Snow! Managing packages in winter weather.

This is a photo of our yard this morning, Tuesday. Package pickups were Saturday. Beekeepers are all concerned about managing bees in winter weather. Here is a quick update about managing package bees in the snow.

(Nuc customers, watch for pickup information coming soon!)

In cold weather, bees cluster together to stay warm. They consume sugar or honey and use the energy from their food to vibrate to generate heat. Individual bees weave in and out of the cluster to take turns being in the warm center.

Feed your bees to support their energy needs during cold weather. In the spring we usually feed a 1:1 ratio of water to sugar (by weight or volume).

Cold weather slows down bees’ movements and makes it so they can’t get to food that’s too far away. A feeder inside the hive will be more affective than one outside the hive. Some beekeepers with mason jar style feeders remove some frames to fit the feeder inside with the bees.

Check bees only when it is above 40 degrees F and dry weather. Afternoon inspections are best.

In high wind storms, check to see if the wind blew the lid off of the hive. If so, use a rock or other weight to keep it on, if needed. Later in the colony’s life, the bees will cement the lid on with propolis. For now, you may need to help them keep the lid on.

Day 1 after hiving a package: 
Make sure the queen is out of her cage. If you haven’t already done so, feed sugar syrup. Make sure your bees are consuming the syrup you fed them. Refill the feeder as necessary. Leave the bees alone as much as possible for the first 3 days.

Day 4-7 after hiving a package: 
Inspect the hive to make sure the queen has been accepted. You should see worker bees building comb. Start looking for eggs. It may take 7-10 days to see eggs. Continue feeding as needed.

Day 10 after hiving a package: 
Inspect the hive. Check for eggs. Use a magnifying glass, if needed. Eggs are evidence that the queen is in the hive and doing her job. You should see one egg per cell. If you do not see eggs, or see multiple eggs per cell, you may need a replacement queen.

Sometimes a young queen is uncoordinated and lays a couple eggs per cell in a dozen cells while figuring things out. That is normal. However, if there are thousands of cells with multiple eggs, it may mean you have laying workers.

We offer replacement queens for packages until April 24. After that time, we do not replace queens.

CLICK HERE for more detailed instructions and photos. This information is from our Online Beekeeping Classes page.

Please call or text Stan at 801-735-7227 to arrange pickup. Queens are in a queen bank at the package pickup location.

Posted in Bee Biology, Beekeeping, the Honey Company and tagged , , , , .

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