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Thread: top feeding

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Esperance, New York, USA
    Posts
    34

    Default top feeding

    So, I just starved two packages of bees to death with a baggie feeder behind a follower board with a gap AND a hole less than four inches away from the cluster in a horizontal/top bar style hive. I have one queen with a baseball sized cluster of bees surviving, which I'm attempting to save with an inverted feeder directly above the cluster and the bars gapped for access. I'm on the local beekeeping club swarm list, but assuming I do get a swarm I don't want to starve them too. My assigned bee mentor from the local club doesn't much approve of "alternate style hives" and mostly said I told you so. I don't think that the hundreds of people successfully keeping bees in "alternate stlye hives" can all be crazy, or want it to work so badly that they only report success, but what she said about the bees not leaving the cluster in temps under 45-50 does make some sense. Does anyone from a cold climate have advice? She (my bee mentor) says that the bees will starve if the feed is not directly above the cluster. Top feeders are a little hard with top bar hives, but if what she says is true, and bees won't even travel two inches in the cold to get food, and can starve to death overnight, feeding on the bottom isn't going to work at all.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Chickamauga, Walker County, Georgia
    Posts
    387

    Default Re: top feeding

    Quote Originally Posted by LadySteelsheen View Post
    So, I just starved two packages of bees to death with a baggie feeder behind a follower board with a gap AND a hole less than four inches away from the cluster in a horizontal/top bar style hive. I have one queen with a baseball sized cluster of bees surviving, which I'm attempting to save with an inverted feeder directly above the cluster and the bars gapped for access. I'm on the local beekeeping club swarm list, but assuming I do get a swarm I don't want to starve them too. My assigned bee mentor from the local club doesn't much approve of "alternate style hives" and mostly said I told you so. I don't think that the hundreds of people successfully keeping bees in "alternate stlye hives" can all be crazy, or want it to work so badly that they only report success, but what she said about the bees not leaving the cluster in temps under 45-50 does make some sense. Does anyone from a cold climate have advice? She (my bee mentor) says that the bees will starve if the feed is not directly above the cluster. Top feeders are a little hard with top bar hives, but if what she says is true, and bees won't even travel two inches in the cold to get food, and can starve to death overnight, feeding on the bottom isn't going to work at all.
    If you've got a baseball-sized cluster around a queen, the hive's not dead yet and very well might not die. What is your daytime high temperature now? I fed my bees dry sugar (white) on the bottom of the hive, very lightly dampened with a couple spritzes of water mist. (I have no open bottom. If you do, put it on newspaper.) Leave it closed. Close the gaps between bars; they let heat escape. If you use follower-boards, bring 'em close in to keep the space small. Ignore your mentor.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Esperance, New York, USA
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: top feeding

    Daytime highs have been variable between the mid forties and the low sixties, night time lows in the high thirties through the forties. It's supposed to be warming up throughout the week. are there even enough bees there to build comb and raise workers??

    bee mentor told me that the bees would be unable to get to feed on the floor during the night and starve to death before morning? I didn't realize that bees ate during the night? is this only something they do when they've just arrived in a package with no reserves??

    I don't want to try to fuss them again tonight, but in the morning after it's warmed up, I should empty all the dead bees out, put newspaper on the screen bottom with the white sugar feed, and bring in my follower board? I haven't wanted to remove the pile of bees on the floor, in hopes that some of them might be alive still and have a chance of recovery. I've read everything I could get my hands on to try and prepare myself for installing the package and taking care of the bees, but am now finding myself completely unprepared for the current situation, frustrated, and confused. (mentor's negativity is NOT helping.)

    Also should I release the queen while I'm mucking about with the follower and the feed? she was still in her cage at last look (I couldn't tell how much candy they had eaten out) it's been four days since install.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,810

    Default Re: top feeding

    >what she said about the bees not leaving the cluster in temps under 45-50 does make some sense.

    They not only won't leave the cluster but cannot eat the syrup unless the syrup is above 50 F. You would have to heat it at least once a day up to as hot as you can put your finger in without getting burned. Then they might be able to take it. Your problem is that no package will do well with those temperatures.

    >Does anyone from a cold climate have advice? She (my bee mentor) says that the bees will starve if the feed is not directly above the cluster.

    They will starve with it directly above the cluster if it's too cold to take it. But above the cluster at the marginal (around 50 F) temps might be able to take some.

    >Top feeders are a little hard with top bar hives, but if what she says is true, and bees won't even travel two inches in the cold to get food, and can starve to death overnight, feeding on the bottom isn't going to work at all.

    Neither will feeding on top. You simply can't feed bees when it's cold with anything that is wet and cold. Dry sugar or candy in contact with the cluster may work. A file folder filled with damp sugar and some slits in it up against the cluster will work. Crystallized honey in the folder will work even better. It needs to be basically dry and against the cluster to work when it's cold.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Esperance, New York, USA
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: top feeding

    Installed a top feeder yesterday, and prayed for the best, it's warmer today, and I'm resisting the temptation to open the hive and "see how they are" tomorrow is supposed to be 65, so I might chance opening the hive up then, and releasing the queen if she's still in the cage, it will have been not quite a week since my install. If they're still alive I think I'll try to supplement the top feeder with something else as well (thank you MB, I will attempt the file folder with the sugar. Don't have any crystalized honey on hand). Thank god it's not supposed to get below fifty for the rest of the week. I'm trying to prepare myself to check tomorrow and find a totally dead hive.

    I am just so discouraged right now. I have been so excited for months about the arrival of my bees. Everyone else has seemed to have such an easy time with their installed packages, two days later they had drawn comb, etc etc etc. Me? I read everything I can get my hands on, ask a whole lot of questions, do what seems to be recommended, and kill almost all of them within days. Hoping that I can get a swarm, and I don't kill that too.

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