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Newly-Installed Package: End of Week 1

  • New hive. My first.
  • 3 lbs of Italians.
  • Brood box only.
  • Top feeder with 6 cups of syrup ascorbic acid down to pH 3.1
  • 6th day
  • nights mid 40F, day 60-70F
  • Days 1-3 rain
  • Days 4-6 clear and sunny
  • Bees clustering nicely on all non-foundation frames
  • Comb on only 10-20% of middle 3 frames

So little comb conventional with these conditions?
Could not identify queen to verify her presence.


Err. You didn’t say, but I hope you got a queen cage with your package? Most packages do not have a loose queen, so it should have been there somewhere… If you didn’t, you need to contact your package supplier, like yesterday…

You should have either released her on the first day, or check on day 3 and release her then. If you didn’t do either of those, your package is in urgent need of a queen.


Yes, the queen arrived in a separate cage.
I direct released her.


Were you able to find eggs and larvae? If there is a queen in there she should be filling up every available cell with an egg and by day 7 you would have very noticeable larvae if she started laying after 2-3 days you should still have 4-5 day old larvae which are starting to get pretty big.


Laying egg even though there’s so little comb?


In a situation like this she will sometimes start laying in cells that are not even finished being pulled out in order to be able to start laying, then the workers will finish the cell before it needs to cap off (they have 8 days). So yes I would expect to have seen some eggs being laid, and probably all available cells full up with eggs.


Take a look at Rusty Berlew’s math on queen-laying time tables - even with the understanding that your queen would have already been mated, there’s still time for her to get down to business. Also, the comb progress is affected by cold temps - the bees may have spent some time simply clustering to keep themselves & most importantly Mama warm :heart_eyes::honeybee:

@Cowgirl, can you paste that nice link about condensation - it had a similar easy to understand table about what bees do in dropping temperatures.


In all fairness I did release my queen on day 3, but as an example I also installed a package on undrawn foundation and after the queen was released on the 3rd day I did another inspection 8 days later and found evidence of 7 day old larvae. So even in a worst case scenario where she took the first 4 days off you should have still more then likely had eggs and larvae on your 1 week inspection. They would have just been 2-3 day old instead.


Thanks Eva, but Rusty’s content is commenting on hatch to lay.
Mine was ostensibly a mated queen.

Perhaps I should order another mated queen now as a stop gap.


If the queen is dead or failed, how long do I have to introduce a new queen before something undesirable happens with the installed workers/drones?


Worker bees live 6 weeks on average(42 days). And they take 21 days to emerge once laid. A package of bees is going to have a variety of ages included, most of them should be fairly young but you will likely start having old age die off as soon as they are installed. So if you don’t get a queen into a new package fairly quickly ie a week or two you will not have many bees left by the time the brood emerge.

Can you get a frame of brood and fresh eggs from a local bee keeper, or club member? With that they could raise their own queen and you would know right away if your queen is there or not. If she isn’t they will start making an emergency queen cell and rear a queen from one of the freshly laid eggs. This option may leave you with a fairly weak colony at the end as well because it takes 23 days +/- to reach fertility and start laying(then 21 days from that point to get your first workers).


Don’t fret too much about getting a queen yesterday.
Although your package will have bees of varying ages they will live much much longer than their alloted 6 weeks if they have no brood to look after


You’re in CT, right? Last week was miserable & cold here in PA. My bees are building slowly too, and the article @Cowgirl posted (thanks!) really makes it clear why.


Oops, I mixed up the links about clustering etc. this is the one with specifics on what bees are doing in what temps.


Thank you all for this input.

I’m hesitant to go looking for the queen for fear of undue intrusion/disruption.

Only 3 of the frames had comb. Each comb was half the size of the palm of my hand.

3 or 4 of the other more central frames had clusters of bees the same size as the combs. These clusters dropped to the floor of the box when I lifted those frames. I assume this grossly interrupted their effort to build comb.

Even if I decided to disrupt the clusters enough to find the queen, it didn’t seem to be physically possible the way it would be on well formed comb when the bees are only 1 bee deep.

I’ve not yet found any clubs/associations that meet regularly enough to have had a meeting in the last month. I’ve not yet developed any relationships with keepers to to ask for brood comb, but thanks for that idea.

*** I don’t want to go off half cocked, but I’m wondering now how to gauge the moment when/if to order a new queen before I lose the workers or end up with a weak population that won’t survive the winter,


Based on previous advice from much more experienced folks on this forum & elsewhere, I don’t think you need to be in a rush. Let them keep building. We know there is some interaction between workers & the queen about cell sizes & eggs, but what we still don’t know would fill many brood boxes :laughing:. Perhaps Madame is saying keep it up girls, I’m ready to start laying as soon as the nights aren’t so cold!


I agree with @Eva and everyone else who has commented here. What was worrying me in my first post in this thread was that you didn’t mention releasing the queen. I am sure that several first time beekeepers have accidentally discarded the queen in her cage, and then you are in a tough spot. I would hang in there. Give them another week or two. If your weather has been cold and miserable, they will be slow. You just have to patient. I wouldn’t order another queen just yet, that would only complicate things.


Dawn brings up an interesting point. What did you do with the queen and her cage when you installed them?


If its below 50F i beleive the bees mostly cluster, I (up here in Alaska) don’t see outside activity till its at least 50 degrees F. This week its finally starting to get into the 60’s so i see alot more activity and hopefully more comb production. don’t stress yet. If you don’t see eggs or brood after the second week i’d order a new queen. Also make sure her brood pattern is nice and tight and not laying drones.


It’s amazing what people will do if you ask. Or beekeeping association has phone numbers and email links to its officers. Our president comments all the time on how many phone calls and emails he gets from people who are not even members. They will surely know a member who would be willing to at least sell you a comb of brood worst case. Check craigslist as well, at least here there are tons of bee ads posted, and many many times people will post about swarms that need removing. That would also be a way to get a queen and a heap of bees to get some strength added right away.