What's the lowest temp you'd open a hive?

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by heinleinfan, Sep 29, 2012.

  1. heinleinfan

    heinleinfan New Member

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    I got some in-the-hive feeders and got them installed/filled yesterday. It was much later than I'd intended but I had to be gone for a few days and of course, nearly all of those days were cold and wet and the ladies weren't flying at all. So, I'm about 2 weeks later than I wanted on my feeding start for fall. My hives were at about 80% of what I want for winter stores last time I checked two weeks ago, but with the cold and the rain they may have consumed some of that.

    I installed the feeders right on the edge, and to refill I'll have to remove the outer lid, and just slide the inner lid over an inch or two.

    How cold do you think it can get outside and I can still open the hive in this manner, just long enough to refill a feeder? And with that in mind, I'll want to do a kind of "final check" after they've had feed for a while and see what their stores look like, how cold can it be and still do an inspection without harming the hive? We still have a couple-three weeks of nice weather during the day, mid 60s, but it's getting down into the low 40s at nights now and we're supposed to get our first dip down to freezing on Thursday.



    Also, my husband had the idea of trying to snake a tube into the hive, if we could get it so the lid wasn't propped open at all, and be able to refill the feeders without opening the hive at all. So we're thinking we can go pretty late into winter with the feeding if we do that, and start feeding awfully early in the spring, but I don't know if leaving that empty feeder in all during the coldest part of winter would be good for them. What do you think?
     
  2. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    My personal, and others may disagree. 55 F. to feed and 60 F. to go into.

    Below 55 F. they likely won't use it, so no need to put it in any lower.

    Leaving the empty feeder in shouldn't hurt anything.
     

  3. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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    ditto on Iddees comments. I might add this time of the year brood rearing slows to about nothing with that the consuming of stores slows way down.
     
  4. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Another consideration is that with really late feeding you are also introducing added moisture into the hives. I am using hive top feeders and buckets now and they are taking it like crazy. It appears as if the formic may have caused an interruption is brood rearing in some of the hives and I am hoping with the syrup it will help with a final push of brood rearing. Might not.
    No one said it was easy! :roll: :mrgreen: :wink:
     
  5. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    If it's sunny and the bees are real active and flying in and out of the hives, then I feel it's safe to open them for some valid reason. But no more 'inspections' just for inspection's sake, once the temps go down. It's about 40 night and 60 days here now, and the bees are still bringing in plenty of pollen from who-knows-where and taking syrup (inside the hive).
     
  6. Daniel Y

    Daniel Y New Member

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    I agree with The 60 degree to open a hive. Thais about the temp I see my bees will even begin to fly.

    I will also repeat that feeding sugar water is about much more than just the temperature at the time you add the food. IT is about the 24 hour high and low.

    This is where partial information is a concern. I am feeding my bees right now and in a race to get about 20 lbs of sugar on them before the weather turns to cold.

    Now what did I not say just then that could be very important.

    1. where am I and what are my temps right now? Answer: Nevada high dessert very dry climate lows lower 50's highs in the 80's every day. And I am in a rush.

    2. what am I feeding? Answer: 2:1 sugar syrup to minimize amount of moisture in the hive.

    3. how much am I feeding? Answer: 1 1/4 gallons per day. the bees are not quite keeping up with that but are close. filled frames will be split and given to smaller hives that do not have the population to deal with this volume fast enough. I need honey made and need it asap.

    4. When do I open the hive? Answer: late afternoon during the warmest part of the day. high 70's low 80's. Bees are still testy half the time. they know winter is coming and want their hive ready for it. breaking it up gets on there nerves. Need these frames filled asap so I can put it in nuc bozes and palced on two nucs in time for the bees to seal the gaps.

    There are most likely many more. but the overall point is you have to think of the whole picture not just this moment. There are other ways to feed other than sugar water. and ways to feed that you don't need to get into the hive as often. It is time for your bees to be sealing the hive up against drafts and envaders. They can't do that if you keep breaking their seals. I suspect my bees are getting a bit irritated with that one also.
     
  7. camero7

    camero7 Member

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    I often open hives with temps in the 40's to place fondant and/or sugar. Never had a problem.
     
  8. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm just reading on this one. Have no idea, since my hive got robbed out when the daytime high was 80 last year. And my nucs and cutout bees didn't get here til it was 80 this spring.
     
