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  1. #1
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    Apr 2013
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    Vancouver, BC, Canada
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    Default Logistics of keeping up with syrup supplementation

    It seems we are in a dearth...bees certainly are interested in any drops of honey or syrup laying about. If folks from the Pacific North West can comment on whether they get a fall flow or not it would be appreciated. If we don't then it is a very short season.

    I have started feeding the nucs...not the production hives. If my assumption that production hives will have enough stores on board is wrong please let me know.

    Last year I only fed a handful of hives ...kitchen stove and 8 gallon batches of syrup worked well. This year there are more hives and 8 gallons doesn't even top up half of the nucs! I have been topping up them twice a week and they are bone dry when I check them. Larger ones get a gallon and smaller ones half a gallon. Hive top feeders...no open feeding or boardman feeders.

    How do folks that aren't commercial yet have 30 or more hives to feed make up and distribute their sugar sugar syrup?

    At the moment I use 2 4 gallon stock pots and fill 8 gallon jugs at a go. I am not keeping up with this and the family complains that the stove top always has bee water on it

    Thanks for any all ideas.
    Janne....first hives April 2013, 19 hives, treat, plant zone 8b, at sea level, latitude 49.13, longitude 123.06

  2. #2
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Logistics of keeping up with syrup supplementation

    The problem with feeding the weak and not the strong is that the strong hives often start robbing the weak hives. I feed them all or just the strong. I have better luck stealing from the strong for the weak than feeding the weak. Even if I need to feed the strong hives in order to afford to steal from them. You can steal any resources the nucs need... capped emerging brood will boost their population the quickest. Capped stores will get them set for winter. Open brood will keep them busy. Bee bread will save them work.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
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    Apr 2013
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    Default Re: Logistics of keeping up with syrup supplementation

    Thanks...my strong hives are the production hives and I don't want to risk getting syrup in the honey. Should one take off all the honey you are planning to steal before a dearth and then feed them as well?

    Last summer was my first year and I pulled the honey frames later in the summer with hopes of getting more nectar capped off.

    How do you prepare larger batches of syrup...just more pots more often or ...?
    Janne....first hives April 2013, 19 hives, treat, plant zone 8b, at sea level, latitude 49.13, longitude 123.06

  4. #4
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,593

    Default Re: Logistics of keeping up with syrup supplementation

    >Thanks...my strong hives are the production hives and I don't want to risk getting syrup in the honey. Should one take off all the honey you are planning to steal before a dearth and then feed them as well?

    If I have plenty of honey I don't feed. I might steal some capped honey for the nucs.

    >Last summer was my first year and I pulled the honey frames later in the summer with hopes of getting more nectar capped off.

    I usually harvest late mostly so I can better judge what to leave so I don't have to feed, but also so I don't have to run the bees out of the supers. If they are clustered, they are not in the supers.

    >How do you prepare larger batches of syrup...just more pots more often or ...?

    I bought a turkey fryer, something like this:
    http://www.amazon.com/King-Kooker-30...y+fryer+spigot

    But I don't remember it being that much... Anyway, it holds 7 1/2 gallons (but I only make five gallons or less in it) and it has a spigot to run it into a bucket. Once I got the measurements right I marked with a permanent marker where 12 pints is (a gallon and a half) and I add a twenty pound bag of sugar (or two tens) to make a 5 gallon bucket's worth of 5:3 syrup. It fits in a five gallon bucket. I'm not sure precisely how much it is. Probably more like 3 gallons?
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #5
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    Apr 2013
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    Vancouver, BC, Canada
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    Default Re: Logistics of keeping up with syrup supplementation

    That is about the size of the pots I use but I do like the spigot! If I got a couple of those at least it would help filling the jugs

    I have been using 1:1. ..2.5 gal H2O to 10 kg sugar for comb building and used 2 sugar to 1 water for winter build up. Do you use 5:3 all the time?
    Janne....first hives April 2013, 19 hives, treat, plant zone 8b, at sea level, latitude 49.13, longitude 123.06

  6. #6
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    Jan 2009
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    Clifford Township, PA
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    Default Re: Logistics of keeping up with syrup supplementation

    I use a 5 gallon bucket, a funnel, a paint stirring attachment for my drill and a bath tub.

