We were installing some packages a few weeks ago and my helper mistakenly took the cork out of the queen cage. As luck would have it, she flew (the queen, that is). I told my helper that queens will often fly back, so set the outer cover on top upside down and keep an eye out for her.. Sure enough, the queen returned, but before we could grab her she flew again. I said keep your eye open and also look for a cluster of bees which may mean she landed somewhere else.
A few minutes later we noticed a clump of bees in fromt of the hive. The queen was there but the bees had already done their damage. I picked her up but she was barely moving. After placing her back in the queen cage, we observed her for some time and I knew she wouldn’t make it. I put the cage in the hive and closed it up, then called to get another queen and made the trip up to Betterbee the following morning. When I got to the hives, I noticed that there was a lot of activity in the next hive over and when I popped the cover on the one with the injured queen there were no bees, save a handful.
All of the bees had moved over to the next hive so I pulled a couple of frames and put them in with the new queen and closed it up.
I went back the next day to check on things and the bees had left again. I was heading out of town and wondered what to do. There was almost a package worth of bees hanging on the inner cover of the other hive so I figured I’d give it one more try and just switched covers. If I had the time when I first got the new queen I would have moved them to a new location to lessen the chance of them leaving, or if there were other existing hives there I could have put a frame of brood in. The bees will usually instintively care for the brood so that would keep them there.
I was away at my daughters for five days so I stopped at the hives on the way home. This time there were stil bees in it and they had accepted the new queen. The packages were installed on mostly drawn out foundation and a few frames of honey, so they should get a pretty good jump start.
UPDATE: Well it’s August now and this hive has done well. We kept a close watch on it and added a frame of brood on a couple of occasions to give it a boost early on. The queen is laying well and all are happy.