Let's take a minute to remember all the bonehead things that we all have done when installing package bees:
- Forgetting to plug the entrance with grass. Failure to do this may cause a hive to abscond and you will have no bees in the hive. Plugging the entrance holds them so they can find food and the pollen patty and get use to their surroundings.
- Putting the bees in too early in the day. It is best to install the bees late in the afternoon around 5 pm or later. They have a harder time to abscond because it is getting dark in a little while. When the bees are put in late in the day, they won't move to the warm side of the hive if the sun is shining on it and get off the feeder pail. That is why it is important to lift up the feeder pail the next day to make sure there is a large mass of bees under it not a few. If there is a few you have to look under the cover with a lit smoker and if the bees have moved to one side, remove frames from the opposite side and gently slide them so the cluster is in the middle under the feeder pail.
- Drowning the queen with sugar water spray or forgetting to spray the queen and watch her fly away. This is not good. Before any queen maneuvers take place take a second and think before you act. If you have the plan down it should work. One quick spritz with the spray on her wings. I usually will wait until all her feet are at the bottom of the queen cage and I see the whole top of her, then a quick shppppt and her wings are wet. Hold the cage deep in the hive during the release.
- Using an entrance feeder to feed the colony. This can lead to starvation in short order. Use a pail feeder.
- Tearing the screen off the cage to release the bees. The can is removed then the queen cage is removed then dump the bees into the hive.
I have made most of the mistakes above and they usually happen after keeping bees for a couple years when you really think you know what you are doing. Even to this day I give myself a refresher before I go and hive a package.