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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Nashville, TN
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    320

    Embarrassed My 2 hives were about to starve--what I did today

    Went in to checkerboard my 2 hives this weekend and found them almost out of stores--less than 10 lbs each. They are both full of bees and the Italian hive has been cranking out brood and flying all winter. The "Sunkist, I think" hive hasn't flown as much and hasn't had many orientation flights but seems healthy. Both seemed to have plenty of stores last fall.

    I suspect that with our fairly warm winter with lots of flying days and most days and nights allowing for a lot of activity inside the hive, they just used up a lot. They also seem to be in full brood rearing mode from the number of bees and coverage in the hive, although I didn't pull frames to verify that.

    Yesterday I put a top feeder on one and a gallon baggie on the other, but realized that both feeders were going to require opening the hive every few days and replenishing. Plus there is a limit to how fast they can take them and I think I need to get their stores replenished quickly.

    So this morning I mixed up a 10 lb batch of 1.5/1 syrup, added 2 lbs. of my honey, a pinch of sea salt and the tea from brewing 3 Chamomile teabags (per Gunther Hauk), a dash of vitamin C for acidity. I had pulled the empty bottom boxes from both hives, so I took each frame and sprinkled dry sugar into the cells on one side till they were about half full. Working over a big cookie sheet, I laid the frame down and began pouring the syrup all over it, rubbing lightly with my hand to help the syrup get into the cells. Then I sprinkled more sugar over it and worked that in too. When I was finished, the cells were full of a semi-solid mix of sugar and syrup. The sugar kept the syrup from running out of the cells, and the syrup moistened the sugar. I did 12 frames (6 for each of my 8-frame boxes). Then I turned them over and filled the other side the same way. (It might have worked as well or better to have just wet the sugar with the syrup and rubbed it into the cells?) I ended up using about 30 lbs. of sugar. I then placed 6 full frames and 2 empty drawn frames in a medium and put one on each of the 2 hives.

    Our weather is supposed to be in the 60's and 70's for the next 3 days, but with thunderstorms, then dropping to 45 highs for the following week. Since there isn't any forage yet, I figure (hope) that the bees will use that warm time to move the mixture down into the hive wherever they want it. I'm going to check in a week or so depending on weather, and if they have moved some of it down, I'll finish checkerboarding.

    I considered that I might be creating a moisture/condensation problem with that many uncapped stores, but I have a cloth quilt, then foam insulation, then a folded mylar emergency blanket under the lid of each hive--the cloth wicks the condensation and keeps it from dripping on the brood.

    I just kind of made this up as I went, but hopefully it will keep them from starving!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Kingston, Tennessee, USA
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    263

    Default Re: My 2 hives were about to starve--what I did today

    I'll be checking mine on Tuesday and see what going on for the past two weeks. Planning on doing one split in early March so it will be a juggling act till then on 1:1 feeding on the entrance, protein patties and old honey through the top. I don't want to split up the brood till later in Feb.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
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    3,942

    Default Re: My 2 hives were about to starve--what I did today

    Yer overthinking it ought seven. 1:! sugar syrup in a baggie on warm days until the hive lifts heavier. Thats enuff. Don't go pulling frames unless you have a warm day with awarm night forecast. That may be a while.

  4. #4
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    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
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    2,492

    Default Re: My 2 hives were about to starve--what I did today

    Nah, it's gonna be 70F down that way for the next two days!

    Syrup or sugar and syrup in the comb will work fine. A lot of work, but the bees will use it and it will be where they need it.

    I will check my hives this week -- not a whole lot of activity since it's been colder here than Nashville, but I want to be ready to put candy boards on if they need them. I prefer candy boards over dry sugar or syrup in combs because they are easier, and you don't need to open the hive so much.

    Looks like it's going to be a screwy spring again.

    Peter

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    1,339

    Default Re: My 2 hives were about to starve--what I did today

    Nance,
    Don't let the naysayers discourage you. I believe our bees need some syrup. If I wern't temporarily out of action would be feeding mine on Monday. (today) That judgement is based on landing board traffic a week ago. They were bringing mostly split loads of both nectar and pollen. Only saw two full loads of pollen. The emphasis was on nectar - with a light load of pollen.

    This time last year, colonies were clustered over empty cells in the deep. They hesitated to start brood rearing until they had some liquid carbs underfoot, and that didn't happen until the second week of Feb. Slow start on buildup. And the advanced season contributed to less bees for the production period. Poor yeild by my standards.

