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I'm a new beekeeper in the Rocky mountains, ~9,000ft., zone 5a, I'm using my greenhouse as a sort of AZ hive by putting my Layens hive in it with southern entry. I'm foundationless, and I made several mistakes that cost me 3/4 of my new bees. First, got my package to early, had them inside for 2 days, but decided to install in about 50°F in my Layens hive outside(before I moved it to greenhouse), it was much colder at night, maybe 30°, and they had no comb or anything, when I got out there the next morning the bees were not moving, so I gave them some heat and put them in a swarm trap in my greenhouse.

They recovered, but 3/4 of them went into our raised beds in greenhouse, got wet and cold and died. I put any bees still alive back into trap and when the queen finally released from cage the next day, the ~1/4 of package of bees I had left in total seemed to abscond with her to the southeast corner of the greenhouse in cluster, thats when I decided to bring my Hive to the greenhouse and turn it into a kind of AZ hive and to keep the bees as warm as possible til it warms up, so I got my remaining cluster of bees into that hive. Now I have an open south entrance Layens/AZ hive with about 2500 bees and hopefully the queen. I never actually have seen the queen since she got out of the cage and the bees clustered in the corner of the greenhouse. I also added a queen excluder to keep the queen from using the entrance and prevent absconding...(see attachment for my layout)

...All seemed good when it warmed up for a couple days, the entrance activity seemed normal, but they didn't appear to be drinking any of the 1:1 syrup I put in a custom feeder inside the hive. Now yesterday and today, was colder again and weathery on and off, but its nice now but only 50°(warmer weather coming soon). Today, I just added a pollen patty to the hive and and peaked to see if they were building comb yet,... I couldn't see any comb, and the bees were clustered in the corner. and they still dont seem to be drinking the 1:1 syrup. I also found out that I should have had my bottom open screen closed, so i did that.(I have 2 small screens down there still for ventilation.)

Any advice on what to do next??? Why arent they building comb? Why arent they eating syrup? Is it just not warm enough yet? Thank you.

One other bit: Still have snow on ground in many places and no flowers out yet, at least not in immediate area of hive...
 

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Penn State is offering a free online Beekeeping 101 class, it would be good if you take that class, you will learn much. There must be a bee clun around you somewhere, google it, maybe you could find a mentor. Honey bees are considered animals; treat them like you would your pet dog or cat.
 

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Rule number #1. Never put honeybees in a greenhouse. I have installed yards of packages in the snow/ and or freezing rain. With food and pollen they have always been ok.....
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Rule number #1. Never put honeybees in a greenhouse. I have installed yards of packages in the snow/ and or freezing rain. With food and pollen they have always been ok.....
I have no comb or foundation, just empty Layens frames with the wire/fish line, and some wax rubbed on top bars and lines. So I thought that the hive in the greenhouse, with the entrance outside the greenhouse and facing south was best for my situation and would give the hive some helpful warmth for lack of comb with nights dropping to 35, and now so few bees...
 

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Honeybees cannot deal with the concept of glass between them and the sun. They navigate by polarized light and the glass interferes with their navigation system. Do not put a hive of honeybees in a greenhouse. Bumblebees, on the other hand, do not have the same problem and can be used in a greenhouse.
 

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Close the hive if you have them inside. No idea if you have enough bees left to do anything else with them. Wrap the hive in a blanket tight enough to not let ANY light in. You need to move the feed to them. Not directly over them but on the edge of the cluster, they can't handle any burping from the feeder. drill a hole if you have to and use just a little syrup to make sure you do not soak them. a 1/4 inch hole and a small jar with a few holes up on sticks is what I would try.
Got a heating pad you could put over the cluster on the bar and side? you are working a long shot with no comb. Make sure any syrup rounds away from the pad even it you have to tip the hive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Close the hive if you have them inside. No idea if you have enough bees left to do anything else with them. Wrap the hive in a blanket tight enough to not let ANY light in. You need to move the feed to them. Not directly over them but on the edge of the cluster, they can't handle any burping from the feeder. drill a hole if you have to and use just a little syrup to make sure you do not soak them. a 1/4 inch hole and a small jar with a few holes up on sticks is what I would try.
Got a heating pad you could put over the cluster on the bar and side? you are working a long shot with no comb. Make sure any syrup rounds away from the pad even it you have to tip the hive.
Thank you so much for your input Saltybee! ..Very helpful! ...Will do my best. ...I ended up ordering some foundation, should be here early this next week, I'm planning on adding it to those frames, to help them to..
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Penn State is offering a free online Beekeeping 101 class, it would be good if you take that class, you will learn much. There must be a bee clun around you somewhere, google it, maybe you could find a mentor. Honey bees are considered animals; treat them like you would your pet dog or cat.
Thank you, I got signed up for that class! Should help a lot.
 

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I just watched someone in Alaska installing a package in 4' deep snow.
Was it on bare frames or comb? Cold weather, on bare frames or bars, I would never do it again unless it was a nuc and wrapped to keep the wind off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Was it on bare frames or comb? Cold weather, on bare frames or bars, I would never do it again unless it was a nuc and wrapped to keep the wind off.
...Like mine was on bare frames, being new, I underestimated what that means for warmth... ...I'm wondering the same...
 

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How do I do that? I think everything is sold out...
Sold out is sorta sold out. There are bee shippers, people do not always pick up their packages and some local keepers shake a few packages. Call around to the sold out as well as asking any local club.
 

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Packages are assembled from random bees from various hives shaken off their frames into a container and weighed out to the standard 3#. An unrelated queen is added to the package and it is shipped out.
Shaking a package is the act of creating one.
 

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I'm a new beekeeper in the Rocky mountains, ~9,000ft...Any advice on what to do next?
1 - You're learning (I hope) that you can't keep bees year-round at 9,000'. I keep bees in the Rockies too, but my bees are up the mountain only from late May to August. The flowers at 8-10,000 feet produce some very special honey -- the best I've ever produced in nearly 60 years in the craft. But, the rest of the year, they're in the valley for an extra 2-3 months of forage, better wintering conditions, and so the bees can get out of the hive on warm days. Good luck moving a Layens hive up and down the mountain every Spring and Fall.

2 - Lorenzo Langstroth gave us the best possible hive for ease of management, learning the craft, and transportation of colonies. Since the arrival of the Varroa mite, beekeeping has become much more difficult. Before that, we had a lot of room for novice-beekeeper mistakes, but the Varroa is extremely unforgiving. Therefore new beekeepers should learn on equipment that is easy to use, to feed, and to medicate -- Langstroth. And, use foundation for at least the first year! Once you have 4-5 years of solid successful overwintering, you can graduate to experimentation with the more exotic designs and try going foundationless. But, in your case, you still want a hive design that is easily moved to meet seasonal demands.

3 - Honey bees don't do well in a greenhouse even their entrance to the outside. It's worse if the opening takes them into the greenhouse itself -- they can't find their way back to the hive (as you saw). If you need your hives in a shelter, use a ventilated, but unheated shed or barn instead. Adding artificial heat increases the colony's level of activity, and consequently, consumption of stores. They can do fine well below freezing if they have sufficient stores and are protected from wind, moisture, and a 9,000' winter that's 8 months long.

4 - The hives that I take up the mountain are permanently mounted to the floor of an old livestock trailer. For seasonal moves, all I need to do is to close up the hive entrances and hitch it to the truck. When in place, whether in the valley or up the mountain, the bees are free to come and go through the openings in the walls, but the walls, ceiling and ramp-door keep the bears, skunks, and drafts out.

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