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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Clinton, Mississippi, USA
    Posts
    34

    Default Fall / Pre-Winter --> Feeding

    I've been reading about feeding bees for the fall and fall/pre-winter management. I've been getting alot of opinions, viewpoints, etc, and some are conflicting. I live in Central Mississippi so winters are not severe and have nine hives. My goal was to get all established and healthy this year. My bees had not built out all the comb in both brood boxes this year so based on numerous articles and opinions I put in-hive frame feeders in 7 of my 9 hives in Mid-September. The bees have filled out 70% of the comb in the boxes now and have been consuming about 1 gallon of sugar water each week. I have a couple of questions. Thanks in advance for you input/help.

    1) I thought the bees would only consume sugar water if there wasn't a nectar flow or if they didn't have honey stores. Is this accurate?

    2) Do you leave the feeders in the hives throughout the late fall, winter and early spring and then take them out late spring and summer?

    3) Do I make sure the feeders are always topped off or just feed the bees at certain intervals?

    4) We have large concentrations of small hive beetles; how do I keep them from getting in the feeder and staying out of reach of the bees?

    5) I've read 1:1 sugar/water in spring and 2:1 in fall; is this accurate?

    6) Is there someplace I can buy sugar in bulk versus a Sams or WalMart?

    7) I'm trying to place the feeders above where I think the center mass of the bees/brood are so as they move up into the 2nd box over the winter they'll have close access to the feeder. Is this correct?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,576

    Default Re: Fall / Pre-Winter --> Feeding

    Bees are unlikely to take liquid syrup below about 50 degrees, so you may not be able to feed syrup all winter, depending on the weather, of course.

    Generally, 1:1 is fed when you expect the bees to use it immediately, as in raising brood in the spring. 2:1 is generally fed when you expect the bees to store it as a faux honey. On the other hand, Michael Bush and some others feed 5:3 anytime they feed.

    Sugar is available cheaper than big box stores if you can handle pallet "totes" or truckload quantities. In some locations you may be able to find nearby industrial/commercial users of sugar/HFCS that buy in railcars or truckloads and will resell in smaller quantities.

    If it is too cold to feed syrup, dry granulated sugar is one option. More on that here:
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfeeding.htm#drysugar
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    McClure, OH
    Posts
    1,017

    Default Re: Fall / Pre-Winter --> Feeding

    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgiaBasser View Post
    1) I thought the bees would only consume sugar water if there wasn't a nectar flow or if they didn't have honey stores. Is this accurate?
    This is correct most of the time. Sometimes there are exceptions.
    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgiaBasser View Post
    2) Do you leave the feeders in the hives throughout the late fall, winter and early spring and then take them out late spring and summer?
    I leave the feeders in as long as I feed and bees are taking syrup. The bees usually stop taking syrup when its temperature falls below 50F. In this case you need to take the feeders out in order not to add unnecessary moisture in the hive.
    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgiaBasser View Post
    3) Do I make sure the feeders are always topped off or just feed the bees at certain intervals?
    I usually try to let the bees take all the syrup before refilling, especially when feeding 1:1 as it spoils faster. Spoiler syrup attracts SHB.
    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgiaBasser View Post
    4) We have large concentrations of small hive beetles; how do I keep them from getting in the feeder and staying out of reach of the bees?
    Keep the syrup fresh. If the bees are somewhat crowded, they will take care of them. You can also use the SHB traps.
    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgiaBasser View Post
    5) I've read 1:1 sugar/water in spring and 2:1 in fall; is this accurate?
    Yes, it is accurate.
    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgiaBasser View Post
    6) Is there someplace I can buy sugar in bulk versus a Sams or WalMart?
    I usually get mine at Sams
    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgiaBasser View Post
    7) I'm trying to place the feeders above where I think the center mass of the bees/brood are so as they move up into the 2nd box over the winter they'll have close access to the feeder. Is this correct?
    Bees will take syrup as long as its temp is above 50F. Placing it on top of the brood nest will keep the syrup warmer.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,712

    Default Re: Fall / Pre-Winter --> Feeding

    Sounds like you have received some sage advice so far. May I add however, that you can feed too much and the hives can become honeybound. This will not leave ample room for the queen to lay and can become the demise of the hive under certain conditions.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    2,974

    Default Re: Fall / Pre-Winter --> Feeding

    For fall, you want them to backfill just about everything though around clustering temps.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    carney, maryland, USA
    Posts
    602

    Default Re: Fall / Pre-Winter --> Feeding

    I looked at ACCUWEATHER for Clinton, MS. Even in the middle of winter your bees are likely to be flying. You really don't have a winter so I suggest you get specific advice from your neighbors, or those who are in a similar climate zone. Regarding the SHB's, we lost a hive to them last year. After that we used the BEETLEBLASTERs and had success, but it was a fair amount of work. This year we have not used any traps, but following Michael Bush's advice, we err on keeping the bees a little crowded. SHB's are present, but with a slightly crowded hive, they can't get a foothold to do ruin.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Clinton, Mississippi, USA
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: Fall / Pre-Winter --> Feeding

    Thanks for all the feedback guys.

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