Bee package installation - what is the lowest temperature?
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  1. #1
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    Default Bee package installation - what is the lowest temperature?

    I've got 6 bee packages coming this Saturday. The current weather prediction for that day is a high of 39F, 80% chance of snow, and a 10 MPH wind. The next day, Sunday, will be 51F, sunny and 5MPH wind. The packages will be assembled on Thursday, and will be 3 days old at the time of pick-up.

    Last year, I had similar weather conditions, and held the packages in my basement for a few days while the weather cleared:




    But, I think it is better to install packages ASAP, and don't want to unnecessarily postpone the process. Plus, I know many beeks in my area did do their installs last year in the cold and pissy weather with no problems.

    Can anyone provide information on the hard line cut-off temperature for installing bee packages? This assuming I keep the bees dry during the process. In other words, what is the absolute lowest temp at which a bee package can be dumped into their new home? Put another way, at what temperature do the bees have a better chance of survival if they are stored in a cool dark basement with access to a feed jar vs. being transferred into a new hive onto new foundation?

    TIA




    .
    Last edited by shinbone; 04-26-2017 at 11:52 AM.
    --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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    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Bee package installation - what is the lowest temperature?

    How did the ones you kept in the basement last year do? I remember that your hives are on the roof, as well, so they will have less protection from wind. (Plus you may not wish to be on the roof if it's snowing?)

    I would consider temps where it might be too cold to easily fly to be the lowest limit, especially if the bees are being hived on undrawn foundation. You're really dependant there on them getting clustered very quickly. Syrup will do them no good at those temps. Do you have drawn comb and stores enough to put them on?

    Me, I'd opt for a short stay down in the basement. Less worry and stress all around.

    More front-range Weather Joy for you!

    Enj.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Bee package installation - what is the lowest temperature?

    I usually enjoy our variable weather here in Colorado, but not when it snows on bee package day at the end of April Uhg!

    The bees did fine last year, despite spending 2 days in the basement. And, yes, these new packages will be going up on my roof, so they will get full weather exposure. I will keep any precipitation off of them during installation, though. My plan would be to have a helper shield the bees from the snow/rain with a large umbrella. The basement set-up is extra work with more chances for things to go wrong, so I'd like to avoid it, if possible . . .
    --shinbone
    (1975-1980, and now since 2011; maintain about 10 hives; Zone 5b; 15" rain; 5500')

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Bee package installation - what is the lowest temperature?

    This MARREC page suggests that 57 degrees F ...
    https://agdev.anr.udel.edu/maarec/be.../package-bees/

    ... is some kind of dividing temperature for package installation. However, bees seem to be able to fly at temperatures below that. USDA and other studies have shown that about 50 degrees F is the temperature where bees need to cluster.

    This study measures the temperature of the bee's bodies, and does support the idea that if the bee's thorax temperature falls below 9-11 degrees C (about 50 degrees F), bees lose muscle control, can no longer shiver to generate heat and will fall off the cluster.

    http://jeb.biologists.org/content/206/2/353.full.pdf
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Bee package installation - what is the lowest temperature?

    Searching historical weather data shows that the weather conditions on bee package day last year were a high of 34F, light snow, and 15 MPH wind. And, like I had mentioned, many beeks successfully did their installs in those conditions last year.

    So, maybe that is my answer. It seems so counterintuitive that you can install a bee package at temperatures much below 50F, especially when considering the info provided by Rader Sidetrack in the preceding post. Hmmmm . . .
    --shinbone
    (1975-1980, and now since 2011; maintain about 10 hives; Zone 5b; 15" rain; 5500')

  7. #6
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Bee package installation - what is the lowest temperature?

    I've installed in the snow when it was below freezing and it went better than usual because there was almost not drifting. But I had to heat the syrup once a day until the weather warmed up because they couldn't fly, it's too cold to take cold syrup and nothing was blooming.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Bee package installation - what is the lowest temperature?

    Big difference between drawn comb, foundation or foundationless.
    My first packages went in at 60, foundationless with a forecast of a 36 hour cold spell. Five days later it was still spitting snow with a stiff NE wind. Snow on top of dandelion blooms. 3 dead packages. Yeah, warm syrup gets cold fast in the wind. Feeling lucky?
    Garage just adds time till the queens are ready for release. Do you want to stand out on your roof or in your garage?
    There really not going to do anything until it is warmer besides survive. Easier on you and them.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Bee package installation - what is the lowest temperature?

