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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    Concord, NC
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    Default Starting a new package

    Hello all. I am new to bee keeping, started last year only to have my hive abscond in late summer. This year I plan on doing some warre hives and I have read the book Beekeeping for All by Emile Warre.

    Gathered from his book, he was much against feeding sugar and letting the bees do what they do on their own. So my question is, how does one start with a package? Do you let them do on their own or feed them? This part was not clear to me.

    Also he recommends 2kg of bees, this is about 4.5 pounds. A typical package of bees is 2 pounds, this is roughly 2 pounds short of his recommendation. What are your thoughts? Is one package fine or do you buy 2, one with queen one without? The next question would then be, how to join all bees so everyone gets along?

    Thanks!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Starting a new package

    Buy one package and feed the first year and you'll be right. You need lots of combs before winter and stores to build up for the bees to overwinter on. So feed.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    fairfield, sc
    Posts
    129

    Default Re: Starting a new package

    I agree. Feed Feed.

    One thing I learned whenever starting packages and from reading is that you never know what is in the package - nurse bees, 'flyers', guard bees .. .?? With the life expediency of a bee somewhere around 35 days or so - everything that you get in a package is already on the count-down. You are fortunate that you already have some drawn comb for them to start filling with honey stores, pollen, and eggs - which is about a 2-week cycle on a fresh non-drawn hive. If possible, whenever I start a new package or split, I always give some honey and capped brood to them so that I can maintain a good 'life' cycle through the hive while the 'older/package/nuc' is starting out.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Danbury, CT
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    2,887

    Default Re: Starting a new package

    What is your geographic location? The need to feed or not is dependant on where you are located.

    Packages of bees are available as 2, 3 and 4 lb packs depending on who you buy from.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Danbury, CT
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    2,887

    Default Re: Starting a new package

    Quote Originally Posted by seapro220 View Post
    I agree. Feed Feed.

    One thing I learned whenever starting packages and from reading is that you never know what is in the package - nurse bees, 'flyers', guard bees .. .?? With the life expediency of a bee somewhere around 35 days or so - everything that you get in a package is already on the count-down.
    Packages are filled with Nurse bees because they can't fly, which makes getting them into the package easy Many of the bees in your winter clusters are there in November and still there in April. The life expectancy of a worker is dependent on work conditions. They also do not have to progress to the next stage in life if there is a demand for nurse bees to rear brood, they can stay as nurse bees until the demand for stores outweighs the demand for nurse bees.

    In the fall field bees actually regress to a nurse bee state.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Concord, NC
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Starting a new package

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrass View Post
    What is your geographic location? The need to feed or not is dependant on where you are located.

    Packages of bees are available as 2, 3 and 4 lb packs depending on who you buy from.
    I am in Concord, NC. The packages are coming from Georgia and will be here April sometime. We almost always get a freeze right around April 15 then begins the warming trend.

    Thanks for the advice guys! So feed a 1:1 by weight or 2:1? I have some comb with honey from last year that has been in the freezer. Not sure how to put this in the Warre as there is no frames to lash to. Hang it with some string maybe?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,142

    Default Re: Starting a new package

    If there is a nectar source and you have reason to believe they can fly most of the time, you don't have to feed them at all. But it's probably best to feed them because it could rain for a week and they have no stores. Feeding until they have stores makes sense. After that, I would let them forage. If you feed constantly they will often backfill the brood nest and swarm before they are even well established.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Danbury, CT
    Posts
    2,887

    Default Re: Starting a new package

    In your area I would not feed a new Package except for leaving them what ever is left in the syrup can when they arrive. When they arrive they will be tanked up on syrup anyway and unless you are in a drought they will have plenty to forage on.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Starting a new package

    It doesn't matter if there is forage out there if there are no or little foragers in that hive. I have seen hungry hives in the midst of a main flow. It doesn't do the bees good if they have to starve when they establish. If they have the foragers and enough to find outside they ignore the feed anyway. The hint about the right amount is true: feed in small amounts but continiously.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Big Stone Gap, VA
    Posts
    968

    Default Re: Starting a new package

    Quote Originally Posted by wolfster101 View Post
    Gathered from his book, he was much against feeding sugar and letting the bees do what they do on their own. So my question is, how does one start with a package? Do you let them do on their own or feed them? This part was not clear to me.

