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Feed or not to feed

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I have 2 hives, both one broodbox full of bees. Almost no honey stores lots of pollen. A lot is in flower so plenty of food. They all look very healthy. The weather is warm but wet. Should I sugar feed my bees to get them through spring. Or can I count on the fact they will collect from the flowers as they go. Will the feeding promote swarming.

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How would you feel if your bees starve because you could have done something and you didn't? If you feed them a scoop or two of raw sugar and they don't take it what have you lost? We don't feed bees unless we have to. If you are asking the question you already know the answer.

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You might need another box on there if there is not much room. I would be feeding too with no stores & especially with this wet weather.

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Agreed. I am a reluctant feeder and lost a couple of hives last week to starvation (PPBK) and refed 8 of the 28 live hives today, feeding again in 3 days.

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Last year I fed them through spring. They swarmed both, manage to block one, but the other swarmed even after the spit. I was wondering if the spring feeding had something to do with it. I have to say, they did not collect much honey last year (half a super), and maybe 3 full brood frames for winter, so somehow they are not the collecting type.

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Agreed. I am a reluctant feeder and lost a couple of hives last week to starvation (PPBK) and refed 8 of the 28 live hives today, feeding again in 3 days.

Took it a bit too easy eh ? :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:

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If you give them room, by making sure the queen has comb to lay into. Shake and check honey & pollen frames for the queen and eggs then lift into honey box. If you have to you can lift brood.

 

Check for swarm cells every 10 days, then they shouldn't swarm. Make sure they are swarm cells not superceedure cells. Read your practical beekeeping book on swarming.

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Bees in Dairy Flat are consuming more than they are collecting at the moment. This could change if the weather comes right but if your hives are low on stores and you think they may run out the safe thing is to give them some sugar. Pollen is coming in so that's not a problem.

 

Will it cause swarming? Short answer, yes. This is where beekeeping involves more skill then just putting bees in a box, you first have to keep them alive, second attempt to control swarming.

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Last year I fed them through spring. They swarmed both, manage to block one, but the other swarmed even after the spit. I was wondering if the spring feeding had something to do with it. I have to say, they did not collect much honey last year (half a super), and maybe 3 full brood frames for winter, so somehow they are not the collecting type.

Lack of honey sounds like the result of your hives swarming, and possibly swarming more than once. The end result is a colony trying to build up on the flow and using all the gathered honey to support the colony. There simply arent surplus bees to gather more honey than the colony requires.

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Last year I fed them through spring. They swarmed both, manage to block one, but the other swarmed even after the spit. I was wondering if the spring feeding had something to do with it. I have to say, they did not collect much honey last year (half a super), and maybe 3 full brood frames for winter, so somehow they are not the collecting type.

 

I have sites in Dairy Flat and to the South and North. They are also good on brood etc but short on stores. I am feeding and suggest you do too. Good general colony health is one of the factors that influences swarming so feeding will help with that / work against you, but population and running out of laying room are more important. I think you should consider getting another box on each hive to give them more room and move some brood frames up and stagger/chequer some empty frames in the bottom brood box for the Q to lay in. Re last years production Dairy Flat is not generally a good area - there are plenty of bk's around, some bush but not a great deal, and the pasture is very poor generally - it is not clover laden, although there are some better area's with native bush nearby. Just a matter I guess of making the best with what you've got. Hope that helped :)

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Last year I fed them through spring. They swarmed both, manage to block one, but the other swarmed even after the spit. I was wondering if the spring feeding had something to do with it. I have to say, they did not collect much honey last year (half a super), and maybe 3 full brood frames for winter, so somehow they are not the collecting type.

sounds like they swarmed heavily and where so weak they didn't do any good for the rest of the season.

 

 

I was wondering if the spring feeding had something to do with it.

yes it can, to a degree.

feeding, especially syrup, acts as stimulation. so you can get faster build up, then they run out of room and swarm.

this is all part and parcel of spring build up. how to have them build up without getting excessively strong but being strong enough at the right time.

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Last year I fed them through spring. They swarmed both, manage to block one, but the other swarmed even after the spit. I was wondering if the spring feeding had something to do with it. I have to say, they did not collect much honey last year (half a super), and maybe 3 full brood frames for winter, so somehow they are not the collecting type.

If there are a lot of bees in the hive you should give them raw sugar.

If they don't want it they don't take it.

But if there a too few bees they won't work it.

 

Syrup stimulates growth which is usually good but it can encourage swarming.

Personally I think it makes them quite grumpy too.

I liken them to a human on meth sometimes if they've had a lot of syrup.

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the pasture is very poor generally

Is this because it's predominantly lifestyle blocks ?

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Is this because it's predominantly lifestyle blocks ?

probably i bit like around here, a lot of Kikuyu.

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Is this because it's predominantly lifestyle blocks ?

Exactly. Dairy Flat is a green desert for bees. On top of that everybody and their dog has bees there including commercial guys who park bees there off season cos it's close to home. There's one or two spots where bees can still do OK but some places such as Postmans rd are a total waste. Been a lot of AFB in Dairy Flat recent years also.

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Is this because it's predominantly lifestyle blocks ?

