Hiving a package in cold temperatures - suggestions?
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  1. #1
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    Default Hiving a package in cold temperatures - suggestions?

    Tomorrow (Saturday) is package pickup day for me. I will be getting 6 packages in the afternoon, which is the earliest they are available The packages will have originated in California and will be picked up north of Denver.

    Saturday's weather is snow/rain with a high of 42F.

    Sunday's weather is snow/rain with a high of 42F.

    Monday's weather is sunny with a high of 49F.

    I am thinking I have no choice but to install the packages in this cool wet weather. However, it seems that the bees won't be mobile at these temperatures, and whether I do the traditional "shake-em-all-in" or the new age touchy feely "place-the-queen-and-let-the-bees-march-in-on-their-own", will each leave clumps of bees stranded and chilled.

    Anyone have any suggestions for hiving a package in cool, wet weather?




    .
    Last edited by shinbone; 04-29-2016 at 02:20 PM.
    --shinbone
    (1975-1980, and now since 2011; maintain about 10 hives; Zone 5b; 15" rain; 5500')

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  3. #2
    Join Date
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    Chicagoland, IL
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    Default Re: Hiving a package in cold temperatures - suggestions?

    Best to have at least 2-3 drawn frames to , with food on the outer ring similar to how a brood frame would look without brood
    The drawn frames give them somewhere to cluster and they need to be able to reach food nearby
    When installing in cold weather I like to leave the cork in the queen cage and manually release 3-5 days later when it's warmer many people are successful releasing at the time of install though $30 gamble though

    Also bring the frames and all equipment inside the day before so they are at least warm to start with

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Hiving a package in cold temperatures - suggestions?

    Shinbone,

    Your suggestion in the Front Range Thread sounds to me like a good idea. That would be: assuming you have a screen sided 3# package, lay the package on its side in a dark dry somewhat warm location, and put a wash cloth saturated (but not dripping) with 1:1 sugar syrup laying on top of the screen. By being careful not to get the bees wet or sticky, they should have sufficient feed, assumigh that you refresh it periodically.

    Steve

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Hiving a package in cold temperatures - suggestions?

    Wait until Monday. If you pick them up Saturday that means you have to get them through one day/day-and-a-half. Feed them, give them a little drink of water.

    As long as it is high 40's to 50 degrees and a little sun the bees will be OK Monday. Then, when you get a chance, and the weather improves, give them a frame of brood as a boost.

  6. #5
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    Weld, Colorado, USA
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    Default Re: Hiving a package in cold temperatures - suggestions?

    I am in in the same boat as OP (probably picking up from the same supplier). I have gotten advice from "do it no matter what" to "wait until Monday". Stressful for a new beek.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Hiving a package in cold temperatures - suggestions?

    Wait. Keep them fed. It has never failed me. If you start feeling stressed, go sprinkle some syrup on the screen - an ounce or three at a time - don't drench them. Repeat as often as you feel stressed. They will be fine. I'd bet a nuc on it
    After 40 years of beekeeping, I've come to realize that the bees can fix most of my mistakes.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Hiving a package in cold temperatures - suggestions?

    i got some queens and packages last saturday i drove 570 miles and was beat. sunday it was 46 with a bad forecast forward. for the splits into nuc boxes , put the frames and bees in the boxes wait a bit and put the queen cages with candy to eat thru in.do not let the queens get cold... for the packages put some 1:1 on the packages [spray on works good] in a place that is 65 or 70 degrees, wait a half hour. open the packages after moving to the empty hives, put the queen cage with candy in the hive, dump the bees and put in the last 2 frames and close up. if you need a couple more minutes put the queen cage in your pocket to keep warm.. every hive or nuc got a pollen patty and a mason jar of syrup. the syrup was above the inner cover inside an empty super. it has been so cold i have not gone back to pull the [i hope] empty queen cages. it snowed sidewards on tuesday. maybe up to the lo 50's this weekend, i will do a check-up. i did peek under the jars today everybody seems busy.this week i saw a few bees at the entrances but not a lot of flying. when it is cold the packages are less active and they cannot abscond. if it is cold you do not have a lot of bees flying around. cold out is a plus.
    Last edited by mathesonequip; 04-29-2016 at 05:50 PM.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Hiving a package in cold temperatures - suggestions?

    I'm in Denver and in the same boat. Since Monday's forecast is looking brighter and tomorrow is looking colder than expected, I'm most likely waiting until Monday to install. If it hits 45 Sarurday and stops raining, I may reconsider but it's not looking like that's going to happen. You just never know around here this time of year.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Hiving a package in cold temperatures - suggestions?

    April 30, 2016: Package pickup day in Colorado! 35F and snowing.




    My 6 packages are going straight into the basement with feed jars.
    --shinbone
    (1975-1980, and now since 2011; maintain about 10 hives; Zone 5b; 15" rain; 5500')

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Hiving a package in cold temperatures - suggestions?

    Just got home with my packages, which by the way, look really good. Big clusters with hardly any dead bees.

    It is 37F, windy and snowing. I've got them in my basement where it is 60F and have feed jars with 1:1 syrup in place.




    Anyone got any better ideas? I am open to suggestions . . .

    Also, I had the pleasure of meeting BigRustDog while standing in line. It is a small world.
    --shinbone
    (1975-1980, and now since 2011; maintain about 10 hives; Zone 5b; 15" rain; 5500')

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Hiving a package in cold temperatures - suggestions?

