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Author Topic: Should I feed?  (Read 1213 times)
Zinc
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« on: September 14, 2008, 06:28:26 PM »

Thought everything was going great - now I'm baffled...

First hive, first year, so bear with me.

Hive was going great mid summer - filled two deep hive bodies with brood and honey by mid July. So, amazed that I was going to get honey the first year, I put on an excluder and a shallow super. A couple weeks later the flow stopped dead. I ended up pulling just a couple shallow frames towards the end of August. (Great honey!)

Figured I'd go in for a full inspection this weekend, it had been a couple months since I had been in the hive bodies.

The top body had very little honey in it, the bees had even started chewing a good deal of the wax off the frames. This body was _packed_ just two months ago. I went into the bottom body and it was almost empty. Just clean empty frames.

There was brood, capped and larva in the top body (couldn't see any eggs, but don't trust me to find them anyhow!) but next to nothing in the bottom.

Sorry for the long story - my question is - do I start feeding the bees before the winter? I'm in northern California and it's been a long hot and dry summer. Looking at the hive now - I'm sure I shouldn't have supered and taken what I did.

Also - should I remove the super that's on top so they can focus on filling the hive bodies with feed?

Thanks.

-Craig
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randydrivesabus
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« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2008, 07:42:21 PM »

I don't know what your winter weather is like so its hard to answer but my hives were empty of honey a few weeks ago and so I started feeding and now they are getting heavy. Around here we could have the first frost by the end of September but its more typically the middle of October. i have fed about 140 lbs of sugar to 4 hives over the last 2 weeks or so.
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Landphil
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« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2008, 10:18:48 PM »

Hi Zinc, I'm a new beekeeper also so I won't be much help on your current situation but I live in Santa Cruz so I thought I'd say hi and let you know that I've been feeding mine 2:1 for the past 6 weeks: new hive (nuc) & trying to get them built up.  The flow down here came to an abrupt end a few weeks back, then something kicked in (ivy?) and they are pulling in pollen again.  I hope you get some answers from some of the very experienced beekeepers here, but in my opinion feed 'em.  We have pretty mild winters here compared to the locales of most on this forum, so I assume that we can get through the winters with less stores.  There is a beekeepers meeting on Sept. 27 from 11-noon at the Scotts Valley Branch Library in the Kings Village Shopping Center- I saw this in today's Sentinel.  I plan on attending to get to meet more local bee people and learn as much as I can.  Good luck- Jess
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2008, 06:17:39 AM »

Thought everything was going great - now I'm baffled...

First hive, first year, so bear with me.

Hive was going great mid summer - filled two deep hive bodies with brood and honey by mid July. So, amazed that I was going to get honey the first year, I put on an excluder and a shallow super. A couple weeks later the flow stopped dead. I ended up pulling just a couple shallow frames towards the end of August. (Great honey!)

Use of an excluder is a good way to get them to stop.  When you add a super let them begin working it first 2-3 frames well along, then add the excluder.  The books never tell you this.

Quote
Figured I'd go in for a full inspection this weekend, it had been a couple months since I had been in the hive bodies.

The top body had very little honey in it, the bees had even started chewing a good deal of the wax off the frames. This body was _packed_ just two months ago. I went into the bottom body and it was almost empty. Just clean empty frames.

Dearth, the lack of forage (nectar), the bees can't bring in enough to sustain the hive so they use what stores they have.  The queen stops laying and many newbeesks think the hive has gone quennless. 

Quote
There was brood, capped and larva in the top body (couldn't see any eggs, but don't trust me to find them anyhow!) but next to nothing in the bottom.

When the stores run out the bees begin eating the brood, first the eggs, then the larvae, followed by the pupae.  The longer the dearth the more devestating.  If the hives dies you'll find all kinds of dead bees, and what brood remains will be cacooned pupae with holes in the caps (the bees checked to see if they were still edible (white).  You'll also find losts of bees head down in cells, they died looking for something to eat.


Quote
Sorry for the long story - my question is - do I start feeding the bees before the winter? I'm in northern California and it's been a long hot and dry summer. Looking at the hive now - I'm sure I shouldn't have supered and taken what I did.

There's a reason for waiting to harvest, the loss of 2 frames isn't much but it can be a hive breaker when a dearth hits.  Supering had nothing to do with the onset of the dearth.  The queen excluder, however, is a great inhibitor and didn't help.

