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Thread: No sugar starts

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    Oconee, Illinois
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    Default No sugar starts

    Anybody ever start new packages without feeding sugar syrup and forcing the bees to fend for themselves. The idea behind it may be so that the bees would have comb built from "natural" sources. Figure it can't be much different than not treating for other ailments with the thought of being "natural".

  2. #2
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    Mar 2010
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    Walker, Alabama, USA
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    Default Re: No sugar starts

    I fed sugar syrup to the packages I started a few years back so that they would not starve before they could establish themselves. After all, what were they supposed to eat in that new hive since there were no stores? To me those packages were expensive and I sure didn't want to waste my investment.

    JMO

    Rusty
    Rusty Hills Farm -- home of AQHA A Rusty Zipper & Rusty's Bees ( LC and T)

  3. #3
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    Dec 2009
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    SNOW SHOE PA USA
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    Default Re: No sugar starts

    plus theres not much nectar out there when package bees come around here.
    They need to build .
    Say hello to the bad guy!
    year five==== 31 hives==== T{OAV}

  4. #4
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    Default Re: No sugar starts

    hived three caught swarms this year with only one frame of comb with brood, and no feeding. they did well, but we had a flow.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  5. #5

    Default Re: No sugar starts

    I believe it was Tom Seeley who studied feral swarm survival in the late 1960s. He found that only 25% survived until the following spring. And this was in the days before varroa! Building a nest, producing a sufficient foraging force to provision the nest from scratch proves to be a daunting task.
    Supplementing the incoming carbohydrates for the first season improves their odds substantially.
    So, I think the question becomes are you willing to accept the extra losses?
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Niskayuna, NY, USA
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    Default Re: No sugar starts

    All the wax a bee secretes is "natural" no matter what you're feeding them.

    Swarms are different from packages, they carry stores with them to get them going.

    That said, you can try it, it's your money.

  7. #7
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    Pickaway/Fairfield Cty, OH
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    Default Re: No sugar starts

    and a stretch of cold weather could keep them from flying

  8. #8
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    Feb 2011
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    Oconee, Illinois
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    Default Re: No sugar starts

    I fed sugar syrup myself when I started my hives a few years back as well. Looking at things with a questioning attitude towards problems and colony health, just questioning my own practices and wondering if there is a better way. I plan on starting a few new packages this spring and I'm just thinking ahead. Most packages are sold out before the flow really gets here so that rules out the idea of waiting to hive new colonies when there is available nectar. I guess the only other option would be to have frames of honey to feed new packages. I'm just wondering if there is a better option than feeding sugar syrup. Don't get me wrong, I will 95% most likely be feeding sugar syrup to my packages. How far back does the practice of starting packages before the flow and feeding sugar syrup to supplement go back. It's just something I had thought about. I guess perhaps this may be why some people want to buy nucs over packages, if not the reason, I guess may be a fringe benefit.

  9. #9
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    Oconee, Illinois
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    Question Re: No sugar starts

    Quote Originally Posted by No-sage View Post
    All the wax a bee secretes is "natural" no matter what you're feeding them.

    Swarms are different from packages, they carry stores with them to get them going.

    That said, you can try it, it's your money.
    I guess maybe that's what I'm wondering. Whether or not the wax they use from sugar syrup to build with is just as good as using nectar. I know there is debate about the health of a honey bee from eating supplements but what about the quality of the actual hive itself from feeding supplements.

  10. #10
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: No sugar starts

    for me, the more important consideration with feeding sugar than the wax, are the gut microbes.

    mike bush had related some information that the higher ph of syrup can cause a shift in the gut microbiota favoring pathogens over normal flora.

    since then i have been using vitamin c to lower the ph of any syrup i give.

    also, if you are hiving packages prior to any flow, they will need a protein source as well if you expect them to raise brood.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Pendleton County, Kentucky, USA
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    Default Re: No sugar starts

    I started my hive from a wild swarm. After I put them in the hive I fed one pint sized jar worth of sugar syrup to entice them to stay. I knew they were coming with stores, but I was more worried about making them want to stay. After that initial one pint, I have took the feeder off and they were on their own (it was April). Two months later I extracted 62 pounds of honey!

  12. #12

    Default Re: No sugar starts

    Quote Originally Posted by No-sage View Post
    Swarms are different from packages, they carry stores with them to get them going.
    How far do you think that stomach of honey will take them in building a nest, producing a foraging force and provisioning their nest for winter?
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  13. #13
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    Apr 2009
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    Issaquah,WA,USA
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    Default Re: No sugar starts

    They need to build wax so they need the sugar. But, if they find a natural source they will leave the sugar water alone. Now if it is raining and they cant fly then having the sugar keeps them going while the weather changes. The more you feed the better they come out. Have done it by accident without and they don't do well at all.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    Great Falls Montana
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    Default Re: No sugar starts

    Lets buy some horses and put them on a pasture that has not a blade of vegetation. In a few weeks it will have lots of grass growing. but in the meantine, it would be UN NATURAL to feed hay? When is starving livestock NATURAL?

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Peace River, AB Canada
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    456

    Default Re: No sugar starts

    If you are shaking a package into a hive with drawn comb and honey/pollen stores then yes you could start without sugar.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Southern Oregon
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    Default Re: No sugar starts

    That is about the only way it would work... It would be inhumane any other way. Would one even consider taking on a puppy and expect it to fend for itself? New packages and swarms are fragile and benefit greatly from some "cultivation"
    John B Jacob www.oldsolbees.com

  17. #17
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    Default Re: No sugar starts

    Quote Originally Posted by StacieM View Post
    I started my hive from a wild swarm. After I put them in the hive I fed one pint sized jar worth of sugar syrup to entice them to stay. I knew they were coming with stores, but I was more worried about making them want to stay. After that initial one pint, I have took the feeder off and they were on their own (it was April). Two months later I extracted 62 pounds of honey!
    great work stacie. and now that you have some brood available, a frame of brood given is almost 100% guaranteed to make a captured swarm stay.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
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    Default Re: No sugar starts

    Yes, of course a package needs resources to survive. You have a couple options on how to provide it for them. Feeding sugar water is the most common, but since you have other colony resources you could steal frames of honey from them to support the packages. Personally, I have no problem with feeding packages sugar water and have seen no detrimental effects. If I'm buying packages for increases, I generally do a combination of the two. I will typically give a frame of capped brood and one of pollen/honey. Packages started this way require very little supplemental feeding and will almost always produce a little spring surplus.

    I'm very certain that if you got a package and installed it on bare foundation in the end of March in IL, and didn't provide any resources, you'd loose about 95% of them.

    And as mentioned, swarms are VERY different than packages. I'll take a 3 lb swarm over a 3 lb package any day.

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