View Full Version : best method for winter feeding

08-09-2003, 06:38 PM
I'd like to hear people's opinions about the best way to winter feed.

Miller feeders apparently don't work if the bees don't want to break cluster. How about frame feeders - same problem?
While I'm asking questions: I have a weak hive that I started to feed last week using a frame feeder. What's the best way to refill this without drowning upsetting bees?

08-09-2003, 07:00 PM
In New Jersey there may be no true "winter" way of feeding. On days when the temps are high enough to let them break, access to some additional feed can be made.

If they really need additional feeding in the dead of winter try the following.

Try a top feeder that sits over the inner cover. This will allow you to check the feeder without actually opening up the hive and making them break cluster. Breaking cluster and getting the bees excited can be a real killer in winter.

Also, keep a grease patty inside the hive, they may use this for feed and its easy to put a nice patty in and have it stay there most of the winter.

In a real emergency you may even consider putting a hive in the garage. Not a heated one but one that will prevent the hive from actually freezing.

I would rather combine hives or feed as your doing now to get them over winter. You still have time. And remember most hives will starve when you think they made it. Most hives starve after the winter is past and they start brood rearing. In March and April alot will die.

Pour slowly is my best advice for filling the frame feeder.

Michael Bush
08-09-2003, 08:19 PM
Whatever you can get them to put away before it turns cold will help.

It is difficult to feed when the bees are clustered. I try to just have enough honey and borrow it from other hives if I don't. Another good reason to use all the same size frames, you can steal honey from the supers for the weak hives for winter stores.

I have heard of a lot of methods, but haven't tried most of them. One is a candy lid. It's like a deep telescopic cover filled with candy that goes with the candy side down. There are recipes in various bee books for the candy. The idea is that when they get a warm day they will eat it and move it into stores, and if they make it to the top without any more stores they will start eating the candy. I have not tried this.

Another I just heard today is a "sugar cake". You take a pound of water (a pint) and boil it and add 15 pounds of sugar and heat that until it bubbles. I have troulbe imagining that this won't burn. The guy says he doesn't stir it, but as soon as it bubbles you dump it in a cake pan lined with waxed paper. Then when it cools you dump that on the top bars. I have not tried this.

I know a man who just dumps five to ten pounds of sugar down the back of the hive. I have not tried this either.

08-10-2003, 02:50 PM
I'm gonna quick soak four pound bags of sugar and let them sit. Then when it's time to close em in for the last time, I'll tear open one side of the bag and lay that open side down over the frames. I'll put in at least two bags each. Then I'll cover this with some old clothes, sheet or a towels (whatever is handy), add a super, and cover it up.

08-10-2003, 07:22 PM
For feeding in the dead of winter you may wish to try this method:


08-11-2003, 08:45 AM
Clayton, the page is html for a pop up ad.

What gives?

08-11-2003, 08:51 AM
Clayton's link worked for me (there was a pop-up, but easy to ignore)

This file folder idea seems amazing and so simple that I wonder why no one has mentioned it before.

The only catch I see is that if the weather is very cold you could chill your bees and maybe the queen by opening the cover. Yes? No?

Usually I like learning new things, but in this case the lives of thousands of bees may hang in the balance (gotta love being dramatic http://www.beesource.com/ubb/wink.gif

Michael Bush
08-11-2003, 09:08 AM

I used the link and got a picture of a file folder taped on the ends and full of crystalized honey and a description of how to make it and use it.

08-11-2003, 07:10 PM
Hmmmm, well this is what I get.....

<head><title>envelope method</title></head><body bgcolor="ABCDEF" link="FF0000" vlink="00FF00"><!--Begin VC code-->
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<center><h1>Feeding: The Envelope Method</h1></center><br><hr><br><br><p>When making the change from conventioal methods of beekeeping to biological methods (non-chemical,artificial feeds) I was faced with the problem of emergency feeding. One needs a method of delivering natural store to a light colony "WITHOUT" stimulating brood. As the last thing one wants to do is to stimulate a light colony in winter as they will utilize more feed for brooding. The method was not created by me, as I learned it from Dee Lusby of Tucson, AZ. I have placed it here as a resource to beekeepers who need a method of delivering feed to bees that are starving or light on stores and want to use biological or organic practices. The method utilizes file cabinet folders that are stapled on the ends. Then taped using clear 2 inch mailing tape to make an "envelope". Natural granulated honey is then scooped into the envelope and filled till it resembles a honey comb. The top then is closed with tape so you have a nice packet that is easy to transport and which can be placed in a box, crate,ect. if many are to go. Working quickly the beekeeper then pulls the comb(s) adjacent to the winter cluster, shakes off any clinging bees, cuts several slashes into the envelope's side and squeezes a bit to expose the honey (granulated). The packet is dropped in where the comb was and in essence mimics a honey comb. Note I said comb(s) before as in desperate cases a packet can be placed on both sides of the cluster if needed. The colony is closed up and combs(s) brought home. One should check the packet in 15 days or so to get a feel for how fast the bees are utilizing the honey stores. The bees will chew up the packet as they go; so just drop a new one in when empty. Remember to return the frames in the spring.</P><br><br><tr><td><center><img height="450" src="Image026.jpg" width="700"></center></td></tr><br><br>
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08-11-2003, 08:02 PM
Here is something that I have considered but haven't actully tried yet.

The idea came from the shipping cans that come with package bees. They are cans with a hole in the bottom usully plugged with cloth. The cloth is saturated and the bees suck the fluid from the cloth.

I have some shallow supers that I do not intend to use. I thought that I would put a bottom of plywood on it and waterproof it with resin. In the center drill a hole and insert a cotton rope tightly in that hole.

The idea is to create a wicking action that would make the fluid accessable to the cluster without them having to break to get to it.

The problem I am most concerned with is the sugar crystalizing to the point of plugging the rope or worse yet, an uncontrolled drip into the center of the cluster. However if that would happen, I am sure that the cluster would move over to get away from the moistuer.

I think it is worth experimenting with water off of a hive to see if I can control the flow. If it will work with only a slow drip useing water, then a thicker syrup would probably work.

Michael Bush
08-11-2003, 08:10 PM
Daisy, the answer to the feeder is in the middle of all that. For some reason your browser is not interpreting it correctly. I'm running IE and it's working fine.

Bill, it's a really interesting concept. My guess is it will either succeed marvelously or fail miserably. I'd love to hear how it goes.

08-11-2003, 08:30 PM
hi everyone. Last spring I used the miller feeder. This year I was thinking of trying Hive top barrel feeders that Glorybee sells. Anyone ever use these? The envelope delivery system looks like it would be a great way to deliver feed to a light hive. I wonder if you could use the envelope method on the top of the frames that way you don't have to go down into the hives.

Michael Bush
08-12-2003, 06:07 AM
>I wonder if you could use the envelope method on the top of the frames that way you don't have to go down into the hives.

If it's granulated, I don't know why not. You could also use the baggie feeder on top of the bars, but I think the idea of the envelope is to get honey down inside the cluster.

08-12-2003, 03:30 PM
Anyone use the 1 Gal. paint cans you can get from Sherwin-Williams? Dale

08-19-2003, 07:39 AM
I have a question.

Why do you place liquid in your winter feed? I ask because I wondered if this would cause condensation that freezes bees.

The fabric placed atop the bags of hardened sugar should absorb and wick away moisture that would normally condense and freeze bees.

Michael Bush
08-19-2003, 11:20 AM
Bees have to have some kind of liquid to eat dry sugar. Granted the condensation in the hive gives them some. In a moderate climate they may get enough plus a warm day gives them a chance to get water. In a really cold climate they may not get the chance.