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Installing Packages in Cold weather

Sometimes your package arrive and mother nature has decided not to co-operate. This is the method I have used to put packages in even when the temperature is cold. To use this method, you need some extra equipment. You need an extra super or hive body, a quail feeder and quart mason jar. An extra hive body is preferred because you can use a quart feeder jar. If you use a shallow super, then a pint jar is needed and you must feed the bees more often. A quail feeder is like a chicken feeder but is smaller. A chicken feeder will work but you could drown some bees. Quail feeders are available at local farm supplies or online. The type you need is a base feeder that will screw onto a quart jar.

Set your hive up as you would normally except you put the extra hive body on top with the inner cover and outer cover on top of the extra box. You fill the quart jar with syrup and screw the quail feeder base onto the jar. You turn over the jar and set it on top of the frames. Your hive must be level or the syrup will all run out. You can place a piece of wood under the feeder to level it up but it is better beekeeping to level the hive itself. With your package of bees in a warm place, feed them with 1:1 syrup sprayed on the screen sides. Take the package out to your hive and pry off the package cover and remove the queen cage and syrup can. Remove the cork in the candy end of the queen cage and place beside the feeder jar with the screen down to the space between the frames so the bee can feed the queen until she is released. Firmly bump the bee package on the ground. The bees will go to the bottom of the cage. Shake the bees out into the empty bee box on top of your hive. It is best to shake the bees onto the queen cage and feeder. Turn the cage upside down and place down inside the box with the hole down so any bees left in the cage can escape and join the other bees in the hive. Quickly close the hive so a lot of bees won't fly away. The bees will cluster around the queen cage and feeder. Your bees can eat a tremendous amount of syrup when you feed them this way. I think you should feed a 2:1 syrup (2 parts sugar to 1 part water)the first two quarts and 1:1 (1 part sugar to 1 part water) after that. Your package will draw the foundation quicker if you feed the 1:1 syrup because they must draw wax to store the thinner syrup until they can remove all the water from it. You can continue to feed your package this way after the weather warms up but you must check them every few days because sometimes the bees see all that empty space and will start to build cross comb in it. Otherwise you take care of them as you would in warm weather.