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Assuming it is a still day with a bit of sun, how low can the ambient temperature be for it to be safe to open the hive for a short time (to put syrup and pollen patties on the top of the frames)?
 

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Around 50 degrees. Calm wind & overcast skies would be the ideally perfect minimum temperature. When the sun is out, likely are the bees.

Thicken the syrup to 2:1 if not already or go "Mountain Camp" method of dry.
Mountain Camp is a couple layers of regular newspaper on top of the frames before the inner lid and dry granulated sugar. This gives the bees the opportunity of feeding even when they're not flying or too cold outside.
 

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If it's reasonably calm (not very windy) and you're only popping the top for pollen and sugar water, you can open the hive at much lower temps. Don't tally though. Do your business and get out if the weather is cold.
 

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I added some frames of honey to two of my hives yesterday...temp was 31. They poked their heads out from between the frames to watch me, but didn't leave the hive. They were out flying around later that day when the temp was 36 and sunny. But these bees are acclimated to my climate...so that may make a difference.
 

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It was 55 here yesterday and when i opened mine, it was like it was fall, they were all over me like white on rice.....lol. They were active as can be at 55, and iwatched them fly a bit this a.m. and it was about 40 when they started.....
 

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>safe to open the hive . . .
It is ALWAYS safe when "bees are flying" :)

Sometimes, and only if necessary, the TC and IC can be removed at much lower temps. But, at such times, any disruption to cluster can be very detrimental to the bees.
 

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Ya know, we always talk about the "cluster". Now, are we saying that all those bees are crammed in between 2 frames, or does that "cluster cover more than 1 frame. I have often wondered......
 

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If you've not read it, check out the following:

http://www.beesource.com/resources/usda/the-thermology-of-wintering-honey-bee-colonies/ by Charles Owens.

In the article, he states that it can take up to 3 days for the bees to re-cluster properly after being disturbed. I'd hate to rely on MY weatherman to know what the next 3 days are going to be like.

I also liken it to that penguin documentary (no - not happy feet), where they cluster in sub-zero temps and howling winds, taking their turns on being the buffer on the outside of the cluster. I'm pretty sure, watching how fast penguins move, that if they were scattered, half of them would die before they could re-cluster.

[disclaimer] This is NOT my scientific study, nor my opinion based on years of observation - just taking one man's article and drawing similarities.:shhhh:
 

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I never open a hive during winter; it is the worst thing a beekeeper can do. It takes several days for the colonies to be back to normal and any cold day or night will harm the bees. A beekeeper should feed in fall when it warm enough and bees can store there food. I always wonder why some are waiting and ask how to do it now.
Why putting combs with food in the hive in the winter, and not a few month ago?

Think about, if someone open your door during winter and let all the heat out of your house, would you like it? It takes you hours to get it nice and comfortable again and you can use all kind of heating material. Your bees have no heaters; they need food and there own body temperature to get there home back to normal and this is not possible in a short time.
When bees flying on a sunny day it doesn’t mean the whole colony is active. If you see bees flying during low temperatures (less than the normal flying temperature) it can be a bad indication. Check for any kind of Nosema!

IMO stay away and make sure nobody disturb them.

I wish you all Merry Christmas and the best for you and your bees in 2010.
Herbert Axtmann
 

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i take a peek every two to three weeks. we have had some really cold weather the last month. i have checked mine only on nice calm days. it has been in the 20's some of the time. i am just popping the top to see how much dry sugar is left and to see if they are still moving. i have not had a cluster break in the last 2 months when i have peeked. i am very carefull as not to disturb or upset them. i added more sugar on them on thanksgiving day and that was pretty disruptive but only 1 or 2 bees flew. non of the others seemed to notice or care. i am no expert by any means but from my observations it seams as though my bees are not breaking the cluster at all of course pulling frames or kicking the hive wouldn't be good though! i would rather make sure they have some feed and look in the cold than have them starve to death. (my hives were low on stores this fall i think?)
 

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You're right Omie! Thanks....it didn't look right when I typed it but my keyboard often wins over my best efforts!
 

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Axtmann wrote:

>>>if someone open your door during winter and let all the heat out of your house,<<<<<

Since the bees don't heat the "house," this is not a good analogy. Better to consider that breaking the propolis seal would not be too good. All that about breaking up of the cluster, doesn't apply if you don't break the cluster. If you are well prepared before you open and do it carefully and quickly you can do it at any temperature on a calm day......just to put some fondant on the top bars. Say "Hello" and get right back out. It better be fondant or sugar in the cold.


dickm
 
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