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Author Topic: What outside temp is ok to check bees in winter?  (Read 4539 times)
beewitch
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« on: December 03, 2010, 11:02:07 AM »

Hi everyone.  It's my first winter as a beek and my hive went into the winter with very little honey stores, so I've been trying to keep 2:1 baggies going for them.  My question is what does the outside temp need to be in order to (safely) open the hive to check on the girls?  Thanks.

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T Beek
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« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2010, 11:23:06 AM »

No wind, sunny and above 32F.

thomas
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Scadsobees
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« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2010, 12:28:38 PM »

Once it gets below the 50-60 range, you are better off putting something more solid on them, whether fondant or just dry sugar.  Then you can get more on and bother them less.
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Rick
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« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2010, 03:06:38 PM »

Opening them up to feed them can/should be done very quickly if temps are below 50f.  Above 55f you can check individual frames for stores if they have broken cluster and are flying.  In Hotlanta you should get several of those days a month.  Wait for it to be Sunny too.

Here is Tillie's website (Linda's Bees).  She knows her stuff & lives in Atlanta as well.  Watch what she does...
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Finski
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« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2010, 03:51:35 PM »

Hi everyone.  It's my first winter as a beek and my hive went into the winter with very little honey stores, so I've been trying to keep 2:1 baggies going for them.  My question is what does the outside temp need to be in order to (safely) open the hive to check on the girls?  Thanks.



Do you really have "winter" in Atlanta?  When I prepare hioves for winter in September, I do not check them before cleansing flight. Trey are in their own peace 6 months.
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AllenF
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« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2010, 08:32:31 PM »

I don't know the temp out right now (cold)   but I did pop the top on one of my hives about 5:30 this afternoon and quickly put it back on as bees were started coming out the front.   In north Georgia, after the next weeks cold, we might be able to feed again in 2 weeks for a bit. 
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T Beek
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« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2010, 02:22:45 PM »

25F today, mostly sunny with no wind in NW Wisconsin.  Besides checking status with the stethascope I took the oportunity to remove mouse guard and entrance reducer on a lang colony I noticed looked plugged up a couple days ago.  Scraped out several hundred dead bees and replaced the reducer and guard.  This was my strongest colony going into winter and were strong survivors from last winter.  A month ago the cluster was bigger than a basketball.  I'm certain they'll use the oportunity to remove any remaing dead now that the entrance is opened up.  Also checked bottoms of all my langs for signs of mites (I use SBB on all langs).  Found about 100 dead ones in each of three lang housed colonies.  I guess one of the draw-backs to my long hive is not being able to check for mites during the winter....hmmm, may have to give that some thought before I begin building for next years expansion.  THIS IS NOT THE WORST DAY I'VE DONE SOME MINIMAL CHECKING.  No wind and sunshine being the primary factors for winter inspections.

thomas
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winginit
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« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2010, 02:33:41 PM »

Wow, great question beewitch! I am a newbee too and thought I shouldn't go in if it was below 65. I want my bees to propolize the tops but it's so hard not to look in their hives. And now I hear I can go in at lower temperatures. You made my day, though I have heard and listened to Finsky's advice to leave them well enough alone.

BUT I want to see a cluster soooo bad. How big are my clusters, do I just peek at the top? At about what max temperature can I expect them to still be clustered?

Not that I'm looking today, it's cold and snowing. Saw 60 turkeys on the dam just a few minutes ago, what a fabulous day.
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T Beek
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« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2010, 02:40:21 PM »

go no further than taking a peek at cluster.  "seeing" the cluster should satisfy.  do "no" manipulations or frame removals or you will have brood chill and cause unnessary trauma that's hard to recover from during winter.  Happy viewing.

thomas
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edward
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« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2010, 07:33:40 PM »

Hello winginit

I feel for you , its hard to keep away from your hive  Cry

But the best thing you can do for your bees , (if you've tucked them in for the winter) is to let them BEE so they can survive the long winter.

Take the opportunity to brush up and learn more about your bees so you will both bee healthy and happy when spring arrives.

The more you let the bees , bee the happier they will bee and more honey for you  grin

mvh edward  tongue
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winginit
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« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2010, 08:02:53 PM »

Thanks Edward, for beeing so understanding. There is some benefit to letting them bee, that beeing the ability to bee at ease during the busy holiday season. But I'll bee good, or as good as I can bee, which might not bee saying much.
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JP
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« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2010, 08:02:24 PM »

Beewitch, feed them at the warmest time of day and warm the feedbacks to around 90-95F the bees will appreciate the warmer feed. I would follow the temp guidelines the others mentioned but careful not to open them if the following night will get very cold.