    Hived my 3. Hope we both have success!

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Hiving a package in cold temperatures - suggestions?

    BRD - How did the hiving go? Any problems? Any suggestions? If you had good results hiving in these weather conditions, I will hive mine tomorrow.
    --shinbone
    (1975-1980, and now since 2011; maintain about 10 hives; Zone 5b; 15" rain; 5500')

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Hiving a package in cold temperatures - suggestions?

    Full disclosure to all, these are my first hives. I felt it went really well. I was very clumsy on the first one and paid the price with 2 stings. Regrouped and things went smooth on the other 2. I kept my hives inside until right before Install to keep things warm. Bump and dump went smooth bees seemed to be able to move fairly well once in the box, so I think the will cluster well. Got 95% of them out of the package, I'm sure the rest will freeze tonight ( the ones in the package were clustering). I put sugar candy on top of the frames then inner cover, then top feeder, and finally outer top. Covered it all with a blanket to try and help keep wind out. I won't go back in until Monday now.

    The waiting is the hardest part..... Tom Petty

    Rusty

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Hiving a package in cold temperatures - suggestions?

    I would wait until nicer weather. If they look good with not many dead bees then they probably haven't been confined too too long.
    There is more risk trying to get them into the hives in poor conditions than keeping them safe and well fed.

    Of course, easy for me to say. I don't have to worry about them.

    The bees teach me patience.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Hiving a package in cold temperatures - suggestions?

    [QUOTE
    or the new age touchy feely "place-the-queen-and-let-the-bees-march-in-on-their-own
    [/QUOTE]

    Not really "new age" I have a copy from a book printed in 1934 showing the "let the bees crawl" method, I put them in rain, snow or shine.
    Ed, KA9CTT profanity is IGNORANCE made audible
    you can`t fix stupid not even with duct tape

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Hiving a package in cold temperatures - suggestions?

    if you have more than about 3 small holes in the mason jars the bees will build comb. in just a few days this will be a mess in the package. bees will build any time they have enough nectar/syrup. the package can has about 3 small holes. cut a roughly 1 inch square hole in the can top center on 3 sides with the can still in the package with something sharp. refill the can with 1:1 and put a piece of duct tape over the hole. with good bees this could add more than a week to the shelf life.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Hiving a package in cold temperatures - suggestions?

    Quote Originally Posted by mathesonequip View Post
    . . . cut a roughly 1 inch square hole in the can top center on 3 sides with the can still in the package with something sharp. refill the can with 1:1 and put a piece of duct tape over the hole. with good bees this could add more than a week to the shelf life.
    Sounds like a great idea. So, the syrup isn't held in the feed-can by vacuum, like it is in the feeder jar? Meaning, I can cut it open like you describe without all the syrup gushing out the bottom?

    As the previous photo shows, I have the packages on their sides so I can set the feed jars on the screen. However, I would rather position the packages upright with the bees taking syrup from the included feed-can, but I wasn't sure how to refill the feed-can without removing it.

    At this point, the feed jars have been positioned on the packages as pictured for about 18 hours and the bees are taking little if any syrup. Has me a little concerned . . .
    --shinbone
    (1975-1980, and now since 2011; maintain about 10 hives; Zone 5b; 15" rain; 5500')

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Hiving a package in cold temperatures - suggestions?

    I've thought about jar feeding but never tried it. I've been lucky enough to have decent weather within a few days, if not the day of package arrival. Shin - is the syrup warm enough? Perhaps the are having trouble reaching it? Some advocate "reversing" a mason jar lif when feeding through a screened inner cover hole. Maybe that would help?

    The last time I got packages, it was a similar situation - a few days of marginal to bad weather. That's when I discovered that the syrup can came empty. Some research indicated that a 3 lb package needed abut 2 quarts of syrup a week to keep from starving.

    Refilling the original can would sure solve the problem. Since I don't throw enough stuff away, I have some of those cans. If I find the time I'll see what happens as far as excess leakage ( "gushing") while filling.
    After 40 years of beekeeping, I've come to realize that the bees can fix most of my mistakes.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Hiving a package in cold temperatures - suggestions?

    Quote Originally Posted by shinbone View Post
    Sounds like a great idea. So, the syrup isn't held in the feed-can by vacuum, like it is in the feeder jar? Meaning, I can cut it open like you describe without all the syrup gushing out the bottom? . .
    the syrup is held in by vacuum but there are only about 3 very small holes, not much will drip during the filling process and the duct tape over the hole will form a new vacuum. i have hived a couple at least 3 weeks in the package. i bought these at a discount. they did great, the cans were already refilled a few days when i got them. of course get them in the hive as soon as you can.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Hiving a package in cold temperatures - suggestions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colobee View Post
    Some advocate "reversing" a mason jar lif when feeding through a screened inner cover hole. Maybe that would help?
    Thanks for the tip. The feed jars pictured are the same jars with the same lids I use to feed the bees through #8 screen when feeding a hive. Meaning, I think the set up should work.

    I am going to open and refill a feed-can as Mathesonequip suggests. If that goes well, then I will do it to the remaining five packages.
    --shinbone
    (1975-1980, and now since 2011; maintain about 10 hives; Zone 5b; 15" rain; 5500')

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