Bee packages - Bee in Harmony, Rowe Apiaries blog

Bee packages – Part II – Season 4



After installing bee packages last Thursday, I had to wait until Monday to release the queens. I could have removed the sugar candy plug the same day they arrived (surely there is nothing wrong with that) and let the bees release their queens, but I prefer to do it myself, making sure that the queen is accepted and sealing the hive for at least three weeks not to bother them, but only feed them weekly. I would have released the queens on Saturday, but it rained until Monday. Hence, the question is how soon do I prefer to release the queens? My personal experience tells me that in most likelihood, the queen will be superseded in a month or so, anyway, so I don’t stress about the bees really liking the queen, I worry about her starting laying as soon as possible. Five days is more than enough or me, but it my case I waited until Monday, so it had been a week at least since the bees became queenless and started their journey to Alabama. By the time I was releasing them, they were either very liked or accepted as temporary monarchs.
Not all the queens were of the same breed (most aren’t in the US). I look for Italian queens because they are most suited for this climate. I try to breed only the most mite resistant, hardiest, biggest, gentlest queens, but the truth is that inbreeding is a huge problem in the US, because breeders are not always willing to pay for “new blood”. They simply breed their bees over and over. The diversity of genes determines not just the survivability of individuals, but the whole colony, because if there are not enough of unique combinations of sex alleles, the queen will be laying fertilized eggs, which develop into drones (diploid drones). Those eggs get destroyed by the bees (diploid drones do not survive well even in the lab conditions), and hence you may see a lot of empty cells in your colony’s comb. You may think it is a disease, or the queen is old or not mated well, but… what you may have is a queen from inbred stock. If you wish to read more about diploid drones, here is one of the recent articles from

I noticed that one of the colonies was acting annoyed. Their queen was very jittery as well. I am sure that she will be replaced as soon as possible. The rest may be replaced as well, It will be easy for me to see, because these queens come with a clipped wing. I don’t clip mine in fear that the bees will consider them inadequate. Each time a colony replaces its queen, a few productive weeks of brood rearing/honey making is lost.

For the next three weeks I will be feeding these colonies syrup with bee balm and blooming yarrow, and then I will be checking on them again, before expanding the nest, if necessary, and dusting them for the first time.

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