Quote
Also - should I remove the super that's on top so they can focus on filling the hive bodies with feed?

Thanks.

-Craig


Feed immediately,if it's not too late already, and keep feeding until you have 2 boxes full of capped stores.  If you have a northern tier type winter you'll want to feed until even the brood chamber is 80% backfilled.  Feed either 1.5:1 or 5:3 sugar syrup, both are still thin enough to allow the bees to make wax, if needed, and when ripen quicker than 1:1.  Remove the super, it is just in the way and the bees won't work it again this year.
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Zinc
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Location: Boulder Creek, CA


« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2008, 01:46:34 PM »

Use of an excluder is a good way to get them to stop.  When you add a super let them begin working it first 2-3 frames well along, then add the excluder.  The books never tell you this.

Learned about this from the forums here and supered like you said. Didn't want to make my post any longer than it was!

Quote
Dearth, the lack of forage (nectar), the bees can't bring in enough to sustain the hive so they use what stores they have.  The queen stops laying and many newbeesks think the hive has gone quennless. 
I'll admit that I looked for queen cells after going through the top body.

Quote
When the stores run out the bees begin eating the brood, first the eggs, then the larvae, followed by the pupae.  The longer the dearth the more devestating.  If the hives dies you'll find all kinds of dead bees, and what brood remains will be cacooned pupae with holes in the caps (the bees checked to see if they were still edible (white).  You'll also find losts of bees head down in cells, they died looking for something to eat.
I hope it's not that dire. There still are 2-4 full frames of honey untouched in the upper body. I just expected it to be still packed.

Quote
There's a reason for waiting to harvest, the loss of 2 frames isn't much but it can be a hive breaker when a dearth hits.  Supering had nothing to do with the onset of the dearth.  The queen excluder, however, is a great inhibitor and didn't help.
Lesson learned. Kinda. In the future - how do you know when to super and when not to? In mid-july, when I supered, the two bodies were filled with honey and brood - I mean filled. The top body had all 10 frames filled and capped. I actually freaked out because I thought the hive was overcrowded.

Is it just knowing now that, in my area, don't expect anything in August? Only super before the main flow in July?

Quote
Feed immediately,if it's not too late already, and keep feeding until you have 2 boxes full of capped stores.  If you have a northern tier type winter you'll want to feed until even the brood chamber is 80% backfilled.  Feed either 1.5:1 or 5:3 sugar syrup, both are still thin enough to allow the bees to make wax, if needed, and when ripen quicker than 1:1.  Remove the super, it is just in the way and the bees won't work it again this year.
Easily done and thanks a lot. Lucky for my bees that we have very very mild winters here.

Thanks again.

-Craig



[/quote]
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randydrivesabus
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« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2008, 01:54:15 PM »

Mild winters without outside nectar sources might mean you need more stores since your bees may be active and consume more honey.
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Moonshae
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« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2008, 08:55:41 PM »

If you waited two months between inspections, that's probably not the best, either...it's important to know the status of your hives. But you should have plenty of time to feed 2:1 syrup to fill out that top deep for winter...just don't use an entrance feeder!
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2008, 10:12:45 PM »

Mild winters without outside nectar sources might mean you need more stores since your bees may be active and consume more honey.

Actually the warmer the winter, the more active the bees are, the less stores they use.  Seems counterintuitive but if they can still get out and forage, even in winter, they'll find something to bring back to the hive. 
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annette
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« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2008, 12:32:26 AM »

I am here in Placerville California and one hive had a totally filled up super one week. Two weeks later it was almost empty. It has been hand to mouth this summer regarding the honey.

I have started feeding the 2:1 feed and they filled up the supers nicely with it.

I think every year is going to be different so you cannot make any assumptions about when to super or when not to. You just have to look at the hives and see what they need whatever month it is.

How far away do you live from Placerville??
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2008, 09:00:40 PM »

Just keep in mind that feeding, especially in a dearth, can set off robbing, so be sure not to spill syrup, be sure to reduce the entrances on all hives, be sure to feed ALL the hives, not just the weak ones.  You can steal capped honey from the strong ones later, but only feeding the weak ones is almost guaranteed to cause robbing.
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Michael Bush
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