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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Atlanta, Georgia
    Posts
    5

    Default How long do I feed package bees?

    I installed a package about two weeks ago. However, I've actually only fed them twice because they were being robbed pretty badly. A local beekeeper told me that I may not want to feed them at all, which sounds good to me, but it contradicts everything I have read so far about feeding packages.

    Anyways, my bees seem to be doing fine now (they aren't being robbed anymore, at least), but I haven't actually opened the hive to verify this because my book says to wait 15 days. However, I'm just wondering if I should feed them another jar of sugar syrup, or just let them forage since our weather has been very good and the honeyflow is well under way.

    Also, as a side note, I installed my bees in a medium, and I'm also wondering if I should place another super on top when I go to check on the bees as the 15 day mark.

    Please help

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
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    2,232

    Default Re: How long do I feed package bees?

    Don't use a boardman (front) feeder if there are other hives in flying distance, it almost always sets off a robbing event.

    Put that empty medium on top of the inner cover, and put the feeder in there with the telescoping cover on top. Make sure no bees can get into the upper box except through the hole in the inner cover. You can tape some screen wire to the hole and put the jar directly on top, as this will prevent any outside bees getting into the hive and you don't have to open the hive proper to fill it.

    Unless you are in the middle of a big honey flow, I would feed until you have at least two mediums fully drawn and some syrup in capped cells. A partial protein patty won't hurt either -- the point it is to get the hive up and going strongly as soon as possible, as you are going to have a pollen or nectar dearth sooner or later, and you don't want to have them starve on you.

    If you are going the "natural" route, remember that upwards of 80% of swarms don't make it to fall, and the majority of those that do, don't overwinter in nature. This means, of course, that if you dump them in the box and walk away, there is a 90% or more chance there won't be any bees in there next spring! Care and feeding are required, just like livestock of any other kind and children....

    Peter

    You should check to make sure your queen has been released and get the cage out if you used one -- the bees will start making comb on the cage, and this will make a big mess inside the hive that you will have to fix later.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Poplar Bluff, Missouri, USA
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    2,256

    Default Re: How long do I feed package bees?

    fwiw, I feed my packages until they've drawn out all the comb and filled all the boxes I want them to winter in, or they stop taking the syrup, whichever comes first. As Peter mentioned, the odds are against them in nature. Your task is to increase the probability of their survival for the first year - you have to get them through the first winter. Everything else is secondary. Do not expect a honey crop this year, although you MIGHT get one, and if you do, that's a bonus. Just be sure to leave enough honey on them for winter and early next spring.

    Another thing to remember, even after making it successfully through winter, many of the hives that die, starve in late February or March.
    Regards,
    Steven
    "If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Westminster, SC, USA
    Posts
    36

    Default Re: How long do I feed package bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by psfred View Post
    Don't use a boardman (front) feeder if there are other hives in flying distance, it almost always sets off a robbing event.

    Put that empty medium on top of the inner cover, and put the feeder in there with the telescoping cover on top. Make sure no bees can get into the upper box except through the hole in the inner cover. You can tape some screen wire to the hole and put the jar directly on top, as this will prevent any outside bees getting into the hive and you don't have to open the hive proper to fill it.

    Unless you are in the middle of a big honey flow, I would feed until you have at least two mediums fully drawn and some syrup in capped cells. A partial protein patty won't hurt either -- the point it is to get the hive up and going strongly as soon as possible, as you are going to have a pollen or nectar dearth sooner or later, and you don't want to have them starve on you.

    Peter
    Can I make sure I understand this? The front feeder I have is a jar with tiny holes in the lid. It drips into a wooden holder when inverted. You are saying to take that jar and put it on a peice of screen, on the inner cover, over the hole, inside of a super and then put outer cover on top preventing any bees from going into the super where the feeder is right?

    Won't this drip constantly into the hive through the hole?

