Bees won't seem to take syrup
I installed my package on March 29th and since then the bees really haven't been drinking the syrup. I'm using a hive top feeder from Mann Lake. All that's ever in there is mold and dead bees. I am trying to stop the mold but it just seems to be comming back. At this point is this something I should be worried about, other than this they seem to be doing great.
There are probably lots of opinions on this subject, but several things work to reduce mold growth.
Higher osmotic pressure makes it harder for the mold to grow - so 2:1 grows less mold than 1:1. I can only imagine that 15% moisture content (like many honeys) would do the trick even better.
Pasteurize the syrup to kill mold in the syrup.
Sterilize the feeder with 5% bleach and rinse.
And here is the controversy - add bleach to the syrup at about 1 cup per 50 gallons (adjust to whatever scale you need). I know some will disagree, but it works really well. Besides, why do bees seem to prefer bleachy pool water? I read about this in one of the bee journals a few months ago and am now giving it a try. So far I have no mold in 25 X 2-gallon buckets (several weeks outside and some more several weeks indoors), and the bees seem to be expanding rapidly. Now if I could only prevent 2 gallon feeder buckets from leaking.
Also, you can add a few drops of peppermint extract to give it a flavor. Heard someone say they would drop a flavored lifesaver (candy) into the SS. Here in the Stateline area of Southern Wisconsin the bees are bringing in plenty of pollen but still taking SS. Temps in the 70's now and trees are greening up fast. Good luck!
I have had bees stop taking it and found it to be a little sour. If it sits in the feeder too long it begins to ferment or sour. This is more a problem at higher temps or when you refill before the old is cleaned out.
I put packages in about 10 days ago. I found all 4 packages took down the 1st gallon of syrup using an upside down (new) paint can really quick....like 3 or 4 days. So, I refilled, put on top, and check 3 or 4 days later and they hadn't taken much more at all. They have some honey in the hives, and are bringing in pollen. I found larvae in the 2 hives i peaked in real quick. If they don't want any more syrup, so be it. I'm going to leave them alone for a week then check to see if i need a second medium or deep.
so far so good. weather has been fantastic in maine since i got them. a complete CONTRAST to last year
I find that in the spring the top feeders aren't as popular with the bees. In the fall they will suck down gallons really quick like, but in the spring they aren't so enthusiastic.
Also, in the spring, if there is naturally available nectar, they will tend to ignore artificial sources. I left a hive body/frames sitting out with a bunch of honey in it, and the bees ignored it, whereas in the the fall they would have been killing eachother trying to get all the honey out.
So they are probably getting plenty of nectar, which is why they are doing fine.