 

No not really. Geologically it is an area with a lot of underlying limestone and it is just really "hungry" / not good pasture land both in the flatter areas and in the hills, it is pretty poor really.

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I normally look at the number of frames of honey in the hive... Less than two = food needed....

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You might need another box on there if there is not much room. I would be feeding too with no stores & especially with this wet weather.

The box is very congested with bees, but they have enough space on the frames (4 frames are empty), however I did give them an extra empty broodbox today so they have a bit more space. Good to know my "lazy bees" are probably building instead of being lazy.

 

 

I have sites in Dairy Flat and to the South and North. They are also good on brood etc but short on stores. I am feeding and suggest you do too. Good general colony health is one of the factors that influences swarming so feeding will help with that / work against you, but population and running out of laying room are more important. I think you should consider getting another box on each hive to give them more room and move some brood frames up and stagger/chequer some empty frames in the bottom brood box for the Q to lay in. Re last years production Dairy Flat is not generally a good area - there are plenty of bk's around, some bush but not a great deal, and the pasture is very poor generally - it is not clover laden, although there are some better area's with native bush nearby. Just a matter I guess of making the best with what you've got. Hope that helped :)

 

Good to meet a fellow Dairy Flat beekeeper, thanks for your answer. My hives are at the boarder of a big native bushblock. They are in a small orchard with 60 different fruit trees, and standing next to a bunch of plum, almond trees and borage in flower. Plenty of food at the moment. I will keep on feeding them. Chequer the bottom box I will do. I didn't do that last year.

 

 

sounds like they swarmed heavily and where so weak they didn't do any good for the rest of the season.

 

 

yes it can, to a degree.

feeding, especially syrup, acts as stimulation. so you can get faster build up, then they run out of room and swarm.

this is all part and parcel of spring build up. how to have them build up without getting excessively strong but being strong enough at the right time.

 

probably i bit like around here, a lot of Kikuyu.

It depends on where you are in Dairy Flat. I am on a lifestyle block but planted 60 different fruit trees so have 2 hives to pollinate them. Boardering a huge native forest, with manuka, kanuka, puriri, flax, cabbage trees you name it. However, there are area's with meadows only.

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Chequer the bottom box I will do. I didn't do that last year.

.

how did your hives fare last year?

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how did your hives fare last year?

Not so good. I fed them through winter and spring because they had eaten their winter stores quickly. Used my oxalic vaporiser 6x to lower the mite load. I gave them room and did a swarm check every 10 days (just added a full drawn box on top, no chequer). The urge to swarm was great split them both but one hive swarmed after the split again (cut in 3 so to speak). They didn't collect enough honey from october onwards to feed themselves through winter although the hives looked healthy and strong and all was in flower. I will requeen one in december and hope that the pedigree could be the cause. But the sugar feeding was also on my list. I only have 2 hives so not enough stock to see a pattern. What I think is very weird for example even in summer, the bees rather sit on my tui sugar feeder than in this great borage (beebalm) bush next to it (mid summer) sugar to water is 1to5. The bees can't get in the feeder, but feed on the drops the tuis leave behind. You would think nectar is preferred over sugar. So that is when I start to call them lazy or conditioned to sugar. The variables are so I can't seem to pick what was wrong last season. Also the 10 day check for queen cells I think is upsetting the hive. According to the posts everybody is feeding sugar .... so maybe one day they don't know the deal with nectar anymore and forget when there is no nectar, available, or they didn't collect enough the troops need to come down quickly. Why would you if sugar just appears from nowhere, brought straight into your home year after year. My gut feel says in the long term it is not a good habit. At the moment they are on 600 gram sugar every 3 days, so back to the sugar infusion for now.

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At the moment they are on 600 gram sugar every 3 days, so back to the sugar infusion for now.
This slow and little at a time feeding is what creates swarming. To the bees it seems like a flow so they do what bees do when there is a flow, use the feed to build bee numbers and eventually swarm.

 

To get feed into them while creating the minimum urge to swarm give them all the syrup they need to get through to the flow in just one hit. Many people use top feeders that can hold 10 or 20 litres. The bees can't eat that much, it is stored in the comb. Feeding then stops so there is not as much stimulation.

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This slow and little at a time feeding is what creates swarming. To the bees it seems like a flow so they do what bees do when there is a flow, use the feed to build bee numbers and eventually swarm.

 

Well, if that's the case and I need to feed in one huge hit you solved my swarm problem. Many thanks :).

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I don't think it's solved, if this feeding has been going on a while they will already be getting ready to swarm.

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I don't think it's solved, if this feeding has been going on a while they will already be getting ready to swarm.

No, I did not feed over winter, only in the fall. So they were not on sugar for 2 months. Actually with this abundance of flowers around I thought maybe they can sit this one out. But after this post decide to feed again. No swarm cells but many bees. I will keep an eye on them and split as soon as. Thanks for the big feed tip, googled a bit on the drip feeding and I read, if they don't have enough stores in fall, feed sugar until they have enough stores in the hive (45kg seem a bit much) in one hit and the chance you have to feed in spring is small. Would you agree?

Feeding Bees Sugar Syrup

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I fill the feeder when I feed because I can't be arsed going back... I don't do pollination so I don't really need to stimulate too much....

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