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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Exeter, RI
    Posts
    12

    Question

    Hi everyone. Even though I don't post (dont' feel that I have enough experience yet), I visit often and have learned a lot!

    I started last spring with pacages and started 2 hives. As of yesterday, (It was warm (48) and I was able to take a peek inside) both have between 5 and 6 full frames of bees. I'm sure there were more, but didn't want to pull frames to get a better look. They also still have stores. I'm taking this as a good sign. My question is that in my area, when do you think I should start feeding? I have read about the time needed to build up foraging bees in time for the main flow and understand this, but since this will be my first spring with the bees, I don't know when it is. I was hoping there are people from CT or MA that might be able to help me.

    I just recently joined our local club and haven't received any information from them yet. I know they will be my best source of local information.

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,742

    Post

    Some of this depends on when the flow is and what you're plans are for the bees for the coming year. If you want to make increase (new hives) or you just want a good honey crop. If you want to make increase, I'd put feed out now and they'll take it when they want it. If you want honey, I'd try to get a better idea of when the flow is from someone local. Start feeding 45 to 60 days before that and you'll get a nice population of bees for the harvest. Building up too soon is nice for splits, but if there is no flow they are just eating stores.

    All in all, if you don't feed at all, the bees probably know what they are doing as long as you don't let them starve, they will probably build up when they sense it's the right time.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    New York City
    Posts
    3,401

    Post

    > All in all, if you don't feed at all, the bees
    > probably know what they are doing...

    Ah, but the bees' agenda is not at all the same
    as the beekeeper's agenda!

    The bees do NOT plan on having a serious chunk
    of their work "stolen" from them. (No matter
    how much I try, I cannot convince my bees that
    they should willingly pay the rent on the nice
    homes I provide...)

    The bees are perfectly happy to burn up the
    early spring flow on rearing brood, while the
    beekeeper wants to have a maximum field force
    available to harvest the early spring flow.

    If left alone, bee population tends to lag
    nectar flows, which is terrible for one's
    honey crop. Serious brood rearing does not
    begin until the bees have both fresh pollen
    and fresh nectar (or the equivalent of each,
    as provided by the crafty beekeeper).

    Weather.com says that high temps will be in
    the 40s every day after Feb 20th in Exter
    RI, so I'd slap pollen patties and feeders on
    every hive in sight as soon as the weather
    clears up.

    Sure, you gotta feed 'em, and the more brood
    they raise, the more feed they will consume,
    but nothing beats a colony that is bursting
    at the seams when the blooms appear, and
    it takes time for an egg to become a forager.

    So, work backwards from your nectar flow
    estimate date, and realize that the BEST
    you can expect from a queen when the weather
    is cold is a fraction of the usual 1000-1500
    eggs per day that would be laid during warm
    weather. I'm out there most years in a parka
    slapping feeders on hives. This year was
    easier - we got a warm spell to work in.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,742

    Post

    >If left alone, bee population tends to lag
    nectar flows, which is terrible for one's
    honey crop. Serious brood rearing does not
    begin until the bees have both fresh pollen
    and fresh nectar (or the equivalent of each,
    as provided by the crafty beekeeper).

    That seems to depend on the breed and the honey flow where you live. If I feed the Italians too soon I end up with too many too early. If I feed the Buckfasts they seem to end up just right. If I don't feed the Buckfasts they still do pretty well. I'm still expermimenting with the ferals. Some places the flow is quite early, some places quite late. Some places the flow is long and some places very short. I think it's best to find those things out and plan accordingly.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    2,774

    Post

    Jim Fischer,

    I’d sure like to hear your springtime kick-start strategy. Since we seem to be in the same state, I’d really like to benefit from your experience. Specifically, what dates do you usually start feeding your bees to get them in phase with the main springtime nectar flow? When did you start this year? It sounds like you feed sugar and pollen substitute, true? If so how much and for how long? Lastly, what are your average springtime honey yields?

    All pointers gratefully accepted.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    New York City
    Posts
    3,401

    Post

    > Specifically, what dates do you usually start
    > feeding your bees to get them in phase with
    > the main springtime nectar flow?

    Already did! [img]smile.gif[/img] Late Jan / early Feb is the goal,
    depending upon weather. But Suffolk is a LOT
    warmer than we are here in the Mountains, so you
    might want to consider Early Jan.

    > It sounds like you feed sugar and pollen
    > substitute, true?

    Nope, real pollen, no "hamburger helper".
    And HFCS rather than sugar.

    > how much and for how long?

    "How much" is a subjective thing. One does
    not want to simply give each hive 5 gallons
    in a hive-top feeder, as some hives won't use
    that much. Some hives are "light" and will
    need more than others. It ends up being
    anywhere between 2 gallons and 4 gallons,
    but then one must go back and check to make
    sure that consumption is in line with
    expectations. (Its a lot of walking around,
    but what else does a beekeeper have to do
    in winter?)

    > what are your average springtime honey yields

    Heck, that depends on the blooms. Some years,
    I can get Maple nectar if the weather cooperates.
    (Maple is really, really early - the holy grail
    of beekeeping.) Now that the 4-year drought is
    over in VA, all I can say is that any "averages"
    you have from recent years are way low.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    2,774

    Post

    Thanks much for the info. Early January? Wow, I guess I’ll be slightly out of phase with the flow. Looks like I better get busy this weekend!

    Really appreciate the tips.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Langley, B.C. Canada
    Posts
    413

    Post

    Secret TO Good Beekeeping
    -is to keep the hive almost to the point where the bees will start the pre-swarming activity(reduce foraging and start raising queen cells)
    -We call this state Condition Red
    -Condition Red, 7 frames of brood,9 frames of bees for 1 brood box
    -Condition Red, 10 frames of brood 18 frames of bees for 2 brood boxes.
    During early spring,prior to the dandelion honey flow,you should treat for all maladies,and keep feeding syrup and pollen patties untill your hive approaches Condition Red.Whith experience,you will be able to time your season correctly so you can Condition Red for the first time at the begining of the dandelion honey flow.If you arrive too soon , you will have a population explosion before the honey season.If you arrive too late ,you will miss the opportunity to harvest a large honey crop.


    Terry

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