Mountaincamp Revisited
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  1. #1
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    Default Mountaincamp Revisited

    A few years ago, there was a thread here about the Mountaincamp method. I said I didn't like the method, and had a long winded discussion with MC and others. The consensus was that if it didn't do any harm then so what. I left it be.

    I still don't like it. When since the last ice age...or before...have bees placed granulated sugar on top of their combs? Never of course. They place their stores in the combs...sealed away nice and convenient to the winter cluster. That winter cluster is quiet, not actively processing sucrose. I believe that active clusters consume more stores and have greater amounts of indigestables in their gut...meaning greater need for cleansing flights.

    But many beekeepers are in the south, and never worry if the bees will even need a cleansing flight in the winter. Fair enough.

    I still don't like it. It seems to me that a colony of bees should be prepared before the end of the season. This means feeding what the bees need...if they need...early enough so it is stored in the combs, ripened, and capped. The original poster fed syrup until Thanksgiving. Moisture problems, eh? Of course. So, the sugar was the answer to the moisture problem. Also, some insurance against the colony running out of feed.

    Ok, I understand that. I still don't like it. But, since all say that it doesn't hurt the bees, what's the big deal?

    I really couldn't answer that one, so I dropped it. Don't get me wrong, I would sugar my bees in an emergency, too.Yet it still distresses me that so many new beekeepers are so quick to take up a seemingly easy...all ya gotta do is...kind of management. Paying no mind to good basic beekeeping. I never could find anything negative about sugaring your bees...and believe me I looked...until now.

    Tony Jadczak and his son Alex did a survey on Nosema. The performed spore counts on 4 apiaries, 2 in New York, and 2 in Maine. The study was in 2008 in the spring. I think the results speak for themselves. In all cases, the spore count went up significantly with sugar on the bees. Even more telling, the spore counts went up more in the sugared hives than the controls.

    All colonies were positive for Nosema.

    Maine hives averaged 3,790,909 spores/bee
    New York hives ave. 980,250 spores/bee
    Range: 50,000-28,350,000 spores/bee
    NY trial: 2/14-3/13/08
    ME trial: 3/6-4/8/08
    184 samples

    The bees were divided into 4 groups in each apiary. These 4 groups were:
    1 Control: No action taken
    2 Sugar Boards: Feeder boards containing slightly moistened granulated sugar so it would stick in the board. No heating like a candy board, or treatment added. Sugar was the consistency of caked granulated sugar ala the MC method.
    3 Dust: Comprised of fumigillin and powdered sugar
    4 FCandy: Sugar Board with fumigillin added

    At the end of the trial, the bees were sampled again for nosema spores.

    NY Results:
    Control: -83K spores
    Candy: +1.1 million spores
    Dust: -1.1 million spores
    FCandy: -600K spores

    ME results:
    Control: +5.4 million spores
    Candy: +12.8 million spores
    Dust: -3.9 million spores
    FCandy: -5.6 million spores

    Pooled Data:
    Control: +2.6 million spores
    Candy: +6.7 million spores
    Dust: -2.45 million spores
    FCandy: -2.53 million spores

    Tony said the possible difference between spore counts in ME and NY...note the control in NY went down..is probably due to NY being a better production area than ME. Spore counts seemingly go down when nutrition is improved.

    Comments?

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Mountaincamp Revisited

    Ok Dumb question If I have to feed sugar is it wise to add a pollen patty when the sugar is added. No mites in this area? Not for me. I really like the idea of small cell. I am going to pass up on small cell this year. All my new hives are going on natural ? cell this year. All the hives that I have now are on small cell, they did not build up at all and I am feeding sugar I took no honey. I requeened all my hives this year. I think honey is best also. Come on spring. 4 below 0 here tonight. Good luck Tony

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Mountaincamp Revisited

    Michael,

    The definition of "control" says "no action taken".
    However, do we know if the control hives were fed HFCS, sugar syrup, or any other thing before going into winter ?? Or were they expected to survive only on their own forage -- Honey reserve ?? If they were fed then "no action taken" does not have the same meaning.

    In California, my bees are never fed.... nor are they dusted, powdered, or petted. They only subsist on their forage and storage.
    Want to check my spore counts ?

    Fuzzy

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Mountaincamp Revisited

    I have read that some beeks have noticed large amounts of defecation on their sugar. Since that is how nosema is spread, makes sense that MC could spread this disease...

