I installed my first ever package on unused foundation in early June last year in Richmond, Virginia.
I didn't take any honey last year, and it appears that the hive has made it through the winter. At some point last fall, they made a new queen she is not the original
It has been a cold March here, and the colony is slow to strengthen. I checked in early March, and there was limited brood, but the queen is there and there was plenty of honey. The numbers in the hive are low, and my fingers are crossed that I will have a rapid build up of numbers in April.
Best of luck. :-D
Don't mean to "high-jack" this thread...maybe should ask this in a new topic....but: is it a good idea to not take any honey the first year? I have heard this is true and, as I'm really mostly interested in pollination for my garden, I wouldn't mind leaving the hives alone until next year, if it will make them stronger.
It all depends on how they build up the first season and how much honey they are able to make and store.
If they are quick to build and have really good resources and are able to create a surplus, you just may be able to take some honey this season.
Also, you are in a southern region where winters are much shorter than northern bee keepers who need to leave extra feed on their hives because their bees over winter for much longer periods and would starve without extra reserves.
Package installs generally take longer to build, I've had very good luck with large swarms that I've housed that built up extremely fast and often, I am able to take some of their bounty the first season.
If you want to ensure you will get some honey the first season, start with a nuc or an established hive.
Of course, again, it depends on the nectar flow as to what they will make in any given season. Adequate rainfall feeding the flowers has a lot to do with this.