    Walt

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Nashville, TN
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    320

    Default Re: My 2 hives were about to starve--what I did today

    Walt,
    I'm seeing very little pollen being brought in, pale yellow half loads, maybe 1 in 10 bees. See my PM and call me if I can help!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    KC, MO, USA
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    1,168

    Default Re: My 2 hives were about to starve--what I did today

    >So this morning I mixed up a 10 lb batch of 1.5/1 syrup, added 2 lbs. of my honey, a pinch of sea salt and the tea from brewing 3 Chamomile teabags (per Gunther Hauk), a dash of vitamin C for acidity

    I would save your honey, chance to spead AFB. And give the bees sugar, there is a study that says bee live longer on table sugar than honey.
    Salt is bad for bees.
    Vitamin C is good will bring ph close to nectar.

    If the temps are warm enough that the bees are moving around in the hive a zip lock is fine. If they are not moving around they may not be able to reach your frames either, depending on how far the frames are, even just a few inches.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
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    2,571

    Default Re: My 2 hives were about to starve--what I did today

    Walt,

    I hope you're back in the yard soon!

    I have a question about whether checkerboarding is even required in such a situation. The OP suggests that the colonies are basically empty, so what is there to checkerboard? I agree that they should feed asap, as 10 lbs of stores is WAY low to get adequate brood production!
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Nashville, TN
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    320

    Default Re: My 2 hives were about to starve--what I did today

    Flowerplanter: I'm afraid I disagree with some of your advice--I don't believe any study is credible that finds that bees live longer on table sugar than honey. It makes absolutely no sense. Giving them back their own honey won't spread AFB. And all living creatures need minerals, which is what a tiny pinch of sea salt would provide. My bees like the liquid that leaches from my compost heap, piles of rotten leaves, and standing water with organic materials in it. I assume they are getting needed minerals and probably probiotics from them. If they can reach a ziplock on top of the frames and heat rises, I would think that they could also reach the syrup/sugar filled frames above it. We must read different books. . .

  10. #10
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    Aug 2011
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    KC, MO, USA
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    Default Re: My 2 hives were about to starve--what I did today

    Quote Originally Posted by thenance007 View Post
    Flowerplanter: I'm afraid I disagree with some of your advice--I don't believe any study is credible that finds that bees live longer on table sugar than honey. It makes absolutely no sense. Giving them back their own honey won't spread AFB. And all living creatures need minerals, which is what a tiny pinch of sea salt would provide. My bees like the liquid that leaches from my compost heap, piles of rotten leaves, and standing water with organic materials in it. I assume they are getting needed minerals and probably probiotics from them. If they can reach a ziplock on top of the frames and heat rises, I would think that they could also reach the syrup/sugar filled frames above it. We must read different books. . .
    >I don't believe any study is credible that finds that bees live longer on table sugar than honey.
    http://www.beesource.com/resources/u...ed-honey-bees/

    >Giving them back their own honey won't spread AFB.
    If one hive had it and you share the honey with 2 hives, now two hives have it. I have read here on beesource this has happened.

    >If they can reach a zip lock on top of the frames and heat rises, I would think that they could also reach the syrup/sugar filled frames above it.
    "If the temps are warm enough that the bees are moving around in the hive a zip lock is fine." If they are cold and the cluster can't move very far "even just a few inches" "they may not be able to reach your frames either"
    So basically all the work of of filling the frames with sugar then syrup then sugar again (from post #1) would be unnecessary if you just used a zip lock.

  11. #11
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    May 2011
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    Default Re: My 2 hives were about to starve--what I did today

    Flowerplanter,
    Keeping one generation of caged bees alive longer on sugar than honey in my opinion does not prove that sugar is better to feed them. Succeeding generations might well be weaker, there might be a difference between sitting in a cage and flying and foraging, that particular honey specimen might have been lacking something important, etc. Honey is a very complex product and contains so many vital enzymes, minerals, nutrients, etc. missing in sugar that there is no way that in the longer term and larger scheme of things, sugar is equivalent or better than honey for bees.

    As for the ziplock, when I opened the top of the hive, there was only room for maybe 2-3 dozen bees around the slits, and by the next morning it had crystallized into a solid chunk, not to mention that had they been able to drink it, I would have to open the hive every couple of days to replenish it, and it IS winter here. Although filling the frames took me a couple of hours, I expect that it will last much longer and the bees will be able to utilize it better, so I don't think overall the ziplock would save me much time.

    You might be right about the AFB, but I think the benefit of giving them back their own honey far outweighs the slim possibility that it is infected. I would guess that the honey probably contains elements that will protect them against it. I guess I'm just stuck in a "natural is better and bees know best" mentality.

  12. #12
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    Aug 2008
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    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: My 2 hives were about to starve--what I did today

    Astro,
    You are correct of course that CB is not applicable without a band of capped honey overhead. In the southeast, we typically do have a band of capped honey above the brood nest. The bees with field forage available, deliberately leave that band of capped honey as a reserve to carry them through swarm preps.

    In more northerly locations, where the colony is only left enough honey overhead to get TO spring field nectar (maybe) the colony consumes that reserve for survival.

    But you knew all that.
    Walt

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