How long can bees stay frozen?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Avon, Colorado
    Posts
    1

    Question How long can bees stay frozen?

    I caught a swarm and installed it into a new hive at my friends' house. Acting on bad advice (against my better judgement), I did not feed them sugar water as I normally do since the crab apples were in bloom on the property. We had a sudden cold snap with snow and rain for about a week. I returned to do my first hive inspection and found them clung together in two separate clumps, motionless. I opened everything up and dumped everyone onto the bottom board in the sun. They started to twitch but I thought they were still in the process of dying so I gathered them up and offered them to the river trout. It was really heartbreaking. I wonder if I had given them sugar water and another week if they would have returned to life. Anyone have experience with this? I still feel bad and it has been over a month. It never is easy losing a hive. Thanks!

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    53,922

    Default Re: How long can bees stay frozen?

    They are not dead until they are warm and dead. Bees get paralyzed by cold as well as starvation. They may have warmed up and been fine. They may not have. Anytime bees have no stores and no means of foraging they need to be fed and the feed needs to be warm. I would reheat the syrup daily so they can get some every day until there is forage again.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Bellevue, NE (Sarpy) USA
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: How long can bees stay frozen?

    I got my first 2 nucs this year, at the end of April. It was kind of rainy during pickup, the weather was crappy and cold, and not expected to be better for a few days. So... instead of going ahead and installing them in the hives (on some open acreage), I figured to let them spend the weekend in my garage. It wasn't AS cold, but it was still cold.

    The nuc boxes were the waxed cardboard kind, and had gotten some wet, so they weren't exactly "tight" in the folds/flaps, so I taped them over after I saw some bees getting out. After I went back into the house, the knuckleheads chewed the vent holes until they were big enough to squeeze thorough, and decided to explore. When I went back out to check them after a few hours, there were easily more than a thousand bees. Everywhere. Especially on the floor, and over by the garage door. They were all dead. I thought. I saw some of the "twitching" you saw, and brushed up what I could and put them back about 1/2 and 1/2 into the nucs. Then put hardware cloth over the vents. They dug another hole overnight and got out again, so I just moved them into boxes I had in the garage. A few days later I took them out to the yard, and ended up only a couple of hundred lost.

    But they sure fooled me. And I'm still finding little bee bodies whenever I move a box or shelf in the garage.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    152

    Default Re: How long can bees stay frozen?

    By new hive I assume you mean bare foundation, no drawn comb, and therefore little to no ability to store food. In conditions where weather forces a cluster, bees within a few inches of food will survive by moving the cluster slowly as the food is eaten in one area. Without food in comb, a cluster won't survive well for long. If the temperature was more than a few degrees above freezing, they might still break cluster and fly, between rainy spells. Best? Install on drawn comb, provide syrup, put a pollen patty right over the brood. Less good? Any or all of those not present.

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