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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Birmingham, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    101

    Embarrassed Nuc's taking LOTS of syrup. How much is too much and other questions about feeding?

    I installed my five frame nuc's into a deep brood box three weeks ago. After two weeks, they had drawn out all of the rite-cell foundation that I added, so I added a medium super. After the next week, I checked and they had drawn out about half of the foundation in the medium super, and frames that are drawn out are full of uncapped syrup/nectar. Between two hives, they have consumed sixty pounds of sugar in the past three weeks, and are now taking about a half gallon per hive per day of 5:3 syrup.

    I now wish I had, but I did not pull any frames from the brood box during this last inspection, as I had decided that I would only go in there every other inspection to minimize disturbance. I only peeked in to see that all the frames in the deep box were now covered in bees. On Sunday, I expect that I will need to add another medium super if they are building comb as fast as they have been doing.

    Considering that any available cell in the medium super that they are still drawing out is full of syrup as soon as the comb is drawn, I am concerned that they might also be storing the syrup in the brood box where the queen needs space to lay eggs. My goal this summer is to convert as much foundation into drawn comb as possible, so I know that is going to require a lot of feeding, but I don't want to go overboard if that is possible.

    My first question is this: If a new hive has new foundation available for drawing comb and has not completed the task of drawing comb in a new super, is it possible for them to become honey bound in the brood box even though there is foundation available for drawing new comb and storing syrup there?

    My second questions is: When it comes to feeding syrup, I've read anything from "Feed! Feed! Feed!" to "Feed until they stop taking it" to "I don't feed my bees any more than a thimble full of syrup in early spring", so I just don't know what is really appropriate for a nuc that doesn't have any drawn comb that it didn't make itself this year?

    My third question: If I feed them through the dearth of summer to get them to draw comb, I'm going to be left with frames of capped sugar syrup when the fall flow comes along. Although I don't expect much if any honey this year, I would like to give them a chance to fill a super or two of real honey this fall. My thought is to leave them with the summer sugar syrup for winter stores and rob the good stuff when it comes along. Would I end up just giving them a super of foundation when the flow comes along and have them waste good nectar building new comb in order to fill it with honey, or would I consider extracting some of the sugar syrup so they can have drawn comb to fill with honey?

    Last question: Both hives were given a half gallon of a new batch of syrup yesterday, but one of the hives has abruptly stopped taking it. The other one is still guzzling it down and will need more syrup tomorrow. Is this a case of "feed until they stop taking it? I'm thinking I should just monitor them and take away the syrup if they don't take it over the next few days?

    Clearly, I have read far too much over the past 6 months to the point where all my book learning on the subject far outweighs any actual first hand experience, and that causes me to second guess any solution I can come up with for my questions. . . .

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    San Diego, CA, USA
    Posts
    159

    Default Re: Nuc's taking LOTS of syrup. How much is too much and other questions about feedin

    I was told by Wildflower Meadows to feed year-round 1.5:1 syrup. I use a top-feeder that hold 3+ gallons. I'm guessing with our mild weather, it should work fine. Does someone know if I must remove it during frosts?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Brown County, IN
    Posts
    2,034

    Default Re: Nuc's taking LOTS of syrup. How much is too much and other questions about feedin

    For new colonies without foundation, I feed until they have drawn enough comb to overwinter on.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheRatLover
    I was told by Wildflower Meadows to feed year-round
    You can't harvest honey if you're feeding them sugar syrup. If I have honey supers on a colony, I don't feed. Period.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Fort Wayne, IN
    Posts
    975

    Default Re: Nuc's taking LOTS of syrup. How much is too much and other questions about feedin

    I feed until the brood boxes (whatever you have decided to dedicate to that is) are drawn and then stop unless there is a severe dearth going on.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Asheville, North Carolina, USA
    Posts
    552

    Default Re: Nuc's taking LOTS of syrup. How much is too much and other questions about feedin

    First question- yes they can become honey bound if they are storing syrup in the brood nest with foundation above. I have seen several posts concerning packages swarming because of over-feeding.

    Second-I agree with Indy and Hilreal

    Third-I would never take all their stores and leave them syrup. I feel that's not good beekeeping, but plenty of people do it. I think syrup isn't nearly as healthy as honey. It's up to you and your philosophy. You should never plan on getting honey from first year hives.

    Lastly-answered in my second response.

    Good luck!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,341

    Default Re: Nuc's taking LOTS of syrup. How much is too much and other questions about feedin

    >My first question is this: If a new hive has new foundation available for drawing comb and has not completed the task of drawing comb in a new super, is it possible for them to become honey bound in the brood box even though there is foundation available for drawing new comb and storing syrup there?