    I put the sugar I need in the bucket, fill it with hot water straight from the tap, mix it well with the paint stirrer and pour it into the one or two gallon plastic pails I use as feeders. The whole process of making 5 gallons takes minutes. The faucet gives me water plenty hot without all the boiling, the paint stirrer mixes the sugar incredibly fast, the big funnel lets me fill my feeders in the confines of the tub and the tub makes the clean-up a matter of a few more minutes.

    I've tried all sorts of methods and kept the kitchen stove going long enough to make soup enough to feed a third-world nation an found the above method, as ridiculously simple as it sounds, to be the fastest and easiest.

    Wayne

  7. #7
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    Apr 2013
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    Vancouver, BC, Canada
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    Default Re: Logistics of keeping up with syrup supplementation

    How long do you have to stir the mixture? I take it any drill will work the paint stirrer...which I suppose Home Depot or the equivalent would have. If it works quickly sounds good..I already have jugs and a funnel but unfortunately can't lift a 5 gal pail
    Last edited by WBVC; 08-05-2014 at 04:00 PM.
    Janne....first hives April 2013, 19 hives, treat, plant zone 8b, at sea level, latitude 49.13, longitude 123.06

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
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    2,960

    Default Re: Logistics of keeping up with syrup supplementation

    Hi Janne,

    You are right not to feed your production colonies when there are honey supers on them.

    You are running the risk of the bees consuming some honey currently in the supers. If they do, it wasn't really surplus was it?

    I had 40 colonies last year and am down to 25 at the moment. I mix my syrup in a plastic trash can with a canoe paddle. I do not heat water on the stove instead having an immersion heater that goes right in the water. A side benefit is that I'm able to accurately calculate ratios by weight. I have a package scale that holds 5 gallon buckets of water nicely. Having said I can accurately calculate ratios I've never had the bees reject syrup.

    Many people harvest honey as it is ready, particularly if they are producing varietal honey. It seems to me as a hobbyist not concerned with getting every penny out of the bees that I can that it makes no sense to put the bees in a position where they need feed from me in order to survive when I have taken "surplus" honey from them already. I understand there are folks who compare the price of sugar and the price of honey and conclude that economically sugar is the proper bee food. I don't keep bees exclusively for economic gain.

    The only 100% accurate way to tell what your production colonies have for stores is to look - in other words to inspect.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    28,067

    Default Re: Logistics of keeping up with syrup supplementation

    If you would feed your strong colonies, you could potentially equalize brood and stores and boost the weak hives. You can feed the weak hives and still never get them to a beneficial size or weight.

    Always feed the strong colonies.
    Mark Berninghausen
    Squeak Creek Apiaries



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    Vancouver, BC, Canada
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    Default Re: Logistics of keeping up with syrup supplementation

    What brand..make/model of immersion heater do you use. I would think considerable. Wattage would be required.


    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Dewey View Post
    Hi Janne,

    You are right not to feed your production colonies when there are honey supers on them.

    You are running the risk of the bees consuming some honey currently in the supers. If they do, it wasn't really surplus was it?

    I had 40 colonies last year and am down to 25 at the moment. I mix my syrup in a plastic trash can with a canoe paddle. I do not heat water on the stove instead having an immersion heater that goes right in the water. A side benefit is that I'm able to accurately calculate ratios by weight. I have a package scale that holds 5 gallon buckets of water nicely. Having said I can accurately calculate ratios I've never had the bees reject syrup.

    Many people harvest honey as it is ready, particularly if they are producing varietal honey. It seems to me as a hobbyist not concerned with getting every penny out of the bees that I can that it makes no sense to put the bees in a position where they need feed from me in order to survive when I have taken "surplus" honey from them already. I understand there are folks who compare the price of sugar and the price of honey and conclude that economically sugar is the proper bee food. I don't keep bees exclusively for economic gain.

