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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Bedford, PA
    Posts
    5

    Default Bees without Winter Stores

    Hi there - new here! I spent some time searching through posts and didn't see anything that quite fit my problem, so I am going to post it here and hope that you can help me.

    I started a hive in April with some Italian honey bees. They grew quite quickly and filled out about 70% of the deep brood box with comb, so (as per various advice online) I added an upper deep for pollen, nectar, and honey storage. However, this deep is filled about 60% with brood and absolutely no food, aside from a few rows on one or two of the frames. It's about 46 degrees out and Fall is definitely here. It appears as though they kicked the drones out (bodies around the entrance), so things seem right, but they are facing a cold Fall and Winter without food! They spent the whole summer rearing brood and foraging for day-to-day survival. I am not sure if they ran out or time or if something is wrong, but they will not last in their current situation.

    How do I help my girls survive the winter? I went into emergency mode and mixed them a 2:1 syrup and spiked it with some Honey-B-Healthy as a stimulant. I put that in their hive-top feeder yesterday and they were very interested. Do I keep doing this all winter? I imagine that their heat will keep it thawed and we can be very quick about refilling it, so their exposure will be minimal, but I worry about their health. I've been hearing about various bee cakes or patties to make with pollen, but I haven't found a reputable recipe or a scenario that will apply to my need for Winter-long feeding.

    Do you have a recipe for me? If so, how often should I add a cake? Should I keep the syrup too? Does the cake go on top of the frames and under the hive-top feeder? Are there other supplements they will need since they are not getting their own honey? How do I save my girls?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,532

    Default Re: Bees without Winter Stores

    I would continue to feed your 2:1 syrup as long as they take it, but at some point, it will get too cold for them to handle. Feeding granulated sugar using the Mountain Camp method is a reasonable option at that point. The simplest way to do this is just put a sheet of newspaper on top of the frames, and pour on granulated sugar. Mist it with water slightly so it will clump. Search Beesource for "mountain camp" to read older threads if you like. Here's one:
    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...20or%20fondant

    If you really want to cook something, search for "fondant recipe."
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Fort Wayne, IN
    Posts
    993

    Default Re: Bees without Winter Stores

    You will likely not be able to feed liquid much longer. They need enough heat to evaporate it down and now they are using their heat to stay warm. Dry sugar is best option unless you have access to another hive that you can borrow some frames of honey from. If they survive you might want to consider requeening with a more northern adapted bee.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Bedford, PA
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Bees without Winter Stores

    Thanks, I will research that. Will this provide them with a reasonable variety of nutrients?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Gaithersburg, MD
    Posts
    363

    Default Re: Bees without Winter Stores

    Sugar is really all they need at this point--they use it as fuel to keep warm, not for nutrition per se. That being said, if you are worried about the their ability to feed brood you might want to supply some pollen patties to be safe--especially come early spring.

    Just left Bedford this morning and noticed that there are a lot of asters in bloom and a little golden rod too--on the way out though. May have a little warm up next week so if they are taking the 2:1 just keep feeding until they stop or the days don't get out of the 50s anymore then switch to sugar. Watch to see if a lot of pollen is coming in--this will feed the winter brood and help fuel the early spring build up.

    Have some property up there on Imlertown road for retirement and will someday have an apiary (some bears wander the fields so I can't leave hives now), among other farm enterprises. If you ever need a second set of eyes just let me know and I can use it as an excuse to get out of this area.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    3,130

    Default Re: Bees without Winter Stores

    I also started a hive last spring. Mid May for us. I started with a 5 frame nuc that had a laying queen. I watched it very closely. I agree that even though the bees worked very hard. actually made lots of honey. that honey was going into fueling both themselves and rearing a massive increase in brood as fast as they could gather it. they had a single 2 week period in which they managed to put on 100 lbs of excess. My impression was that they had to excel just to survive this first year. Provided they survive the winter well they will be stronger by a factor of 4 at least next year. But until then they will eat up the stores they have long before cold weather sets in do to not being able to find enough nectar now. So I am feeding them until then even though they still have 100 lbs of honey on the hive. They are also making winter stores for two 5 frame nucs I made late in the summer from a trap out.

    The issue is not the bees it is resources. If the nectar was available my bees would be able to make all the honey without the sugar water.

    The window for them taking the sugar water is closing fast. I don't think I can keep it on them for even two more weeks. They are barely reaching the goal I wanted to reach. an extra med super of honey from the sugar water. So they did their part. Now it is just a matter of was it enough.

    I believe that even if all they can do is get the water into cells they will have periods during the warmer days of summer to break cluster and still use that water. best case is they still have two weeks or so to get it all converted to honey.

    I do know these bees have been working like crazy all summer. I am anxious to see what they can accomplish next year as a full strength colony.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,534

    Default Re: Bees without Winter Stores

    I made the same mistake last year, and lost the hive early in the spring. Not enough feed, not enough resources, and even though they filled a super with soybean honey, they used it all before fall and ended up down to four frames of bees in late Sept.

    Feed them all the 2:1 they will take, and then put on dry sugar or a candy board. I like candy boards, but either will work.

    Be prepared to feed again in the spring with the hivetop feeder as soon as temps get up to the 50's in the daytime, they are going to need it. Put on half a protein patty now if you have one, although I'm not sure they will store it now. Certainly put one on in the spring, before they start bringing in pollen.

    If you have plenty of bees and manage to keep them from starving this winter, you may well end up with a good colony in the spring. If you can't keep them fed and they dwindle away, you have a ready-made hive for a swarm or a package.

    Peter

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