    Also he recommends 2kg of bees, this is about 4.5 pounds. A typical package of bees is 2 pounds, this is roughly 2 pounds short of his recommendation. What are your thoughts? Is one package fine or do you buy 2, one with queen one without? The next question would then be, how to join all bees so everyone gets along?

    Thanks!
    I am in the minority about feeding. I only feed when bees need it. For a new package with undrawn comb, I would give a quart of syrup. If there was no flow on, then I would give them more. Once a flow is on, I stop feeding. If they are light going into the fall, sure, I would feed then.

    Shane

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Danbury, CT
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    2,887

    Default Re: Starting a new package

    Quote Originally Posted by BernhardHeuvel View Post
    It doesn't matter if there is forage out there if there are no or little foragers in that hive. I have seen hungry hives in the midst of a main flow. It doesn't do the bees good if they have to starve when they establish. If they have the foragers and enough to find outside they ignore the feed anyway. The hint about the right amount is true: feed in small amounts but continiously.
    I suspect that the commercially available US bees are a different animal from what might be available in Germany. A US package with a spring nectar flow on and good weather will never starve. They came with a quart of HFCS on board which is plenty to get them started. I sell hundreds of packages a year and install dozens and rarely give them any more then what they come with.

    Like MB said if it is raining for a week after install or an extreme drought that is different, but those conditions in April on the eastern seaboard is rare.

    I think if the goal is to follow Warre methods then the bees should not be given feed unless it is needed.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Concord, NC
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Starting a new package

    I verified the weight of the packages and they are 3 pounds. So based on the advice given here, I think I will install them and give a quart 1:1 raw sugar to help them get started. I hate the idea they are feeding on HFCS, that stuff is evil.

    I have some frames from last years Langs with capped and uncapped honey, it has been kept in the deep freezer since they absconded. Does anyone recommend somehow tying this to the top bars and adding to the hive? I might even be able to cut them down to fit with the table saw.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Danbury, CT
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    2,887

    Default Re: Starting a new package

    I would keep the lang frames in the freezer. It is always good to have an extra hive available in case your Warre throws a swarm.

    From a chemical standpoint HFCS is closer to what the bees need than cane or beet sugar is because the sugars in it are already inverted. When making fondant we invert the sugar with an acid, with simple syrup nobody inverts the sugars so then the bees have to do it.

    Both are just Fructose and Glucose. If you believe HFCS is bad for your bees, white sugar is equally as bad. They are almost the same only in different forms. (main difference is that HFCS contains a slightly higher concentration of fructose to glucose, were white sugar is 50/50.)
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,142

    Default Re: Starting a new package

    >If you believe HFCS is bad for your bees, white sugar is equally as bad.

    http://phys.org/news/2013-04-high-fr...worldwide.html
    http://www.researchgate.net/publicat...pis_mellifera)

    This would seem to indicate that dry sugar is best:
    http://beeinformed.org/2013/09/carbo...vey-2011-2012/

    Randy Oliver:
    "Based upon the research that I’ve found, and from speaking with commercial beekeepers, bees likely prefer sucrose, build up better on it, and winter better on it. Therefore, a number of beekeepers are compromising, by asking for sucrose/HFCS blends—this way they cut costs, yet get some of the benefits of sucrose. These blends were a hot topic in California last year, when a number of beekeepers suffered colony damage from problematic HFCS blends"
    http://scientificbeekeeping.com/fat-bees-part-3/

    And some of why honey is best:
    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/04/26/1303884110
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Danbury, CT
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    2,887

    Default Re: Starting a new package

    Mike: Your first article states:

    The researchers aren't suggesting that high-fructose corn syrup is itself toxic to bees, instead, they say their findings indicate that by eating the replacement food instead of honey, the bees are not being exposed to other chemicals that help the bees fight off toxins, such as those found in pesticides.
    The same is true for Sugar.