  9. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    The air out side of the hive is not much cooler than the air in the hive around the outside of the cluster, so to quickly lift the lid to check how far down the cluster is or to pull off and exchange a candy board out side temp is irreverent. That being said any bees flying up to the light will be lost cause they wont make it back to the hive. When exchanging candy boards when cold and the bees are up against it. I try to avoid putting it on cold, but warmed to room temperature. if the bees are clustered never break the cluster espscialy placing frames of honey in it. That all being said I have lifted the covers at -5* C, 27* F. I always take a quick peek between Christmas and New Years. Look for 3 things Live of dead: Dead clean out before they mold. Cluster Size: frames across. And How Far Cluster is down: good indication of stores available to the bees until the weather warms so cluster can break and bees can get to the honey on the side frames.
     
  10. heinleinfan

    heinleinfan New Member

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    Thanks for the replies, I'll colate the data to make my decision, :lol:

    Daniel - I do always open the hive in day time highs, when they're flying, and have been using boardman feeders. So whenever I'd see them out on sunny days in spring I'd stick a boardman on during the warmest part of the day. I'm just wondering how to adjust to the in-hive feeders for this winter/spring because they're new to me.

    I checked the feeders after 24 hours and one hive is hitting it hard, it's nearly 2 gallons gone. The stronger hive had not had much of it at all. That weaker hive is not "weak" it's just weaker than my other, it has pretty good stores, just not what I'd like to see this time of year. They had some serious disruptions, they're a little hot, and I'm about 80% sure I crushed the queen during a bad move on them and they have a new one. They're so hot I don't spend a long time on their inspections and haven't yet gotten a good picture of her to compare with the pictures earlier in the year, but I have seen her and last inspection there were eggs.

    That hive is in a very sheltered area on a porch and I think that's what's messing with them. I feel like I need to get them out back in the sunshine for winter, because we get a lot of sunshine even when there's snow out, and I worry they'll have a tougher winter in the shade.
     
  11. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    most time here in my spring time rounds I actively operate off the thermometer at my front door. by and large once we get to 50 I set about that days rounds of feeding. in a pinch for time I have fed (with frame type feeders) as low as 45 with no ill effects. at the lower temperatures sunny and no wind is important as is keeping the time required for feeding to a minimum.

    I have been informed by 'yankee' beekeeper (who for all the obvious reason you can't trust anyway :wink:) tell me that have fed while it was snowing (which I guess would suggest the air temperature was about 32).
     
  12. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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    I have seen pictures of a large commercial keep pulling honey in the snow. The key is dont break up the cluster when doing it. The keep that done this doesnt recommend it a early snow storm came in and it had to be done.
     
  13. Daniel Y

    Daniel Y New Member

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    Tecumseh, Your suggestion that if it is snowing it woudl be at best 32 degrees is logical. but surprisingly not correct. It can in fact begin snowing at as high a temperature as 42 degrees. I was looking at a chart just the other day about how to determine the temperature by the structure of a snow flake. snow flakes like the cut out of paper actually happen. but it is at very very cold temperatures.

    Anyway how it can snow at 42 degrees is just one more indication of how confusing the issue of heat can be. The air can be 42 but obviously the snow flake is not.

    I just did a Google search to find information on this but everything i found starts at 32 degrees. the chart I saw the other day was actually done by a university research group. It was interesting because they actually took a bit of time to explain how ice can form at above freezing temperatures. it has to do with things very much like wind chill and the abilty of moisture to remove heat from an object. including other water molecules. I suspect that it would be hard to find a claim on the net that water will freeze at above freezing temperatures simply because most people would discount it as untrue. That is because they assuem that if teh air is above frezing that teh water msut be also. Yet they know perfectly well that if the air is 90 degrees the water is going to be much cooler than that. That is why they will go to a pool. spray down a patio that is to hot to walk on etc. But for some reason they think water lost this cooler than the air quality when it no longer feels hot. It didn't in fact it takes 25 times more heat energy to warm water than it takes to warm air. That is why water remains cooler. and it always remains cooler than air. even gets to freezing before air. that is unless you pump heat into at a faster rate such as over a fire.

    Think about what the colder than air thing means for bees if they get wet. what it means for the heat in a hive if it stays wet. explains a lot of why moisture in the winter is a very bad thing.
     