    I think I may be having a robbing problem even though both hives have a feeder. One is a new package I put in about a month ago and the other is a hive I bought complete last year. I noticed that the old hive is busy bringing in lots of pollen but the new hive, althoug very busy going in and out, and building comb, doesn't seem to be bringing in a lot of pollen. Maybe I just didn't see it cause I know they are storing pollen. Anyway, the new hive is not going through the syrup as fast as the old hive either so I'm concerned the new may be robbing the old. Feeding according to the above may solve my problem.

    Any thoughts?

    Lissa

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
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    2,232

    Default Re: How long do I feed package bees?

    The lid on the jar must seal tight enough that the syrup does not drip for more than a few seconds. The holes also need to be small enough to accomplish this. If you bought the feeder with the hive, it's probably OK, but check. Fill the jar, invert it, and wait. They usually drip for a bit, then stop, and if this is the case, you are fine. If it continues to drip, fix it.

    Putting the jar inside a box also prevents the air from heating up inside and burping syrup out so much.

    Bees don't always bring in pollen without brood to feed, but it's hard to say, sometimes they will stuff the hive with it when there is no brood, too.

    Check after a few days for queen release, and then a week later. If you wait 15 days to check for queen release, you will have a mess, and if she's not out, you risk having a very low population of bees left by the time the first round of brood emerges.

    Reduce the entrance down to a bee width or two on the new hive if you think you have robbing -- a new hive doesn't need a big entrance and they can defend a small one better. If you have bees fighting and stinging each other on the landing board, likely you have robbing. Also, if the bees land on the front if the hive several inches from the entrance and crawl down there may be robbing going on. Don't confuse that with bees crawling up the front of the hive to leave, typically during a heavy flow the bees land directly into the entrance and crawl up the hive to fly away -- too busy on the landing board to get airborne!

    Peter

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Westminster, SC, USA
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    36

    Default Re: How long do I feed package bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by psfred View Post
    The lid on the jar must seal tight enough that the syrup does not drip for more than a few seconds. The holes also need to be small enough to accomplish this. If you bought the feeder with the hive, it's probably OK, but check. Fill the jar, invert it, and wait. They usually drip for a bit, then stop, and if this is the case, you are fine. If it continues to drip, fix it.

    Putting the jar inside a box also prevents the air from heating up inside and burping syrup out so much.

    Bees don't always bring in pollen without brood to feed, but it's hard to say, sometimes they will stuff the hive with it when there is no brood, too.

    Check after a few days for queen release, and then a week later. If you wait 15 days to check for queen release, you will have a mess, and if she's not out, you risk having a very low population of bees left by the time the first round of brood emerges.

    Reduce the entrance down to a bee width or two on the new hive if you think you have robbing -- a new hive doesn't need a big entrance and they can defend a small one better. If you have bees fighting and stinging each other on the landing board, likely you have robbing. Also, if the bees land on the front if the hive several inches from the entrance and crawl down there may be robbing going on. Don't confuse that with bees crawling up the front of the hive to leave, typically during a heavy flow the bees land directly into the entrance and crawl up the hive to fly away -- too busy on the landing board to get airborne!

    Peter
    Thanks, both feeders were bought from a bee supply store, so I think they are ok then. The queen was released after about 4 days and a week or so later I started seeing brood. They are building comb like crazy, although I made a few mistakes and had to correct destroying some comb in the process, they are very busy and have been collecting nectar and filling comb and I saw some cells with pollen.

    I haven't seen what you describe as robbing and haven't seen any bees fighting. Maybe I am ok, but I think I like your idea of feeding them top side inside a super as you describe. Thanks for answering my questions. Maybe I am just a little too worried as I am still learning and want to do the right things for my bees.

    Lissa

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Poplar Bluff, Missouri, USA
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    2,256

    Default Re: How long do I feed package bees?

    fromabove, I would encourage you to check your hive weekly, especially is a flow is going on. Bees can fill a super in one week. You want to stay ahead of them with space for them to grow and store honey, in order to get a harvest, and to alleviate swarming. In addition, you want them to get built up into their overwintering configuation as soon as possible. Means more honey to you, and survival to them.

    It's been almost 30 days since your initial posting, how is it going?
    Regards,
    Steven
    "If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow

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