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  1. #1

    Post

    My bees are being difficult about syrup...for the first several days after I installed them they wouldn't touch either the stuff that came in their packages or the medicated stuff I thoughtfully provided. At long last they started feeding much to my relief. Now I'm wondering when they'll stop.
    We've been through the willow pollen season and we're partway into dandelions. Highbush cranberries, bluebells, starflowers, buttercups,lupin, and poppies are also blooming. Day temps are 49-80 degrees F and night temps 29-40. The bees are bringing in all sorts of pollen pretty steadily but they're also ravenously feeding on syrup, so much so I've been afraid to stop feeding it in case there isn't any other nectar source. Also they have raised and are raising a lot of brood and I don't want to thwart that by depriving them of necessary food...if it is actually necessary. The books say to feed in spring "until the bees stop taking syrup." Does this mean they will truly stop taking it at some point or will they always take it if it's available? Does having it available make them less inclined to forage? Should I weaken it progressively and taper off, keep feeding till they stop eating, or just make them go cold turkey?
    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Devils Lake, North Dakota
    Posts
    9,123

    Post

    The books are right.......... The bees will let you know. They prefer nectar to sugar syrup. Feed on......

    Add your location to your profile so we can get a handle on where you are. This helps others as many issues are related to your location/weather.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    North Georgia mountains
    Posts
    923

    Post

    Feed, feed, feed...

    BubbaBob

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Hotlanta, GA
    Posts
    475

    Post

    I agree with the other two, you can't really feed *too* much, unless they begin to get honey bound.

    Please add your location, it really helps the locals on the board give you help to your specific region.
    Ask two beekeepers, get three answers

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Conway, AR
    Posts
    439

    Post

    The method of feeding will make your job easier, too. The best method is the hive top feeder. The next best is the division board feeder.
    Boardman style feeders don't hold enough syrup among other problems they have.
    Jon, N6VC/5

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,213

    Post

    I would stop when the main flow hits or you'll have syrup in your honey. That would be now, here where I live.

    I wouldn't eat it either if you put medication in MY syrup.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Parkton, North Carolina
    Posts
    253

    Post

    I'm having this same issue and am afraid that they will be in world of hurt if they don't have anything to eat. Mine have taken two gallons per hive in one week. Why would they do that if they can find nectar in the wild? Theresa.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Danbury,Ct. USA
    Posts
    1,966

    Post

    I fed my first (8) hives until they had enough for the winter. That was 2 supers. They all died. I still have a little of that sugar honey left, 3 yrs later. Got a lot of drawn comb
    though!


    Dickm

  9. #9

    Post

    I would stop feeding after 2 gallons in one hive.
    There is not going to be much room for your brood. I fed to much and the hive was almost honey bound.(syrup)They made 7 swarm cells and half the hive took off. Bees should have some honey and not just sugar water to survive the winter. Feed again in the early fall, IF needed.
    "To bee or not to bee"

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Erin, NY /Florence SC
    Posts
    3,361

    Post

    Either White refined sugar (syrup) or HFCS is inferior food to nectar, encourages robbing behavior and pollutes your honey harvest. It should only be used for suplementing winter stores, prevention of starvation in the spring and to medicate. It also stimulates brood rearing during dearth periods which breaks the normal cycle of brood rearing and places stress on the hive and the queen.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    1,525

    Post

    Joel for President!!!

    Thank you. Thank you. Well said.

    Feeding can and does harm our hives.

    Hawk
    KC0YXI

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    North Georgia mountains
    Posts
    923

    Post

    Science says otherwise.

    BubbaBob

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    New York City
    Posts
    3,401

    Post

    > Either White refined sugar (syrup) or HFCS is
    > inferior food to nectar

    This amusing claim seems to transcend the merely
    practical and tangible, and soar to the metaphysical.
    While there may be some emotional reason for the
    statement, I assure you that the bees don't really
    care how they get their glucose, fructose, and
    sucrose. They know that there is no difference.

    > encourages robbing behavior

    Well, if the method of feeding is incompetent,
    it is true that feeding can present such problems.
    Not to worry, there are lots of folks who can
    explain how to feed without setting off robbing.

    > and pollutes your honey harvest

    Again, this is more a function of an incompetent
    approach than an inherent problem with the
    choice of feed. Face it - some splits and many
    packages will need to be fed well into the nectar
    flows (moreso, given the many late deliveries of
    packages this year). The beekeeper is expected
    to realize that the colonies needing such help
    are not in a position to provide a harvest this
    year, a point that should be blindingly obvious
    to even the casual observer.

    > It also stimulates brood rearing during dearth
    > periods

    OK, so how do you reconcile the line above with
    the prior line quoted? If you have a dearth
    and feed, what do you do about any subsequent
    harvest?

    > and places stress on the hive and the queen.

    Feeding creates STRESS??? Feeding is a way to
    eliminate stress in my book. While it certainly
    is true that a queen in a colony that is fed early
    in the spring does more laying, and the colony
    works harder raising the resulting brood, this
    is the sort of "stress" that bees seem to enjoy.
    Regardless of what you call it, the result is
    a more powerful colony, one that shakes off or
    laughs at events that would "stress" a weaker
    colony, left to build up as best it can on the
    very nectar flow that could be used to create
    a harvestable crop.

