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Author Topic: Is there a happy medium?  (Read 3125 times)

Offline stella

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Is there a happy medium?
« on: May 05, 2011, 10:36:21 AM »
Hi all,
I just installed my first ever bees this week. Woohoo! They are so cool!
I want to keep the hive medication and chemical free as best as I can. Then I just read the thread on sugar beets, so I have already messed up. I have sugar syrup in the hive as Im in Minnesota and not much is blooming yet.
My question is: Can my hive just do its thing after the syrup is removed? Does anyone really have a successful hive without constantly monitoring and tweeking? Of course I want to be an involved keeper but it seems like there is a lot of over-kill. Is there a happy medium? One in which the hive remains healthy?
“The hum of bees is the voice of the garden.” — Elizabeth Lawrence

Offline Adrian

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Re: Is there a happy medium?
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2011, 11:32:03 AM »
HEY There,

You should keep feeding them until such a time that you see they no longer feed on the syrup. When the blooms are out and food is in abundance for them they will prefer that over the syrup and you will notice the syrup no longer going down. At that point it is safe to remove your feed. You should feed them again in the late fall, early winter and through the winter, especially there first year to assure their chances of  survival.

As beekeepers we are taking an insect and expecting to help it thrive in an unnatural setting that through the years we have tried to make as close to optimal and natural for them as we can. This science is still evolving as we learn more. One thing we know is that bees are disappearing and no one thing have we been able to pinpoint as the cause. I have an organic farm so we do not use any pesticides, fungicides or herbicides and we do fine with essential oils and plenty of food with  dry bee homes. But, it takes work to help the bees thrive. So, we spray thyme and lemon oil mixed with purified water and lecithin crystals on the foundation before installing new bees, and we feed pure honey that is local mixed with a little water, thyme oil, lemongrass and spearmint. The lecithin is a binder that is natural and makes the oil mix with the honey and water. This strengthens the bees internally and helps the immune system. We have very little varroa mites or tracheal mites. There is a great natural beekeeping forum at this site for all sorts of recipes and advice. Please check it out.

IT takes work to keep the bees and help them thrive. There is no way around this. I hope you enjoy your beekeeping and realize the great importance in it.
Adrian

Offline kathyp

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Re: Is there a happy medium?
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2011, 12:26:48 PM »
there is, but as mentioned, it takes some tweaking.

if you buy a package from the standard supplier, those bees probably been treated.  to just put them in a hive and expect them to thrive is not going to work.  

study ways to manage mites.  learn  to recognize disease.  think about how you want to treat for things if they come up.  understand that you may lose a hive or two just learning, never mind that usual losses of winter.  

i am one of those middle beekeepers.  all of my hives are from cutouts and swarms.  sometimes the swarms need a hand because they have come from treated pollination hives.  on the rare occasion that i treat for mites, i like Apiguard.  it's effective and as close to natural as you can purchase.  sometimes i don't treat and just take the losses.  depends on how many hives i have.  it is my opinion that the genetics of survivor hives is far more important that what kind of foundation you use, etc.  some would disagree with me.  you'll find those arguments on here if you look around.

the point is, there's no one answer and it helps to decide on plans before you are presented with problems.
.....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

Offline McGoo

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Re: Is there a happy medium?
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2011, 09:05:05 PM »
Stella,
I'm kinda new to beeking too.  I chose a top bar hive which supposedly takes less work.  I lost my hive last year to the hard winter... and I didn't feed enough at that time.  My mistake. So take my advice with a grain of salt.

So that said, I did not spend a great deal of time on the bees.  I did 2 checks for varroa mites and came up with a low number and therefore I did not treat.  Treatment would have been sprinkling them with powdered sugar.  Other than that I reduced the size of their hive space for wintering and gave them sugar water in the fall and switched to granual in winter.  They ate it all up and needed more - boo hoo. 
I think it is important to check the hive every month or two, to make sure they are storing honey and making brood, but it can be confusing to understand whats in the cell - honey, brood, pollen??? 

All the best with your endeavor.
Colleen

Offline kathyp

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Re: Is there a happy medium?
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2011, 09:14:24 PM »
when you are just starting out it's important to spend more time in the hives.  it does disrupt them, but you need to know what you are looking at.  if you only check every couple of month and you are inexperienced, you will miss the fact that your queen has died, or your hive is honey bound and about to swarm.

later, when you have a few years of examining them, you will be able to tell much by what you see outside the hive and their behavior.  even then, there are times of the year when more frequent checking is called for.

hands off is not beekeeping.
.....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

Offline stella

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Re: Is there a happy medium?
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2011, 11:54:37 PM »
Thank you kathyp. I did some more reading today and have a better understanding now of why Im suppose to be inspecting the hive weekly. Im afraid to get ahead of myself. One step at a time.
“The hum of bees is the voice of the garden.” — Elizabeth Lawrence

Offline kathyp

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Re: Is there a happy medium?
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2011, 12:48:20 AM »
the timing is not a rule  :-D  do it when you feel like it, but more often that every couple of months.  at least every other week until you can tell at a glance what everything is and that all is well.  you may also want to consider taking a camera out.  you will see lots of stuff that you missed on inspection, in the pictures.  it's a pretty helpful learning tool and you can compare pics later.
.....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

Offline VolunteerK9

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Re: Is there a happy medium?
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2011, 11:39:51 AM »
HEY There,

You should keep feeding them until such a time that you see they no longer feed on the syrup. When the blooms are out and food is in abundance for them they will prefer that over the syrup and you will notice the syrup no longer going down.

