There are as many ways to keep bees as there are beekeepers, and while there are some fundamentals, most of what a beekeeper does is for their own convenience or to make the bees more productive.
I say this because I am going to show how I install package of bees in the rain, when common knowledge says you can’t do this. I also feel the need to say this because a group of English top bar hive beekeepers think I have no business talking about my bees.
From there perspective they are right – I am what most beekeepers call a a bee haver and not a beekeeper. I respect the bees, and I enjoy having them, but it is not a hobby or a profession with me. I only keep bees so that in the event I cannot get sugar I will have a sweetener, as well as the fact that I have lots of uses for beeswax.
When I look at bee keeping techniques I want things that both lessen my input, and that treat the bees closer to how they would act if they were feral.
I ignore things like bee space in a top bar hive and allow them to make comb how they wish, I also do not inspect as much as most, and I typically harvest in the spring so I can get the true surplus rather than hope I left the bees enough to survive the winter.
That all being said, let me talk about how I install a package of bees in the rain.
The reason why you should not install bees in the rain is because they can get chilled and die – not all of the bees will be shaken out of the shipping package, and the package is normally left out on top of the hive for the stragglers to find the hive entrance and their queen.
If time does not permit me to wait for a nice warm day, what I do is to set an empty hive body on the top of my hive after I installed the queen normally and shaken the majority of bees out.
In this empty body I set the open shipping package – making sure it is turned so I can put a cover over the hive to close it up. This way and left over bees can climb out and travel down to find their hive mates.
After a week, I reopen the hive – make sure the bees have started making comb, remove the empty queen box and shipping package, and then remove the empty hive body, close the hive, and let the bees alone until it is time to set up more hive bodies.
My advice is to learn from experts (I am not one), figure out WHY they do what they do, and keep in mind the reasons for the actions so that you can adapt as needed. This works for bees as well as everything else.