Will bees draw foundation if they have plenty of stores in the have in late winter(mid March)? Or will I still have to feed them syrup? They still have 4 full frames of honey and honey and pollen around the brood nest as of March 8th.
Not knowing the climate where you live, I can only generalize about this. Bees will not draw foundation properly, regardless of how much stored honey is in the hive, unless the right conditions are in place (brood being raised, nectar flowing or syrup being feed, etc.).
Only four full frames of honey in a hive that probably has 20 frames is not much. That can disappear pretty quick when the queen is laying and brood is expanding. Giving them syrup will not hurt. If it's needed, they will take it, if not, it will remain.
My suggestion is to not put foundation in a hive unless the conditions are prime. You risk having it pulled out irregular at best or chewed on. When the bees are working a nectar flow and the hive is strong, that's the best time.
Friday 11 March 2000 11:49pm EST
Barry is correct about getting best results, less corrective action needed via waiting to put in foundation until conditions are prime. When you pull out brood frames and end up with nectar on your boots as you tip them to look at them that is the time to have them draw foundation. That means nectar is coming in pretty well to real real well.
IF the colony wintered as a single deep and still has four frames of stores and has contact with stores that ain't bad. Of course if it wintered as a four frame nuc it started out with something under four frames of stores (but not much under) and it surely doesn't have that much left. IF it was wintered in Double Deeps, Triple Deeps, Triple Mediums, Quadruple Mediums and they have just four frames of stores left - well that ain't good and like Barry indicated they can walk through that much in a half a heartbeat when they are rearing brood in earnest which unless you live considerably further North than I - they should be doing NOW.
Honeybee Improvement Program: Breeding Coordinator
Country Jack's Honeybee Farm
Onsted, MI 49265 USA