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Author Topic: late winter feeding - some questions  (Read 173 times)
cinch123
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Location: Canton, Ohio


« on: March 02, 2014, 12:21:49 PM »

Hi all,

I have four colonies at my house in Ohio. All four of them are still alive and have pretty good sized clusters from what I can see. They have burned through their stored honey are are eating the sugar that was mountain camped on top of the frames as emergency feed. Today is March 2 and it seems most people around here think it will be the end of March or early April before we can say they're out of the woods.

I have some questions about late winter feeding:

1. All I have up there right now is granulated sugar, which has been solidified by moisture from the colony over the winter. Should I add some pollen at this point?

2. Do they take the sugar from the top and deposit it in cells below, or do they eat it on site?

3. If the bees are all in the top box since that's closest to the food, on the next warm day, should I take out the bottom boxes (not disturbing the boxes with the cluster in them) and put them on top, maybe consolidating any unused honey from the side frames and putting them over the cluster?

It has been a nasty winter here and I'm pretty satisfied having gotten four colonies this far. With only a few weeks (hopefully) before maples bloom and temps rise enough to liquid feed, I want to do all I can to keep them going. Thank you in advance for your advice.
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iddee
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Location: Randleman, NC


« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2014, 03:27:20 PM »

No pollen patties. They will cause the queen to start laying. You want to hold off on having brood as long as possible.

If there is a totally empty box on bottom, I would remove it and store it, to reduce internal volume. DO NOT put it on top unless it is FULL. That gives empty space above to induce heat loss.
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Vance G
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« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2014, 06:43:16 PM »

I would be very much surprised if there is not brood already!  Are your bees actively flying?  I bet they are bringing in elm pollen already if they are.  I just read the study that says worker length is shortened by having brood in the hive and I wonder if that is why some folks are against getting brooding up started.
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cinch123
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Location: Canton, Ohio


« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2014, 06:49:45 PM »

They do fly when the temperature is over 40 degrees. I would be surprised if even the elm pollen is out yet since it's only been over freezing a few days in the past three months. I do know they start a small amount of brood after the winter solstice. The general idea around limiting protein before pollen is locally available is that the queen might start too much brood which the remaining workers will cover and keep warm at all costs. If there is a cold snap, they will spread across the brood to keep them warm and will not be able to maintain the thermal mass needed to keep the colony alive. However, I was having a discussion yesterday with my state apiarist, and she expressed a lot of doubt about feeding pollen in winter being a bad thing. It falls under the "ask 10 beekeepers, get 11 answers" rule anymore, supposedly.
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