Bitter Cold in the Northeast
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Hillsborough, Central NJ
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    114

    Default Bitter Cold in the Northeast

    Well we finally got our first arctic blast here in NJ yesterday and today. I woke up in the middle of the night, heard the wind railing against my bedroom window and immediately thought of my bees. I keep chickens, and I have had sheep on my small farm in recent years. There are steps I take for the livestock to be sure they are safe in bitter cold. As a first, going on second year beekeeper I can't shake the feeling of helplessness and trying to trust my bees will be okay. They have food, and even though it seems most in my area don't bother, I did insulate my hive this first season. It's just such a different perspective with bees. I am hoping for the best!

    Alan

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    4,618

    Default Re: Bitter Cold in the Northeast

    We have had night lows here at close to -25 F the last few days. We commonly get down to -35 F. That had not a problem for my bees if they have some insulation on the hives. If you have top entrances I would reduce them to a hole half an inch in diameter.
    Frank

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    7,786

    Default Re: Bitter Cold in the Northeast

    I have had bees live thru -49F many years ago but so far this year my bees have been vacationing at above zero F temperatures! We can and probably will still get hammered but not yet. Don't worry at all about short term extremes in low temperatures.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Hillsborough, Central NJ
    Posts
    114

    Default Re: Bitter Cold in the Northeast

    Thanks for the encouragement folks. I am pretty sure I have done all that I can to have them prepared for the worst. I have reduced my lower opening, and at the top there's a 3/4" entrance hole. It's more me not having the confidence and experience to trust my technique. It's supposed to warm up later this week.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Hillsborough, Central NJ
    Posts
    114

    Default Re: Bitter Cold in the Northeast

    I didn't open my hive, but a quick external check yesterday had a few bees at the top entrance and a nice "hum" coming from the hive. I'm counting down the days til Spring!

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    7,786

    Default Re: Bitter Cold in the Northeast

    Waiting for spring is the chief use I have for winter.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Skaneateles, NY
    Posts
    930

    Default Re: Bitter Cold in the Northeast

    im hoping for a mini warm up so i can crack some hive lids and put extra feed out. I think my hives should be ok without feeding ( i hope) but i dont want to take chances.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    7,786

    Default Re: Bitter Cold in the Northeast

    Quote Originally Posted by aran View Post
    im hoping for a mini warm up so i can crack some hive lids and put extra feed out. I think my hives should be ok without feeding ( i hope) but i dont want to take chances.
    Don't let any colony starve because you are afraid to open it. A sound board inner cover will seal back up after winter opening and I open when I need reassurance or the bees need feed. Avoid high wind but not low temperature. Just be fast in and out.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Skaneateles, NY
    Posts
    930

    Default Re: Bitter Cold in the Northeast

    Quote Originally Posted by Vance G View Post
    Don't let any colony starve because you are afraid to open it. A sound board inner cover will seal back up after winter opening and I open when I need reassurance or the bees need feed. Avoid high wind but not low temperature. Just be fast in and out.
    Good advice. I will make up patties this afternoon with parchment paper and put them in tomorrow.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Fultonville,New York,USA
    Posts
    682

    Default Re: Bitter Cold in the Northeast

    Quote Originally Posted by aran View Post
    Good advice. I will make up patties this afternoon with parchment paper and put them in tomorrow.
    Aran how do you make your patties? What recipe do you use?

  12. #11
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Skaneateles, NY
    Posts
    930

    Default Re: Bitter Cold in the Northeast

    Quote Originally Posted by Sickdog5 View Post
    Aran how do you make your patties? What recipe do you use?
    Im actually a lazy bugger and i just bought the bulk pails from Mann lake of their winter patties.
    Then i took 2 lbs balls of the bulk patty mix and squished it between wax paper with a rolling pin.
    Took about 30mins to make up 25 x 2lbs patties.

    I braved the cold yesterday and put the patties out on all of my hives/overwintering nucs.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Fultonville,New York,USA
    Posts
    682

    Default Re: Bitter Cold in the Northeast

    I have a couple of hives overwintering in 1 deep and 1 med. Should i put patties on now or should they have enough to last the rest of the year?

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
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    3,421

    Default Re: Bitter Cold in the Northeast

    Sickdog5, there is no way to know if they have enough stored pollen without tearing the hive apart. If your bees typically begin brooding about this time, I would put patties on as insurance, just as we do with sugar. I have a pollen feeding station and it is very active on the days the bees can get out. I put patties on my nucs since they dont have as many bees to spare but I still see a few coming in with the UltraBee on their hind legs.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Fultonville,New York,USA
    Posts
    682

    Default Re: Bitter Cold in the Northeast

    Thanks JW i think i am a lot colder then you and not sure when they will begin brooding. Not sure but i thought it was a no no to feed POLLEN patties in winter? i get it when brooding starts they need pollen. Are the winter patties, mann lake that is different then pollen patties? Aran when you make them do you leave parchment paper on when you put in the hives?

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    3,421

    Default Re: Bitter Cold in the Northeast

    If your bees do not have a significant number of flying days, feed the winter patties. They are primarily sugar with a tiny bit of pollen sub mixed in. Broodbuilder patties on the otherhand are somewhere between 15 and 18% protein and can cause dysentery if fed too early, but that protein is needed for brood production if they are light on stores. Here in Richmond, the bees are rarely cooped up for more than a week or two before we have a 50+ day and they can get out for cleansing flights. Up where you are, I suspect you dont get many shirt sleeve weather days during the winter.

    I generally will peel one side of the wax paper off of the patties and put it in the hive, paper side down, directly on the frames.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Fultonville,New York,USA
    Posts
    682

    Default Re: Bitter Cold in the Northeast

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    put it in the hive, paper side down, directly on the frames.
    I am a moron. I put the paper side up. Should i fix it ? I don't know what i was thinking.
    Last edited by Sickdog5; 02-06-2019 at 03:17 PM.

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    3,421

    Default Re: Bitter Cold in the Northeast

    I don't think the bees care. Paper side down makes it easier to remove if the patty gets infested with SHB larvae. This early in the season it probably won't be a problem and the bees will eventually clean up what is stuck to the frames. Worst case scenario as I see it is that an early hive inspection might get messy.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Fultonville,New York,USA
    Posts
    682

    Default Re: Bitter Cold in the Northeast

    Thanks peeked in today some dead bee's that got stuck in patties but just left them in there. Can't believe i did that.

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