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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Camas Valley, Oregon
    Posts
    41

    Default When to start supplemental feeding?

    Am considering shifting from "wet" to "dry" sugar this year. Its starting to get cold here, I did see the Bees out weekend before last though. When do you think its a good time to start? I have 2 hives one a double super with a single on it that I left and did not harvest (pritty good size hive) and 1 that I am still trying to get started thats a single super with a single on it that is mostly empty still.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,429

    Default Re: When to start supplemental feeding?

    You can go ahead and pull the empty super now. The bees won't fill or draw it at this time of year. Sounds like the double may be ok - no need to feed as they have enough stores. The single is more likely too light to over winter without supplemental feeding. How do successful beekeepers in your area overwinter? Two deeps? A single deep? Is the double heavy enough that you can move the super over to the single without putting the double at risk?

    In my part of the world the feeding of syrup needs to be complete by mid October.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Marysville, WA
    Posts
    456

    Default Re: When to start supplemental feeding?

    I agree that the double should be fine. I winter a few single each year successfully but I always have to make sure to check them early Feb and always have to feed sometime late Feb. or early March. Here in western Wa doubles almost never starve (in my experience) if they are full in the fall but singles will always need feed.

    Mike
    Beekeeper? Shoot, my bees keep me!
    100 hives in Western Wa State

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Ashe, N.C. USA
    Posts
    51

    Default Re: When to start supplemental feeding?

    Here in the NC mountains,we have been having temps in the lower 20's during the nights and days this week in the mid fifties. I am a first year BK and fretting somewhat about my girls having enough food for winter. I took the top feeders off today with the sugar syrup they have been taking for 6 weeks now. I had a 3 inch shallow frame I set on top of the super, then added a 5 pound bag of cane sugar that I had made finer using the food mill, cut it open and let it lay close to the cluster and shut them back up. Have read it helps with too much moisture as well. Does this sound like a good plan? I had read and been told that my sugar syrup should just stay in the top feeder by some, and others that it would freeze. I thought the heat from the bees would keep that from happening??? Thanks

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Jackson, MO
    Posts
    1,884

    Default Re: When to start supplemental feeding?

    It's generally assumed bees stop taking liquid syrup when temps fall below 50 degrees. I've used the "Mountain Camp" method in an emergency, but generally (when I have time) make up some candy boards to top the hives when temps fall...but these tend to be a lot of work and I wish I had made them up earlier when I had more time (does on ever have enough time?)

    Alternative is a mush we call "Ted's Mush" which is 4 lbs. of dry sugar dumped in a gallon zip lock bag. Add 1 cup water, seal and squish. Lay it across the top bars and cut some slits. It's 12% moisture and does not contribute to additional humidity in the hive.

    Grant
    Jackson, MO
    https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/beekeeper731
    Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: https://www.createspace.com/4152725

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,220

    Default Re: When to start supplemental feeding?

    Well, I would start supplemental feeding a month to six weeks before first frost, maybe a week or two earlier depending on the weather. 2:1 syrup in a hivetop feeder until you have two deeps or the equivalent of honey and capped syrup, then close them up for the winter.

    It is far better for the bees to have sufficient capped stores than to feed them dry sugar over the winter -- you should consider winter feeding a failure on your part to get them ready and only do it if they will starve to death if you don't.

    Reason being the bees need to be clustered properly to minimize heat loss and food consumption, and they require honey inside the cluster along with empty cells for bees to crawl into in order for this. Emergency feed is vastly better than a dead hive, but the time to do supplemental feeding is early fall so they can store it and even draw some comb if they need it. Better yet, you won't be opening the hive in cold weather to check on them.

    That said, I'm a fan of candy boards since they leave less empty space over the cluster in the coldest part of the winter. They work well, absorb excess moisture while making syrup for the bees to use (the surface of the candy "melts" into syrup from absorbed moisture) and it's easy for the bees to get to. You can make them by boiling syrup down to hard ball stage (240 to 250 F) or just mix enough water into dry sugar to get it to stick together in a block, either is fine so long as it doesn't come apart and rain down on the bees.

    Peter

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Ashe, N.C. USA
    Posts
    51

    Default Re: When to start supplemental feeding?

    Well, here I am again with a question The girls have been doing well as far as I can tell in the cold temps that we have been having UP TO this past week. Now - it is in the SIXTIES, and not even freezing at night! I have the supplement feed on top of the deep, plus the one super, and they are out flying like crazy for a few days now. One lady who is known as an excellent bee keeper went in to check her eleven hives and seven were dead! I was told to start feeding like crazy the sugar syrup 2:1 b/c they are out so much and eating so much so fast, that some are starving :O Is this necessary with all the food for them already there? Thanks again. JJ

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    3,491

    Default Re: When to start supplemental feeding?

    If your hives have capped frames of honey, they are fine and do not need fed at the present time. If they don't, you need to feed until they do or it gets too cold. Moutain camp feeding is always available to the bees and is not dependant on ambient temperatures. Don't let your bees starve.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Ashe, N.C. USA
    Posts
    51

    Default Re: When to start supplemental feeding?

    Thanks Vance, they won't starve if I can help it, but when it is too cold to get in there to see with the weather changing so dramatically I get uneasy.....this is my first wintering over. I have been amazed how quickly they can take a gallon of syrup, they are little pigs I guess huh? I do already have the Mountain Camp method in place, but they weren't eating on it yet.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,023

    Default Re: When to start supplemental feeding?

    Here in the Picture Rocks area of Tucson, Arizona I feed pollen sub patties that are more than half sugar, and sugar syrup that is made with slightly more sugar than 1:1. One 25 pound bag of granulated sugar is enough to make four gallons of syrup with about 2-3 pounds left over, enough for the sugar component of a small batch of pollen sub. Daytime temps are still near 80F and nights near 50F. Now, if only we would get some rain, I could stop feeding, or at least feed less frequently.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Asheville, North Carolina, USA
    Posts
    552

    Default Re: When to start supplemental feeding?

    Quote Originally Posted by chickenia View Post
    ...they won't starve if I can help it, but when it is too cold to get in there to see with the weather changing so dramatically I get uneasy.....this is my first wintering over...
    Lift the back of the hive and see how heavy they are and get back to us. You don't have to look inside to check stores.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Ashe, N.C. USA
    Posts
    51

    Default Re: When to start supplemental feeding?

    I had a friend BK lift them and let me see how they should feel if they have enough stores for the winter. He thinks they are doing really good. It is suppose to start being 'winter' up here later this week, so they should quieten down. I had put the top feeder on for a week and they had taken some but not much so I took it off yesterday

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