We've had a cold spring so far, with very few warm days. So when we got a couple 70* days this week, I took advantage and made a couple splits with new queens. But now the weather is going to dip again, with lows around 25* this weekend, and I'm concerned about how the hives will fare. I use all-medium boxes, so each colony currently has two boxes each.
First, I'm concerned about where I placed the queens in a couple of this hives. I have queen cages that need to be pressed between frames, which crushes the comb underneath. Not wanting to crush brood, I placed the queen in the center of the hive, but in the top box rather than lower with the brood. With the colder weather, I'm curious whether the queen will freeze if the bees cluster around the brood in the lower box. If so, should I open the box again and move her closer to the brood? If so, would it be best to put her at the top of the lower frames, or the bottom of the upper frames? (I'd still like to avoid crushing brood if I can help it, but the queens overall health obviously has priority...)
Second, I'm concerned about how likely the bees are to get chilled brood with fewer bees to keep the brood warm in each hive. Would it help to put blankets over the hives over these colder nights this weekend? Anything else I can do to help keep them warm?
I would release the queen now. The bees have gotten used to her by now. (Actually I have released queens with no bad results while installing new packages). By releasing the queen the bees will surround her and keep her warm.
Other than that keep them dry. 25 degrees low temp is no problem for bees in a hive.