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  1. #1
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    Default How much Sugar per hive, if no nectar.

    I was curious about what people felt the max amount of sugar per hive, if you had to feed 365 days out of the year....

    Obviously, you'd hope for the bees to gather nectar and be self sufficient, but I'm curious if I overloaded an area to raise nucs/queens.

    How much sugar per hive would I expect to have to feed. 50lbs? 100lbs? 200lbs? More/Less?

    Thanks for your time.
    Solo for the last 4 Years, ~60 Hives, TF + Oils.
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: How much Sugar per hive, if no nectar.

    This is a "What if Lois Lane blew up and earth went to Krypton question, but here goes. Bees when broodless and in the cold seem to get by on 8 or 9 pounds of honey a month. When the days start lengthening and the bees start raising brood that amount doubles and triples. But if they have no pollen/protein available that can't continue long as the in hive supply of pollen will soon be exhausted.

    Are you imagining a year long dearth? Is pollen coming in but not nectar? The answer I guess is that your bees would soon die if fed nothing but sugar; when their pollen stores were exhausted and they could no longer raise replacement bees. Even the best pollen subs cannot maintain a colony more than a couple brood cycles. My apologies to the members who produce suppliments. You may correct me if you think it appropriate.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: How much Sugar per hive, if no nectar.

    Thanks for the feed back...

    No, I'm not expecting a year long dearth... I'm "theory" crafting on what it would cost to feed the bees after the area reaches critical mass.. I completely understand that it depends on the size the hive, type of bees, temps, forage etc....

    But I assumed that someone here has feed bees over an extended period of dearth, so that I can get some "rough" ideas about feed requirements.. Either build up to go into almonds, or splits post almonds.

    I'm not even sure how many hives you can put on a place before it reaches critical mass. I.e. the bees survive/thrive, but don't make excess honey... Since they fly the 5 or less mile radius, where I expect the prefer to be less than 1-2 miles..

    I asked, because I plan on planting 90 acres full of random bee/deer/fruit trees... I plan on putting a bunch of bees on to sell queens/nucs.. I'll still have out yards and all that stuff.... But it might be cheaper to feed the home yard vs driving to a bunch of out yards, when dealing with the mating nucs/splits.

    Again, I'm purely asking questions... And I know that people can't answer without knowing the area/climate. So that's why I asked for an idea on feed requires if their was no nectar.
    Solo for the last 4 Years, ~60 Hives, TF + Oils.
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: How much Sugar per hive, if no nectar.

    How are you going to know when an area reaches critical mass?

    One feeds when one needs to. Which isn't all year round. Not even most of the year by any means.

    It is always a good idea to understand what you are getting into and what you need to do to prepare for the future. But you may be getting ahead of yourself. Even though you did get a good answer of 20lbs of sugar per hive per year.
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  5. #5
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    Default Re: How much Sugar per hive, if no nectar.

    I'm pretty sure that I have fed packages/nucs more than 20lbs per year.... And I don't know how I will know if an area is at critical mass... I'm assuming that when they are still taking syrup in the middle of the flow would be a good marker... Or if the hive doesn't gain weight, or they start dying head first in the comb....
    Solo for the last 4 Years, ~60 Hives, TF + Oils.
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: How much Sugar per hive, if no nectar.

    When you figure out that critical mass has been met what will you do?
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: How much Sugar per hive, if no nectar.

    I really only have one number that has been required. That would be 1 to 2 gallons of 1:1 sugar water per hive for placing them on almonds. that would amount to 8 to 16 lbs of sugar for a one month to 6 week period of build up. keep in mind that almonds are consider exceptional forage for brood building as well and I have no idea how much additional stores they woudl get from them. I suspect that 2 gallons of sugar syrup is only intended only to get them kick started on the build up as the orchards come into bloom. At one point last summer I was goign through 50 lbs of sugar every 7 days while starting 11 nucs. That was for about a 2 to 3 week period.

    I am also interested in further information on just what it would take to fully artificially support a colony.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: How much Sugar per hive, if no nectar.

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Y View Post
    I am also interested in further information on just what it would take to fully artificially support a colony.
    Why would one want to fully artificially support a colony? On another Thread you wrote that you wanted to make some profit from your hives this year. Seems like feeding something that aught to be able to feed itself wouldn't be economical. But maybe things are different in NV.
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  9. #9
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    Default Re: How much Sugar per hive, if no nectar.

    I think I understand Kevin's interest in the logistics of supplemental feeding.

    Perhaps you could get a good approximation by providing an excess of full honey supers for some test colonies, and then track the weight differences of those colonies during the course of a year.

    It'll not only give you a clearer picture of when the flows are on, and feeding isn't needed, but it will also give you an idea of how much supplemental feed you may want to provide at other times.

    However, without pollen sub, I don't see how you can track potential colony productivity.
    Last edited by WLC; 12-22-2013 at 06:07 AM.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: How much Sugar per hive, if no nectar.

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    Why would one want to fully artificially support a colony?
    Because for this yard... Honey is not the goal... Maximum production of bees and queens will be... Ideally, all of the hives would require zero feeding and put up just enough food to survive.... However, since I believe that is something that I don't know... I "could" assume that I'll be feeding them. If it works out to 1 quart every 3-4 days, which is what my 5 frame nucs take down in the are really hungry. I can account for that in my budget.

