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Author Topic: I don't want to coddle, but I don't want them to starve, either  (Read 5996 times)
TwoHoneys
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« on: August 08, 2010, 07:47:55 AM »

I have three hives (and one small, 4-frame split). One of the three hives overwintered last season, but the other two began as new packages this spring.

I’m concerned about stores. Yesterday’s inspection shows tons of bees and frames of brood about to explode. However, at this point, there are few frames of capped honey in any of the hives.

They’re working (slowly) to build comb on the foundationless frames I inserted to keep them from swarming.  

I’ve never fed them. I’ve been at this only two years and don’t have any honey stored to feed them if they need it. I guess I could buy some honey to use as feed, but I don't know of any treatment-free honey sources anywhere near me. I don’t want to coddle, but I don’t want to be negligent, either. I keep telling myself that there are many bees and several months of honey-making to go before winter, and I should just let them take care of themselves without my intervening.

What’s the word about feeding?

Liz

P.S. The Northeast Treatment-Free Beekeeping conference in Leominster, MA was soooo helpful and worth the trip from Cincinnati! Many thanks to Dean and Ramona and company.
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kathyp
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« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2010, 12:13:03 PM »

if they are light you only have to choices.  feed so that they have enough to make it, or don't and let them starve.  not much in between.  even if they don't completely die off, they will be so weakened by the lower numbers and nothing to start with in spring, they will be ripe for disease, etc.

it is true that if you want them to go completely natural, you would not feed.  you also would never take honey, never look inside, never manipulate frames, etc.
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

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« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2010, 04:33:50 PM »

In Dean and Ramona's book they state that you should always feed package bees as they have alot of work to do before they can become self sufficient.
While they advocate chemical free beekeeping and not regularly artifically feeding as a routine, they don't have anything against feeding a colony who is going to starve over the winter.
At the conference Sam Comfort said the same thing, I believe his words were " I don't think there are any speakers here tonight that wouldn't condone feeding some sugar syrup if a hive were facing starvation.
Don't confuse chemical free beekeeping with not helping your bees make it through the winter.
I don't know anyone who has started a package and not fed.
It may be several months until winter but its not several months of honey making. Its not long before all nectar source dry up everywhere so they only have a short time left to put away stores.
How much comb do they have built? You say you put in new frames to keep them from swarming but they aren't going to build much comb from here on out so even if you start feeding you still may need to give them some combs from another hive so they can store some food.
If you don't have combs from another hive you should ask around at your local club to see if anyone has some extras they could help you out with.
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TwoHoneys
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« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2010, 06:05:40 PM »

Got it. I'll feed.

Though there are a fair number of foundationless frames in each hive, most of the frames contain already-drawn comb. But this leads me to ask: Is it okay if they go into winter with several empty frames in the hive, or is it better to pull those out now?
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kathyp
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« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2010, 06:06:55 PM »

if you pull them, what would you replace them with?

rotate them in and they may get draw by winter if you are feeding.
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2010, 06:08:48 PM »

If there are a lot of empty frames,I would possibly consolidate them into one less box and let them pack that full. Then add another if necessary and they can fill and cap.Empty space is wasted heat come winter time.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2010, 06:42:29 AM »

If you feed them during a flow, you're coddling them.  If you feed them in the fall to keep them from starving, you're doing you job...
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Michael Bush
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TwoHoneys
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« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2010, 06:19:39 PM »

All kinds of advice to hang my hat on.

I'm still figuring out our flows around here. I think we're between flows right now...which means I should feed now, or wait a month or so to see what they do with whatever fall flow we have? I'm tempted to wait, but I feel as if I'm always chasing these matters. And then cursing myself.

Such elementary questions, I know.



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kathyp
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« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2010, 06:26:18 PM »

i would not wait.  it's almost mid august and you need to get many pounds of food in and capped before winter. 
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
mdaniels
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« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2010, 06:53:23 PM »

This is very helpful, I seem to be facing a similar dilemma with one of my two hives.  This is my first year and I am about to start feeding the one hive because I believe they won't make it without.  Thanks.
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CountryBee
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« Reply #10 on: August 09, 2010, 07:43:50 PM »

2 to 1 mix for storage of sugar water.  How many frames of capped honey are in each hive and how many supers tall?  I thought it was 2 to 4 frames of capped honey per deep super to survive a winter on average, depending if we get a really cold spell then the 4.  Good luck, Country Smiley
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mdaniels
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« Reply #11 on: August 09, 2010, 08:41:04 PM »

Do the sugar and water need to be heated and cooled before putting in feeder, or can it be mixed and dissolved without the heating?
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kathyp
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« Reply #12 on: August 09, 2010, 09:48:26 PM »

i just use very hot tap water and mix.  it dissolves if i let it sit and stir it from time to time.  you can boil the water and then pour it into the sugar, but don't boil the mix.
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
mdaniels
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« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2010, 05:19:01 AM »

Thank you Smiley
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BjornBee
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« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2010, 08:24:08 AM »

There seems to be some kind of movement in regards to not doing anything with bees. That feeding is a bad thing. That HFCS, sugar and anything else is bad for bees. That bees left to their own devices is the best approach. That this simulates "nature" and should be the path taken.

Ok, well lets go with that.

