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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
1:1 syrup in hive, hard freeze coming. I know bees can keep themselves warm in the box during cold weather, but I don't know if they can do that AND keep a bag of syrup warm enough. I'm concerned that the syrup could freeze or at least become cold enough that it turns the hive (brood box & 1 super without frames) into an icebox.

I have about 2 quarts of syrup in a gallon freezer bag sitting across the brood frames. Each hive with this is a relatively new colony with only 3-5 frames drawn and enough bees to cover both sides of 1 frame at most bunched together.

I can easily remove the bag, but just want to know if my concern is legitimate. Down south of Houston we don't have any significant experience with the cold. It'll be down into the low teens, although with the forecast trend, it'll be in the single digits if it continues, with freezing temps for at least 36 hours
 

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Yes take it out. The cluster hopes to stay at 95F, assuming it has brood. They don't need to head the feed as well. How much brood and how much honey on those 3-5 frames? What size box?
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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This is a question where experience with a particular climate dictates different answers. Your baggie feeder will be fine, says another southerner. Syrup does not freeze and the heat coming off of the cluster may keep the syrup warm enough that they can still consume it. Taking it off won't hurt, but neither will leaving it on.
 

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with the teens I would pull it out.

With only 1 frame of bees I would seal up the hives and bring them inside. I don't think one frame of bees will make it thru 10 degrees without help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks all. Not too bad a ratio. 6 responses and not 7 answers. Still, I have ~do nothing -> bring them inside. Hmm...decisions, decisions....

All boxes are the same. 10 frame deep with sufficient stores each for a short cold snap and an empty super on top to make space for the feed bag. I have a number of other hives that have more bees, but none with full brood boxes. All have sufficient stores; some have fontant rather than syrup. Most have twice as many bees as the ones I mentioned already, and all have brood. All are rescues from cutouts that I'm trying to get established.
 

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Added benefit of taking in the feed is you can remove that super from the small cluster giving them less space to heat. If they have adequate stores all the better. I find bees in a compact space do better, esp of new colonies and equipment. They seem to get discouraged if too much. Keep them tight and only feed when needed. When its cold a frame of honey right next to them is better than feed, but you probably don't get that cold often.... You will have cannibalized and or chilled brood but I imagine the colonies will be fine if you can tighten them up a bit.
 

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I missed the one frame of bees part. The syrup is not an issue. Getting the bees tightened up or bringing the weak hives ito a garage is more important than worrying about the feed at this point.
 
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Thanks all. Not too bad a ratio. 6 responses and not 7 answers. Still, I have ~do nothing -> bring them inside. Hmm...decisions, decisions....

All boxes are the same. 10 frame deep with sufficient stores each for a short cold snap and an empty super on top to make space for the feed bag. I have a number of other hives that have more bees, but none with full brood boxes. All have sufficient stores; some have fontant rather than syrup. Most have twice as many bees as the ones I mentioned already, and all have brood. All are rescues from cutouts that I'm trying to get established.
You'll get more than one response because there is more than one workable solution for the situation.
A real dilemma on your hands.

That said, I have the definitive answer you seek. Much has already been mentioned by others, so pull off the syrup as it's no good in the cold temps you are going to have, replace with fondant right over the small clusters so they can reach it, push it down between the frames if necessary. Pull off the extra empty super and reduce the size of the entrances particularly the top one if you have it. Do all this today and do it quickly. Then leave them alone until the cold snap ends next week.
Take a peek when you get the first calm day near 50*.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I'll plan on pulling the weakest hives into my barn. Temperature forecasts are stabilizing around mid to low teens briefly, with freezing temperatures for 30 hours or so. All hives have entrance reducers with the smallest gap notch. I'll take some of the fondant from the other hives to push down between the frames of the hives I'll seal & relocate.

Thanks for the responses
 

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I know this isn't going to help much for this year, but it sounds like these bees would have been better off in a 5 Frame Nuc (3-5 Frames drawn if I read that correctly). The extra space is just extra space for them to heat. And adding the extra super on top is just even more extra space to heat. If you don't have Nucs to put them in, You could remove frames and put in some wood slats to fill the space. That would also add insulation. You can also slide the Hives up next to each other to benefit from the warmth of neighboring hives.

Another good option is make or buy a double screened board and stack the weak hives on top of a stronger hive with the double screened board in between. This allows the weaker hive to benefit from the extra heat produced from the stronger hive. The double screen prevents the bees from passing the Queen's pheromones back and forth so the Queens below, don't realize there is another Queen up top and vise versa. This is assuming that you have a stronger hive to do this with.

Good luck. It sounds like what you've done or plan to do will help as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
We're out of the woods. Thanks to everyone for the responses. I pulled all but the strongest hives into my barn after sealing up the entrances with duct tape. Stacked them two high with quilts over the lot of them.

I pulled the cover off this morning to find that rats enjoyed the heat as well, and had pulled off all tape and did a fair bit of damage to one of the hives trying to chew through the front entrance. Perhaps the bees took care of business when he got far enough because that was the only one with major damage to the front of it. Regardless, after I took the hives back out, they all got out in the yard and enjoyed their beautiful day out.

The two strongest hives I left out fared well. One had a quilt over it and the other did not. The other was the only one with more than one box. It had brood in two supers, probably 6 frames of brood total, and a brood box above that. The only reason for that configuration is that they decided long ago to draw brood in the supers and not the brood box on bottom, and I only recently gave up and just put the brood box on top.

I had a queenless hive with about 3 frames-worth of bees that I left out covered as a test and it fared well also. We had one night of mid teens (F) and several nights of lows in the mid-20's with only one day not getting above freezing here just south of Houston.
 

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Duct tape is a dangerous choice for blocking entrances. Bees need some oxygen! It may be a good thing that rats chewed the duct tape off!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Good point. God bless those rats.

It wasn't the most thorough tape job in the 1st place, but it still could have been a problem.
 

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I'm glad things have worked out well for you.
Now going forward you may see the bees pulling out dead brood that perished during the cold, may see some
chaulkbrood disease as well. Make sure the bees can clean up and remove what they need to through the entrance.
Check to be sure they have feed and if in doubt put some more fondant on them, maybe a pollen patty too. I'm sure they burned through some during the unexpected cold week. Wait to use the syrup until you are sure the temps are staying above 50, best if it's above 50 at night as well.

Make sure you keep and record the events in a journal.
 

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The two strongest hives I left out fared well. One had a quilt over it and the other did not. The other was the only one with more than one box. It had brood in two supers, probably 6 frames of brood total, and a brood box above that. The only reason for that configuration is that they decided long ago to draw brood in the supers and not the brood box on bottom, and I only recently gave up and just put the brood box on top.
FYI, if the quilt gets wet and frozen into a block of ice over a hive it runs the risk of suffocating them, sounds like it worked for you but more a future warning.
 
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