Feed in a warm up trend if at all possible.

When you open the hive much of the retained heat is lost, do so very quickly.

It takes the bees great energy to reheat the internal hive temperature once the heat escapes.


...JP
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T Beek
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« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2010, 12:00:55 PM »

 :?Doesn't that contradict the research?; the ambient temp "outside the cluster" is generally the same as that outside the hive.  Bees don't keep the hive warm so much as they keep the cluster warm, obviously w/ some varient heat loss.  Just afew inches beyond thw cluster will have the same temp as outside the hive. I've proven this countless times in pretty extreme weather.

thomas
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FRAMEshift
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« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2010, 01:10:13 PM »

:?Doesn't that contradict the research?; the ambient temp "outside the cluster" is generally the same as that outside the hive.  Bees don't keep the hive warm so much as they keep the cluster warm, obviously w/ some varient heat loss. Just a few inches beyond the cluster will have the same temp as outside the hive. I've proven this countless times in pretty extreme weather.

thomas
This is a very important point, and I hope there will be a real discussion about cluster temperatures on this thread.  My daughter and I have been discussing whether to leave the screened bottom on our long hive open this winter.  She has told me that the interior temperature is the same as the exterior.  But I think what happens in those "few inches" around the cluster is crucial. Opening the hive (or having an open screen)  allows the wind to disturb that  boundary layer.  While the temperature a few inches out may be low, the temperature the exterior of the cluster experiences may be much higher in a non-mixed body of air.  What do you think?

T Beek, do you have any temperature measurements at the surface of the cluster?
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T Beek
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« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2010, 01:20:00 PM »

Don't know.  I use SBB, but only on my Langs w/ a fairly equal survival rate whether the bottom is on or off during winter.
I have one home-made "long hive" as well, but w/out a SBB.  Plan on building at least two more "with" SBB for next year.

This is an important topic, especially for those of us with bees in cluster 4-6 months, hope it invites more participation.

thomas
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beewitch
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« Reply #15 on: December 06, 2010, 03:44:58 PM »

Thank you, everyone.  I've learned a lot from this discussion.
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FRAMEshift
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« Reply #16 on: December 06, 2010, 03:53:56 PM »

Don't know.  I use SBB, but only on my Langs w/ a fairly equal survival rate whether the bottom is on or off during winter.
I have one home-made "long hive" as well, but w/out a SBB.  Plan on building at least two more "with" SBB for next year.

This is an important topic, especially for those of us with bees in cluster 4-6 months, hope it invites more participation.

thomas
T Beek,  when you leave the bottom off your Langs with SBB,  is the bottom of the hive open all the way to the ground.  If so, how far is that? I'm asking because I'm wondering if the wind is able to blow up inside the hive.

It's interesting that you have equal survival with or without bottoms.  Is the early winter cluster starting in the bottom box and still surviving without the bottom in place?
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T Beek
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« Reply #17 on: December 06, 2010, 04:10:54 PM »

Yes, bottom is open to ground, roughly 20-24 inches up.  My strongest survivors from last winter was wide open.  Our lowest recorded temp was 33 below F.  All hive face south w/ 6 foot fence on NW.  I do pile up hay around the front of them despite advise about mice, which likely keep SE winds from causing too much problem..  So far, so good.

In my Langs, 1 open and 2 closed (they were smaller than I'd like) all the clusters are in the bottom NW corners, including the open one.  I don't know.  I'm not convinced on either way yet and have only been experimenting w/ keeping them open for 3-4 years.  It is odd that at least in my owm experience those that do survive with open bottoms seem to respond pretty quick come spring.

thomas
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FRAMEshift
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« Reply #18 on: December 06, 2010, 04:32:57 PM »

T Beek, that's great.  I'm surprised and I think I just lost my argument with my daughter.  grin

 Now we will have to try leaving the SBB open. 

Over the time that you have been experimenting with open vs closed, how have the overall survival rates been for each condition?  I mean, if you only have 10% survival with open bottoms, it may not mean much that the survivors are healthy.
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Acebird
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« Reply #19 on: December 06, 2010, 05:17:16 PM »

We were told to turn the front of our hive toward the East so that the opening gets early morning sun.  The other three sides are covered with roofing material to absorb the afternoon sun.  We will find out next Spring if it was a wise choice.
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