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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Haymarket, Virginia
    Posts
    197

    Question Cold weather installation on foundation

    Given the near-term forecast, how would you suggest we manage packages picked up on Wednesday (3/20)? http://www.accuweather.com/en/us/man...eather/8252_pc

    We have no drawn combs, no frames of honey. The current plan is to hold them in the basement, and feeding 1:1 syrup until Friday. On Friday, we'll drive them to the beeyard, hive them in warm 10-frame deeps (with warmed frames) and place a gallon each of warmed syrup on the top bars of each hive. We'll reduce the entrances to the smallest opening, but I'm not sure what to do with the SBBs - the ground at the yard can get VERY boggy. Considering today's snow, I expect it to be swamp-like on Friday. Should we close the bottom boards? Keep them open? Not sure with feed open to the air inside the hive.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,104

    Default Re: Cold weather installation on foundation

    If you put them in your basement and keep them dark and quiet and make sure they don't run out of food, you can keep them confined for quite some time. I usually refill the cans if I think they will be there a while. There are two types. One has a rubber grommet and a piece of cloth. These are quite easy to refill. The other just has small holes punched. These, I use a "church key" and put just big enough of a hole to get syrup to run in. Then I soften some beeswax or propolis and stop the hole with it and put the can back in. If you don't want to refill cans, you can spray some syrup on the screen once a day. Soak the screen pretty good and let them suck the syrup off. You could do that about twice for each package and they should not starve. If you do install when it's cold, you need to give them something they can take, that means whatever it is has to be against the cluster and either dry (like dry sugar) or warm (like syrup you warm up at least once a day so they can take it). You can warm syrup up to what you can stand to put your finger in without getting burned and they can take it very well. You would need to warm it once a day until things warm up. Remove the cold syrup and put it in a pan and warm it then put it back in the feeders. Feeders that they don't get into work well (jars, cans ect. with holes as opposed to frame feeders) because you can get the bees off of them.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,859

    Default Re: Cold weather installation on foundation

    Michael's plan is a good one - but I've got to say "Welcome to agriculture!" Sometimes the only way to success is by ad libbing. Dark and quiet and don't let them run out of food. Keep them cool too. I'll bet you can keep them going in the package for close to ten days.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Haymarket, Virginia
    Posts
    197

    Default Re: Cold weather installation on foundation

    Thanks much for the feedback. We'll do the best we can with what nature throws at us.

    I got burned this month on my early plant starts as well. Some years you win, some you don't!

    **Edit**
    10 days would get us a LOT closer to better weather. It's something to think about. Regardless, I'm seriously considering to feed both warmed syrup and dry sugar with our lows in the 20s.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Haymarket, Virginia
    Posts
    197

    Default Re: Cold weather installation on foundation

    Our best bets weather-wise seem to be Saturday, and possibly Monday depending on when and how likely it is to rain. Meanwhile, my husband is concerned about the queen getting fed and/or her attendants dying.

    Do we need to give each queen cage a droplet of water or syrup at every feeding? My husband also wants to expose the candy plug. Not sure letting them work on the queen's candy is a good idea, but I'll ask the question.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,104

    Default Re: Cold weather installation on foundation

    The cage is in the package is it not? The bees in the package will feed the queen. Odds are there are no attendants in the cage. There certainly don't need to be.

    Installing them when it's cold out isn't the worst option, it often keeps them from drifting or absconding, you just have to keep the syrup warm if the weather is cold. Also make sure the bees are warm when you install so they can crawl back up after you shake them in. If they are cold they could get chilled and not make it back up to the cluster.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    southwest colorado
    Posts
    137

    Default Re: Cold weather installation on foundation

    How would that advice apply when the hive set-up is new and no comb has been drawn yet?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Plantsville, Ct.
    Posts
    176

    Default Re: Cold weather installation on foundation

    I hived 2 packages yesterday here in Connecticut. 40 deg. temp. & a cool breeze. I worked quickly and got them all closed up in a few mins. Wasn't supposed to go below freezing overnight and daytime highs are supposed to be near or at 50 this week so I went for it. I didn't have any frames with drawn comb ready so I put them on new foundation with a frame feeder full of warm syrup.
    I put the queen in the middle of the hive but I'm thinking that I should have put her closer to the feeder, like 2 frames away. I plan to go back today, warm up the syrup again and pull 2 frames of drawn comb from my other hive and sandwich the queen in between. I'll probably put some foam insulation on top too!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    New Kent County, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Cold weather installation on foundation

    O.K. my one week wait is up tomorrow, I have followed the book almost to the letter, the only change I made was to remove the top syrup feeder and replace it with the Mountain Camp method because it’s just been really cold here. In this one week I’ve had two good days were the Bees were flying, the rest have been cold as hell with rain, sleet and snow. In any event, tomorrow -following the book- I’m supposed to check to see if the Queen has been released and there are eggs being laid but, tomorrows high is only going to be 52, should I wait till it’s warmer or go for it? Thanks.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Haymarket, Virginia
    Posts
    197

    Default Re: Cold weather installation on foundation

    How did everyone's packages fare? For the sake of future novices, what method(s) did you use? What would you change?

