The packages were installed on a queenless colony:
2 packages + 1 queenless colony = 2 queenright colonies (hopefully)
as simultaneous split and dual combination, I suppose. Anyway, the blunder was to use the newpaper method with empty supers but lay the paper, and packages on TOP of excluders.
[ D'oh! ]
The hive, a dual colony arrangement, was all buttoned up before it was realized that the configuration would have prevented the queens, once released, from moving down into the lower hive bodies but would have allowed them to move up into the common super stack and duke it out for sovereignty over a two package + a colony dominion.
The inelegant but (hopefully) effective temporary solution was to place feeders atop each of the hive bodies containing the packages and queens, covers on the feeders and supers on the covered feeders. From bottom to top:
- Hive bodies with old colony,
- Queen excluders (sigh),
- Hive bodies with packages and caged queens,
- Hivetop feeders,
- Feeder lids (sealing them off from above),
- Common honey supers
- Telescoping top cover (left ajar, as there is no inner cover in this setup).
- Old colony workers can exit (and work?) the supers, but can't get in the feeders and drown,
- Package bees can get at the feeders (really just to get rid of the syrup that came with the packages),
- Package bees and old colony workers from the hive bodies can joyfully unite through the newspaper and
- The queens can hang out in their feeder-topped, excluder-bottomed prisons until someone comes along to let them out and get on with, um, queening.
I think I'm going to get a chance to go back and unscrew this mess tomorrow, but I really had planned on being able to leave this location alone for about a week while the acclimation and release process unfolded on its own. And I wonder if there might be any robbing issues with accessible supers for the moment not really assocaited with a defending colony - the weather was pretty lousy this morning, though...
And aside from the complete lapse in rational thought, there is the forgotten lesson learned: when installng packages or just caged queens, never start without a couple of marshmallows handy. One of the packages had a bad candy plug and while I THINK it will be okay, it would have been better to have a marshmallow handy, a lesson learned from unexpectingly encountering corked, not candied queen cages when installing packages from a new supplier.
Hopefully it will turn out well,
leaving only another story to tell.