    I suppose you could wait a day but if it were me I'd just hive them. Don't waste a lot of time though. Shake them, feed them and button them up.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Bee package installation - what is the lowest temperature?

    Wait the day or two for good weather and direct release the queen. If it takes 2 days to chew thru the candy, you have lost nothing compared to installing them right away.

    Crazy Roland

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Bee package installation - what is the lowest temperature?

    Shinbone are you going to package today or wait until tomorrow, or Monday? Im leaning towards tomorrow for sure but perhaps Monday. Last year I waited until Monday without problems...
    Tomorrows high in the springs will be 50 and Monday 58

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Bee package installation - what is the lowest temperature?

    Bee package pick-up day, and This is what we had this morning from the night's snowfall:




    This was what we had in the afternoon after snowing lightly most of the day:




    The packages are now in the basement:




    Installation will be tomorrow. Waiting less than 24 hours for it to warm up into the low 50's seems like a good idea
    Last edited by shinbone; 04-30-2017 at 05:46 PM.
    --shinbone
    (1975-1980, and now since 2011; maintain about 10 hives; Zone 5b; 15" rain; 5500')

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Bee package installation - what is the lowest temperature?

    Good luck, spring weather in the Rockies ugh had 3" of snow here yesterday and today about 50 I hope that's what you get

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Bee package installation - what is the lowest temperature?

    One of those dogs feels the way I used to about snow the other the way I feel about snow come April.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Bee package installation - what is the lowest temperature?

    I see you tilting your packages over, any concerns the existing syrup can will leak all over? Any concerns about the queen cage?

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Bee package installation - what is the lowest temperature?

    Attaboy Shinbone, discretion is the better part of valor.

    Crazy Roland

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Bee package installation - what is the lowest temperature?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffM17 View Post
    I see you tilting your packages over, any concerns the existing syrup can will leak all over? Any concerns about the queen cage?
    There is no leakage, at least so far. It certainly is something to be mindful of, though.
    --shinbone
    (1975-1980, and now since 2011; maintain about 10 hives; Zone 5b; 15" rain; 5500')

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Bee package installation - what is the lowest temperature?

    Feel for you..............we hit 88 with 95f heat index yesterday.

    I put packages in, not this year, with over a foot of snow on the ground. We did have boxes of drawn comb for them. Capped honey and put in some pollen patties. They did fine. I wouldn't have tried it without the drawn comb, with my limited experience.
    Zone 6b: 27 hives in Maryland, Carniolan, Italian mix mutts: Still learning - started bees spring of 2014.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Bee package installation - what is the lowest temperature?

    I think I am going to wait for a Monday install, Today we are not going to hit 50 until 4:00 pm

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Bee package installation - what is the lowest temperature?

    It was spitting snow here earlier in the day yesterday. I planned on waiting if it turned to rain. Fortunately it cleared and I got them hived on drawn comb with a frame of honey and the syrup can. It's supposed to hit 60F today.

    This blast through the Rockies is going to be hard on the swarms that have issued in the last few days.
    Nobody ruins my day without my permission, and I refuse to grant it...

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Bee package installation - what is the lowest temperature?

    Today is the day after bee package pick-up day, and it was 25F at my house (which is where I keep my hives) this morning. But dry, sunny, and no wind. The 6 packages have been stored (as shown above) in the basement overnight, and look none-the-worse for the experience. I've got a couple of small fans moving the air around to help the bees keep themselves cool. The bees are mostly calm and have remained clustered around their new queens.

    There has been some small syrup leakage from the feed cans in the packages from being tipped on their sides, but it has not harmed the bees. The syrup just trickled down the face of the can and dripped out the side of the package. The bees were not clustered under the can, so they weren't impacted.

    4 packages were installed shortly before noon, today, with the temp being about 45F. Everything went smoothly. Bees immediately re-clustered around their queens. It was too cold to feed syrup, so I didn't bother with putting feed jars on the new hives just yet.

    The other two packages were installed at a friend's house in the afternoon. One package had a dead queen, but, from appearances, the queen was dead before the packages went into the basement. A new queen was obtained and put into the new hive within about an hour of the package being hived.

    The queens will be marshmellow-released tomorrow afternoon (except for the replacement queen). Feed jars will go on then.

    Thanks for everyone's input. I hope recording my experience will help people in the future who are faced with the same weather conundrum on bee-package day.




    .
    Last edited by shinbone; 05-01-2017 at 11:20 AM.
    --shinbone
    (1975-1980, and now since 2011; maintain about 10 hives; Zone 5b; 15" rain; 5500')

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