    Both queens were out and hives flying as of yesterday. As I understand is customary, one hive is significantly stronger/more active than the other. As for methods, we kept our packages inside (per Michael Bush's instructions) for three days, feeding syrup by spray bottle to make sure they were full. When installing them, I left sugar candy, half a pollen patty and 1:1 syrup (1 gal chicken waterer) directly on the top bars (used empty supers to cover it). We also closed the SBB and used the entrance reducer on the smallest opening. If I had it to do over again, I would worry less and use a standard hivetop feeder. The chicken waterer worked well and stayed warm, but refilling it can be disruptive.

    Next?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pepperell, MA.
    Posts
    3,770

    Default Re: Cold weather installation on foundation

    I hived them in the 30's. Dumped them fast, put room temp syrup on top and they're fine. They fly every day. Queens are out. All is well.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    96

    Default Re: Cold weather installation on foundation

    Kept mine in the house from Monday to Thursday. Installed them in about 45 degree weather. Fortunately, it was warmer than expected on Friday and today looks to be in the upper 50's to low 60's. Bees flying around and starting to see them on the earliest nectar sources (some kind of small purple weed). Hope these do well - i have two more packages coming in late April!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Plantsville, Ct.
    Posts
    176

    Default Re: Cold weather installation on foundation

    Checked mine today. Both queens out. All appears well, Flying, guarding, building comb... One hive sucked down a gallon of syrup, while the other barely touched it. Gonna watch them close for the next few days. Try to insulate that hive a little more to keep the syrup warmer.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Stafford county,Virginia,USA
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: Cold weather installation on foundation

    I had the same thing happen, one hive did not take the syrup while the other two sucked it down. It's all but dead now, the queen is dead for sure. If they are not eating, you might want to treat for nosema. If the packages were the same size and the hives have the same setup/lighting/comb/etc and one of them isn't taking feed well, something may be wrong. No eating = dead bees.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Memphis, TN
    Posts
    40

    Default Re: Cold weather installation on foundation

    If the temps hit 30* at night, would it be better to swap the jar out with a warm jar of sugar water from the house in the morning? (With temps 50* + during the day.)

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Stafford county,Virginia,USA
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: Cold weather installation on foundation

    In the same weather my healthy hives took the syrup like free wine at a wedding without any warming. If they are in full sun the sun will warm it up for you.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Plantsville, Ct.
    Posts
    176

    Default Re: Cold weather installation on foundation

    2nd package taking syrup better now. I put a piece of 2" insulation against the side of the hive where the syrup is. 1st gallon is treateded for nosema just as a precaution. Temps expected to reach 50's in the daytime this week but down in the 20's at night so I'm going to leave the insulation on top for now. Once they get there numbers up naturally they will be able to keep it warmer in there.
    Trees are just starting to bud here.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Haymarket, Virginia
    Posts
    197

    Default Re: Cold weather installation on foundation

    Interestingly, during the last few nights of near or sub-freezing weather the smaller hive doubled their syrup consumption. Even better, it appears that tonight will be our last freeze for the foreseeable future.

    It appears only one colony was lost and that loss may be attributable to Nosema rather than weather. The MAAREC literature on packages states that bees could die if hived on foundation in less than 57F weather. Given some of the anecdotal evidence on this forum, I wonder where that number comes from. Is there a scientific study specifically on success of colonies hived on foundation in cold weather? I didn't see anything in AGRICOLA (assuming it's the right place for science-based honey bees articles).

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Plantsville, Ct.
    Posts
    176

    Default Re: Cold weather installation on foundation

    Went through the 2 new hives yesterday and was pleased to see that both packages have accepted the queens. Both queens just started laying, I saw a good number of new eggs so they are starting up!! They had also built some drone comb on the bottoms of a few frames. They have built comb out on 3 or 4 frames and filled most of it up with syrup, even capped some!
    My big hive is loaded with capped brood and quite a bit of capped drone brood too! Gotta get ready or swarm season!!!!

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Hastings Nebraska
    Posts
    48

    Default Re: Cold weather installation on foundation

    I know the feeling far too well today, I just got my packages installed this last saturday with a good forecast and now the weather is changing for the worst, go figure. I have two frames of drawn comb in each of my five hives. Today it was seventy degrees and they are now calling for a small blizzard here in western Nebraska with temperatures dropping to the low teens on Tues & Wed. It was pouring down rain when I got off work tonight so I didn't have time to get them protected. I really hope that my bees will make the two day cold spell. Any info on a similar case is welcome here.

    I will be praying for my bees sake. -Ryan
    beehiveblueprints.com

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