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Mountaincamp Revisited

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuzzy View Post
    Michael,

    The definition of "control" says "no action taken".
    However, do we know if the control hives were fed HFCS, sugar syrup, or any other thing before going into winter ??
    I would say that all colonies in each group were treated the same the previous Fall. So, apples are compared with apples. The point is that in all cases the colonies with plain sugar boards had higher spore counts than the controls.
    Mike

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Mountaincamp Revisited

    Quote Originally Posted by mudlake View Post
    Ok Dumb question If I have to feed sugar is it wise to add a pollen patty when the sugar is added. All the hives that I have now are on small cell, they did not build up at all and I am feeding sugar I took no honey.
    I couldn't tell you. I guess it would depend on your location and your Fall pollen flow. You say your colonies didn't build up. When did you discover that they weren't building up? Did you know by, say, August or September? At that point you should have been feeding 2:1 so they could have set up and provisioned their winter broodnest before the end of the season. If yo wait too long, then your options are limited.

  8. #7

    Default Re: Mountaincamp Revisited

    Ok, I'm getting in trouble here:
    But I'm going to try to do this in a nice way.

    First, I agree Mike, wholeheartedly that beekeepers should only feed dry sugar when you are really quite sure that your bees will not make it without some kind of intervention.

    And by "really quite sure" I mean that they're SUPER LIGHT and you don't have any honey to give them.

    I've done this, in fact I've got one colony that I put about 25lbs of sugar on in late October. They had swarmed late, barely managed to requeen themselves, and just didn't set up for fall. But they were a happy healthy bunch with a new queen and a decent (but small) brood pattern in October. Most beekeepers would have "taken their losses" but as I still treat my colonies like pets for the most part and since this colony in particular is on of the CCBA club hives so I didn't want to combine it with one of mine, I put the sugar on.

    As of last check 2+- weeks ago, they were sounding and looking great.

    I don't use fumadyl in my operation (yet, but I do have a big bottle in the freezer in case I need it).

    And I totally agree that many new beekeepers are afraid of winter kill and immediately start looking for a crutch for their bees "in case they need it" and turn to dry sugar or other feeding.
    I have a better suggestion: Leave on an extra medium of honey!
    Increase your winter setup to two deeps plus one medium or 4 mediums.

    Starvation = not a problem.

    Easy, elegant, works with the bees.

    Sugar makes bees need to poop. Unless they are certain to die without it, keep sugar out of your hives.
    Erin Forbes, EAS Master Beekeeper
    overlandhoney.com

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Mountaincamp Revisited

    "..a colony of bees should be prepared before the end of the season. This means feeding what the bees need...if they need...early enough so it is stored in the combs, ripened, and capped."

    ,.....OB. That's what the "books" say!

    One fall, I had to feed the bees perhaps too late. In the spring I could shake syrup from some of the combs. I don't know if it was fermented but that didn't seem right to me; to have that in the hive over winter. Normally the amount of nectar being brought into a hive is gradually lessening during late fall and is being ripened.
    Last edited by Oldbee; 01-31-2010 at 09:58 AM.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Mountaincamp Revisited

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    1. Tony Jadczak and his son Alex did a survey on Nosema.

    2. All colonies were positive for Nosema.


    3. n.y. trial: 2/14-3/13/08
    ME trial: 3/6-4/8/08

    Dust: Comprised of fumigillin and powdered sugar
    FCandy: Sugar Board with fumigillin added



    NY Results:
    Control: -83K spores
    Candy: +1.1 million spores
    Dust: -1.1 million spores
    FCandy: -600K spores

    ME results:
    Control: +5.4 million spores
    Candy: +12.8 million spores
    Dust: -3.9 million spores
    FCandy: -5.6 million spores



    4. Tony said the possible difference between spore counts in ME and NY...note the control in NY went down..is probably due to NY being a better production area than ME. Spore counts seemingly go down when nutrition is improved.
    I don't use the mcc method but have some questions, should match inserted #'s above.
    1. who is Tony Jadczak and his son Alex ? beeks reaserchers?
    2. what were they testing for n.a. or n.c. or just in nosema in general?

    3 and 4. How were they getting bee samples in N.Y. through 3/13? #4 he says possible less spores in N.Y. due to better production area, but around here any way there is no pollen comming in around 3/13? so if they are using the pollen allready in the hive why would the numbers go down?

    I do think the one thing that they did show is that fumigel does work, thats why I'm interested in what they were testing for.

    another thing, not related to this post, is that on Randy Olivers site, he has stated that you can test a hive one day and get a high spore count, test at a different time and get a low or zero count from the same hive? he does more testing than anyone else that posts so I have to believe what he says. if thats true how can you be certain about anything when doeing testing?
    mike syracuse ny
    Whatever you subsidize you get more of. Ronald Reagan

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Mountaincamp Revisited

    Quote Originally Posted by wildbranch2007 View Post
    I don't use the mcc method but have some questions, should match inserted #'s above.
    1. who is Tony Jadczak and his son Alex ? beeks reaserchers?

    2. what were they testing for n.a. or n.c. or just in nosema in general?

    3 and 4. How were they getting bee samples in N.Y. through 3/13?

