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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Milw, WI
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    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
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    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
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    6,030

    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
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    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
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    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
    174

    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
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    2,902

    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

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Ludington, Michigan
    Posts
    648

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

    You will be fine by mid to the end of April. It does very from year to year but I've installed bee's as early as April 19 here in michigan and because of Lake michigan spring here is always alittle behind Wisconsin. You could still get some cold nights but they should be flying during the daytime

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Canada BC Delta
    Posts
    442

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

    Installing packages in freezing weather can be done if you have drawn comb that hold honey stores and pollen. Without any comb you will need to help them by placing in a warm place or have a heating device to warm the interior of the hive so that they can take enough food at all times to build comb. The sooner they have comb the better. If you're not willing to do this I would cancel the order for later packages if possible.

    Make sure the package bees are good and warm before you install them. If they arrive chilled they may not be able to warm up enough to make any headway.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Milw, WI
    Posts
    126

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

    well I am hoping that it will be warmer when the bees arrive. I believe that if the timing is right I can pick them up and keep them pretty warm in the car on the ride out to the location. And can pull them out at the last minute when I am ready to dump them in the hive. I should be able to get my car very close to where the hives are.

    I really appreciate all the input and advice.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Danbury, CT
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    2,887

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

    A package in March in WI? I would be more worried about them surviving the trip than the actual install.

    If they are alive when you get them you can put them in a dark closet or basement for a few days until you can install. Just be sure to spray them with warm syrup a couple times per day so they don't starve. They can last a week or more stored as described.

    If not there will be somebody in your area with packages available for May delivery, which is probably a more realistic date for a northern climate. I often sell packages to people who bought some too early and are replacing them a month later.
    Last edited by bluegrass; 03-21-2013 at 05:05 PM.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Ludington, Michigan
    Posts
    648

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

    He stated April not March. Are you geting them through Dadant? No supplier is going to ship bee's to the upper midwest until the weather is right

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
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    3,684

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

    I don't think I would try this with 100 packages, but you could try it with one or two. I'd try heating the interior of the tbh with some hot rocks...dump the package into a warm tbh with food and the queen hanger mg from the top bars..it might be warm enough for them to establish a cluster.

    Deknow
    The perils of benefactors; The blessings of parasites; Blindness blindness and sight -Joni Mitchell 'Shadows and Light'

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    West Bath, Maine, United States
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    1,143

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

    Highs in the 20's are dead bees. To hold them inside and feed; thump them down and remove the can. Spray them if you want to keep them from flying. Replace with your feeder and a scrap of wood over hole.

    To install with a little help. Get the night air out. Turn hive on side and into the sun to warm up prior to install. Clear plastic tent if you want to go overboard.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Danbury, CT
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    2,887

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

    Quote Originally Posted by danno View Post
    He stated April not March. Are you geting them through Dadant? No supplier is going to ship bee's to the upper midwest until the weather is right
    He said he "hoped they come Late the second week or 4th week of April" 2nd week and forth week would be implying alternative ship dates. Based on that information I would assume that on time would be the 1st week of April.

    Many suppliers will ship bees in poor conditions. The producer only cares if they have bad weather at their location... they don't care where the bees are going generally. I frequently sell replacement packages to people who ordered them too early and lost them either in shipping or after install... I only deliver in May. I don't sell April packs... It doesn't benefit anybody to do so.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Ludington, Michigan
    Posts
    648

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

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrass View Post
    He said he "hoped they come Late the second week or 4th week of April" 2nd week and forth week would be implying alternative ship dates. Based on that information I would assume that on time would be the 1st week of April.

    Many suppliers will ship bees in poor conditions. The producer only cares if they have bad weather at their location... they don't care where the bees are going generally. I frequently sell replacement packages to people who ordered them too early and lost them either in shipping or after install... I only deliver in May. I don't sell April packs... It doesn't benefit anybody to do so.
    Maybe thing are different in CT but here in the midwest the difference between the 3rd week in march (now) and the "END OF THE SECOND WEEK OR THE 4TH WEEK OF APRIL" are like day and night. This is a glass half empty thread

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Milw, WI
    Posts
    126

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

    I'm ordering my bee's through a beekeeper from northern Wisconsin he has packages arriving with mine. we were unseasonably cold this week but the average temps should be in the Fifty's when the package arrives.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,384

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

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

    Usually if they are being trucked they are in a refrigerated truck with some temperature control. They can't take syrup if the temperature of the syrup is below 50 F. You can warm syrup. You can put the bees in the basement. Just make sure they don't starve. You can even keep the bees in the living room, but dark and quiet is helpful. Try a search. There have been several threads on this subject in the last week...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
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    2,644

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

    Spent last week working with a Huge package supplier and this discussion was for front as I brought back 100 packages to Il, I also think Ron put in a bit over 1000 this/last week in OH and i know it was cold there!...

    Important points. First Feed your package from the outside. Yes there is syrup or candy in the package, but a spray from the outside will help in losses HUGELY.. a fine mist, or I actually pool some in the bottom of the cage for long storage(over 4 days) I am currently waiting till friday for 100 we shook out sunday morning. (came home to 5 inches of snow)

    Any temp over 40 is fine if you have 50 is better. 60 is ideal... Drawn comb and food in the frames is needed if they won't be able to break out of the cluster for a few days to hit a feeder.

    I prefer to let the bees walk out of the package, but if the temp is below 55 I will shake them. cooler temps will keep the cluster in the box even when the queen is removed and put in the hive.
    It also helps to warm the cluster good (70 or better) before you install them. the bees hanging in clusters are cooler and inactive, (saveing energy) and need to be "started up" to get the best new cluster in the hive. if ther real active in the cage before you install they will be more able to reform in the new hive.

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