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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Starkville,Ms,USA
    Posts
    516

    Default Should I be feeding my hives right now?

    I have two small hives which have built up pretty slowly. Both had to draw new comb on foundation and one was a captured swarm which lost its queen early on becoming a laying worker hive which I have just requeened.

    In the last couple of weeks after reading some articles by George Imirie I finally really GOT how important drawn comb is and how important it is to feed a new colony to stimulate their drawing comb. So the last week I have started doing that and they are guzzling it down. I know I should have been doing that all along for these new hives but live and learn. It also looks like the nectar flow is tapering off in this area.

    But my question is can this be a bad thing if they fill up the brood nest with syrup and leave nowhere for the queen to lay? I examined one hive today and it was loaded with nectar in the newly drawn comb. It is noticeably heavier.

    I do have a couple of undrawn frames on each side of the brood nest so I don't think they would swarm from lack of space but I worry that they are packing so much syrup away that it will hurt their ability to increase their numbers.

    Should I be concerned? I mean I know they need the stimulus to draw comb for brood but if they fill every available cell with artificial nectar what has been gained?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    College Station, Texas
    Posts
    6,985

    Default

    dr wax ask:
    Should I be concerned? I mean I know they need the stimulus to draw comb for brood but if they fill every available cell with artificial nectar what has been gained?

    tecumeh replies: if you were an economist I would simply say you concerns are well founded and the law of fixed proportions (marginality) would suggest that anything only add a marginal bit of benefit and when heeped on in great quantities always leads to decline (downside of the production curve).

    you are likely correct that you should have been feeding all along... although most of the time I encourge folks to think dribble and not pour (obviously when a hive is near starvation you better think pour).

    the real optimal path is to give them enough syrup to keep them growing (slowly vs a roller coaster ride) and pulling foundation. when the first box gets adequately pulled and filled, then add the next box. unless you severely confine the hives space and keep pouring on the syrup your stated concerns (risk) is small relative to getting these units up to some number and weight to make the winter.

    and good luck to ya'....

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Oxford, Kansas
    Posts
    1,988

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr.Wax View Post

    But my question is can this be a bad thing if they fill up the brood nest with syrup and leave nowhere for the queen to lay?
    Should I be concerned?

    Should you be concerned absolutely. Nothing worse than a beekeep watching a swarm leave the hive only to land somewhere he is unable to retreive them

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Starkville,Ms,USA
    Posts
    516

    Default

    Ok thanks. I guess what I'm getting from the answers is that I should be feeding a moderate amount to this hive to encourage it to draw comb without crowding.

    This is a small one and they have only drawn out about four frames so far.

    I have been feeding them as much as they will take for about a week. This comes to about three pints a day. I think I will cut them back to two pints a day and see how they do with that. I just don't want to feed them faster than they can put it away.

    I haven't been impressed with the comb they have drawn so far since feeding but maybe they haven't had enough time.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Cloud County, Kansas, USA
    Posts
    204

    Angry

    I've got kind of the same problem. Hived a package about 4 weeks ago and they won't draw out the foundation. I've given them brood from another hive and feeding. They are taking the feed at about a quart a week and there is a lot of clover and vetch blooming now. Next time I open the hive, I'm going to try alternating drawn with undrawn to see if that will get them going. I don't want my other hive to dwindle from robbing their brood. Don't know if that will work, but I'm out of other ideas.

    BB

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Helmetta, New Jersey, USA
    Posts
    99

    Default

    Undrawn foundation doesn't count as space to the bees, since they can't do anything with it. You need to find a balance between storage and brood. If they have a lot stored, let them use some of it before feeding more, to give space to the queen. She really needs to be laying prolifically now to begin building up for winter. A broodnest full of nectar or syrup isn't helping the hive, it's hurting.

    Keep a close eye, and feed them when they need stimulation or food, but don't let them overdo the stores. it would really stink to have 90# of food in the hive in the spring, but no bees left to use it.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    College Station, Texas
    Posts
    6,985

    Default

    buzzybee writes:
    They are taking the feed at about a quart a week and there is a lot of clover and vetch blooming now. Next time I open the hive, I'm going to try alternating drawn with undrawn to see if that will get them going.

    tecumseh suggest: the quantity you suggest for the size hive stated seems about right to me. the idea is to 'stimulate' this new hive to draw comb and continue to raise brood. once you have ample bee and store in the box ('A good box of bees') this subsidy can be terminated. with a goodly number of field force bees, a good flow (vetch and clover definitely qualifies) this subsidy should also be reduced or terminated.

    I would not 'alternate' comb if all you had was foundation. this is 'almost' a sure fire way to fool those bees in the box into producing unwanted and unnecessary queen cells (via isolation from the rest of the brood nest). in addition if the hive's population is small in number this can encourage robbing.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,402

    Default

    >But my question is can this be a bad thing if they fill up the brood nest with syrup and leave nowhere for the queen to lay?

    Yes.
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfeeding.htm#when
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesswarmcontrol.htm#causes
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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