    Not only possible but likely if you feed incessently.
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfeeding.htm#when

    >My second questions is: When it comes to feeding syrup, I've read anything from "Feed! Feed! Feed!" to "Feed until they stop taking it" to "I don't feed my bees any more than a thimble full of syrup in early spring", so I just don't know what is really appropriate for a nuc that doesn't have any drawn comb that it didn't make itself this year?

    It doesn't matter how much comb they have or don't have. I only matters if there is a flow and if they have enough stores. Most people have kept bees for the last several thousand years for one reason, because the bees gather nectar and make honey. If you feed them incessantly they will not gather nectar and they will not make honey.

    >My third question: If I feed them through the dearth of summer to get them to draw comb, I'm going to be left with frames of capped sugar syrup when the fall flow comes along.

    Yes.

    > Although I don't expect much if any honey this year, I would like to give them a chance to fill a super or two of real honey this fall. My thought is to leave them with the summer sugar syrup for winter stores and rob the good stuff when it comes along. Would I end up just giving them a super of foundation when the flow comes along and have them waste good nectar building new comb in order to fill it with honey, or would I consider extracting some of the sugar syrup so they can have drawn comb to fill with honey?

    Why not just let them do what they do, which is gather nectar and they will build comb when they need it. Trying to make them build comb because you think they need it is a waste of effort and will usually backfire.

    >Last question: Both hives were given a half gallon of a new batch of syrup yesterday, but one of the hives has abruptly stopped taking it. The other one is still guzzling it down and will need more syrup tomorrow. Is this a case of "feed until they stop taking it? I'm thinking I should just monitor them and take away the syrup if they don't take it over the next few days?

    Sometimes they stop taking it and sometimes they never do, but there is certainly no point in feeding if they aren't taking it, and in my opinion, no point in feeding if there is nectar available for them to gather.

    "Q. When is the best time to feed the bees?

    "A. The best thing is never to feed them, but let them gather their own stores. But if the season is a failure, as it is some years in most places, then you must feed. The best time for that is just as soon as you know they will need feeding for winter; say in August or September. October does very well, however, and even if you haven't fed until December, better feed then than to let the bees starve."

    --C.C. Miller, A Thousand Answers to Beekeeping Questions, 1917
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Birmingham, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    101

    Default Re: Nuc's taking LOTS of syrup. How much is too much and other questions about feedin

    Thank you, Michael for your taking time to address my questions so thoroughly. I really appreciate it.

    I did go into the hives today and was pleased to find that my brood boxes had seven frames of brood in various stages and two frames of capped honey/syrup. The frames in the medium super above the brood box were about 60% drawn with comb, so everything looks good to me.

    For the hive that is not taking syrup, I'm going to just leave the top feeder on there for a few more days and then remove it. The other hive is going on a diet as I think it is time to let the bees be bees. I'll just monitor their progress over the summer and let their performance determine if there will be any honey for me or if they need to feeding supplements. Their needs come before my desire for honey, especially this first year, so now it will be up to the bees and the weather to decide what kind of year it is going to be.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    San Diego, CA, USA
    Posts
    159

    Default Re: Nuc's taking LOTS of syrup. How much is too much and other questions about feedin

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post


    Sometimes they stop taking it and sometimes they never do, but there is certainly no point in feeding if they aren't taking it, and in my opinion, no point in feeding if there is nectar available for them to gather.



    --C.C. Miller, A Thousand Answers to Beekeeping Questions, 1917
    Hi...

    I hear that there is a difference between nectar and pollen. How do I know when nectar is available?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Lake George, CT
    Posts
    21

    Default Re: Nuc's taking LOTS of syrup. How much is too much and other questions about feedin

    Remove all feeders , yes.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,341

    Default Re: Nuc's taking LOTS of syrup. How much is too much and other questions about feedin

    >I hear that there is a difference between nectar and pollen. How do I know when nectar is available?

    After a while you can tell by just how the bees are acting, but to get to that point you can look at how they are acting, make your guess and then look. That way you will learn what their actions mean. When you look inside you will see nectar in the cells as opposed to capped honey and when you shake it, the nectar falls out of the comb. You also see new white wax. As far as actions you'll see a lot of bees coming and going in an orderly fashion flying in the same direction from a given hive and not all of them are carrying pollen (although a lot may be).
    Last edited by Michael Bush; 05-19-2012 at 08:18 PM.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Lake George, CT
    Posts
    21

    Default Re: Nuc's taking LOTS of syrup. How much is too much and other questions about feedin

    In regards to honey flow, the most important thing to remember before even approaching a hive is; ask yourself, " What has the weather been doing? Research nectar if not fully understood.

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