    #4 he says possible less spores in N.Y. due to better production area, but around here any way there is no pollen comming in around 3/13? so if they are using the pollen allready in the hive why would the numbers go down?

    I do think the one thing that they did show is that fumigel does work, thats why I'm interested in what they were testing for.

    another thing, not related to this post, is that on Randy Olivers site, he has stated that you can test a hive one day and get a high spore count, test at a different time and get a low or zero count from the same hive? he does more testing than anyone else that posts so I have to believe what he says. if thats true how can you be certain about anything when doeing testing?

    1. TJ is the State of Maine bee inspector. Has held the job for decades. One of the best field people I know. Has a degree from Rutgers. Alex is his son, and a very good lab person.

    2. Nosema in general. In 2008, probably N. ceranae. Did you know that N. ceranae has been here since at least as far back as 1985? Tony had preserved samples that clearly show that...see...states used to de-popuilate colonies found with Tracheal mite. Tony had to take samples from operations to show TM infestation. Insurance for the State in possible lawsuits.

    3. Not sure if the bees were taken from the cluster of from flying bees. I don't think it matters. What matters is that all colonies were dealt with in the same way.

    4. Because there was pollen in the hive, or they were able to gather fresh pollen. The bees in each state were not compared with each other. Maine hives were compared to Maine hives. New York to New York. What you should be looking at is the change in the numbers, not the numbers themselves. It's that change...spore counts went up in colonies with sugar...even more than the control colonies.

    Concerning Randy...yes, that's obviously true. Look at the numbers.

    The New York controls, as a group, went down with a second test. What about the sugar bees? The group went up. Why? Only difference was the sugar.

    Look at the Maine group. The control went up 5.4 million spores, while the sugar bees went up 12.8. You don't think that significant? More than double the increase. You have to look at the trend.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Mountaincamp Revisited

    Its an interesting OP.

    I'm using MCM on many of my colonies (not all) for a couple of reasons.

    1. Moisture Management (I also have open screened bottom boards)
    2. Insurance

    I take 2 sheets of newspaper, throw a pollen patty on and cover with sugar. I use this in conjunction with a shim for room as well as a small top entrance (above snow)

    The bees don't go for the Sugar unless they run out of stores or are caught at the topmost portion of the top box with no stores in reach/they cannot move due to cold.

    I suspect that MCM really begs the question of why folks use it.

    Are you using it as Insurance (ie you are leaving what SHOULD be enough stores) OR are you taking robbing too much honey and leaving them with Sugar as a substitute?

    I do think the correlation between bees eating sugar and increased incidence of nosema is interesting.
    Milk Cows Not Taxpayers

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Mountaincamp Revisited

    Feeding dry sugar in the winter is not a new invention, it was used by old timers as an emergency feeding to prevent starvation. I dont have a problem if it is used like that. On the other hand the need for such feeding is a reminder of the beekeepers failure to proper prepare the colony for winter.

    What is new, and I strongly disapprove, is the practice of such feeding as fall/winter management.

    Such feedings will benefit and prevent the starvation of only the colonies that need it. Everything being equal, such colonies have more problems than low reserves, actually the low reserves are just the symptoms. If all your beeyard needs such feeding, the problem is ........ the Beekeeper.

    The indiscriminate use of dry sugar, often recommended on this site, is an indicator of the inability of the beekeeper to proper judge the amount of reserves needed for proper overwintering so we may have a lot of false positives that attribute the successful overwintering to the dry sugar, on the other hand reports for the waste of dry sugar (the bees throwing it out) are overlooked.


    Gilman

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Mountaincamp Revisited

    Well, I used the MCM this past year for the first time.

    What was I thinking as I laid on a pollen sub patty, covered it with newspaper and poured on 8-10 pounds of sugar? I was thinking: "I got to do a better job of my fall management."

    I was also thinking, "If I don't do something with these extremely light hives, they're dead." I would rather do something than nothing. And they were so light they may die anyway. I'll let you know later this spring.

    But for me, it was an emergency method that I hope I don't have to repeat. And I sure don't want to make it a habit.

    Grant
    Jackson, MO
    Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: https://www.createspace.com/4152725

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Mountaincamp Revisited

    Last year was my first year, here in the PNW we had an unusually dry hot summer, our nectar flow was minimal in most areas. I was feeding almost all year. Our winters are usually predictable, we get wet and cool down slowly. Not last year, we had a friday in the 50-60 range, saturday dropped to the 30's and it was dry. We then had several weeks of below freezing temps, then it started to warm up and the rain came. So far we have had very mild days many in the 50's. The bees have been flying more than usuall.

