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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Milw, WI
    Posts
    126

    Default package is on the way but very cold temps here

    not sure what to do if my bees arrive and it is still as cold as it is right now. I am starting two new top bar hives but the temperature here in Southeast Wisconsin has been very cold the last few days and projected for the next week or so to be in the only low to mid twenties during the day.

    can a new package surviving temperatures like that? Will they even take any of the syrup from the feeder?

    and to use an entrance feeder placed behind the follower board inside the hive

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Carthage, NC, USA
    Posts
    46

    Default Re: package is on the way but very cold temps here

    So glad you asked this question. I got mine yesterday and it was 68* . But we are going to have: below normal temps for the next ten days.. So many questions for this new top bar keeper.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,723

    Default Re: package is on the way but very cold temps here

    Installing a package in below freezing conditions is likely to cause the death of many / all bees. What happens, you dump the bees in, then they have to crawl around and form a cluster. If they successfully form the cluster they will be OK, provided they can be fed. But more likely, large numbers will freeze before they actually make the cluster.

    However keeping the package in the package, for more than a week is also likely to result in high mortality.

    My suggestion, is less than perfect but perhaps the only option, an indoors install. In say, your garage, heat the whole room to a minimum of 60. Then prepare the TBH so the bees can be dumped in and the hive closed, fast as.

    Any bees that don't go in the hive will be lost, so plan carefully have it all ready, queen organised etc, then dump the bees in really really fast and close the hive. A few bees will escape, just accept that but get as many in as fast as you can & close the hive. Have some means to feed them and leave inside for 24 hours.

    Preferable they should then be put outside and the hive entrance opened. But the issue is feeding them, they will not generally take syrup at below freezing, so it will really revolve around what method you are going to use to feed them. What are your current plans to feed them?
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Milw, WI
    Posts
    126

    Default Re: package is on the way but very cold temps here

    well doing in the garage is probably not an option since the garage is a half an hour from where the hives well actually live and transporting the hives once they are in the top bars inside my car to location is also not an option. so what I'm really hoping is that they come either late in the second week of April or the fourth week of April and I have much better weather conditions.

    as a somewhat corollary question though how long can you keep the bees in the package once you receive them depending on the weather that day if you cannot hive them immediately?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Milw, WI
    Posts
    126

    Default Re: package is on the way but very cold temps here

    Quote Originally Posted by NC Queen Bee View Post
    So glad you asked this question. I got mine yesterday and it was 68* . But we are going to have: below normal temps for the next ten days.. So many questions for this new top bar keeper.
    I'm pretty sure that you're okay... it's 68 degrees. take 40 degrees off that and you'll get my high for today

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,723

    Default Re: package is on the way but very cold temps here

    How long the package will last in storage is indeterminate, this varies with how the bees have been handled before you get them. But you will see increasing amounts of dead bees on the bottom of the package with each day that passes.

    Other than hope the bees do not arrive till the weather has improved, there are no really good options here. The best, of a bad bunch, may be to store the package, not at outdoor temperatures but at below 50, and in the dark, to keep them alive but as inactive as possible. What size is the package? If it's small you may need to keep at higher than 50. Enquire from the supplier how long their syrup supply will last, they will die fairly quickly once it is used. I don't know anything about your bees, but my long shot guess is storing them in this way should give you a good week if feed is kept up to them, but I don't know. You can monitor daily dead bee amount & see how things are going.

    The supplier will have a better knowledge of his own particular packaging system & will be able to give you better advice than I can.
    Last edited by Oldtimer; 03-21-2013 at 12:47 AM.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Leominster, MA USA
    Posts
    165

    Default Re: package is on the way but very cold temps here

    Without actually handling the feed can you have no idea what went on/is going on with the syrup. We have had packages arrive with empty cans and full cans - unclear if empty because the bees took all the feed or because overly large holes meant food poured out. Some cans were still full, not because bees weren't hungry but because cans weren't fully punctured and no feed could get out. Not sure how knowing producers procedures would help with these anomalies.

    We have stored packages for a few days before installing and make sure they have food by painting honey or sugar syrup on the cage screen. Be really careful to only paint in áreas where the bees are't clinging. Their feet are very delicate and can be easily damaged. Make sure to keep checking in case they really need the supplemental feed.

    Ramona

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,818

    Default Re: package is on the way but very cold temps here

    I would just like to say that Oldtimers suggestion of package install is a good one if you are faced with freezing or below temps and you don't have to move the hives that far to their location. The key is having the temps warm enough to allow the dumped in bees to be able to crawl up on the frames of foundation or comb and get to a food source, and of course keep the queen warm in her cage. I would rather get the bees into a hive as soon as possible rather than keeping them in the cage for a week more until the weather improves. John

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