Want to guess in nature how many swarms make it through winter the first year? About 10-20%

Nature is very hard on bees. Colonies swarm every year, and yet we are not inundated with bees are we? Although in nature almost all colonies swarm, nature kills off most swarms, except a few that replace the loss from the established colonies that fail in requeening attempts or from natural distruction.

So ask yourself, are you happy with that kind of survival rate?

We as beekeepers have much better survival rates with swarms and splits because we give them comb, transfer over brood, and among other things, feed. We keep bees to achieve a desired result. We, or at least many do, want better survival rates than what nature dictates, and we want excess honey production.

I've seen some promoting this "hands-off' idea that feeding and anything else is bad for bees. And if someone wants to go down that road, then also understand that mimicking nature may not really be a rosy path of the results you desire.
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bigbearomaha
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« Reply #15 on: August 14, 2010, 07:29:27 PM »

 I don't know of anyone that makes it seem "rosy"  

Nothing about "survival of the fittest" sounds like a day at the park to me.

As usual, most of the attention seems to go to those operating at the extremes.

at one end there are those who feel the need to micro manage bees and do everything for and to the bees they want and at the other end are those who want to be completely hands off let alone providing a hive and maybe collecting some honey later.

most of us end up somewhere in the middle.  perhaps closer to one end or the other, but in general, not many are trying to do what they think is a "bad" thing with the bees, only what they have come to think as what the best thing for the bees  they can do.

on the outside of this are the people who don't give a rats patoot about the bees at all.  Their whole thing is "show me the money" and it's all about dollars when it comes to bees.

I'd rather have a friendly dis-agreement with anyone in the first group than have anything to do with people in the second group.

speaking only for myself, as a practitioner of "facilitated natural selection"  if you want to call it that,   I don't believe  I am doing anything beneficial for the bees by trying to micro manage them.  They have survived who knows what in their millions of years on this planet without humans and experienced any possible number of adversities that we may think this is the first time and is really only the first time humans have seen it.

bees must adapt.  With all our "science" all we really have succeeded in doing is polluting forage sources with pesticides, bringing in pests to undermine their health because we want to use them as science experiments and capitalize on every part of their labor, sometimes to the point of completely de-stabilizing the hive so we can take all they have made and give them whatever we think might be a 'good enough' replacement.

What has our science 'fixed' for bees that we didn't mess up for them in the first place?

That's where  I come from and while  I don't criticize any other beeks methods,  I do not apologize for my own.

Big Bear



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BjornBee
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« Reply #16 on: August 14, 2010, 10:12:06 PM »



That's where  I come from and while  I don't criticize any other beeks methods,  I do not apologize for my own.


I agree. If the conversation was between you and me.

But the conversations at hand include many others, perhaps in the thousands. Many of which come here and get sucked into the hype about this way or that way. So to debate, expose, and call it out, regardless of which side you are on, lets others know both sides of an issue and maybe even expands their minds a bit.

I'll be critical of others as I expect them to be critical of me. And if they are spreading one way or another of beekeeping, they should be able to back up their position with more than fluff. I hear beekeepers being told that they should not feed their bees, that smoking them is bad, that you should be able to work bees without a veil and you shouldn't even bother buying such things, that this hive or that hive, or this comb or that comb will solve every problem known to exist in the bee industry. And much of it is crap. I'd rather step on a few toes and tell them the truth, then sit back and let them be sold a bill of goods by some seminar promoter, book promoter, or some ego chasing fanatic.

Sorry, questioning the many different types of beekeeping methods is a good thing and so should being criticized or challenged. That is how you become more than just blind sheep, following the next fad or the next bee guru that is placed on the pedestal.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #17 on: August 14, 2010, 11:31:55 PM »

>There seems to be some kind of movement in regards to not doing anything with bees.

Interesting, since I don't believe a single person in this thread advocated that.  All of them advocated feeding as needed at a minimum.  So I'm a bit confused as to who you are disagreeing with...
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Michael Bush
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bigbearomaha
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« Reply #18 on: August 15, 2010, 07:33:44 AM »

Quote
Sorry, questioning the many different types of beekeeping methods is a good thing and so should being criticized or challenged. That is how you become more than just blind sheep, following the next fad or the next bee guru that is placed on the pedestal.

 I see it a bit differently.   I agree, methods and ideas can be discussed and critiqued if it's done intelligently and appropriately.  However, all too often, it is nothing more than a witch hunt in disguise  usually based on one or more of the persons involved making an effort to cast judgment over others based on how much others ideas and methods used agree with their own.

It is one thing to criticize an idea, and something else to criticize people.

when  I see people "challenge" or criticize using language that is dismissive of the topic you want to 'discuss'  usually, your mind is already made up.  There is no honest discussion at that point, it's just arguing.

Start a new thread on the idea and I'd be glad to discuss the topic with you.  I can play devil's advocate too.  evil

 Wink

Big Bear
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CountryBee
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« Reply #19 on: August 15, 2010, 07:36:07 AM »

Does anyone know if they make a big cube/block of sugar that you could just put above the inner cover with an empty deep super outside of it with an outer cover on top to keep rain off of it?  You know they make small sugar cubes for fancy coffee but imagine a 25 pound one!  That would fee a hive right?  Wrong?  Any ideas?  Is it too early?  Thanks everyone for your input on this crazy idea but it sounds easier that mixing my sugar water in my glass jars all the time.
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