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Discussion Starter #1
Last year I made a late split to give myself three hives. As fate would have it we then went on to have the coldest winter in probably 40 years here. Stores are low in two of the hives.

I have two hive top feeders and one deep frame of capped honey which I can donate to the weakest. All colonies have decent sized clusters and plenty of pollen.

My question is what would be the minimum temperature to have those feeders on? I don't want to make things harder for them but they need to increase their stores. Temps are forecast to have highs from 50-59 degrees here for the next 9 days.
 

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50+ degrees should be adequate. My girls come up to the hive top feeder in the 40's if they are hungry. I usually dribble a bit of the sryup down on the frames if its warm and that encourages them to go up into the feeder quickly.
 

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You can leave them on even in the coldest weather if you want. The issue is how they manage the space. If you have highs in the temps you mentioned, I would guess they'll be fine. Go for it.
 

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The temperature of the SYRUP has to get up to 50 F before they will feed. If the nights are 30 and the daytime temps are 50, they will not take the syrup unless you warm it up. Adding boiling hot syrup to cold syrup can warm it quite a bit. removing and warming and replacing can work. But at this point I think you are better off with dry sugar as the syrup will add too much moisture to the hive.
 

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i think the reference you mentioned to temperature of syrup is the key. we have had some unseasonably cold temps of 20's in the evenings and low 40's during the day and my hive top feeders have been full of bees even though its not 50+. These are the hives that have a much larger population so I would expect their heat that is generated is keeping the syrup warm enough to consume even though its in the 40's outside compared to my nucs/singles that are not touching the syrup until 50+.
 

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I have always been told (by the oldtimers) that the temp. inside the hive is the same as the outside temp. that the bees only heat the inside of the cluster.:scratch: Jack
 

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Yes, I've seen them working the syrup when it's somewhere it can get warm from the cluster, the bees don't have to go far from the cluster even though the temps outside are below 50 F. And I've seen them not working it when it's 50 F outside because the syrup is still 40 F...

I like the shallow top feeders because they warm up more quickly and the syrup isn't as long a trip from the cluster.

The top of a hive is always warmer above the cluster than it is outside when it's cold. The temperature inside a hive is always warmer than outside, but it's true they are not attempting to heat the hive. That is just the effect of having a warm cluster of bees in the hive. The temperature in SOME places in the hive may be the same as outside, but certainly not all places...
 

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MB,say's The top of the hive above the cluster is always warmer than the outside of the hive. That has always been my thought and probably a cause of some condensation problems. I have found you can learn alot from the old time beekeepers,but you don't want to question their knowledge to much, if you know what i mean.:D Jack
 

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Discussion Starter #9
But at this point I think you are better off with dry sugar as the syrup will add too much moisture to the hive.
I have since read about feeding dry sugar after posting this. That does sound like the smart way to go.

How many sheets of newspaper do you put down?

I am concerned about the newspaper collapsing and creating a sugar avalanche.
 

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I put one sheet, lightly spray with water, then pour on 5 pounds of sugar, lightly sprayed also. It doesn't collapse.
 

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Mike Bush's comments are spot on. This fall, when the daytime temps dropped below 50 degrees, the bees stopped taking the sugar water.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
You are putting just one page of a damp newspaper down and 5 lbs. of sugar on top and it doesn't collapse?

I don't know. I find that hard to believe.

Anyone else use more sheets and if so how many?
 

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>How many sheets of newspaper do you put down?

I use one.

>I am concerned about the newspaper collapsing and creating a sugar avalanche.

I put down the newspaper. Then about an inch of sugar. Then spray that with some water until it's a bit clumped. Then another layer of sugar. Then some more water. After that the rest of the sugar and then spray the top a bit to clump it and to get the front edge of it wet to get them eating it.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfeeding.htm#drysugar
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Ok, I guess the sugar recrystalizes into one solid mass after wetting and supports the whole structure. I'll give it a try.
 

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i laid down one, spritzed it with water, then added 5 lbs of sugar, then spritzed it.....no problems so far. MCM seems to work GREAT!!!
 

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I have always been told (by the oldtimers) that the temp. inside the hive is the same as the outside temp. that the bees only heat the inside of the cluster.

I have bees that will prove them wrong.

If the heat can be vented easily, the bee cluster will not heat the hive. That is true.

I have some 10 frame nucs I am overwintering as a single deep. I am using the plastic hive bodies with an open screened bottom board, with a 3/4 inch auger hole near the top of the box. I have another plastic box with no auger hole on top of the single deep, and I am feeding dry sugar in that box. I have no inner cover, and I am using a polystyrene (styrofoam) telescoping outer cover that seals well.

I have lifted the lid on 20 something degree days to check on sugar stores, only to be met by a blast of heat coming out. The bees were very active and were feeding on the sugar. There were many bees feeding all over the sugar, and not the usual bees just feeding at the edge of the sugar pile.

If you have a well insulated hive, the bees can cause large temperature changes in the hive itself which can affect hive activity.
 

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Countryboy, i agree, but here's one for ya. Bees are a insect not a warm bodied animal, so how do they maintain inside of the cluster at 90 deg.? As you can tell i don't know to much about the biology of the bees body parts.:scratch: Jack
 

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They become active and wiggle and crawl and flutter their wings rapidly. This uses energy and creates heat as a by-product. Just like you going for a jog, you get warm. The bees do too. But another byproduct of metabolism like this is water. It can condense on the walls and roof of the hive if you are not getting enough ventilation.
 

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A couple of questions - how did you determine the bees needed feed? 2 where in the hive is the cluster (top/bottom)

As long as the syrup is warm (and rewarmed daily), and you can put a quart feed jar directly above the cluster in the top super and I've had colonies take feed @ as low as 25-30 degrees. It is important to invert the jar and let the jar drip until vaccum is attained before you put the jar on the bees to avoid soaking them. You will need to get a couple of sprinkles on the bees to entice them in the cold but they will take feed in pretty cold temps is they are starving. Usually a long shot this time of year but give it your best and good luck!
 
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