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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Posts
    47

    Default Feb. 5 Hive visit: Advice Needed (feeding)

    I visited my two hives today – last season was my first, and both hives were nucs installed in very late May – was hard for them to build reserves. I use all mediums – and each hive had three going into winter. Would have liked to have 4, but this is all they could muster. I’ve been told that three mediums can be enough in S.W. Pennsylvania, and they did have some weight to the second and third boxes.

    To today’s visit – I’d planned on doing a dry sugar feed (AKA Mountain Camp) for each – regardless of what I found. Here’s what I found:

    Hive 1: Was always a little weaker/smaller. I knocked a little on the side and didn’t hear anything. Took off the cover and looked through the hole in the inner cover – saw capped stores but no bees - thought for the worst, but then blew down through the frames and heard a buzzing. I didn’t want to try and investigate further – it was just above 40, so I figured: Stores available, a good buzzing sound when I blew down into them – though I didn’t see a bee, I put some dry sugar on top of the bars, and closed them up. Only question: Can I assume all is well with this hive? Was I correct in not lifting off the top box to see the quality of the cluster?

    Hive 2: I knocked and heard a response immediately. Lifted the cover off and saw bees up and through the hole in the middle of the inner cover. Took the inner cover off and the cluster was clearly in the top (3rd) box. Again, it was cold – and I didn’t think it would be right to try and figure out how much honey was in that top box (which would have required that I take a frame out – maybe killing the bees) – so I placed the paper, dry sugar, shallow super and inner cover on and buttoned them up. I did a “heft” test of sorts – lifting this hive from the bottom – didn’t feel very heavy – felt light. I obviously don’t feel good about this given we’re 2 months from any meaningful nectar flow. My question is – can I feed these bees to keep them from starving before the end of March? Can dry sugar feeding – which I understand is great/simple emergency feeding – be used for 2 months – or should I do something else? I’m willing to do anything necessary – I just don’t’ know if it’s possible.

    Next season, I leave 4 boxes! But for now, I’m just wondering what my best options are to feed this hive. I thought about taking a couple frames from the one hive, but thought that would also be bad because (1) that hive may need those stores; and (2) I’d have to pull frames – even an empty or two – which may kill bees clustered on them.

    Any advice appreciated. Thank you –

    Jim

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Posts
    151

    Default Re: Feb. 5 Hive visit: Advice Needed (feeding)

    Youve done everything right. Leave Hive #1 alone - its most likely good on stores. Hive #2 needs to be fed with 6 weeks of winter remaining before pollen and soon thereafter dandelion nectar start flowing. Using the mountain camp method will hold them through the rest of the winter providing they have a large enough cluster. its not warm enough to be breaking about boxes to look at cluster size and honey stores. If they are at the top, then they need fed. Dont pull frames of honey from the other hive because as you mentioned they might need them plus you would disturb the cluster. Youre thinking along the correct lines... good luck!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,402

    Default Re: Feb. 5 Hive visit: Advice Needed (feeding)

    good job james!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    3,876

    Default Re: Feb. 5 Hive visit: Advice Needed (feeding)

    Three boxes should be enough in your country. I would put the mc sugar on both and quit worrying, nothing else you can do til it is time to put on a pollen sub patty in March. If they don't use the sugar, the moisture from their metabolizing their honey will turn the sugar into agiant lump which you just melt down to make syrup after it gets warm. They will do fine on the dry sugar. Depending on how much you put on, don't let them run out. They could use ten pounds a month when brooding up. But they probably won't.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Grand Blanc, MI
    Posts
    169

    Default Re: Feb. 5 Hive visit: Advice Needed (feeding)

    I'm sure with the "warm" winter we've been having the bees are going to be using up their stores faster than in a normal winter.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Marysville, WA
    Posts
    476

    Default Re: Feb. 5 Hive visit: Advice Needed (feeding)

    Quote Originally Posted by spencer View Post
    I'm sure with the "warm" winter we've been having the bees are going to be using up their stores faster than in a normal winter.
    Thats been my experiance this year.
    Beekeeper? Shoot, my bees keep me!
    100 hives in Western Wa State

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