    The only 100% accurate way to tell what your production colonies have for stores is to look - in other words to inspect.
    Janne....first hives April 2013, 19 hives, treat, plant zone 8b, at sea level, latitude 49.13, longitude 123.06

  11. #11
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    Apr 2013
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    Vancouver, BC, Canada
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    Default Re: Logistics of keeping up with syrup supplementation

    So is a thriving summer started nuc considered a weak or a strong hive? I have been feeding hives that are not production hives, that have been started since May...several in the past couple of weeks...or I had hoped they would be production hives but with swarming and repeated Queen failures (hatched QC but no mated return..2 of which were my own fault) they are not strong enough to make adequate far less surplus honey.

    I guess in my mind if it is not strong enough yo be a production hive it is offered help.

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    If you would feed your strong colonies, you could potentially equalize brood and stores and boost the weak hives. You can feed the weak hives and still never get them to a beneficial size or weight.

    Always feed the strong colonies.
    Janne....first hives April 2013, 19 hives, treat, plant zone 8b, at sea level, latitude 49.13, longitude 123.06

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    tacoma, wa. usa
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    171

    Default Re: Logistics of keeping up with syrup supplementation

    I am in the NW, Tacoma area...

    If we aren't in a dearth, we are about to be....if you're out in the woods at all, the blackberries were the end of the main flow here...I have several hives in the burbs and they are still pulling in some, but my outlanders are not adding any weight to the hive in the last week, almost two.

    I pulled the supers I wanted this last weekend and extracted, put them back for clean up and took a look at who had what, but will pull the excess boxes and start to let them consolidate to their winter setup (two deeps, plus one Western).

    I am starting to feed now. Everything was a couple of weeks early for us here. Last year, I waited too long, and several of my hives used up a full box of honey to get through August to September and I got very much less. This year I am approaching it a bit different having taken more early, left them decent stores and will start feeding them all.....it's pretty hot here now and not much rain for the last three weeks with pretty high temps, and more of the same looking forward at the extended forecast, more of the same... hot and dry. A commercial friend of mine had pulled his hives up to higher elevations near Rainier to hit the fireweed, but it was so dry, the bees were hardly working them and he's pulled them back down early...

    As for the fall flow, yes we do get one, but it can be pretty scattered....we shoot for hive weights here of 100lbs plus (75lbs of actual honey in frames), and quit feeding 2:1 after night time temps hit the mid 50's...and go to Mountain Camp or Lauri's winter sugar block recipes...

    have fun!

  13. #13
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    Jan 2009
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    Clifford Township, PA
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    Default Re: Logistics of keeping up with syrup supplementation

    Quote Originally Posted by WBVC View Post
    How do you have to stir the mixture? I take it any drill will work the paint stirrer...which I suppose Home Depot or the equivalent would have. If it works quickly sounds good..I already have jugs and a funnel but unfortunately can't lift a 5 gal pail
    I use an ancient Black & Decker variable speed drill with a 3/8" chuck. The paint stirrer I got at Lowes. It has a shaft about 2 feet long and mixing takes maybe two minutes. Start out slow as the sugar dissolves, then speed up. For a thicker syrup like 2:1, it might take a minute longer, I'm guessing? I've never actually timed the process to the exact time since it seemed fast enough for me..

    To keep splashing to a minimum, I would still use the 5 gallon bucket to do the mixing in, but mix smaller batches, say 2 gallons each. I do that a lot since most of my feeders are two gallons. It's easier to lift and pour.

    Wayne

  14. #14
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    Dec 2013
    Location
    North Okananagan BC Canada
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    83

    Default Re: Logistics of keeping up with syrup supplementation

    As a newbie, I am not sure I understand, if you are in a dearth and considering feeding, why leave the honey supers on? Would not the bees start to consume them since they are out of ready available food sources? Do you hope they will add to it if you get a fall flow? Would it not be easier on the bees to extract and give them back built frames to refill?
    Regards

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Lexington, SC, USA
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    139

    Default Re: Logistics of keeping up with syrup supplementation

    Quote Originally Posted by waynesgarden View Post
    I use an ancient Black & Decker variable speed drill with a 3/8" chuck. The paint stirrer I got at Lowes. It has a shaft about 2 feet long and mixing takes maybe two minutes. Start out slow as the sugar dissolves, then speed up. For a thicker syrup like 2:1, it might take a minute longer, I'm guessing? I've never actually timed the process to the exact time since it seemed fast enough for me..

