what temperature to open hive

Discussion in 'Beekeeping' started by Callieslamb, Feb 24, 2010.

  1. Callieslamb

    Callieslamb Well-Known Member

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    I'm in Michigan. I need to open my hives to see if anyone is still buzzing in there and place some pollen patties....what is the recommended temperature for opening a hive? I keep waiting to see the ladies flying about as a sign, but we haven't been above 35 degrees for 2 months. It's supposed to be in the upper 30's this week, but I think that is too cold. My local bee suplier said to put the patties in in Feb, but I haven't been able to.

    When I feed the patties do I also start feeding syrup?
     
  2. no1cowboy

    no1cowboy Single male homesteader

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    I would say about 50 degrees or better to open your hive. you can also try putting your ear up near the hive entrance and tap on the hive, you should be able to hear them buzing lightly. I never feed syrup or patties so cant help you there.
     

  3. Callieslamb

    Callieslamb Well-Known Member

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    How do you manage them and not feed them? I have tried listening a couple of times and hear nothing...but the wind howls pretty good out there too. I just put the hives in last year and didn't take any honey- both hives had 2 supers full plus the brooder box. I was told to add another brooder box this year and that I had to feed them or they wouldn't survive the cold.
     
  4. indypartridge

    indypartridge Well-Known Member Supporter

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    This is one of those question where you can ask 10 beekeepers and get 10 different answers. I know opening hives in cold weather is contrary to what we have been taught but as we all know there are many exceptions in beekeeping. Obviously, it would be preferable to put the patties on when the temperature is 50 or above. My second choice is to put them on when the temperature is below 20. You can be in and out before the bees from the warm center of the cluster have a chance to respond to the disturbance. The patties need to be thawed prior to putting them in the hive so they can be smashed down over any burr comb that might be in the way. The trick, during cold weather, is to get in and out quickly to avoid losing any bees.

    I'd wait on feeding syrup as long as temps are below freezing. If they need to be fed (and that's often the case this time of year), consider a candyboard, fondant, or dry sugar.
     
  5. alleyyooper

    alleyyooper keeper of the bees Staff Member Supporter

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    We put our patties on a week or so ago. Look for a really sunny day with a calm wind. That weather station we bought has been worth it's weight in gold to us. Keep the patties warm a (summer time) cooler works for that. We warm bricks and wrap in towels in the cooler. I lift the outer cover as little as needed to slide it forward not exposeing the intercover hole. Lift the intercover up just enough to slide the patty inside the hive. I had turned the inter covers over in the fall so the 3/4 inch side is down. We revereve them in the spring when we start feeding syrup.
    Don't start feeding syrup till the avearge day temps are in the mid 40F and up. Candy boards work very well as does foudant till then. The patties also help some.

    If you don't own a stethascope. Not really a bad $20.00 invest ment for those who just have to know. You can make do with a short section of hose that fits inside the entrance. I did that for several years.
     
  6. no1cowboy

    no1cowboy Single male homesteader

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    I leave enough honey on them that they dont need to be fed.
    IMO honey is far better for them then syrup is, and my loses are extreamly low.
     
  7. beehoppers

    beehoppers Well-Known Member

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    A low temperature for a quick maneuver is now a problem as long as it is not windy. Say 30 degrees... Be extra careful not to bump or drop since you're trying to be fast.
     
  8. Callieslamb

    Callieslamb Well-Known Member

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    So I might be able to try today. It is very sunny- right now. I planned ahead and put an extra super (box-only) on each hive last fall so when it came time to put syrup in, I could just put it inside that box....now i see that it is going to give me problems. I have to open the inner cover and get below that box. I am not sure where the bees are - since I still have the honey supers on - 2 per box as well as a brooder and the empty box. Will they find the pollen if I just put it in the top honey super? Or do I need to get it down to the brooder box?

    Thanks for the heads up about syrup timing. I'd rather not feed it and had hoped by leaving all the honey this year they would have enough. It worried me that even on sunny days I dont' see a bee out flying. I just hope it is still too cold for them...rather than that I lost them.
     
  9. no1cowboy

    no1cowboy Single male homesteader

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    If you didnt put an excluder on they could be in the top super.
     
  10. Callieslamb

    Callieslamb Well-Known Member

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    No excluder. The top super doesn't have any frames in it and they weren't up there a month ago. Do they move around a lot in winter? I hoped they would stay near the honey stores.
     
  11. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member

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    It has been a bad winter. You might do nothing wrong and still lose the hive.

    I always hate waiting to see if a hive survived.
     
  12. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member

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    I have been told by people who are experts that they move ALONG the honey stores. In the winter they make a big ball and the entire ball moves slowly along the honey.
     
  13. alleyyooper

    alleyyooper keeper of the bees Staff Member Supporter

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    They get in a big cluster and move UP the frames eatting honey.

    :D Al
     
  14. Callieslamb

    Callieslamb Well-Known Member

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    So I might need to move some honey above them? That is what I expected to have to do...only it has been way to cold to try it. It was almost 40 yesterday. Hopefully, it will be similar today and I can take a peek.