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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Freedom, PA USA


    I was planning on leaving a deep brood and a medium brood and a medium of just honey for my bees for winter.....

    I was reading the other post about feeding and Hillside said

    "I should add that nectar often times also contains indigestable materials that can make it hard on the bees in the winter. That's why a lot of people prefer to winter their bees on sugar syrup; especially in the north where the bees may have to go months without a cleansing flight"

    Well, Pa weather is hard to predict, but I'm pretty sure it gets cold enough that the bees won't be able to fly for a few months.

    So, should I be harvesting the honey and feeding them sugar syrup?

    I wasn't planning on selling any honey this year, I was gonna feed it back to the bees in the spring, so I won't be at a loss if I leave it on, but if honey is bad for them in the winter, which I guess I don't understand, I'll take it out.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Ledyard, CT, USA


    Heyya Rooster,

    As long as you leave 100-120lbs of honey, or converted sugar syrup in your hives you will be fine. Dont get too worked up about Natural honey being bad for the bees (inedibles, undigestables, bee-heartburn bee acid-reflux, etc.) Bees have been living on their own honey (versus sugar syrup) for far longer than mankind has been "keeping" them and taking their honey. After the end of summer flow is over, just check your hive bodies and make sure you have roughly 60lbs or so of honey in each. If you are lacking the weight then feed 2:1 sugar syrup until you get enough honey in the bodies. (I generally do medicate them at the very end of summer with 2:1 syrup & fumigilan-B (follow the mixing direction included with the fumigilan)to help prevent Nosema, especially in the long winters here in Conntecicut where they sometimes cannot get out for cleansing flights for long periods.) Prepare them for winter with venting (if you desire), feltwrap (if you desire), make sure you get your entrance reducers in place, make sure the hive entrance is not facing stiff incoming winds, make sure the hives are secure from overturning, and make sure the covers are on secure and wont get blown off. Once you have done this. Let not your mind worry one bit that your bees are overwintering on real honey that they gathered from the local flora.

    -happy wintering

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Round Top, New York - Northern Catskill Mtns.


    #1) Even in PA you should see a day or two here and there over the winter where your bees will be able to taken a cleansing flight.

    #2) Does nectar sometimes have indigestible material in it – yes. Does sugar syrup sometimes also include indigestible material in it – yes.

    #3) The problem with indigestible materials and eating anything for that matter is that waste is generated. Waste generated has to be disposed of and hence the importance of cleansing flights.

    #4) The problem, in winter is usually more with honey that has crystallized and / or fermented. These can cause dysentery in the colony and added winter stress.

    #5) Whether or not you remove all of the honey and feed them syrup only for winter or not is up to you.
    I personally leave plenty of natural honey on the hives for winter and then I feed syrup on top of that. I want the hives to go into winter as heavy as possible with food and pollen.
    I also think that the issue of removing all or most of the natural honey is linked more to profit than anything else. Honey sells for significantly more money than it costs for replacement syrup.
    A 5# bag of granulated sugar will convert to approximately 6 1/4#'s of syrup honey.
    6#'s of honey is worth upwards of $18.00 retail / $10.00 bulk, while the 5# bag of sugar cost about $2.00
    A hive that struggles to keep feed and is on the verge of starvation during late winter and spring, will build-up slowly if at all.

    Bees have survived many years before being kept on natural honey and still do.

    As with many aspects of beekeeping you can ask 10 beekeepers and get 12 opinions

    [This message has been edited by MountainCamp (edited September 27, 2004).]

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA


    >So, should I be harvesting the honey and feeding them sugar syrup?

    Many people believe that honey is better winter feed than Sugar syrup. Many people believe that sugar syrup is better winter feed than honey. I think the people who believe the sugar syrup is better have picked the more convenient belief since honey is always worth more than sugar is.

    The fact is that bees were either created to live on honey (if you believe in the Creator) or they evolved to live on honey (if your creator is Evolution) and either way I don't see how you can improve on it.

    I've been wintering bees on mostly honey in a Northern climate for 30 years with very good luck. I always try to leave enough honey for them and I feed syrup or honey when the fall flow doesn't pan out like I think it should have.

    I've overwintered bees in Laramie WY on nothing but honey. If they can winter well on just honey in Laramie at 7,200 feet with months of -10 to -30 F weather, I think they'll do fine on just honey in Pennsylvania.


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