So when putting a package into a foundationless new hive, I am planning on putting a far feeder on top and possibly using an entrance reducer at first (to hopefully decrease the risk of a mass exodus). I was under the impression that I would need to keep the queen in the cage for a few days so the workers wouldn't kill her. It sounds like some in this thread recommend releasing the queen right away. When I put the package in the hive what is my best bet regarding queen release? Direct release or waiting a few days, and why?
BeeHoosier, The best advice I have ever seen on queen introduction can be found here: http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?311486-Successful-Queen-Introduction-tips. Follow the advice in that thread and you will not regret it. The last few times I have bought packages I bought them from Mike at northwestbeesupply.com (Cessna180 on this forum). When he delivers the packages to us, the bees have been paired with the queen in the cage for less than a day. This is not enough time for the bees in the package to recognize her as their queen and releasing her immediately will usually result in a dead queen. Hang the queen cage and let the bees release her in a few days.
Thanks for the info. Leaving the queen in the cage in the hive for a few days or just release her initially really seems to be where the issue for me is (especially being foundationless). I will read up on some of those links.
Do people use entrance reducers at first, does that decrease the rate of any problems with absconding or anything?
Going foundationless seems to be a great mystery to lots of people. As long as they have a guide on the frames, you should be OK. Remember, the bees know what they are doing. You are the hive manager. Give your hive workers the tools to get the job done and they will do an expert job. They have millions of years of instinctual knowledge to draw from. Yes, use an entrance reducer. It will cut down on robbing.
Maybe this was mentioned in one of the vids, but I'll mention it again anyway. I have read when going foundationless it is important to level the hive side to side since the bees hang in festoons to build comb.
dudelt, yeah, I intend to let their instinct take over on the foundationless frames, I have a nice guide on the frames so I should be set as far as that goes (I'll keep an eye and straighten as needed). Hopefully their instinct will keep them in the hive at first and I don't have to watch them jettison their new home..
I doubt you will have issues with them absconding. I used plastic foundation in year 1 and switched to foundationless Langs and top bar hives in year 2. I find they much prefer foundationless. My experience is that they build much faster without foundation. It seems to me they cannot figure out what foundation is and it delays their decision to start building comb on it. My belief is if the queen as decent pheromones, they will stick around in your hive. Think about it, they have no home, no queen they have bonded to and no food stores. You are providing a home, food and a queen to bond to. Why would they risk leaving when everything they need is there? The risks of going foundationless when installing a package are no greater than if you were to use foundation. You may get some weird comb but you can get that with foundation too.
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