    I may find that it doesn't work out cost wise, or it could be with a steady supply of feed. Those same bees will double/triple+++ in size... If that is the case, then I'll slow the feed when maximum yard size is reached..

    I have an rough plan on what to do...

    I'm just assuming that more of the professional guys have a better idea... I.e. it cost me this much sugar per yard for this month of while sitting in a holding yard...
    Solo for the last 4 Years, ~60 Hives, TF + Oils.
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  11. #11
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    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: How much Sugar per hive, if no nectar.

    > be 1 to 2 gallons of 1:1 sugar water per hive for placing them on almonds. that would amount to 8 to 16 lbs of sugar

    Since one half the weight of 1:1 is sugar and the other half water, 1 to 2 gallons of syrup represents 4 to 8 lbs of sugar.
    Graham
    --- Practical reality trumps philosophy!

  12. #12
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    Default Re: How much Sugar per hive, if no nectar.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vance G View Post
    . Even the best pollen subs cannot maintain a colony more than a couple brood cycles. My apologies to the members who produce suppliments. You may correct me if you think it appropriate.
    No apologies needed, I will however need to unload your gun as I see your foot can't handle any more bullet holes. We produce about 5-7 brood rounds on sub each fall-winter, and they show no slowing down, no short lived bees.
    NUTRA-BEE feed supplements

  13. #13
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    Feb 2012
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    Lee County, Illinois
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    Default Re: How much Sugar per hive, if no nectar.

    Well i believe were planning on doing between 20-30 thousand queen bees this season. Our mating boxes are deeps and mediums 3 framers. There will be between 300-500 per yard maybe some more, and in these yards we aren't constantly feeding dry sugar but as needed. My point is that i wouldn't worry about stock piling a ton of sugar and just go to a store and get it as needed. As for honey production, i wouldnt use a single year to determine if your yard has reached saturation or not. Take a 2-5 year average of production. However i wouldnt go over 50 colonies in their forage radius.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: How much Sugar per hive, if no nectar.

    I'm not planning on buying a ton of sugar tomorrow... But I "should" know my rough costs... If you don't know your costs, you don't know what to price your products at...

    Although the market will dictate some of the prices, if you have the numbers to work with. You can decide how and where you need to adapt to make profits back to offset the costs..

    Examples:

    If I know that a hive is going to at "max" take 120lbs of sugar in a year. I can plan on getting at least one split, which would cover the ~60 dollar sugar price.

    If I know that a 5 frame medium nuc will eat 40 lbs of sugar in a year, but that I can mate 6+ queens per nuc. Then I know that the 20$ of sugar cost will be offset by the 120 (20 per) dollars of queen sales.

    If I know that the 4 frame mini nuc will eat 20lbs of sugar in a year, but that I can get the same 6+ queens... My cost per queen went down, since I can now get 12+ ($240) queens for the same 40lbs ($20) of sugar.

    Hopefully that will clarify things... Oh and Keith, I'm still waiting for my trial sample... *grins*
    Solo for the last 4 Years, ~60 Hives, TF + Oils.
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  15. #15
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    Default Re: How much Sugar per hive, if no nectar.

    Hi Kevin,
    Here I have a dearth from end of July or first of August, until sometimes February. This past couple of summers into fall, I've fed 1 to 1.5 pounds of sugar per nuc per week in syrup form. The nucs were 5 frame mediums in size.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  16. #16
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    Default Re: How much Sugar per hive, if no nectar.

    Kevin, in Mid TN you should not need more than 50lb per hive ever. any more than that and your going to be harvesting sugar honey. 10-15 lbs winter emergency, and the rest dearth feeding. I usualy use less than 20 lbs per hive per year.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    Lee County, Illinois
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    Default Re: How much Sugar per hive, if no nectar.

    What is over loading a area in your opinion? What size hive are we talking? 3 deep frame nucs for mini or what, that will effect amount of bees, in turn changing the amount of food needed.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: How much Sugar per hive, if no nectar.

    Quote Originally Posted by Heintz88 View Post
    What is over loading a area in your opinion?
    In my area, last year I saw less honey after I went from 20 to 40 hives in the yard... Do I think the 20 hives made that big of a difference, I dunno.... Not sure it could have been the weather for the year. On my family land, it's 90 acres of oaks/tulip poplars surrounded by 10+ miles of the same... If the bees don't get out for the early tree blooms, they have to get the other forest/road side flowers.

    I'd "like" to get the point of running 200+ or so mini nucs on the land.... So I'd need the supporting hives for grafting, cell building and drones. I have out yards on three corners ~2 miles from the 90 acres that I could also put drone colonies.

    I also have another 3-400 acres that I can play on.... So I probably wouldn't overload the area to the point that I'd feed every day, but I need to account for "worst" case scenarios... If that makes sense.
    Solo for the last 4 Years, ~60 Hives, TF + Oils.
    http://tradingwebsites4bees.com

  19. #19
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    May 2011
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    Algoma dr. Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: How much Sugar per hive, if no nectar.

    Kevin there is a figure somewhere in print about the consumption of honey per day per adult bee. 11 milligrams seems to stick in my memory. If they were raising brood it would be much higher though. I did a quick calculation and it seemed in line with needed stores for wintering. That might be food for thought on arriving at your worst case scenario but do some googling on it. I dont trust my memory entirely so neither should you.

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