    To keep splashing to a minimum, I would still use the 5 gallon bucket to do the mixing in, but mix smaller batches, say 2 gallons each. I do that a lot since most of my feeders are two gallons. It's easier to lift and pour.

    Wayne
    I do the same thing, but use a big cup to dip out of thr bucket into the funnel. You can mix almost a full bucket without splashing. Keep the paint stirrer low in thr bucket.

  16. #16
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    Jun 2014
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    Mount Airy, Frederick county, MD, USA
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    151

    Default Re: Logistics of keeping up with syrup supplementation

    Quote Originally Posted by WBVC View Post
    How do you have to stir the mixture? I take it any drill will work the paint stirrer...which I suppose Home Depot or the equivalent would have. If it works quickly sounds good..I already have jugs and a funnel but unfortunately can't lift a 5 gal pail
    I can't lift a full five gallon either I've been dipping the mixed solution out of my bucket into my dispensing jugs via a very large ladle or measuring cup, whichever is handy.

    We call it bee soup here and my family says I cook more for the bees than I do for them. However, the bees don't turn their noses up...the family complains every night..
    Newbee with three hives and two nucs, zone 6b

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    Campbell River, BC, CA
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    534

    Default Re: Logistics of keeping up with syrup supplementation

    Quote Originally Posted by WBVC View Post
    Thanks...my strong hives are the production hives and I don't want to risk getting syrup in the honey.
    I took honey off the producers in the yard here a few weeks ago. Those that didn't move up to the fireweed patch, are now in the back lot and have feeders on. I only gave them enough to 'tide them over' for a few weeks, 1:1 syrup, a 4 liter milk jug each. Goldenrod is starting to bloom here, so I'm expecting that will help them out a little as well.

    We'll be bringing the rest down from the fireweed patch in another week or so. When they come home, they go on my shiny new hive stands we finished out in the back lot yesterday. Supers will come off and go thru the extractor. I've got a few that have turned into a very successful experiment, queen excluder between the two deeps, queen in the box below. Those have a deep and a medium super full of fireweed nectar right now. Current plan is to give them all a couple gallons of 1:1 as soon as they are back home, then start dealing with mites. We will weigh them all in the first week of september, and then stack on as much 2:1 as necessary to get them up to wintering weight.

    As far as cooking up bee food, this year I'll get away with using a 5 gallon stockpot, but by next year I'm going to need something a little larger. I've been eyeing this one up to now, but I do like the one posted earlier with a spigot, if only it was a little larger.

    http://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/in...-0422513p.html

    At 64 liters (roughly 16 gallons) , one can do a fairly good batch in one go, but the logistics of getting it from the pot into the feeders looks to be a PITA. A spigot would help a lot for that.

    If I lived over in Vancouver like you do, I'd look into sidestepping the whole process, and look into buying liquid sugar at the refinery. It would save a ton of hassle, pull up with pickup and pump it directly into a tank in the back. From there, pump it directly into the feeders on the hives. It may or may not need to be diluted with water along the way.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
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    Washington County, Maine
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    Default Re: Logistics of keeping up with syrup supplementation

    Quote Originally Posted by WBVC View Post
    What brand..make/model of immersion heater do you use. I would think considerable. Wattage would be required.
    My unit does not have a brand on it. According to the label it is Model 742G Bucket Heater - 1000 watts. I got this from Walter Kelley some years back.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Logistics of keeping up with syrup supplementation

    I'm probably never going to understand the obsession with feeding.... but let's look at it this way. Feeding is one of the most important tools you have as a beekeeper. It's also one of the most dangerous tools you have as a beekeeper. A sledge hammer is one of the most important tools you can have as someone in construction. But that doesn't mean you pull out a sledge for every construction problem... and when you do, you should always apply it thoughtfully and carefully...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2002
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    San Mateo, CA
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    4,992

    Default Re: Logistics of keeping up with syrup supplementation

    I fill five gallon buckets of HFCS at Mann Lake and forgo the mixing work and equipment.

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