    In checking my hives last fall all were extremely light, despite the feeding. As insurance I did the mountaincap on all hives. A check last weekend showed three thriving hives each having used the sugar to varying amounts. Two deadouts, neither had touched the sugar, one was empty with almost no additional stores, the other was empty with about 30lbs of capped honey.

    All the hives had uncapped honey and what to me seemed a lot of it, I put this down to the speed with which we went from warm to cold. I truely believe that the sugar saved my hives from complete loss and I will use it again if needed. I saw no evidence of bees defacating on the sugar.

    I do have one TBH that has never been fed (even when installed) and they also appear to be doing well.

    The only treatment that my hives get is powdered sugar for varroa.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Mountaincamp Revisited

    Quote Originally Posted by bleta12 View Post

    Such feedings will benefit and prevent the starvation of only the colonies that need it. Everything being equal, such colonies have more problems than low reserves, actually the low reserves are just the symptoms. If all your beeyard needs such feeding, the problem is ........ the Beekeeper.


    Gilman
    I dont think the beekeeper can be held responsible for the weather conditions that affect flows, last year our summer pretty much destroyed any hope of a good season, in the UK almost constant rain had a similar affect, both are outside the efforts of even the best beekeeper to control.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Mountaincamp Revisited

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post

    Tony Jadczak and his son Alex did a survey on Nosema. The performed spore counts on 4 apiaries, 2 in New York, and 2 in Maine. The study was in 2008 in the spring.

    Comments?
    They did? How come I am hearing about this for the first time now? Did NYS Ag&Mkts know about this? Whose hives were checked? What was the method of sampling?

    Just curious. And i'm somewhat surprised.
    Mark Berninghausen

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Mountaincamp Revisited

    For what it's worth, and my sample size is very small, the MCM has been mixed for me.

    The first time I tried it a lost the colony I tried it on to nosema. The issue here though is the colony was in trouble before the sugar went on. Would they have done better with out it? I doubt it, they were going to fail.

    I used it a bit last year and basically wasted sugar, on colonies that are in decent shape it just didn't matter. (This is the "crutch" MP talked about. I knew the stores were good, I did it "just in case").

    This year I only used MCM on a late swarm I had. Single deep, small cluster, it may work it may not. It was worth a roll of the dice.

    I think Michale is right, a lot of new bee keeps over think winter management. If you're setup well with normal stores then you should be all set.

    Oh and Tony is great. He's helped me out a few times, every state would be luck to have a guy like him.

    K
    Last edited by kopeck; 01-31-2010 at 03:59 PM. Reason: Added last line.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Mountaincamp Revisited

    Quote Originally Posted by kopeck View Post
    I think Michale is right, a lot of new bee keeps over think winter management. If you're setup well with normal stores then you should be all set.
    I think kopeck raises an interesting idea, namely that the MCM is put on hives in decline, that were, perhaps but not necessarily, destined to die anyway. I don't know I'd place too much emphasis on dry sugar and Nosema, pe se. They may have been in decline with Nosema prior to the MCM.

    And I sure hope we don't start thinking the MCM is standard winter management. In my mind, winter management happens in September, and by November you're set until March.

    Hopefully...

    Grant
    Jackson, MO
    Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: https://www.createspace.com/4152725

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Mountaincamp Revisited

    this thread is causing me to rethink the MCM. As I recall, it was originally presented as an emergency method to prevent death by starvation. A substantial benefit/by product was moisture control in the hive. So I wonder how many beeks did the mcm not only as "insurance" but also as moisture control? Personally I do my best to leave enough honey on, but sometimes the weather doesn't cooperate, or the bees use too much and I have to feed. Right now 1/3 of my hives are still setting pretty doggone good with honey reserves. I mcm'ed all, but I guarantee, I'll do it differently next year. They come out of winter much stronger on honey left on in the fall for me.

    Related to spore counts, once the bees starting flying and voiding, do those spore counts decrease? Or are the bees doomed unless medically treated?
    Thanks!
    Steven
    "If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Mountaincamp Revisited

    Quote Originally Posted by oldenglish View Post
    Last year was my first year, here in the PNW we had an unusually dry hot summer, our nectar flow was minimal in most areas. I was feeding almost all year.

    In checking my hives last fall all were extremely light, despite the feeding.
    It really depends on how much you feed, when, and how fast.

    If you're keeping a feeder on the colony, and they're taking a little syrup down all the time, they will raise brood from it, and not store it away. If you feed a lot of syrup to a colony, in a short time, they'll store it.

    I wait until I see what the Fall flow is going to do. In my area, I know by the middle of September what the bees will need for winter. I weigh my hives, so I can tell right on. I feed at that time all they need...ie if they need 4 gallons of feed I feed them 4 gallons. I don't give them a gallon this week and a gallon next week and another when I get around to it. All at once. Over time and with a little practice the weighing/feeding management scheme is very accurate and works well.

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