New package, queen took off, and then returned
Yesterday I picked up a package of Italians to replace a hive that absconded last year. I installed the package, I’ve done direct release with package queens in the past, so did that again, but this time the queen took off rather than crawling down into the hive.
I actually managed to catch her mid flight, but was afraid of squishing her so didn’t close my hands too tight, and she crawled out of an opening in my hands and flew off.
I closed up the hive, put the inner on top of the brood chamber, then a feeder bucket on top of that, then another deep box around the feeder, and finally the outer cover on top. The inner cover has a small entrance which I leave pointing up this time of the year so any stragglers in the top area can get out.
Today, I picked up a replace the queen, drove out to the yard, pulled the plug on the sugar side of the queen cage, pulled the outer cover off and… there was the original queen along with a dozen or so of the bees that had still been in the package when I’d left last night, all of them trying to push their way under the feeder bucket.
Picked up the feeder bucket, the queen ran into the hive, so I put the feeder back on, closed up the hive and now I have a spare queen.