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I have convinced my co-worker to start beekeeping and of course, in Montana, spring can take a long time to get here. Despite 75 degree temps a couple of weeks ago, it is snowing today. His package of bees is coming tomorrow and i am going to help him install them. How cold is too cold to install a package of bees? is there a rule of thumb minimum temp? and if so, how long can they hang out in the garage with sugar water sprayed on them?
 

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The answer is as complicated as it is simple. It is based on experience, the more experience the earlier the success. It is dependent on heavy feeding with sugar syrup as long as they cannot fly and forage. It relies on the beekeepers patience to stay out of the hive until it warms enough to forage and keep the brood warm. Bees are kept inside in many countries just not as warm a room as people, something around 50 degrees is better.
 

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hmm. so it is an option to install them in the garage and just leave them there until it warms up? would you want to just screen them in? or let them come and go? with a package, there is no brood to keep warm yet, so would the queen just sort of slow down her initial progress?
 

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If you can provide outside access, they will make the right decision. The queen will do whatever the workers tell her is best for the hives survival. She may remain dormant or fill every empty cell with brood.
 

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It was snowing when I hived my bees and 34 degrees, they did just fine. I put on lukewarm syrup at the same time and kept the hives warm until I hived them.

:thumbsup:
 

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I have been nervous about it before. I've installed them when there was snow on the ground and it was freezing. Oddly enough I had installed the frist batch of them the day before when it was sunny and 70 F. What I did was make sure they were well fed through the screen. I have been known to put honey directly on the screen and let them eat it off. When they won't take anymore they have a full stomach of honey. I kept them in the basement (dark and moderatly cool like 60 to 65 F) until I was taking them to the hive. I took them out and installed them and then gave them warm syrup (cool enough you don't burn your finger) so they can take the syrup for longer. Cold syrup really isn't useful to them as they can't eat it if it's below 50 F. I heated the syrup back up the next day to make sure they didn't starve.

They did fine. In fact they did better than the packages from the day before because they drifted less and settled in better.

My main concers were that they might get chilled and no crawl back up to the cluster after dumping them in, and that they might starve because they had no stores and it was too cold to take syrup.
 

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See halfway down at
http://www.honeybeeworld.com/diary/2000/diary040100.htm
also see
http://www.honeybeeworld.com/diary/articles/pkgnucs.htm

The main thing is to have the package bees at the right temp before installing -- not too hot and running, or too cold, where they don't come right back up and cluster when the package is thumped down.

The hive receiving the bees should be made up properly with good feed combs and no snow inside.

Otherwise, keeping the hive indoors is an option, but there cannot be even the tiniest crack of light or the bees will crawl to it. Be careful also not to smother them.

Bees cannot see in red light, but you can.
 

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Despite 75 degree temps a couple of weeks ago, it is snowing today. His package of bees is coming tomorrow and i am going to help him install them. How cold is too cold to install a package of bees?
Dealt with this last week. Luckily I got a break of about 10C (47F) weather.

I did warm up my feed buckets in the bathtub, to create a bit of warmed thermal mass to get them started.

If starting on drawn comb, you may want to keep the comb indoors until deploying so to keep them somewhat warm.

I also put a big sheet of plywood as a windbreak on the north side of the hives, and suspended a hive-width piece over them as a frost-break.

Things appear to be ok now.

I've also heard that it should be ok to keep them in the package for another day or two, provided they have enough feed. If not, spray with 1:1 3 times a day.
 
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