    Also they have a problem in the statement that HFCS is linked to CCD around the world. Feeding HFCS to bees is exclusively a North American Phenomenon so it can't possibly be linked to CCD anywhere else. Because of our ability to grow massive amounts of corn HFCS is cheap here, but that is not the case in Europe and other industrialized nations. Their cases of CCD cannot be linked to HFCS because they don't feed it... they do feed sugar however.

    Hydroxymethylfurfural is toxic to bees, but only develops in HFCS if the syrup is heated to a certain temp. I know of no one who heats HFCS prior to feeding so that point is also mute. It is also possible to scorch simple syrup while heating and cause a build up of hydroxymethylfurfural so the risk is also there with plain white sugar as well.

    Honey is best; I agree. My advise to the OP was to not feed at all as it will not be needed. The pack comes shipped with HFCS, let them have that and gather what they need otherwise.

    Chemically the differences are.
    #1. HFCS is inverted sugar, white sugar is not but can be with the addition of heat and an acid.
    #2 White sugar is 50/50 Glucose and Fructose (Sucrose), HFCS is 55% Fructose to 45% Glucose not chemically bound.

    That is the extent of the differences.

    Any claims that Sucrose is best is hogwash; the bees have to invert sucrose in order to metabolise it.
    Last edited by bluegrass; 02-19-2014 at 12:06 PM.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,142

    Default Re: Starting a new package

    >Any claims that Sucrose is best is hogwash; the bees have to invert sucrose in order to metabolise it.

    There have been several studies that show higher mortality to bees from HFCS. There have also been studies that show bees are more attracted to sucrose than HFCS. So the bees seem to disagree with your assessment. I'm not convinced they HAVE to invert it. They DO invert it, or something in their honey stomach does. All of the studies I've seen on inverting sugar when making syrup increased bee mortality. I don't know the cause. Usually they were using tartaric acid aka cream of tartar, so perhaps that is the culprit or perhaps the bees NEED to go through the process of inverting it...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Danbury, CT
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    Default Re: Starting a new package

    If you look up the chemical composition of honey you will find that Sucrose makes up a very small percentage of the sugar (<9%) present in it. The majority of the sugars in it are Fructose and Glucose at usually >80% of the composition

    Most nectars however are Sucrose heavy, which means the bees are inverting it when making honey. If they din't need to invert it to utilize it; Sucrose would not be the minor sugar left over in Honey.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2803417/
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  18. #18
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    Aug 2006
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    Danbury, CT
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    Default Re: Starting a new package

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    There have also been studies that show bees are more attracted to sucrose than HFCS. So the bees seem to disagree with your assessment.
    Not according to USDA bee lab research: http://www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles...20Frustose.pdf
    Results hives with a choice of HFCS and cane sugar syrup showed a strongly significant preferance for the HFCS
    Last edited by bluegrass; 02-19-2014 at 02:26 PM.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Belews Creek, NC, USA
    Posts
    330

    Default Re: Starting a new package

    I'm not too far up the road from you. I started out buying 2 packages early in April and had no comb for them to start out on...only foundation. I had to feed so they could build their comb. In my opinion, I would feed. They will choose nectar over sugar, so having syrup available is good insurance. When you see they have stopped taking it, remove it from the hive.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Athens, OH
    Posts
    2,695

    Default Re: Starting a new package

    Quote Originally Posted by wolfster101 View Post
    So based on the advice given here, I think I will install them and give a quart 1:1 raw sugar to help them get started.
    If you are talking about "raw sugar" like they sell in health food stores, DON"T DO IT. You want refined white sugar.
    Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. -Frank Zappa

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