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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I guess some of you more northern beeks might be more accustomed to this than we are, but it's supposed to be 25 degrees here tonight. I'm guessing that will kill everything that is currently in bloom and prevent anything that was about to bloom, from blooming anytime soon or perhaps at all this year. It is very windy so I guess that will help pull the heat out of most things and make the freeze worse? I expect that the wind will keep us from having a frost but with below freezing temps predicted for about 11 straight hours, I would think most of the flowers will be toast.

My bees are building up large number for spring. I have at least 12-14 frames of bees in a couple hives and the others aren't far behind. I have 1:1 sugar water ready to put on the hives in the morning, but I hadn't really thought about the potential for having all the blooms knocked off of things until a few minutes ago. I don't figure there will be much for the bees to feed on for the next week or so, other than the stores they have gathered during the last couple of weeks.

Maybe I'm wrong. What have you long time beekeepers seen when a hard freeze hits late in the year? I'm wondering what short term and honey flow effects I might see.
 

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Things that are in bloom may have some frost damage, perhaps killing the flower tissues. Things that are not yet in bloom will be set back, but probably not totally prevented from flowering. Plants often don't have all their flowers out at the same time, and also small micro-climate areas will be naturally be blooming earlier or later, so a single night's freeze won't affect every source of pollen and nectar in every flower of a particular type of plant.

The wind (wind chill - which doesn't affect plants, anyway) will serve to moderate the the cold air temps by mixing the air immediately above the ground (presumably it has been well-warmed by the sun during the preceeding days/weeks even if the air temps are temporarily colder) with colder air aloft driven by a cold front. The worst frost damage happens on clear, windless, nights when there is high radiational cooling (i.e. nothing holding the Earth's warmth back from radiating back out to space) after a cold air mass had moved in. Spring frosts are different from fall frosts because spring plants are just emerging from cold into warmth, whereas fall's plants are at the end of their seasonal lives and the soft vegetative tissues have never been cold before. Hard freezes in the Fall will end the growing season for the year, but spring freezes don't result in the loss of everything for the whole season. (Well, there was the awful year of 1816 when it froze -hard - every month of the year in the northeast.)

I doubt you'll loose all your flowers, so your bees will be able to find some nectar and pollen as soon as its warm enough to fly again tomorrow, or the next day.

Also if your hives are really full of brood and you're concerned about the bees getting cold inside the hive, you could cover them for the night with blankets (leaving the entrance unobstructed). This is more for a wind break than actual warmth. Because the bees will be be keeping themsleves and the brood warm.

A single night or two, won't be the end of the world.

Now, I live in northern NY, so my overnight lows are still going down into the single digits - but at least that's ABOVE zero F, at last. Tonight is the exception, it's overcast and likely to snow and won't go below the high teens or lower twenties. My bees have brood - I can smell it, such a wonderfull smell - even though the temps mean I haven't been into the the hives to see for myself. However they are still tucked up inside their winter insulation - including, if you can believe it, 16 wool blankets carefully wrapped around the group of them. But they haven't had a full orientation day since early Dec., yet, so are obviously not out foraging. I think that may happen next Monday! Whoo Hoo!

This is my first spring with my bees, but I am in my 60s and have been contending with our long, often hard freeze/frosty spring weather for decades here as I am also a flower and vegetable farmer. So while I can only guess how the bees will react to it - I have a deep familiarity of what frost does to spring vegetation. Crop plants, inlcuding fruit tree blossoms, are sometimes damaged, but wild plants seem to handle it much better. Tree blossoms (except for fruit trees), for instance, are up much higher up and so will often escape frost that settles on the ground. I'm sure your bugs will be fine because there will still be flowers for them to visit, even if there is a short period (just a few days, max) of dearth.

Enj.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply. I put 1:1 sugar water on all my hives mid morning. It was 40 degrees, sunny and 15 mph winds at that time. I was surprised to see it but the bee were out flying. They may have been cleansing flights I don't know. I didn't see any pollen being brought in.

I guess we'll see how well the flowers faired.
 
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