the empty side of the 10-frame box. Close the hive.
Dump the bees in the hive, put ALL frames back in the hive and put the package box outside the hive near the entrance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for all the responses.

Still not clear on the use of the top hive feeder and the release of the queen. If I strap the queen cage to a frame, I'm sure there will be lots of bees across the top of the frames, making it somewhat difficult to place the top hive feeder. Even if I were to manage to get it in place during the initial install, don't I have to come back in a few days to check on the queen and then have to deal with the feeder and any feed that may still be in it.

Maybe I'm making this harder than it is. It's been 10 years.
 

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Remove queen cage from the package by lifting the feed can quickly.
Uncork the candy side of the entrance on the queen cage.
Hang (and optionally staple queen cage strap to top bar) the queen cage between two frames near top bars, entrance facing down.
I would not hang the queen cage with the "candy" entrance/exit facing down. In most cases the queen is shipped with workers and it's not unusual for a couple of them to die during the time it takes to eat the candy and release the queen. If the candy end is facing down, the "dead" workers could potentially prevent the queen from being released. I put the queen cage in a horizontal position trapped between 2 frames to prevent this. Either way, you should check back in 3 days and ensure the queen was released. I don't do direct releases.
 

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The most important thing with the candy release is to make sure the screen on the cage is oriented so the workers can still feed her until she is released. The workers feed the queen thru the screen and if you block the screen they can not feed her and you will be off to a bad start.
 
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