Its all sooo confusing. Mike from Bjorn Apiaries told me to build numbers going into winter. His quote was "I do what I can do, which is feed fondant in winter if needed, I can't make brood" He said most loses over winter was not from lack of food, but lack of numbers to keep it warm. (boy I hope i got that all right lol)
What would the bees do with 1-1 syrup as opposed to 2-1 this time of year? I am still trying to get comb built up in second deep in 3 new hives.
Hey gunner. You heard right... ;)
What is happening now for most hives, is a stoppage of comb building. You still may get a few hives building comb, but for most, they will stop. And all that frantic feeding because the hives are light, ends up meaning a back-filled brood chamber, come the time when the queen should have ample room for fall brood.
Once the summer solstice has passed, and the days are now getting shorter, many bees go into a frugal period where comb building ends if there is any empty comb to store nectar. They would rather store nectar than make more wax. And they begin storing it in the brood chamber, making the brood area smaller and smaller.
Since most beekeepers go along with the traditional procedures of winter prep, which is nothing more than hefting the back of the hives, they will feed, feed, feed! Without really knowing the impact or consequences.
The fall brood period here in the northeast should be about 60 days long to sufficiently allow the colonies to raise enough brood to overwinter with a large cluster of young bees. That period is, or would be ideal, from about Aug 15 to Oct 15. And they should have at least 6-8 frames of brood. But all that feeding many times means that the queen is compressed into just a couple frames.
I look at many beekeepers dead hives in the spring. They always have ample food stores around a small cluster of bees. I ask.."So how much brood did you see last September?" and they look at me like deer in headlights. They comment something along the lines of "I'm not sure, But the boxes were filled with bees". The bees did not starve, but for perhaps the inability to move. They died because the cluster was too small to deal with the cold and function properly.
Many things can impact the cluster size. Disease, bad queen, natural cycle of the bees, back-filled brood chamber, etc. Those things a beekeeper should focus on, but many times it's all about what it feels like hefting those hives. And many think because they were fed, fed, fed, and now they feel heavy, that the beekeeper did his hives right.
What I can do as a beekeeper, for a healthy and fully populated hive, is provide all the food needs in about 30 seconds for any hive to get through winter. Gasp....I know this will go against all those who swear that nobody should be feeding sugar and that bees survive better on honey rather than other sugars. What I can not do, is squat and lay eggs for them. So I must do everything to get them to raise brood and populate the hives with fall raised brood. Understanding what is happening with all that sugar syrup, along with other key beekeeping principles such as weight feeding versus stimulative feeding, allows you to go into winter with young bees with sufficient numbers to deal with winter. If they don't have sufficient numbers of young (and healthy) bees, everything else is just throwing money away.
I'm not saying that one should not feed. But it is a balancing act at this time of the year. And if all they are going to do is backfill the brood chamber, and ignore your desire for more drawn comb, than it can be detrimental to the colony's survival later by impacting brood rearing that should start very soon.