well it has been one week since we installed the two new packages of bees (after our first failure-which we determined was from exposure). rick and i clucked around the bees for the first few days fretting and checking and listening and hoping. our installation weather was not ideal plus we drove a total of 5 plus hours to bring these bees back to our home on a cold and rainy day.
we kept them toasty warm in our greenhouse overnight and then rick installed them on an equally cool and not quite rainy but not quite not rainy day.
the next few nights were in the 30's. not the best bee weather. but we learned a few tricks and apparently it worked because they made it through and a few days later when it was actually warm and sunny, they were out and about bringing back pollen and working those dandelions like crazy:)
we are using the top bar hive in order to try and keep them as natural as can be. so when we put them in the first time and didn't hang the queen cage they couldn't cluster and keep warm. the second round (which we bought from a lady who exclusively uses top bar hives here in maine) we were told to hang the queen cage and a little piece of comb (that the lady we bought them from gave to us) and shorten the amount of space they had to keep warm. she also gave us a cotton ball with lemongrass oil on it to keep them interested in their hive. and the most important part...get them really warm so when you install them they have less work to go to get their hive up to their toasty temps they need and like and so they can actually move their wings, as well! we followed her instructions exactly and rick checked them really briefly the other day and they had stared to build out their comb. anybody else out there keep bees in a top bar hive and have some words of wisdom...we would be grateful!