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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Logan, UT
    Posts
    23

    Default How often to add winter feed?

    I have two hives, started both from packages last spring. One hive went into winter stronger than the other (in terms of numbers). They were likely equal in stores. They are both in 3 medium boxes. I checked on them today quickly to see where the clusters were (it was pushing 30 degrees which is a warm day for us right now). In the first hive - the one with fewer numbers - I couldn't see the cluster, but I could see a few bees and still lots of honey in that top box. I closed up quickly.

    In the second hive - the one that started with more numbers - the cluster is clear to the top and on the top cover. I added in about a cup of sugar, mountain camp style, on top of two strips of newspaper placed on either side of the cluster. Did I do right? I assumed that this hive has eaten through its stores based upon its location and larger size. And how often should I check to see if they have eaten the sugar and need more?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Aberdeen, Idaho
    Posts
    458

    Default Re: How often to add winter feed?

    The sugar needs to be right on top of the bees, not to the side of them. Bang the inner cover and knock any bees clinging to it off. Put the inner cover on for a couple of minutes to allow flyers to settle. Put the paper on top of the bees. The bees will move down away from the paper. Add the sugar slowly. This early in the winter and knowing where you are I would add at least 3 cups of sugar. If they eat through this pile of sugar add more.
    Dave

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Norfolk, VA
    Posts
    166

    Default Re: How often to add winter feed?

    What dave said. Just check every few days and add more when getting low.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,104

    Default Re: How often to add winter feed?

    Lift the back of the hive. If it's light, feed. If it's not, leave them alone.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    4,062

    Default Re: How often to add winter feed?

    Michael Bush - I know you have a lot of experience and are highly respected, but that is an awfully absolute blanket statement to make.

    I have had a few hives die with a cluster that was just a few inches away from honey, and I bet you have too. If the cluster is at the top, and you add "Mt Camp" sugar on top of the cluster - and you don't let them use it all up - they will not starve. And, you can tell even when it is too cold for an inspection in about one second by peeking under the lid if they are out of sugar - when you lift the back of the hive and it feels "heavy" - which is not an easy judgement for beginners to make BTW - you still don't know if the honey is right next to the cluster or two boxes away.

    Occasionally during long stretches of cold weather - which we really don't have all that many of in the south - there will be a little bit of bee-poo deposited on top of the sugar. That can't be particularly good, but as far as I can tell I have never lost a hive to nosema (I don't use fumagillin) and I have never had a hive starve out with sugar on top. I really haven't lost many hives at all over winters.

    So, those are the upsides of feeding mt camp style that I see. What are the downsides?
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,104

    Default Re: How often to add winter feed?

    >Michael Bush - I know you have a lot of experience and are highly respected, but that is an awfully absolute blanket statement to make.

    I think bees are better off left alone in the winter UNLESS they are starving.

    >I have had a few hives die with a cluster that was just a few inches away from honey, and I bet you have too.

    Many times. Usually because they are on brood. If the weather warms up they will rearrange everything (move honey next to the brood) if it doesn't they may die. But if I go messing with them in winter I'm not convinced I'm making things better UNLESS they have no stores.

    >If the cluster is at the top, and you add "Mt Camp" sugar on top of the cluster - and you don't let them use it all up - they will not starve.

    Perhaps.

    >And, you can tell even when it is too cold for an inspection in about one second by peeking under the lid if they are out of sugar - when you lift the back of the hive and it feels "heavy" - which is not an easy judgement for beginners to make BTW

    I agree, but no judgment is easy until you start practicing it.

    > - you still don't know if the honey is right next to the cluster or two boxes away.

    No, I don't. But if it's cold, they are on their own. I'm not convinced I'm doing them any favors messing with them when it's cold.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,863

    Default Re: How often to add winter feed?

    IMO, assessing the food reserves of a colony in winter by lifting the back of the hive is not the way I do it, I much prefer to take a quick peek under the inner cover and see if the sugar I left on top last time is untouched, half gone, or the bees are running on fumes. Even if an experienced beekeeper lifts the hive, and it feels heavy to you, how do you know that the honey is not below or way off to the sides of the cluster where it is not accessible in very cold weather? The fact is, you don't know for sure unless you actually see it for yourself. I would much rather know for sure, rather than hope everything is ok and not look.

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