  14. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    Daniel Y excellent point. Explains hail storms in the middle of the summer, the hail doesn't start to melt until it hits the ground and stops moving.
     
  15. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    Daniel Y writes....
    Tecumseh, Your suggestion that if it is snowing it woudl be at best 32 degrees is logical. but surprisingly not correct. It can in fact begin snowing at as high a temperature as 42 degrees. I was looking at a chart just the other day about how to determine the temperature by the structure of a snow flake. snow flakes like the cut out of paper actually happen. but it is at very very cold temperatures.

    Anyway how it can snow at 42 degrees is just one more indication of how confusing the issue of heat can be. The air can be 42 but obviously the snow flake is not.

    tecumseh...
    thanks for the correction... and this somewhat reinforces why I keep a thermometer at the front door. here we have pretty good swings in humidity being as close as we are to the Gulf of Mexico so I myself don't like to set about doing stuff based on how cold it feels.

    a riverrat snip..
    The key is dont break up the cluster when doing it

    tecumseh...
    this is the real key to the stated question. the area outside the cluster will only be slightly warmer that the temperature outside the hive but the heat within the cluster is what you do not want to loose. at colder temperatures you also do not want to dislodge or knock the bees downward since they are quite unlikely to get themselves back to the cluster before they perish from exposure.

    and as DanielY suggest the worst case is if you allow the bees to get wet at the same time that it is cold <this is a good way to kill bees if this is what you are wanting to accomplish... it was the method we used in the Dakotas not too far from where Tyro resides.
     
  16. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    camero7 said:
    "I often open hives with temps in the 40's to place fondant and/or sugar."

    not often, but have as well, and probably have fudged on the lower end of 40, and upper end of 30's :shock:

    from tecumseh's post:
    "a riverrat snip..
    The key is dont break up the cluster when doing it

    tecumseh...
    this is the real key to the stated question. the area outside the cluster will only be slightly warmer that the temperature outside the hive but the heat within the cluster is what you do not want to loose. at colder temperatures you also do not want to dislodge or knock the bees downward since they are quite unlikely to get themselves back to the cluster before they perish from exposure."

    from a yankee beekeeper, this is the key, not disturbing the cluster, dislodging bees or sending them airborne. one can open a hive in the 40's to feed if done quickly and judiciously. a warm and sunny day without wind as tecumseh also said. releasing the propolis seal around the cover is tricky, but done carefully will minimize the jolting. put a piece of hardware cloth over the hole in the inner cover, or cover it, carefully release the seal, gently slide the cover enough to feed. close it up,

    hein said:
    "I installed the feeders right on the edge, and to refill I'll have to remove the outer lid, and just slide the inner lid over an inch or two."

    for hein's purpose, it would be okay to feed the bees in the manner she described, taking care of the 'keys' above, until the syrup begins to freeze, then consider an alternative, fondant or a patty placed in. hein you don't need a tube into the hive :lol:

    also i have never used these feeders in the hive, so i can't answer your question about leaving them in for the winter.
     
  17. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    Early spring, i have went into hives at 60F if i see a need and not worry about it.In late fall 55F to 60F on a sunny day is the limit for me. When daytime temps stay in the fifties and nights at 30's and 40's i stop syrup feeding, and if i think they are still short on stores i put my shims on and do the mountain camp feeding, (plain dry sugar over a sheet of newspaper) i then check them in mid Jan. to see if they need more sugar. You can raise the lid very quickly to check, and not disturb the cluster and pour more sugar on if needed. This may not work for everyone, but i've brought many hives through the winter doing this that wouldn't of made it otherwise. Jack
     
  18. Clover Queen Bee

    Clover Queen Bee New Member

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    wind chill and the ability of moisture to remove heat from an object. including other water molecules. That is why water remains cooler. and it always remains cooler than air.

    Think about what the colder than air thing means for bees if they get wet. what it means for the heat in a hive if it stays wet. explains a lot of why moisture in the winter is a very bad thing.


    Hi there Daniel Y... what is your opinion on open mesh floors through winter to combat condensation? Also, have you ever propped up the headboard slightly to again, combat condensation?? I´m wondering which floors to put my hives on through the wet winter months, and I´ve never used matchsticks or whatever to prop the headboard but did read about that somewhere...