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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Brunswick, Maine, United States
    Posts
    18

    Default Help-Hives feeling a bit lite in Southern Maine

    Hello knowledgeable treatment free beekeeps

    I have been doing pretty well going treatment free and am so happy to have 4 very strong colonies as I head into winter here in Southern Maine. As it has been so unusually warm here (50 degrees plus weather) I continue to go out to the hives and check them. 3 of the 4 hives feel a bit lite on stores to me. I did give them some sugar syrup a couple of weeks ago. 2 of the hives took it. I think these hives are actually getting lighter. Is it possible they are using more of their winter stores as they are still out and about in this weirdly warm climate? So my dilemma is how to feed or what to feed. I do have honey supers I have not yet extracted but these are mediums and shallows. I do not have deep frames to introduce into the actual hives body's.

    Any and all suggestions appreciated. Would you feed in November and what would you feed in November?

    Thanks
    Marcy

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    West Bath, Maine, United States
    Posts
    1,128

    Default Re: Help-Hives feeling a bit lite in Southern Maine

    If you want the best chance of survival I would put the supers on, the bees will move up. You may have brood in your supers next spring, but you having brood is the idea after all. No harm. just reverse or use queen excluder to let them emoty the super in the spring.
    If you want the honey look at the my sugar brick recipe post from Lauri. Mountain camp is very similar, sheet of newspaper and dry sugar in a 1.5 spacer between the upper frames and inner cover.
    4 yrs, Peak 14, back to zip, T lite; godfather to brother's 3.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,817

    Default Re: Help-Hives feeling a bit lite in Southern Maine

    Hi Marcy,

    Yes colonies can make a dent in their stores with late fall activity - and this is the time where treatment free gets tested as the beekeeper feels they ought to do something to help their bees. Where you are located in Brunswick a conservative guess is that your hives should weigh at least 125lbs heading into winter. Feeling sometimes isn't all that accurate - you really need to put the hives on a scale. One you know the scenario you are dealing with you can take action consistent with your beekeeping philosophy. I think it is too late to feed liquids. So that leaves you with 1) adding a sugar brick or other insurance now, 2) monitoring over the winter and providing the bees with a candy board or fondant later this winter based on your observations, 3) placing the super back on the hive now and reconciling yourself to the probability that there will be brood in the super before you get it off, 4) combining hives so that those remaining have adequate stores and 5) do nothing and be prepared to loose colonies to starvation.

    Personally I'd go with number 3 - I have an unprocessed shallow in my kitchen destined for family Christmas gifts and while I would hate to give that vision up, providing adequate food for over wintering AND spring buildup prior to spring natural resource availability is key to how I see my job as a beekeeper.

    Think about what you might do next year differently - who knows what the weather will be next fall. I understand there are some beekeepers in the Portland area who are going to two deeps and a medium primarily to ensure adequate winter stores. I'm doing my first three deep colony this year, though I did rob some of the honey for nucs I'm over wintering. I'll know next spring how well that experiment worked.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Brunswick, Maine, United States
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Help-Hives feeling a bit lite in Southern Maine

    Hi Andrew and Salty

    Thanks for your sound and logical advice, and yes I put the suppers on the colonies.

    I have to say it was quite chilly the day when I put the supers back on the colonies but the next day we were near 60 degrees again here in Brunswick. This is just an incredibly warm weather pattern that does seem to be affecting the honey stores. I am happy with the decision to put the suppers back on as I am stewarding the bees these days and am more concerned about their survival then the honey. Truth is I have 2 mediums and 1 and a half suppers still in the barn to be processed anyhow. I did not one interesting thing while observing the colonies in the field this week and I think it is worth mentioning. Two of the hives still have plenty of drones flying in and out and they are still being welcomed upon their arrival on deck.
    Kinda late for bee romance I think but I did find this interesting for one week into November.

    I don't much like the idea of dealing with brood in supers in the spring but avoiding starvation is the goal so deal I will.

    Again thank you for the advice.

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