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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have 4 newly installed hives (from packages on friday apr. 11) After last nights cold snap (23 deg) I go out this evening after work and find one of the hives had about a dozen or so dead bees on the landing board. I figured no big deal, they just didn't get in on time when the weather hit. I checked the other hives and noticed quite a few dead bees blocking the entrances. I still wasn't too concerned. then I checked all the hive top feeders and on 3 of the hives there were a few dead bees clinging to the chicken wire and on the fourth a huge cluster up in the hive top feeder(they were alive) I did not want to take off the feeders and I didn't, but i did blow down into the 3 that had no bees in the feeder. I did hear a roar down below. I am afraid, though, that I lost alot of bees. I took the popsicle shims out now, because I am afraid I may have over ventilated with this cold snap. any thoughts on this? I know there is nothing I can do accept hope for the best. I guess I am hoping to get posts that say this is normal or doesn't sound as bad as I think. Just wondering why 1 new hive has a large cluster in the feeder and the other 3 new ones do not. and if there is a suspected population loss from the cold due to them being brand new bees from a warmer climate (georgia)

thank you for any thoughts on this.

todd
 

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Dead bees even a couple hundred happen and not much use beating yourself about it. The bees clustering in the feeder is not a good thing, It could mean that the queen which I presume is still in a cage below may not be that attractive smelling. Reduce your entrances to about a half an inch wide until it warms up minimize gaping holes letting cold air in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks vance,

Actually, I direct released all the queens in these new packages. I have the entrance reducers on the small option. I thought it was odd the bees were all up in that feeder and the feeder level is not going down. What does one do about a "stinky" queen, if that is the case.
 

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if by direct release you mean letting the queen out as soon as you got the packages, you'll be really needing to see whether you have a laying queen or a dead one. The "roar" could be a queenless upset hive.
 

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Since you direct released the queens, then the issue of the queens not being attractive to the bees, is not likely to be the case. Those clustered in the feeder, if left alone, will likely begin building their nest there. That is not a good thing.

Bees cannot take-up feed that is 50F or colder. They must even warm the honey in the comb, before they can eat it. They could also starve if their feed remains too cold for them to eat it.
 

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If you attempted a cutout now, you would likely not be able to rescue these combs, they will be way too new and fragile -- I've tried this with new swarms that have recently set up house, and failed to save any of their new, delicate combs, so I quit trying to do cutouts with these newly established colonies.

At this point I'd wait until they've completed their nest in the feeder and even expanded out of the feeder and into other parts of the hive. By then the feeder combs should be durable enough to easily withstand the transfer process, whereas now they quite likely would be lost. Besides that disturbance may interfere enough to risk their successful establishment. Later, after the colony is well established, you can smoke the bees from the feeder combs, then cut them out and fasten them into empty wooden frames, to salvage them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks. I will leave them be until sunday. Thats when I planned on doing first inspections on these new hives. I will confirm the issue for sure then. What makes them do this? Could I have avoided it or just chalk it up to things happen?

Thanks

Todd
 

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It is the nature of bees to begin building their nests as close to the top of the cavity they are in, as is possible. What is curious, is that all of them did not do the same. The chances of this happening, could only be eliminated if you had not chosen this type of feeder for newly installed packages. Also, if you had empty combs to install them on, that may have reduced the chances of this happening, also.
 

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With packages who have no stores, I heat the syrup at least once a day. You can make it as hot as you can put your finger in and leave it without getting burned (my high tech thermometer...) and put it back in the feeder. That way they can tank up once a day. They can easily starve if the syrup is too cold to eat and they have no stores. The syrup has to be at least 50 F for them to take it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Seems like a pretty logical tip. If only I could convince my wife to warm the syrup every day while I am at work. Another reason I need to retire early lol.
 

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Newb here, so trust this advice accordingly...

I started my first 2 lb NZ package on March 7 – it’s mild here on southern Vancouver Island, but wet. Anticipating several weeks of temps below 50 degrees F (10 C), I started the package in an 8-frame medium super, with five frames only in the box. The spaces at the sides were filled with foam blocks, reducing space and providing insulation. I placed one of Lauri’s sugar blocks on top of the frames (with a ¾” spacer on top of the super, to make room for it).

Hung the queen cage between two frames. I was pretty sure she’d been accepted – while still in the package, they’d started drawing comb on her cage and on the underside of the cardboard roof. Opened the cage door still blocked inside with candy.

It was two days before it quit raining and I could get back in – could hardly see the sugar block for bees. Gently lifted it away, and removed the empty cage. A week later, they had eaten through the block from beneath, and a chunk of pollen patty. By the end of March, it seemed warm enough for a top feeder. Now 6 weeks after the installation – they’ve gone through almost a quart of syrup and the entire sugar block.

They started exploring the neighbourhood within days of the installation and bringing back pollen every non-rainy day since. As of last weekend, they’ve nearly filled two 8-frame mediums with drone & worker brood, pollen, and honey. There are new workers and drones on the frames -- lots of eggs in freshly drawn comb. I’ll likely add a third super this weekend.

So the long-winded suggestion is to use sugar blocks with new packages installed so early that syrup in a top-feeder will likely not warm to +50 during the days.
 

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I I took the popsicle shims out now, because I am afraid I may have over ventilated with this cold snap. any thoughts on this? todd
I don't think it's that easy to over ventilate. I had two, small hives that didn't even have all the comb drawn go thru two nights of 15 degree weather this winter. Both had at least 1" square entrances at the top and Screened bottom boards. I think you run a larger risk if you don't ventilate enough.

But I'll let some of the experts from the north country respond...
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Yes, live and learn. I took for granted the warm weather we had here during and following install. They were bringing in pollen right from the get go. Hopefully they drew out some comb and stored some nectar. Im going to give them some damp sugar today after work. Its weird that the other 3 hives took alot of syrup during the warm weather and this one did not. We have 50's predicted for mext day or so then 60's. Come on warm front!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Ok. Update.... one of the four packages are about dead (one of the ones with the bees clustered in the hivetop feeder. The syrup had white particulate floating in it and half of the bees are clustered up in the feeder still, the other half are piled just below that cluster dead or very close to it. I am writing this hive off. The bees had white specks all over them too. Any ideas what happened to that 1?

The other 3 are alive and kicking. Frames getting drawn out but 2 of them have supersedure cells. I think Im going to leave them be and let them do their thing.

I will wait til the bad hive completely dies and then maybe buy a local nuc. As I am done with package bees. It just hasnt been the awsome experience that the books all speak of.
 
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