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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Kern, California, USA
    Posts
    92

    Default To feed or not to feed

    I live near the Mojave Desert and the nectar flow was very early this year and now has dwindled. I just got three packages of bees last week. Would you feed and for how long? This season appears to be a dry one.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Arlee MT USA
    Posts
    548

    Default Re: To feed or not to feed

    I would feed the packages, and keep feeding until they have a brood nest mostly drawn out. Packages have no reserves, they only have to have a few bad foraging days in a row to start starving. They also have so much work to do brooding rear and comb building that it doesn't make sense to force them to forage at this point. Its a lot cheaper to feed them than to possibly have to buy new packages. Once you have an established hive you can do whatever fits your philosophy but packages installed during a dearth are a completely artificial situation and need an artificial solution to survive. And even if they are able to survive at this point in your area you will be giving them a head start.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Warrior, Alabama
    Posts
    1,068

    Default Re: To feed or not to feed

    Quote Originally Posted by Aerindel View Post
    Its a lot cheaper to feed them than to possibly have to buy new packages.
    Go to the store. Look for large bags of sugar. Check how much sugar you can buy for the cost of the packages. Aerindel's response is very well though out and written.
    Old Guy in Alabama

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Galt, CA
    Posts
    881

    Default Re: To feed or not to feed

    If you go to restaurants, just grab about 20 packages of sugar from their condiment tray each trip and before you know it, you'll have enough sugar to feed the bees. Be advised you'll probably need to go 3 times a day for about a month.
    Just kidding.

    As far as how long to feed them, you might consider feeding them until they have 2 hive bodies drawn out (brood chamber) but depending on what kind of fall you have for a honey flow, you may need to feed them again later in the year to make sure they have enough stores to make it through the winter.

    C2

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Udall, KS USA
    Posts
    17

    Default Re: To feed or not to feed

    I have a similar question. We received our bees early May in Kansas, been feeding each of 3 colonies a quart a day, it is always gone when I go out to check on them. Is this reasonable? Is a qt a day per hive enough? I was told they will stop taking it when they find forage. How long might this take? Won't they become dependent on my supply and not find their own? Just wondering how long I'll have to do this, it is a LOT of sugar! I know they are working hard, I see a lot of new comb and a LOT of bees. Hopefully I'm just ensuring they will thrive.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Kern, California, USA
    Posts
    92

    Default Re: To feed or not to feed

    Thanx everyone.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    VENTURA, California, USA
    Posts
    3,604

    Default Re: To feed or not to feed

    Good luck with your packages.
    FYI.
    It will take 8 weeks for the packages to replace the daily death losses and then have their populations move forward. Plan on feeding at least 50 pounds of sugar/hive.
    You might consider putting pollen substitute on the hives.
    Do you have any California buckwheat in bloom or is it dried up?
    Try getting a location near dairy alfalfa fields.
    Ernie
    My websitehttp://bees4u.com/

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Poplar Bluff, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    2,308

    Default Re: To feed or not to feed

    Whether you're in Kansas, California, or wherever, seems to me the first task is to get the new hive thru the first winter. Which means you need a strong colony, all frames drawn out, honey and pollen stored. Say you're going to overwinter in two deeps, 10 frames each... if you do not feed, they may not get all that work done. If you do feed, feed until they get all that work done. And it may take until fall to accomplish that. But as mentioned, consider the cost of the sugar vs cost of a new package next spring when this one starves. You want that hive so heavy going into winter that you can feel the weight when you lift one side. Heavy! If it isn't, feed. And even then, you might have to feed next spring. More hives die in March of starvation than you'd imagine.

    In 2011 I went through 1200 pounds of sugar feeding 32 hives to deal with my spring splits, and getting ready for winter last fall. This spring, because of my management last year, I only had to feed 150 pounds for 34 colonies/splits, to keep from starving or get built up.
    Regards,
    Steven
    "If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Kern, California, USA
    Posts
    92

    Default Re: To feed or not to feed

    Thanx Mr. G. That helps alot. I notice one of the hives was small still. Not sure why but Ill return the feed to them.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Kern, California, USA
    Posts
    92

    Default Re: To feed or not to feed

    Thanx for the info. I'll need to take a trip to Bakersfield for more sugar. I built top feeders for three of my hives.

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