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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Has anyone had experience with package installation in the cold weather. Looks like weather in the mid 30's today and 22 degrees tonight and not warming above 50 until tomorrow afternoon. If installed on drawn comb with food ( stores) in the comb, how do you think they will do if installed today.
 

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Was a very common question last year. There was a posting where some were installed and some were kept in the garage. All made it but garage bees did better. Kept for almost a week is my memory, but it that was any good I would find the post.
 

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Keep them in the package and in the house/garage. Mist the net several times a day with sugar water. Cold bees are sluggish bees and it will take them a long time to reform the cluster at those temps. In addition, the queen may not be in the cluster when it gets reformed.

I installed in cold weather last year, however, I installed during the day when it was in the 50s. It got cold in the night afterwards.
 

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Astrobee did nice work here; Well worth the whole post!

Group 1: On March 21st I installed 10 packages near the end of the day. Temps were about 45 during installation. Night temps were about 30. All 10 packages were given 10-frame deep hive with 9 frames of foundation and 1 frame of drawn comb.

Group 2: On March 22nd I installed 10 packages near the end of the day. Temps were about 37 during installation. Night temps were about 28. All 10 packages were given 10-frame deep hive with 9 frames of foundation and 1 frame of drawn comb.

Group 3: On March 23rd I installed 10 packages near the end of the day. Temps were about 39 during installation. Night temps were about 26. All 10 packages were given 10-frame deep hive with 9 frames of foundation and 1 frame of drawn comb.

On March 24th, I peaked into Group 1 and found bees tightly clustered around feeder and a good number of dead bees on the solid bottom board. At this point I saved the remaining 6 packages in my attached garage (about 55 degrees).

Group 4: On March 29th (yes, 9 days later!!) I installed the remaining 6 packages.Temps were about 48 during installation. Night temps were about 35.

http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?280859
 

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I installed 12 packages about a week and a half ago and am sweating this cold weather also...they did have a good start and gave them some old honey and a hand rubbed frame of syrup to give them a start---I did over night them in the house (70F) and sprayed them down good with syrup before bringing them out on a 50F day......Todays high was 27f.....this week will tell the story in my openion....lol....good luck and make sure to feed them what you can,,,,

==McBee7==
 

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Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
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>Has anyone had experience with package installation in the cold weather.

Yes.

>Looks like weather in the mid 30's today and 22 degrees tonight and not warming above 50 until tomorrow afternoon.

Perfect.

>If installed on drawn comb with food ( stores) in the comb, how do you think they will do if installed today.

Great. And they won't drift. I'd make sure they have full stomachs (put syrup on the screen until they stop taking it). And dump them in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for all the advice. We received over 1300 packages last night at our local bees supply and the high today is going to be 46 degrees. Below is the advice I gave our local bee club members.

To those installing packages,

Last night Simpsons received their package bee shipment and many customers waited in line to get their bees. It was estimated that over 800 packages were picked up and there are more being pick up today. The quality of the bees is excellent with very few dead bees in the bottom of the cages.

There was a lot of discussion about installation last night and I want to go through it here. IF you are going to try to install today it is a little risky due to the low temperatures. The high this after noon is going to be between 3 and 6 pm and only around 45 degrees. After much discussion with Carlton and Bev you might be better off to wait to install until Thursday when the temperature will be in the 60s.

If you install today then the best option is to install on drawn comb with stores already available that the bees can cluster around. The overnight temps are going to be 34 degrees and it will be hard for the bees to get to the feeder and back from the cluster; and on bare foundation this could be a recipe for starvation and heavy bee loss. Also you might want to keep your empty box and frames in a warm house until just before the installation so that the stores in the drawn comb is warm and the bees don’t have to try and warm it from 30 some degrees.

If installing on bare foundation (new un-drawn) your best option is to wait until warmer weather. If you do install today then the best option might be to put the can they came with on the top bars so they can cluster around it and continue to feed and use an empty super around it. Also a zip lock bag filled with sugar water and a few 1 inch slits on top, laid on the top bars, could be a good feeding method. Don’t need to fill the zip lock completely full. You could also spray some sugar water on the frames. All this is risky.

One other thing that will help is to lightly mist the outside of the packages before installation with sugar water. Do this multiple times until the bees stop taking it. This will fill their stomachs and help them get their initial start. Don’t get them wet.

The sugar water mixes we are using here is 1:1. One cup sugar to one cup water, or, one pound of sugar to one pound of water

Hope this helps.

Good Luck,
 

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Last year I kept my package in our spare bathroom for a couple days until it was warm enough outside to install. Was kind of fun to have them in the house.
 

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I also installed a package yesterday in the morning at 60 degrees.

In three hour the temp dropped 20 degrees.

They're clustered and taking dry sugar when I peeked to check if clustered.

Last night got down to 22 and when I checked this morning I saw movement through the reduced entrance.

Supposed to be in the 60's soon so we'll see how they turn out.
 

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Disposable hand warmers have helped me out in a pinch sevaral times in the past.

Keeping newborn baby bunnies nest box warm in bitter overnight temps, Keeping the incubator warm with hatching eggs during a power outage and keeping capped queen cells warm during transport for long distances.
Although I have not used them for installing bees in cold themps, I think a hand warmer overnight would help if done correctly. Allow them to cluster together comfortably in cold overnight temps and -regroup for the next day's organization.

The larger ones last about 12 hours.

I have no idea if this will work or if is needed or not. But if I was desperate, it is somethng I would try.

If I remember right a large hand warmer, when wrapped in a light towel with a thermometer was about 105 degrees. Two in a little giant incubator kept it at 92 degrees overnight. They are warmer the more confined they are, like in your pocket. In an open enviroment they are just lightly warm.
 

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The only reason I would delay installing packages is if it was below 35 degrees. I would do it earlier in the day if possible to allow them to get somewhat organized in the hive and get to food, either in the comb or in a feeder. Don't put the queen cage on the bottom board in cold weather, keep her up higher between the frames or on top of the frames, that is if you aren't direct releasing her.
 

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My only concern about cold and packages is if you don't feed them until they are full first, or the cold spell lasts a long time. If it lasts for several days you may need to give them some slightly damp sugar to eat...
 

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Bees can survive cold quite well. There is no brood to protect in an installed package. Just keep them dry and with feed and they'll be fine, no need to delay installation.
+1 on what camero7 said..... They will do better in the hive than they will in the package box.... Keep in mind that bees will typically not take syrup if it is below 50F or so.... Feed dry sugar or sugar bricks if it is that cold....
 

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And I could use one of those myself right about now :)

My wife uses the ones in the 18 hour package: http://www.hothandsdirect.com/about.html
The ones with adhesive don't get warm enough for her. The foot and hand warmers get too hot for her back. Before this extended cold winter we just had I could buy them all the time at the local Walmart. They sold out of all kinds. I'm going to have to order some for her soon.

Tom
 
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