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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am new to beekeeping -- totally new. I installed a package on April 26th in a Warre hive. Weather has been pleasant spring weather for Colorado with highs in 60s and 70s, but we will be getting snow tomorrow and the forecast is for three days of cold. A spring cold snap, to me, seems challenging for a package of bees with a diminishing population and brood comb duties. Is there anything I can/should be doing to help?
 

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A good wind break will help. If it snows make sure the entrance doesn't get blocked. A top entrance is the berries in areas with snow. Pretty new package will be okay as far as a diminishing population.Don't feed if daytime temperatures dropped down to 50 or lower.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks. Hive has good windbreaks, but highs will be below 50 for next three days, dropping below freezing at night. I am concerned with how this cold will effect the various stages of brood. Ahhh, this beekeeeping comes with a lot of anxiety. . . hope that diminishes with time.
 

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Your bees will not create any brood more then the bees can cover and keep warm. This is one of the reasons it takes a bit for packages to get started good. As long as you've given them some syrup in the past few days, they should be fine for a cold snap.
 

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The biggest risk to a package in cold weather is starvation, since they can't take syrup below 50 F or so. If you heat the syrup once a day, they can tank up and get through to the next day without starvation...
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I have feeder jars set in an empty box above the top bars and below the insulated quilt box . To do heated syrup, I would have to open the hive twice (to remove cold syrup and then to replace with warm syrup). I am totally willing to do this, but we are 30 degrees below average and if we make 40 F today, it will be for about 10 minutes! Would it be better to not open at all, to open and place granulated sugar on paper, or to open twice for the syrup?
Anything else I can do? Run an extension cord with light bulb for example?
 

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This spring here near Denver is driving me nuts! I did the same thing and am hoping things will be ok. I gave the package some old built out comb when I installed them and they did a good job of taking in syrup and eating a pollen patty before this cold snap, plus they were very active in the fruit trees so I hope they have some stores. I also installed a nuc on Saturday right before the cold but the nuc had several frames of honey so I think they'll be ok.
If we're lucky it'll get above 50 on Tuesday, although I've seen the bees out on calm sunny days in the high 40's.
I'm not opening them up in this cold.
 

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Michaels right that is their biggest risk. I would only add get the syrup as close to or better above the cluster so they can feed. too far from the cluster and can.t -boardsman feeders as example are to far away.
 

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>Would it be better to not open at all, to open and place granulated sugar on paper, or to open twice for the syrup?

The syrup or the sugar needs to be in contact with the cluster. I would prefer the syrup. The cold isn't an issue except for them taking syrup. I've opened hives in sub zero F briefly (not that I'm recommending doing it for no reason). Opening to warm the syrup is not going to kill them. Starving will kill them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Okay. I went out to retrieve the syrup jars for heating. I saw dead bees at the entrance. My heart sank as I envisioned all the bees starved and dead already. I removed the roof and quilt box, reached into the box to take the jars and paused: It was WARM in there. I pulled up one of the jars and the bees were busy tanking up. They are heating their own syrup. I closed everything back up as quickly as possible. Then opened the observation window for a quick peek. Threw the sheets and tarp back over the hive to create some dead air around it. Then I looked again at the dead bees in front: In fact there were only about 10-12.
Nonetheless, I went and purchased a heating pad and plan on giving them a few extra calories in the wee morning hours tomorrow (just to pay them back for the heat I let out this afternoon). That's "my concept" of non-intervention -- more like accounting -- just even things out.
 

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This past Saturday I inspected the package bees that were installed at the end of April in Boulder County. The hives I looked at had packed away plenty of food stores, so food should not be an issue. The hives also had plenty of capped and uncapped brood. New bees should start emerging very soon. I'm not sure using a heating pad is the best idea. Will the bees think it's warm outside and fly out into freezing temperatures? One of the mantras from a course I'm taking on bees is: Let bees be bees. Sometimes we interfere too much. As for the dead bees- remember bees only live about 5 weeks when their working hard. We're going on week 4 for package bees. So their at their lowest population right now. Lack of ventilation probably kills more bees than cold, so use caution when covering them to keep them warm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for your input. I have covered them loosely -- still plenty of ventilation. After feeling the heat in the box above their brood, seeing the bees were feeding, and seeing some blue sky promising warmer temperatures, I am feeling more relaxed.
 

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It's warm in the hive as brood has to be kept very warm.
One more cold night- it will be warm enough tomorrow for the girls to get out and do their thing. Good luck
 

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hello fellow co keepers cold front has passed been a gloomy week today blu skys.I too installed packages 3 weeks ago as well was relaxed the whole time more upset about not having time to inspect all my hives.this is my 6 or 7th year with packages so i don't worry about them any more.
i did see them flying in the snow yesterday. guarantee they will be quite defensive today and the wintered over hives swarmy since the cold snap happened during the swarming season. heads up.
 

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I have feeder jars set in an empty box above the top bars and below the insulated quilt box . To do heated syrup, I would have to open the hive twice (to remove cold syrup and then to replace with warm syrup). I am totally willing to do this, but we are 30 degrees below average and if we make 40 F today, it will be for about 10 minutes! Would it be better to not open at all, to open and place granulated sugar on paper, or to open twice for the syrup?
Anything else I can do? Run an extension cord with light bulb for example?
If you have and extra jar you can make syrup, heat it and only open the hive once if that's what you're worried about. Then just heat the jar you took off the next day to swap in. We had a heating pad heating syrup behind the followerboard in our top bar for a couple weeks after install because it was still very cold. Seemed to work well keeping it warm since in a TBH you can't really get it "above" the cluster very easily.
 

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Yay, it didn't get down to a killing freeze! I was very worried about all the plants that have broken dormancy and fruit that bloomed. I also saw some bees flying in and out of the hive yesterday when it was 41 F out. They should be out today.
I did my splits right after the last cold snap thinking they would be swarmy then.
 
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