I have heard alot about winter kill, whether by mites, cold, or other. One problem or cause is what I have concluded killed some of my hives.
In central PA, a drought followed by almost no fall honey due to an early frost, caused the queens to shut down for an extended period of time. I did not fall feed my hives to stimulate brood production which was very critical to ensure YOUNG bees headed into to this very long cold winter.
Hives were packed full of honey, no desease or major mites present, but alot of hives dead. This scenerio sounds alot like what I'm hearing from others.
I overlooked the importance of fall brood, stimulated by a late flow, (which occurred naturally in the past several years) and paid the price. Old bees going into a long cold winter kills. Anyone else?
Sometimes timing is everything. If they raise too much brood in the fall, they use up their stores of pollen and then they overwinter with more bees and use up more stores of honey and maybe they starve by spring, or maybe they are late raising brood in the spring because they have no pollen stores. It's hard to say what the right thing is to do sometimes.
Even if you feed honey or syrup and pollen in the fall, it sometimes won't stimulate them to raise brood unless it's warm enough and there is a natural flow. I tried to extend brood rearing as long as I could this fall because I was regressing and they still stopped rearing brood as soon as it got cool.
Feeding a heavey surip in the fall does not stimulate brood rearing, but only bulks hives in stores. Feeding a thin surip can stimulate brood rearing if an abundance of pollen/protien is availiable. But even then the bees tend not to touch their main pollen supply until spring.
Sorry to hear about your unfortunate losses.
So nobody is confused, especially new keepers, to stimulate a late/fall flow, external feeding is a must.
As Ian mentioned, a thick syrup is not SIMULATING a late flow. It must be thin (as fed in spring), and must by fed away from the hives. I will probably do this in Aug/Sept this year prior to cold.
I understand M Bush's comment about to big of a cluster. I would rather emergency feed in late winter/early spring and have live bees compared to old dead bees.
I still think that this was potentially a bigger problem than some think. I have heard alot of "My hives were strong and full of honey" "dead bees scattered and not clustered" "I did not FGMO treat for two months and my hives died" "The last I looked in fall, there was plenty of bees".
I only ask, What was the period between when you last noticed brood, and when you noticed your hive as dead? This also leads to whether the winter was to long with no fall brood, and did you replace your queen in the last year or two? I'm asking this question since I believe hives are not killed in several months from mites, IF your doing your job correctly as a beekeeper. And it seems like alot of people blame the mites. This is just one other angle for others to look at.
>must by fed away from the hives
Maybe this helps. I have not tried it in many years. The only time I tried any open feeding it set off a frenzy of robbing.
I tried to extend brood rearing this last fall because of small colonies of bees being regressed and I was willing to feed them as much as necessary, but they still shut down brood rearing in spite of me feeding pollen and syrup and honey.
I'm not sure I want to risk the robbing, but I would like to know if I can extend brood rearing more into the fall.
I do agree having young bees going into winter is a good thing, even if having too many bees is a bad thing. But maybe if you have more young bees left in the spring the hive will come back faster, even if they eat more for the winter.
I will have to try some experiments in this regard.
When I have fed in the past, the table I set feeders on was at least 300 feet from the apiary. It did cause a tremendous frenzy at the feeders but I had little problems with the hives.
I don't think extending brood rearing into the fall is such a good idea. By doing so, you place more stress on the bees by having to maintain cluster heat during cool/cold weather, and the bees already going into winter will age alot sooner. I don't think the hive will be further ahead in the long run. Any bee that emerges after August 1, is said will overwinter into April. Place more stress making sure your hives are rearing brood August 1 and on. Just to give you my beekeeping time perspective, I split end of April, super my hives end of June, and start fall feeding beginning of September.
The more accepted practice is to combine smaller colonies to make a moderate sized hive, greatly increasing the chances of winter survival. But this has to be done soon after last honey pull, to allow the bees to reorginize themselves.
Greetings . . .
"Survival of overwintered colonies is closely correlated w/ amount of reserve POLLEN available in the fall. Need 500 to 600 sq in or 4 to 5 well-filled combs (faces) of pollen in fall."
____ABC and XYZ of BEE CULTURE
____A. I. Root, 1974, p515
"Inspect in fall for minimum of 3 or 4 frames of POLLEN, if less is found, prepare to feed pollen or substitute in early spring."
____BEEKEEPING: A PRACTICAL GUIDE
____Richard E. Bonney, 1993, p111
Suppliers' catalogs say to "feed pollen substitute in fall".
Here is an interesting thought:
"When storing pollen, particularly toward the end of the season, bees seldom fill the cells more than 2/3 to 3/4 full. They often finish filling these cells w/ honey and seal w/ wax cappings, the comb appears to be full of honey."
____THE HIVE and THE HONEY BEE
____Roy A. Grout, 1963, p302
Is FALL FEEDING only about syrup?
If pollen substitute is fed in the fall, will it act to stimulate brood rearing (like syrup) or is it a nutritional requirment needed during winter and very early spring?
[This message has been edited by Dave W (edited March 31, 2003).]
"must be fed away from the hive"?
Here in MN, U of M recommends feeding from the top of the hive. Even thin syrup in spring. That helps make up for unpredictable weather.I have done this for 2-3 years now, and it works for me.
He is refering to trying to stiumlate brood rearing in the fall. I have not had good luck with open feeding. It sets off robbing and you end up feeding a lot of bees that are not yours.
A couple of follow-up comments.
Hive top feeding is my recommended way of feeding normally. But not in trying to stimulate brood rearing. You must tailor certain ways as needed to achieved desired results.
The path that I spoke of had to do with the drought conditions of summer then followed by an early frost. Causing older bees going into winter. This winter in Pa has been 40% colder than in recent years. There are pro/con issues with different beekeeping methods and I'm mentioning that perhaps under the conditions I had, extended fall brood rearing may of helped. Compared to the dead hives, I'll try emergency or early spring feeding next time if the larger cluster dictates.
I would question as to whether bees from Aug 1st would actually make it into Apr. Your talking about an 8 month span. I will go back to the books for that. Even if they did maybe your cutting the edge a little close.
Pa chief inspector Jim Steinhauer noted that in western Pa, they are predicting a 60-80% loss of all colonies. The mites are always an issue but the year was one to remember for cold, and following a drought situation, and early frost.
It is interesting to hear all the different comments on a question based on basic beekeeping practice. Make you wonder how many of us make mistakes without even realizing it.
>>I would question as to whether bees from Aug 1st would actually make it into Apr. Your talking about an 8 month span. I will go back to the books for that. Even if they did maybe your cutting the edge a little close.
Your right, that does sound a bit long. A wise old experienced once told me, "his beekeeping year started Aug 1, and thats because its the bees after Aug 1 that winter and make up the spring colony". Perhaps I took him out of context. I never really thought about it,
I'm now doubting the Aug 1 bees make it to April, but they probably play an important role in wintering the hive. They would contribute by aiding in the bees retain and generate heat in the winter cluster throught the cold months to get the younger bees into the spring brood rearing season.
Well,..? What do you think?
The past several years have been so mild the bees did fine. In the the fall of 2001 the bees were collecting into Nov. and I lost a total of one hive. Last year brood stopped early, and no fall honey for the most part, and 30% kill. Many had higher than that. My started hives last year were 90% kill. I thought the conditions the previous year would of been sufficient.
I looked into the hives in Sep/Oct and saw alot of bees and probably did not check for brood. Big mistake.