I just had a thought. In feral hives, bees build up their store of honey and pollen, and swarm, generally speaking. I'm not saying it's in that order or anything, just what they do. In the winter of course, they eat the honey and in the spring they use the pollen to build up again.

But what about long term honey storage? Suppose the cavity the bees are living in is a little large. They build up, store a lot of honey, more than they consume during any given winter. What is done with this long term honey? What do beekeepers do that interfere with the bees' honey storage characteristics? Few surviving hives use all their stores down to the last cell. There should be some left over in the spring and in a colony with certain characteristics, there might be a substantial amount.

So there's a couple of things that I see that interfere. First, we confiscate what we consider the 'surplus.' I doubt if a bee had an opinion, they would consider their hard earned bank account a 'surplus.'

Then there is a lot of feeding going on because for the most part, beekeepers don't take the 'surplus,' they take the honey, and the bees often then don't have enough to overwinter. Some beekeepers are more conscientious about this, yes, but there is a whole lot of feeding going on.

Enter another aspect of beekeeping, changing the hive size, or as it's known more colloquially, 'supering.' Like migration to almonds, this doesn't happen in the wild. This almost certainly affects hive dynamics, and we see examples of it all the time. Sometimes bees won't 'move up.' They swarm without the hive being full. And you gotta worry about wax moths getting into the stored comb.

All these things work against a natural longer term storage of honey, honey that might be available in a drought year, or an extended cold wet spring, or an especially harsh winter. But there are also beekeepers who by practice simply don't feed, expecting the bees to compensate for the above actions on the part of the beekeeper.

I suggest a more conscientious approach to beekeeping. I suggest leaving comb on the hive year 'round, leaving enough honey (plus a factor of safety) for the bees to survive the winter unfed, and very limited supplementation only when necessary to prevent starvation of colonies which through the sole responsibility of the beekeeper (or perhaps of abnormal weather) do not have enough stores to last the winter. I also would like to get away from the idea of 'feed.' It is nectar substitute just like pollen substitute. And there's nothing like the real thing. Bees ought to collect nectar and pollen on their own, it's what they do.