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Author Topic: Open feeding makes sense to me.  (Read 4591 times)
TwoHoneys
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« on: June 21, 2011, 06:26:18 AM »

Last year, I fed sugar water in Ziplock bags placed on top of the frames. Essentially, I invited yellow jackets and robbing and lost half my hives to starvation because I didn't feed enough (it's a nuisance to open each hive and feed from a baggie, and I didn't do it as often as I should, and I paid for my nonchalance about it. This year, I'll feed more responsibly).

I've increased the number of hives from last year, and now that we're nearing our dearth season, I'm considering open feeding. My bees are scattered about several suburban(ish) yards (none smaller than an acre) and some rural fields. The largest number of hives in any location is 6 and the fewest is 3. I'll be feeding a total of 18 hives.

I know I'll get neglectful if I feed from those danged messy Ziplock baggies (and most of these hives have top-entrances...I don't love the idea of placing baggies right on top of the frames near the entrance for every yellow jacket in town to find), so I think I'll try open feeding.

Problem is...I don't know how to do it. Yet.

My questions:
-What sized container would serve 3-6 hives without having to refill it every day? I don't mind filling each week, but I have to travel a bit to reach some of these hives, and I'd rather not do it more than once a week.
-Should I leave the lid off? Prop it open a little bit? Keep the lid closed and cut slits around the top?
-How far from the hives should I place the feeder?
-Is this a better approach than feeding from the baggies? If not, what do you do?

-Liz


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BjornBee
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« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2011, 06:30:56 AM »

This page may help:

http://www.bjornapiaries.com/feedingoptions.html

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TwoHoneys
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« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2011, 06:40:48 AM »

Thanks for the link, BjornBee...I'm always surprised at how creative some people can get with this stuff...I wish I thought in terms of more possibilities.

But tell me the benefit of using multiple Boardman feeders as opposed to a single larger container (such as a 5 gallon bucket or a drum). A bucket seems more transportable and refilling it seems as if it would be simpler. I could haul full buckets in the car, replace the empty ones, haul the empty ones home to refill.
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John Pfaff
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« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2011, 09:55:13 AM »

I use chicken waterers with glass beads to keep the bees from drowning.
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caticind
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« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2011, 10:37:54 AM »

The bucket is more convenient, but more apt to drown bees.  If you use a big tub, make sure it has a LARGE opening or has the lid off (lest you trap a lot of bees inside), and plenty of float material for the bees to cling to.
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L Daxon
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« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2011, 10:42:53 AM »

Why do you think you need to feed your bees? Did they not put up enough stores during the main flow?
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linda d
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« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2011, 08:03:26 AM »

if you open feed your strong colonies will get most of the feed...weaker ones with smaller populations will get the least.
deknow
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hilreal
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« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2011, 08:15:20 AM »

Remember, you will be also be feeding every bee, yellow jacket, hornet, etc. within a 2 mile area with open feeding.  Would you move closer to me:)  Seriously, I would investigate hive top feeders.  There are several models available that will hold 2 gallons of syrup which will last for quite a while.  I like the styrofoam version from Betterbee.  They are easy to fill and you can restirct top entrances which reduces robbing.

I also reitterate the comment about why you are needing to feed this time of year if you had any kind of decent flow at all in the spring.  Did you harvest every frame of honey they stored this spring?  I used to live not far from you and there should be a fair amount of things in bloom now, clovers, all sorts of weeds, alfalfa, etc.  Later blooming things like hyssop should be starting too.  They might be finding more than you think.
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TwoHoneys
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« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2011, 09:21:17 AM »

For ldaxon and hilreal:
Seventeen of my 18 hives are first-year hives, and I haven't harvested a drop of honey from any of them. Nor do I plan to.

I'm not ready to begin feeding yet...however, I have a strong feeling that I'll need to feed this fall...beginning late August or early September...they've spent most of their time building comb this spring, and there's not much at all in the way of stored honey in any hive. I'm formulating a plan in the event I need to feed (which I think is highly likely).

I've got a couple of hive top feeders, but I'd have to buy a whole lot of those things to outfit all these hives. And I hope to increase the number of hives next year, so I don't want to keep spending the money or use up storage space for all those feeders if something else works just as well.


For deknow: If there's enough syrup, why wouldn't the weaker colonies get what they need as well?
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deknow
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« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2011, 10:08:55 AM »

...not if they dont have enough foragers to collect it...they also need bees to raise brood for the winter.
you might consider using the top feeders on the strogest colony in each yard (putting them on weak colonoes will get them robbed in a dearth)....and move frames of stored feed into the weak ones.
deknow
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caticind
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« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2011, 10:09:56 AM »

Glad you're planning to do this in the fall.  If I were wanting to harvest honey and one of my neighboring beekeepers was open-feeding syrup, that would really bother me.  Not that I could do anything about it, but open feeding does draw bees from way beyond your own yard.
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muradulislam
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« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2011, 10:32:32 AM »

thanx for this topic, i'm also considering feeding my bees for winter, hope i'll gain more information here.
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T Beek
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« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2011, 10:55:24 AM »

I've only open fed my bees during the Fall after blooms have died off and when we get above 50 degrees and bees are flying.  A five gallon bucket placed at least 100 yards away will only last about a day and a half with my five colonies, so if you want to open feed once a week, you'll be hauling several buckets to each site.  Remenber to put a big wad of hay inside to prevent drowning.

As was mentioned "just be sure there's a dearth on and don't try to sell or consume the honey" that would be naughty Smiley and nasty.

