Many of you recently installed your package of bees into your hive. What’s the next step? With there being no rules in beekeeping, it can be hard to answer that in a short and concise manner, but in general you want to leave your bees alone for several days to settle in. Heck, they just traveled a long distance in a little rickety box on a bumpy road and then got dumped into another larger box. I assumed they are dealing with the bee version of jet lag to say the least. Therefore, I suggest letting them settle into their new home for several days. After that, it is a good idea to check on the status of the queen in her cage. Did you remove the cork and replace it with candy? If so, you will want to check and see if the candy was successfully eaten by the worker bees to release the queen. Did you leave the cork in the cage? If so, you will want to manually release her by removing the cork. The picture below shows the queen cage I found in my hive three days after installation.
You can see that the queen cage is empty! I replaced the cork holding the queen inside with a marshmallow, and that has also been eaten up. This is a good sign that the queen has been successfully released. The next thing I am eager to see is signs that she is performing well! However, this might take a while longer, and trying to spot an unmated queen (a.k.a virgin queen) can be difficult because they are smaller than mated queens. Some packages may come with unmated queens. Therefore, she must fly out, mate with drones, and return to the hive before she can begin laying eggs. This can take several days to a week to occur. From here, egg laying can begin! For packages with mated queens, egg laying might begin immediately! I am still trying to improve my queen-finding-eye to be able to successfully spot the little lady, but seeing eggs on the frames in my hives is the surefire way to know that my queen is performing. That is the next step in checking on recently installed bees!
Keep your bees buzzin’ y’all!