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So I'm in upstate NY with still very cold weather but thankfully mostly booming hives. Most but not all of them are coming up to the top to feed in the shim area during the day, even with temperatures in the single digits. My question and concern is this - given low temperatures I'd like to just open the top very quickly and slip food in - usually winter patties or sugar blocks but increasingly pollen patties - but the bees are rarely centrally located so I'm worried I may squash a queen. My specific question is are queens typically up at the top or is there an "advance foraging force" that heads up to the top to feed leaving the main ball down below. I'd rather avoid squishing any of them but for a 10lb patty block I'll accept a small risk of casualties but I have no idea if that feeding group is likely to have the queen up there too, making me therefore be way more careful.

Many thanks for your answers in advance.
 

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Her Majesty will not be up there. That doesn't mean it is impossible. Just be careful as you would otherwise. You might want to consider cutting that block up. Will your shim accommodate 10 lbs? Will they eat 10 lbs before they have natural pollen?
J
 

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That makes more sense! Just be aware that once you start adding it, don't cut them off until there is plentiful natural pollen with good flying weather. J
 

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As was mentioned, I wouldn't worry about the queen, she'll be in the middle ish area of the cluster.
 

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Randy Oliver of Scientificbeekeeping.com did a study on pollen patties...and although it didn't focus on the queen, it did focus on the bees.....he wanted to know what effect squishing winter bees while putting on pollen patties had on the survival of the colony.......he found it dramatically affected their ability to survive until spring....so he advocates smoking the bees off cluster on top of the frames before placing the patties.....kill as few as possible.
I thought it an odd thing to do a study on, but ...there ya go!
 

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We often feed the pollen sub. Our concern from day 1 was squishing queens. Here is what we do:

0. I try to repeatedly remind myself and my workers that crushing/killing a queen in the winter is the same as giving a death sentence to the entire colony.
1. First, we liberally apply smoke...and watch as nearly all the bees crawl down between the frames.
2. Next, we carefully brush off any remaining bees after looking carefully for the queen, making sure we don't even touch her.
3. We carefully apply the pollen sub, taking care to do our best to not crush even one bee.
4. We carefully apply the sugar bricks, taking care to do our best to not crush even one bee.
5. We carefully reattach the top riser, then the lid.

Done deal!
 

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1. First, we liberally apply smoke...and watch as nearly all the bees crawl down between the frames.
I must have stubborn bees. Smoking them off the top bars in the winter to replace sugar blocks doesn't seem to work well for me. Most of them stay in place, and smoking seems to agitate them more then encourage them to move down out of the way. I'm referring to replacing blocks in fairly cold weather. If it's warm enough that the bees are out flying (45 deg F +) then smoking will work much better.

I make small replacement blocks to fill in the gaps left from consumed sugar during the winter months. I'll slowly slide them in, or very gently set them in place while pushing the bees out of the way. Never lost a queen adding blocks on the top bars.
 

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Try lightly blowing on the bees with your breath. They readily vacate the area.

I am usually wearing a mosquito net with the elastic pulled onto a rolled up collar. Makes the blowing easier, much easier to put on, and I can't remember ever being stung.
 

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I must have stubborn bees. Smoking them off the top bars in the winter to replace sugar blocks doesn't seem to work well for me. Most of them stay in place, and smoking seems to agitate them more then encourage them to move down out of the way. I'm referring to replacing blocks in fairly cold weather. If it's warm enough that the bees are out flying (45 deg F +) then smoking will work much better.

I make small replacement blocks to fill in the gaps left from consumed sugar during the winter months. I'll slowly slide them in, or very gently set them in place while pushing the bees out of the way. Never lost a queen adding blocks on the top bars.

I have found the same thing...in the cold i crack the quilt box up and there is a big ball of bees in the shim, some adhered to the underside of the quilt box. Smoke doesnt seem to do anything but upset the, and may them pissy.
I just put the patty in there killing as few bees as i can.
 

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Little worry of your queen on the top bars. A bee brush or a gentil hand will make quick work of getting bees out of the way,,, proper timing should be your number 1 concern
 
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