I wish this piece of advice would be placed in the same category as 'remove all queen cells'. Feeding until they wont take anymore, without constant checking, is a sure fire way of plugging up a brood nest causing even more problems. Feed until they have some capped stores then remove it.


 You should feed them again in the late fall, early winter and through the winter, especially there first year to assure their chances of  survival.



If they are left with enough honey to begin with, theres no reason to feed in the late fall, early winter and through the winter like you suggested. I dont know about you but I dont enjoy mixing up plain 1:1, much less with all the other stuff that you are mixing in. By this formula you must be feeding bees 6 months out of the year  :-\

Offline wd

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Re: Is there a happy medium?
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2011, 04:27:18 PM »
wow, what about creating a false dearth when taking away feed to early?

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Is there a happy medium?
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2011, 01:16:33 AM »
The reason you'll end up feeding some time or another is this.  Bees have to gamble.  They have to raise bees BEFORE there is a big flow of nectar or there won't be any bees to gather the nectar.  Weather and climate being what they are, sometimes they guess wrong because the weather throws them for a loop.  In these cases in nature, they simply starve.  Luckily for the survival of the bees there are both big gamblers and prudent ones.  The big gamblers cash in when the big harvests come in, but starve when they don't.  The more prudent ones don't make as much honey when things are really good but don't starve when they are not.  But sooner or  later that long drought will kill a lot of bees if you don't feed.

The same happens after you harvest.  If you have a good fall flow they might make a bumper crop.  If you have no fall flow, they might starve if you don't feed.  If you have a typical fall flow, hopefully that's enough to get them through the winter.

If you are going to keep bees, you will need to feed them sometimes.

The philosophical decision is whether to, as a management plan, steal all their honey and feed back sugar syrup, or leave them enough to get through the winter.  Not feeding at all is not an option to consider, in my opinion.  But leaving stores for winter is.

Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm en espanol: bushfarms.com/es_bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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Offline stella

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Re: Is there a happy medium?
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2011, 11:11:37 AM »
I agree Michael. Even though Im a beginner it makes perfect sense. Especially in my area. Otherwise How would 10,000 new bees survive with only 6 dandelions blooming?
The first question I get from people when they find out Im keeping bees is, "How much honey will you get?". To which I have to respond, "I dont know yet, it could be none the first year."
I honestly did not go into this for large quantities honey. Its like counting your chickens before they hatch. Cant be doing that.
“The hum of bees is the voice of the garden.” — Elizabeth Lawrence

Offline tillie

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Re: Is there a happy medium?
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2011, 11:24:29 AM »
A "happy" medium is an untreated hive of bees in medium boxes with a caring, conservative beekeeper watching over them!   :-D :-D :-D

Linda T in Atlanta
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Offline McGoo

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Re: Is there a happy medium?
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2011, 10:21:42 PM »
Thank you kathyp. I did some more reading today and have a better understanding now of why Im suppose to be inspecting the hive weekly. Im afraid to get ahead of myself. One step at a time.

Just wanted to thank Kathyp too.  I created a calendar and have been visiting my bees more frequently.  I am now able to id the different types of brood (big drone brood - tbh) and saw the queen.  Your advice is very helpful - ultimately helping the bees.
Colleen

Offline annette

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Re: Is there a happy medium?
« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2011, 12:49:43 AM »
A "happy" medium is an untreated hive of bees in medium boxes with a caring, conservative beekeeper watching over them!   :-D :-D :-D

Linda T in Atlanta

Yes, Yes, Yes Linda, I agree with this.

 I basically give the bees what they need to survive. This means feeding them sometimes when they do not have enough honey to eat. I always leave enough honey for them to get through the winter and I also freeze frames of honey that I robbed in the event I need to place them back into the hive after winter. I get very little honey for myself because I am always thinking of the bees. I would rather place a frame of honey into a hive that is low on stores, rather than feed them, but I do feed when there is no other option.

I think this is the happy medium.

Annette

Offline McGoo

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Re: Is there a happy medium?
« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2011, 09:28:41 PM »
Annette,
How to you freeze the frames of honey?  Just place them in the freezer?  do you need to cover and flash freeze? 
I've never heard about this before and am interested.  I have a tbh vs langstroth, though I believe whatever method you use would be the same. 
Thanks

Offline annette

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Re: Is there a happy medium?
« Reply #15 on: May 15, 2011, 02:56:54 PM »
I just lay them down on a plastic bag (so nothing gets sticky) and just freeze. I also cover with newspaper, but don't believe it matters. I pile them on top of each other. As long as they are capped with beeswax on all sides, everything is sealed.

Offline SmokeEater2

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Re: Is there a happy medium?
« Reply #16 on: May 16, 2011, 05:46:50 PM »
I just lay them down on a plastic bag (so nothing gets sticky) and just freeze. I also cover with newspaper, but don't believe it matters. I pile them on top of each other. As long as they are capped with beeswax on all sides, everything is sealed.


 Thanks for that annette! It had never occurred to me that I could freeze the frames.   X:X

Offline annette

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Re: Is there a happy medium?
« Reply #17 on: May 16, 2011, 06:38:35 PM »
Your welcome. Sometimes the hardest part is finding room in the freezer.