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  1. #1
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    Jul 2013
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    Default ok to open hive???

    ok it is going to be mid 20's today. I am panicking a little bit after reading another members bees had starved. Is it ok to open the hive today. I plan on being as non invasive as possible. My plan would be, just remove the covers, lay some newspaper down and pour a bag of sugar on the paper. That quick. Any objections???

    todd

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    Suffolk, NY, USA
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    Default Re: ok to open hive???

    trottet1==lift the hive from the back and judge its weight from what you remember a couple of months ago to see if it is much lighter than you remember. If I remember they had a good amount of stores going into winter.
    But if you are unsure, doing what you describe above is fine. Remember the propolis will be brittle and really sealing the lid down, it'll make a big crack and maybe a jolt to the bees when you loosen it. Wear a veil.
    Go for it if you think they need it. It will not hurt.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Flora,IL
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    Default Re: ok to open hive???

    I would not disturb them at all at 20 myself... I would wait until 40 ish. as a min.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    McClure, OH
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    1,017

    Default Re: ok to open hive???

    If I remember correctly, the other member's bees starved because they were trying to cover brood. They still had stores, just not where the brood was. In that situation sugar on the top frames would be pointless.

    If you are anxious, lift the back of the hive to check the weight. Gmcharlie is right - wait until you are in the 40s or so. Opening them up now is going to hurt them, not help them.

  5. #5
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    Jul 2013
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    Default Re: ok to open hive???

    ok, I will lift and see what the weight is. Hopefully it will have some weight to it and i won't have to make a decision. Sunday is supposed to be in the 40's, and I ordered winter patties. If it is totally light and feels empty, I may have to follow clyde's advice, although i do respect all of your advice. If they are totally empty, I think I would have to risk opening and offering emergency stores versus starvation.
    thank you all for the very quick response.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Colorado Springs, CO United States
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    377

    Default Re: ok to open hive???

    Quote Originally Posted by trottet1 View Post
    ok it is going to be mid 20's today. I am panicking a little bit after reading another members bees had starved. Is it ok to open the hive today. I plan on being as non invasive as possible. My plan would be, just remove the covers, lay some newspaper down and pour a bag of sugar on the paper. That quick. Any objections???

    todd
    I object! . Put the hive tool down and turn around, but seriously the 20's? Winter has not even started, and you are worried they are going to starve? gotta get ahead before winter, or you will be worried/doing this all winter. I would wait until at least the weather was warmer.

  7. #7
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    Jun 2012
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    Suffolk, NY, USA
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    Default Re: ok to open hive???

    Quote Originally Posted by merince View Post
    If you are anxious, lift the back of the hive to check the weight. Gmcharlie is right - wait until you are in the 40s or so. Opening them up now is going to hurt them, not help them.
    How so?
    trottet1 is putting surgar on the topbars and closing it up, not doing an inspection.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Flora,IL
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    Default Re: ok to open hive???

    ANY time you open the hive your disrubing the cluster, working up the bees getting them to spread out and allow the cold in. If that cluster gets chilled, they die......

    Imagine yourself snuggled away in your igloo. not warm, but okay... and the polar bear comes in to peak.... suddenly your out in an artic blast... and probably not going to survive. and even if you do the cost of that incursion in energy was huge.

  9. #9
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    Jun 2012
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    Suffolk, NY, USA
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    569

    Default Re: ok to open hive???

    gm==you're kidding right?

    I hold no harm will be done by putting sugar on that hive today.
    And when I check my hives today and if I find them lighter
    than I think is normal or healthy you can bet I'll be putting sugar on them this afternoon.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
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    3,406

    Default Re: ok to open hive???

    Todd, you are probably aware of this but I just wanted to mention that you will need to add a shallow box or some kind of spacer rim as well if you plan to add newspaper and 5# of sugar. You can do this in the 20's, but it would be much less disruptive to the colony if you can wait until it's 40+ deg. What's your forecast look like?
    To everything there is a season....

  11. #11
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    Jul 2013
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    lake hopatcong nj
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    Default Re: ok to open hive???

    ok update, I just went out to check the weight of my single deep. It is frozen to the railroad ties. while trying to free it from the tie, unsuccessfully, a few guard bees came out at me. They seem very active and alive in there. I don't want anymore to fly out and land in the snow and die. I aborted mission, and I am going to wait util sunday. It is my next day off and weather is supposed to be low 40's on sunday, and 40 leading to sunday. I figure If they are alive and healthy enough to come check me out and buzz my head, they are probably healthy enough to make it til sunday...... I hope.

  12. #12
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    Jul 2013
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    Default Re: ok to open hive???

