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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys! I've been off for a while. I didn't spend as much time this fall as I wanted to or winterizing. On Nov. 3 the neighbor's cat decided to bite my hand (as he saw my cat) and it was badly infected before the dr. opened the next a.m. So couldn't use my right hand for about 2 weeks, the dr gave me antibiotics which made me very nauseous (but better than hand loss), then when that treatment was over, got several infections, including severe upper respiratory, coming off antibiotics. Spent Thanksgiving throwing up and losing weight. Haven't been able to use forefinger until about a week ago.

Sooooo...I'm not a total slacker, but now I'm worried about my girls. When I was so sick Thanksgiving, the first real cold spell came. I wasn't expecting one until January frankly. It was literally shorts one day, a coat the next. Since I could barely walk across the room, I didn't do any final checks or winterize like I'd hoped. :doh: I was going to combine the weakest, among other things. Most of them were going to be fine regardless. I did have a couple of supers on 2 being cleaned out I wanted to remove.

But now...it is supposed to get down to 9 degrees Wednesday night. Coldest it's been here in over a decade (when I didn't have bees!). So I really don't know what to do to prepare them for that kind of cold. :eek: It's still cold so I don't want to open or disturb them much. Is there anything I can do tomorrow to the outside to help them weather 9 degrees? I've heard of northerners putting hay bales around, but I don't have any of those. Would insulation help? Am I worrying needlessly? I don't want to lose any if there's any way around it.

Any advice appreciated!
Thanks!
 

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Here in not so sunny Philadelphia we normally throw some hay bales around the hives more as a wind break than as insulation. Anything to reduce the windchill will help the ladies maintain a warm enough temp inside. It doesn't need to be right up against it, just close enough to make a break.

Hope the girls pull through!
 

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I was wondering where you have been Terri. Glad to hear things are better.

There is not really much you can do. We are looking at 2 bad nights in a row. Not enough to worry about taking drastic measures. Besides a wind break I wouldn't do anything. Next warm day check their stores and add some dry sugar if needed. (Mountain Camp Method)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I thought about taking a roll of house insulation I have and wrapping them! :eek: The ones I'm worried about have a pretty good windbreak of brush and a cedar. Tonight and tomorrow I'm not as worried about...they've dealt with that. But single digits....:pinch: I lost a weak hive last year when it got below freezing and hate to repeat. I was so sad. Need to try to think of them like bugs instead of pets, I guess. Maybe we'll get lucky and it won't be too bad.

Funny how I've missed you guys. The advice. The wit. The photos of Hambone up to his antics....
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Oh no! Just reading another thread....some of my hives have screened bottom boards on them!
 

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They'll probably make it just fine so long as they have honey to turn into heat. If you are worried tho you can take an empty super or hive body box and set on top of your hive (on the very top on top of you top lid/cover) and put a bed pillow in it fluffed out to fill the box and put a lid on it. It will give you a nice insulation cover for the top, will keep the top warm so that any condensation inside the hive will drip down the sides of the hive boxes as they are now colder than the top. This will help keep the bees dry and warm and may help.

It's not the cold that will kill a hive, it's moisture from condensation and lack of honey stores that will do them in.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Now there's a good insulation idea, Ray! Although, I think I have my spare lids on either end of honey supers in the barn. :scratch:

I did forget to say I didn't take honey from the hives I'm worried about. And they were in a good position for fall flows. One was a little lower than I would have liked - and less bees than I wanted - the one I was going to combine. Kinda afraid that hive particularly won't make it. But for the most part, I think all the rest have plenty of honey until February, anyway.
 

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I wrapped my hives with home insulation that was inside garbage bags. when the sun hits the black bags they heat up quite a bit. seems to help a bit.
 

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I have SBB's on my hives unless the temp dips below 30 degrees for more then a night I will close up the screen. its not the cold that kills them its the dampness that gets them. I.e chill brood
 

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i would worry about wrapping them. i don't have screened bottom boards on mine so i dont know about that. but i didnt wrap mine. the few people by me up here say that straw bales and wrapping has caused more problems than it is worth. heck it has been -20 here. we have already had 11/2 months of cold with most of the lows at night being between 10 anf -10. so i wouldn't worry. my bees are doing fine. they do have some brush on the wind ward side to help stop the wind a bit.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Reckon those Montana bees handle cold better than our Texas bees? :lpf: I'm betting you handle it better than I do! Seriously, though, thanks for the suggestions and reassurances, guys. I'm going to try to cover the sbb and maybe insulate the top on the very weakest if I can, and call it a day. Thanks to ya'll, I won't worry so much about it!
 

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maybee, but my bees are imports from california as of may of last summer. I really worried about them surviving the cold at first but so far so good. I have been really impressed with the mountain camp method. i have 4 colonies and all of them look really good so far. i can't resist peaking at them every 3 weeks or so.
 

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So what become of the bad kitty. It could be used as insulation if you know what I mean!

Not a cat fan here.
 

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My mentor and I wrapped our hives with burlap sacks and baling twine. This helps insulate, and keeps condensation from being a problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
maybee, but my bees are imports from california as of may of last summer. I really worried about them surviving the cold at first but so far so good. I have been really impressed with the mountain camp method. i have 4 colonies and all of them look really good so far. i can't resist peaking at them every 3 weeks or so.
Ohhh. Here I was just joking about your bees being from Montana and more cold hardy - and they weren't even native Montana bees. :doh: Just my luck!

So the mountain camp method you and Derek are talking about is just giving them dry sugar when it gets warm and that's it? Even if they have honey stores? I haven't heard of that one.

I do know it should be (well) below 30 for several days in a row. I'm cold just thinking about it!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
NewbeNc-
Kitty belonged to a neighbor. He was actually an extremely sweet kitty and loved being petted - as long as my cat didn't show up apparently! He was in my lap at the time and I (stupidly) grabbed him to get him off....knew I didn't want to be in a cat fight, but didn't think before I grabbed. Bet I don't do that again! Haven't seen him lately, but guess he's ok. He's nowhere near as good as my cat anyway. My cat was raised by a dog and thinks he's at least half dog and has the good points of both (except he doesn't guard) and the bad points of neither. He didn't like the other cat but never tried to fight him. Nor has he ever bitten me even in the midst of something like that or when he was scared. Anyway.... you asked.
 

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yep put a empty super on top and a few newspapers over the frames and put on 12# or so of sugar. i was worried about having enough honey for them so it is cheap insurance i think. My bees have been eating a fair amount of what i put in already.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
That's cool. So much easier than the whole sugar water thing. And you just put it in whether they have honey left or not? Or do you wait until they run low?
 
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