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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    Moorefield, OH
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    12

    Default Sugar syrup in the winter?

    Hi all...We are supposed to have a few "nicer" days coming up where it will stay above freezing. I'm going to check on the hives, and if they have survived this bitter cold snap but are running low on food, is it ok to feed them sugar syrup? If so what ratio do you recommend? Also, I typically put honey b healthy in their syrup...should I do that too? Thanks! - Veronica

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Wellsville, PA
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    40

    Default Re: Sugar syrup in the winter?

    I wouldn't feed sugar syrup. Even a 2:1 (sugar to water) mix would add a lot of moisture to a hive. If they seem light to you, consider feeding dry granular sugar or make some sugar bricks up and feed those.
    2-6 hives, 6 years. One honey harvest.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    26,791

    Default Re: Sugar syrup in the winter?

    Amen Bdeaner's comments. And, just because temps are above freezing doesn't mean that the bees can break cluster to get to syrup how ever you make it available to them.

    If you feel like your hive(s) need supplimental feeding then use the Dry Sugar Feeding Method. Lay a sheet or two of newspaper across the top bars of your hive and pour a 5 lb bag of sugar into it, fold the sides up and place covers back on w/ something to weigh them down so they don't blow off. If you have a shallow feeder rim all the better. A rim of 1 1/2 inch to 2 inches tall is best.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Chattanooga, TN USA
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    685

    Default Re: Sugar syrup in the winter?

    Yeah, temperatures need to be above about 55 degrees before your bees will even consider syrup (or even actual honey for that matter) because they would have to break cluster to get it.

    If you are worried about their stores and want to feed, go for dry sugar in a candy board or on newspaper directly on top of the frames.

    If you get a really warm day (like 60+), then you might be able to get them to take some actual honey from a feeder. Would not do syrup though, as the others have said, that makes serious moisture issues inside the hive.
    Beekeeper since 2013. Read my bee blog at:
    http://harrisonbayhoney.blogspot.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Isle of Wight, VA
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    461

    Default Re: Sugar syrup in the winter?

    bees won't eat their own in-hive honey unless it's above 55 degrees? That's the first I've heard that. No wonder all the bees are starving. Maybe I need to consider a seedling heat mat on the topbars vs. the mountain camp feeding method.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Taylor County, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    713

    Default Re: Sugar syrup in the winter?

    Quote Originally Posted by ruthiesbees View Post
    bees won't eat their own in-hive honey unless it's above 55 degrees? That's the first I've heard that. No wonder all the bees are starving. Maybe I need to consider a seedling heat mat on the topbars vs. the mountain camp feeding method.
    Pretty sure Edy was talking about honey that you would feed them. Not honey in the hive.
    Try it. What could happen?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    2,834

    Default Re: Sugar syrup in the winter?

    Kind of on the same subject, but if someone had extra capped frames of honey to feed instead of sugar, what would be the minimum outside temperature to be able to open the hive up, pull an empty frame next to the cluster and insert a full frame of warmed up honey? I realize sugar would be easier in an emergency situation, less disruption.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Hartford County, Connecticut
    Posts
    55

    Default Re: Sugar syrup in the winter?

    Buy a 5lb package of cake fondant, roll it out a little, wait for a 50+ degree day, lay on top of the frames on a piece of wax paper. We just did this a few weeks ago. I know, I know, you can just make it but I'm lazy.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Lynbrook, NY
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    8

    Default Re: Sugar syrup in the winter?

    Crazy question I know, but it it possible for bees to eat candy canes? And if so, could they be used for emergency feedings by hanging them off the frames and putting them close to the cluster? Sorry if this question is really dumb, but it just popped into my head.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Hartford County, Connecticut
    Posts
    55

    Default Re: Sugar syrup in the winter?

    I think they would be too hard. maybe if you crush them up a bit it might work. Plus, I don't know how much they like peppermint oil.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Lynbrook, NY
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    8

    Default Re: Sugar syrup in the winter?

    I just googled it and they hate peppermint.... that being said, how bout the other flavored kind?

  12. #12
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    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Sugar syrup in the winter?

    Yes, they can eat candy canes, but they have a hard time unwrapping the clear plastic wrapping.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Lynbrook, NY
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    8

    Default Re: Sugar syrup in the winter?

    Don't we all...

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    Default Re: Sugar syrup in the winter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Method View Post
    I just googled it and they hate peppermint.... that being said, how bout the other flavored kind?
    How about wintergreen, the mites absolutely die for it.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
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    2,539

    Default Re: Sugar syrup in the winter?

    This will work in our temps. This weekend is going to be warm enough to feed this method Veronica. As you can see IF you have eveything ready, it only takes a minute.


  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Rockford, MI
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    2,539

    Default Re: Sugar syrup in the winter?

    Quote Originally Posted by jmgi View Post
    Kind of on the same subject, but if someone had extra capped frames of honey to feed instead of sugar, what would be the minimum outside temperature to be able to open the hive up, pull an empty frame next to the cluster and insert a full frame of warmed up honey? I realize sugar would be easier in an emergency situation, less disruption.

    I read somewhere that 45 degrees was acceptable. Be careful NOT to break cluster though. Bees will move to get the honey.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    Default Re: Sugar syrup in the winter?

    Mr.Beeman, I figure if the bees are flying some, like you say around 45 degrees and hopefully with some sun, you should be able to do it, but being careful to put the frame of honey right next to the edge of the cluster and not in the middle of it.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Sugar syrup in the winter?

    If you find that a colony was gravely in need of feed and you had frames of honey to provide, what does any temperature matter. Just do it. Don't waste time thinking that it's too cold to open the hive and manipulate combs, just do it.

    I have opened hives and taken off honey in a driving snow storm w/ 6 inches of snow on the ground, having to shake bees out of supers off of combs of honey. Temps were probably in the 20s. Pallets of hives needed to be leveled to go on the truck for transporting south for Winter.

    Do what you have to do when you can, not when you want to.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  19. #19
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    Jan 2009
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    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    Default Re: Sugar syrup in the winter?

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    I have opened hives and taken off honey in a driving snow storm w/ 6 inches of snow on the ground, having to shake bees out of supers off of combs of honey. Temps were probably in the 20s.
    I would like to have seen that. I assume they survived all that or you wouldn't be talking about it.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Sugar syrup in the winter?

    Of course. My point exactly. The exposure to cold temperatures was not traumatic. Did not lead to their death.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

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