Thanks for the replies. I'm in SA. I'm hoping that the main reason for the slow start was just bad timing, as the weather had started cooling off by the time we moved the bees. With a little luck they will get a move on with the onset of warmer weather. I will try spraying the sugar water, but have had a problem with mould and am a little worried about it. Is there any way to stop that? A mouse got in and chewed a hole in the bag of sugar water which then leaked and went mouldy
Weather, and the availability of a nectar flow in the area, plays a large part in hive build up... i've heard numerous stories about ones getting a 10L drum, filling it with sugar syrup, and positioning it away from the hive to simulate a flow - i neither recommend or discourage this method - although it's not an encouraged method of feeding it is, i believe, effective... someone with more experience may be able to comment.
We're taught that mould is nasty - and it is - but bees have ways of coping with it... i wouldn't be too worried if you get a little. Mix your syrup up in a 1:1 ratio and spray it directly on the frames - it will dry quite quickly. Alternatively i on occassion pour the syrup over the frames so that the cells fill up as if they've filled them with nectar.
I hate mice! just thought i'd share that! i had one get in some of my hives and they make a mess! they killed off one of my weaker hives and when i opened it up i uncovered their nest! i didn't have the heart to kill them though as there was a powerful owl watching over my bee yard and i figured that he could deal with them more effectively than i could... it's an amazing sight rocking up to your bee yard at 6am and seeing this huge owl sitting on a fence watching your hives...
In any case, any unused syrup should always be stored in the fridge. I'm assuming you were using the bag under the hive lid technique when the mouse got in and made a mess? personally i'm not a huge fan of that technique - not because it doesnt work but because if something can go wrong, where i'm concerned anyway, it will go wrong!