    > Feeding can and does harm our hives.

    Only if done wrong.

    > Science says otherwise.

    BubbaBob for Galactic Council!!!
    Thank you. Thank you. Well said.
    Feeding cannot and does not harm our hives.

    Well, not if the beekeeper is at least as smart
    as the bees, anyway. [img]smile.gif[/img]

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    1,525

    Post

    Okay, I'll try it. Science doesn't count the number of times you spill a quart of sugar water on the brood nest, or the number of robbing incidences that don't get reported, or the number of spiders and cockroaches that are right now living off your sugarwater.

    It's a lot more than making sure the bees don't starve. If that were all I'd agree with you. I say feed to prevent starvation, stimulate brood laying, comb building, fall buildup. Yes. When else?

    Hawk
    KC0YXI

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    North Georgia mountains
    Posts
    923

    Post

    <<Science doesn't count the number of times you spill a quart of sugar water on the brood nest, or the number of robbing incidences that don't get reported...>>

    Feeding has nothing to do with either...careless beekeeping does.

    If you have a drowned hive due to the top being off for hours in a storm, do you blame the weather, or the beek that was careless about hive setup?

    Spilled feed isn't about whether feeding is good...it's about whether you pay attention when feeding.

    When do I feed? Overwinter, spring before wildflower flow, between wildflower and sourwood (except now...they are overlapping this year) and after sourwood.

    I leave NO honey on the hive. Honey is $4.00/lb and up. $140.00/super minimum. It costs $15.00 to feed a hive on an annual basis.

    Slam dunk.

    BubbaBob

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    1,525

    Post

    Fifteen bucks a year on sugar water is entirely reasonable. But with experts like yourself telling newbees that feeding can't hurt we've got guys feeding three gallons a week. And leaving it on all the time.

    <I leave NO honey on the hive.>

    That's an expert level management decision that's gonna get the newbees to killing their hives. You can tell em this but then tell them what thinking gets you to this point. I leave them everything they collect after extraction day in Sept.

    And where I live that's enough for them to build up enough honey to live through the winter. If I have time on a warm winter day I'll check and see how much honey they have left. If they are starving, of course I'll feed them. Haven't needed to yet for that. Just feed in spring.

    I meant that expert remark. I respect you and your decisions. Just don't think most normal folks can get away with trying to imitate what you do. Give the thought behind it and let them learn.

    Hawk
    KC0YXI

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    North Georgia mountains
    Posts
    923

    Post

    First, I am HARDLY an expert ... but I do listen to, and pay attention to, the real experts. Drs. Jamie Ellis and Keith Delaplane at UGA for example.

    Second, if I treat my hives that way, and a total newbie treats his that way, why would it work for me and not him? It either works or it doesn't.

    BubbaBob

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Eden, NC
    Posts
    285

    Post

    There will always bee different management techniques that work for different beekeepers. Even the new beeks have to learn what is acceptable and works for them. Thankfully the bees forgive us all for our assumptions as to what they need.
    I agree with BubbaBob remove all honey and feed back HFCS for the fall. It only make monetary sense. However, it is not what I would do if I had less hives and approached beekeeping from a hobbist view. There is a mixture of commercial, sideliners, hobbist, and new beekeepers that read this list and each view is valid from the side of the fence that you are standing. It is great to hear all the different techniques, but it does not mean I am going to run out and try each one.
    Knowledge is power. The more infomation that you can gather on every aspect of beekeeping allows you the opportunity to decide what is acceptable in your circumstances.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Brown County, IN
    Posts
    2,027

    Post

    Dr. Jamie Ellis was our guest speaker this past Saturday at the Indiana State Beekeepers summer meeting. What a great guy! Down to earth, knows his stuff, excellent speaker. He talked in the morning on SHB, and in the afternoon on IPM. I mentioned to him that he came highly recommended by BubbaBob and he laughed but made no comment other than he knew you.

    As for the feeding issue, as a newbee I was told to "Feed! Feed! Feed!" in order to get them to draw out comb. I wasn't experienced enough to recognize that while they were drawing comb, they were filling it with so much syrup there wasn't much brood space. I was able to recognize swarm cells, so I split the hive for a week, and seem to have disrupted them enough to get them out of swarm mode. So my conclusion as a beginner is that the feeding isn't a hard and fast rule. The bees may not stop taking syrup on their own, and feeding needs to be accompanied by a watchful eye on what's going on inside the hive. I also realize the rules may be different depending on the number of hives being managed, i.e., a hobbyist can spend considerably more time per hive than a sideliner or full-timer.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Lincolnton, NC, USA
    Posts
    71

    Post

    I really enjoy topics like this that get a good healthy debate going. I learn much more as it helps me look at both sides, hear the arguments, then use my own experience to give more or less weight to each point.

    It's only my 3rd year with the bees and I have been "fiddling" with the feeding issue the entire time. Right now, I am to the point that I have no hard and fast rule. I feed if they are drawing comb and there are no supers on. I'll feed 2:1 if Oct. arrives and I am worried about their stores, I'll check the hives on a nice sunny day during Dec/Jan period and feed if needed. In early Feb. I'll feed with 1:1 a couple of times to fire up the egg laying. That's about it.

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