    Mike gillmore,

    I actually have a 1.5" spacer on its way with winter patties. Hopefully they will arrive by sunday.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
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    3,954

    Default Re: ok to open hive???

    When doing a rush job of putting a feeder rim on one can get some fearsome cracks for the wind to blow in. a roll of masking tape or duct tape will go a long way toward sealing that up. I am not saying to not have ventilation, just, no wind blowing from side to side! If there is no wind, the temp you are talking is not so critical.

  14. #14
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    May 2009
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    Flora,IL
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    Default Re: ok to open hive???

    Quote Originally Posted by clyderoad View Post
    gm==you're kidding right?

    I hold no harm will be done by putting sugar on that hive today.
    And when I check my hives today and if I find them lighter
    than I think is normal or healthy you can bet I'll be putting sugar on them this afternoon.
    Absolutly not kidding..... You may do as you like. the poster asked for advice...... I gave mine. Feel free to open yours any time you like.

  15. #15
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    Jul 2013
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    lake hopatcong nj
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    Default Re: ok to open hive???

    Although I would follow advice of clyderoad and vance g, I am holding off til sunday. The dang hive is covered in ice and can't be lifted for a weight test. If I did what I want to do, I Am afraid it wouldn't be as non invasive as I planned on.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Munster Ontario
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    194

    Default Re: ok to open hive???

    You can open the hive for a very short time -- less than a minute -- at -5C (23F), but I would really try not to. If your hive is really light, and your choice is between leaving it alone and adding sugar or fondant to the top as quickly as you can at that temperature, I would go for it. But if you don't need to, and your winter preparation in summer and fall were adequate, resist the temptation. When in doubt, especially during the winter, leave them alone. The temptation to look, especially for a newbee, can be strong. Trust your winter prep, trust the bees, leave them alone unless you absolutely have to intervene.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
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    965

    Default Re: ok to open hive???

    There's a lot of conventional wisdom that "everybody knows" in beekeeping.

    One can certainly leave a hive closed in the 20's and in the spring fins it dead...but probably won't blame NOT opening it for the loss.
    But if the hive was opened when it 25F out and it is lost, well, that just means opening a hive below 40F really does cause hive deaths, right?

    I submit that anyone who has actually opened a hive at temps below 30F and lost the hive overwinter, with no varroa droppings in the brood nest, and with a surplus of stores present and the cliuster in contact with those stores may have evidence it's harmful... but unless it is repeated a few times, has no proof.

    I have broken the propolis seal and tilted brood boxes in temps that were in the twenties in the past with no apparent ill effect.

    I've also opened the cover, put down news paper, misted the paper with water, put down sugar, and dampened it with water at such low temps as an emergency feeding measure with no ill effect.

    Done on a still day, with proper consideration for common sense, my experience is that opening a hive below 40 degrees is not harmful.

    That said, I think feeding bees mid winter as an emergency measure is only appropriate when one's management earlier in the seas was negligent (as when one has done a split too late, overharvested honey, or not fed a swarm caught late in the season adequately).

    Feeding a colony that has had a normal season, and failed to gather enough stores for the winter should only be done when one is intendeing to cull the queen in spring and introduce one from a line that won't require supplemental feeding.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Clackamas Oregon
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    737

    Default Re: ok to open hive???

    I cracked mine and added some ventilation when it was mid 20’s and dry. I live in the rainy side of Oregon and when it hits warm we get rain and fog (we are fogged in now). My thought was it was better for them to be cold than wet. We never did get our ice storm to seal them in and in hind sight it may have been better to leave them alone. I had 3 outlying yards to get to and the frozen ground made getting to them easier. So I am saying that you probably have more than that single paragraph of the OP that is deciding your circumstances. Good luck but do tell us what you should have done after you get your results (even if you did nothing).
    “Why do we fall, sir? So that we might learn to pick ourselves up” Alfred Pennyworth Batman Begins (2005)

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Hartford, CT
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    607

    Default Re: ok to open hive???

    You'll have 20 degree air falling into the hive in seconds. Wait til Friday when it's gonna be in the 40s. You may shock ur bees and kill them.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
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    3,406

    Default Re: ok to open hive???

    I remember a few years back we had a terrible winter snow storm here and the wind blew the top off of one of my hives. Two days after the storm I was able to get to the apiary and found about 3" of snow piled up on the top bars. I brushed it off, replaced the top, and figured they were toast. They came through just fine and built up nicely in the spring.

    I'm not advocating putting undo stress on the bees by opening the hive up in frigid weather, but I learned that healthy bees are very tough and are able to withstand more than I thought.
    To everything there is a season....

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