Unfortunately the night before we picked our package of bees up, there was a big freeze and the bees were left unprotected in the back of the suppliers truck. About 1/3 of our bees were already dead when we picked them up. The supplier did not offer to discount our package- which was our first red flag. Unfortunately, package bees are very weak already- as they’re unprotected, without any “home” or honey stores and already stressed being with a bunch of new bees and new queen.
We took a 2.5 hour drive home with bees escaping the box here and there throughout the journey. When we arrived home, we decided to quickly install the bees into their new hive as it was late afternoon. We took a much less stress filled approach to installing them by leaving the open bee package in the hive body itself and allowing the bees to move out of the box at their leisure. Unfortunately their syrup can that was in their package was bone dry, and who knows for how long.. so that definitely could have attributed to our bees suffering so much initially. We were able to check on the queen and she was in the cage. She was slowly moving, but there. We removed the cork that kept her inside, and quickly placed a tiny bit of Marshmallow in the entrance to keep her inside for another hour or so.
The bees were left untouched for a couple of days with 2 quarts of 1:1 sugar syrup installed into an internal feeder. When we opened the hive to remove the package box we had allowed the bees to leave themselves- another bunch of the bees were in there, dead. All clinging to each other. Those poor bees didn’t have a chance. They were likely dead when we picked them up- and they just looked alive like the rest of the bunch clinging to the queen box. We didn’t touch the hanging queen cage when we opened the hive for the first time to take out the box as that had a cluster of bees around it still. It was quickly closed up and will remain untouched now for about 5 days when we go in to check on the syrup and fill them up. With half of our 3lb package of bees already dead the day we picked them up, they would have a lot of building to do with a such a small amount of bees.. and that’s if the queen survived the cold in the suppliers truck as well. We’re trying to keep up hope! It would be difficult for the hive to thrive with the numbers they have- but still possible if they snap back. If the queen died, however, they really have no chance.
We’ve done everything that we can to help these guys thrive if they’re going to get over that big freeze in the suppliers truck. You live and learn. In 4-5 days, we’ll have a better idea of whether the hive will survive or not. Here’s to hoping!