To divert yellow jackets, set up some traps nearby the feeding station.  I use pint sized canning jars w/ a tsp of any kind of jelly stired in some water (about half way).  It'll be full of yellowjackets in a day or two.  Remember to poke a couple small holes in tops of lids.  And, WATCH out for robbing as best you can (a wet blanket thrown over the colony being robbed helps).

thomas
« Last Edit: June 24, 2011, 06:19:51 AM by T Beek » Logged

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Finski
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« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2011, 12:45:17 AM »

.
Open feeding is not a correct way to feed bees. Makes no sence.
We have here 8 litre feeding boxes, 15 litres and 20 litres.

It depends on how much the hive has allready honey in combs but  15 litre is enough for winter in one box wintering.

The box must be full of food. Otherwise bees do not cap the food.

For little need 5 litre or so I pour directly into combs if bees are near to starve.
A nuc needs perhaps one litre.
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Danger Brown
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« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2011, 01:30:26 AM »

I'm curious why feeding dry sugar doesn't seem to be more popular?
I guess syrup stimulates the queen to lay.
Fondant is better for winter feeding. (lower moisture and less prone to robbing)
But why would someone go to the trouble to make fondant or syrup if you can just pour some sugar straight out of the bag?

I must be missing something.
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Finski
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« Reply #15 on: June 23, 2011, 09:19:34 AM »

I'm curious why feeding dry sugar doesn't seem to be more popular?
I guess syrup stimulates the queen to lay.

Only pollen patty feeding stimulates brooding. Sugar or honey doest not do it in any form.

Quote
Fondant is better for winter feeding. (lower moisture and less prone to robbing)

66% sugar syrup is the best in winter feeding[/quote]

Quote
I must be missing something.

I gues that it is real winter . Cold weather is not winter.
To eate dry sugar the bees need water. Under snow cover it does not succeed.

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T Beek
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« Reply #16 on: June 23, 2011, 10:48:14 AM »

I put roughly 5 lbs of dry sugar on top of inner cover as a 'last step' in winter preparation before closing them up.  This coming Winter I'll be experimenting with candy boards.  Some colonies will make it to the sugar come Spring, because they've run out of stored honey.  Some colonies never touch it as they've got stored honey so I have to pitch it.

Most folks around the forum know that Finski keeps bees in one of the coldest environments on the planet so his advise on wintering is always appreciated even if its a bit condescending at times grin.  Finland is somewhat colder (40-50 below zero) and their Winter is about a month longer than North Wisconsin (We can reach 30-40 below).

Feeding dry sugar for a 'justin' case scenario' can be a matter of life or death for your bees.  I've found that the bees produce plenty of condensation to 'wet' down the sugar enough to make it digestable.  Upon first inspection in Spring I can usually find lots of cells filled w/ dry sugar and/or a harder/moist sugar with those colonies that found the sugar I left them.  Whether one believes in such things as bee gratitude or not, I certainly believe my bees appreciate finding the sugar and not starving.

thomas
« Last Edit: June 23, 2011, 11:10:51 AM by T Beek » Logged

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FRAMEshift
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« Reply #17 on: June 23, 2011, 10:56:08 AM »

I've found that the bees produce plenty of condensation to 'wet' down the sugar enough to make it digestable. 
thomas
That's what I thought.  Finski is saying his bees don't have enough moisture to use dry sugar.  Is he so much colder (and lower humidity) than you?  I would think that just the water produced by their metabolism would be enough. 
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FRAMEshift
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« Reply #18 on: June 23, 2011, 11:00:47 AM »

...not if they dont have enough foragers to collect it...they also need bees to raise brood for the winter.
you might consider using the top feeders on the strogest colony in each yard (putting them on weak colonoes will get them robbed in a dearth)....and move frames of stored feed into the weak ones.
deknow

So is top feeding done by "house bees" rather than foragers?  I don't know that I've ever seen any research on this point.  I thought that maybe the bees consider a top feeder to be outside the hive.  Or that it would be treated as nectar gathering even if it's inside.
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jaseemtp
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« Reply #19 on: June 23, 2011, 11:16:23 AM »

Ok Liz
I am a first year beekeeper so what I have say should be taken with a grain of salt.   I to was frustrated with opening each hive to feed with the zip lock bag (17 colonies by the way)  So I used the 5 gallon chicken water with small stones in the dish part to keep the bees from drowning.  Well as far as feeding ALOT of bees quickly it worked great, but I also had alot of yellow jackets and wasp feeding there too.  About the stronger colonies getting more than there share of the syrup, well simply they have more bees to send out and retrieve the syrup than the weak ones.  Even with the small stones in the dish I still had a cup of dead bees every time I fed this way.  I have read that some folks cut up sponges and place them in the dish and that is suppose to help keep the number of dead bees down.  If you have not done an open feeding you should chek out youtube for it, it is crazy, all those bees pushing and shoving trying to get to the syrup.  Your bees will be shoulder to shoulder with ferel or other beekeepers bees and no telling who is carrying mites or different diseases.
SOO what I have started doing for feeding is using one quart mason jars turned upside down in an empty hive box ontop just over the frames.  This allowes each hive to get what they need at their own pace and with out competition.  My larger hives I use 4 one quart jars and it seems to last a week or so.  Another option is to use an inverted 3 - 5 gallon bucket that rest ontop of the hive with a hole cut in the roof of the hive to give them access.  Good luck
Jason
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