How long do new packages take syrup?
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  1. #1
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    Feb 2016
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    Default How long do new packages take syrup?

    I know it can depend on a lot of factors. And let me preface this question with why I am asking. Went to my newly installed hives (2 Packages on Thursday) this morning to check their top feeders. Yesterday morning I did the same, and there were lots of bees up taking syrup, and they consumed quite a bit of what I gave them. At 0800 this morning, I only saw about 10-20 up taking syrup. 10-20 bees feeding at any one time may be normal, I just don't know yet. Im in Central Alabama, and the temp this morning is 60 degrees.

    If, and I have no idea how to tell yet, there is a nectar flow on right now, how long will they take the syrup? These bees were installed on new plastic foundation. I would think they would have to take the syrup for quite some time in order to draw comb out.

    As a side note, when I installed the packages, i forgot to add ProHealth to their feed. Yesterday, I put some in the 1:1 that I was adding. Now, with the ProHealth, they seem to be taking less. ???

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  3. #2
    Join Date
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    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
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    Default Re: How long do new packages take syrup?

    When syrup cools off overnight, and bees gather in a cluster, the number of individuals taking syrup tapers off. As this reverses over the course of the day, so will the number bees at the feeder. When I am feeding in periods when the temps will dip below 50 F at night, I try to only feed enough syrup so that they consume most of it before nightfall. Then I re-supply with warm syrup (slightly more than room temp, so, say 75F) in the morning. This will get more syrup down, over a shorter period, than giving them several days' worth that cools off over night.

    They will keep taking syrup for weeks if they are on bare foundation. You are feeding syrup to get them to boost wax production, because they need to make the wax, so the queen has a place to lay the eggs for the workers that will take over as the package bees reach the end of their lives. Feeding helps the colony win the race between the inevitable loss of the aging package bees and the creation of new workers to replace them. You are just trying to tilt the population age-demographics in favor of a strong establishment phase.

    I don't add anything to my syrup. I don't think essential oils are good for bee guts.

    Enj.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: How long do new packages take syrup?

    Thanks! Yesterday evening I went in to removed queen cages and noticed they had consumed a LOT of what I gave them yesterday morning. I didn't really think it would be chilly enough to make them want to cluster up and not feed much in the morning. Love that this new hobby forces me to think and learn everyday. Good idea with the warmed syrup. Sounds like a good way to know exactly how much they are consuming.

  5. #4
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    Feb 2016
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    Abbeville Al.
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    Default Re: How long do new packages take syrup?

    Hey Matt. Down here in the wiregrass, we are a fairly close in temp. to y'all. I usually try to put some drawn frames in each mew package or swarm I get as opposed to all new foundation, but I usually only have syrup on them for 7-10 days. When the consumption starts to drop you will know, and that for me anyway, is a sign they are getting there own goodies naturally, and I pull the syrup jars. I don't want em to get lazy or dependent.Just IMO, and there are many here that know a whole lot more than me, but this theory has been working well for me, and my hives.. Good luckk...
    Quote Originally Posted by Matt J View Post
    Thanks! Yesterday evening I went in to removed queen cages and noticed they had consumed a LOT of what I gave them yesterday morning. I didn't really think it would be chilly enough to make them want to cluster up and not feed much in the morning. Love that this new hobby forces me to think and learn everyday. Good idea with the warmed syrup. Sounds like a good way to know exactly how much they are consuming.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: How long do new packages take syrup?

    Thanks Richard. I completely agree about not wanting them to get dependent on having a buffet in their house. I wish I had some drawn frames to give them. When I took out the queen cages I didn't do any type of inspection, but I did see beautiful comb being drawn on at least the opposing frames that the queen cage was in between. So their doing what supposed to be doing. For now anyway!

  7. #6
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    Feb 2016
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    Abbeville Al.
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    77

    Default Re: How long do new packages take syrup?

    Well if you have seen the frames getting drawn out, then they are doing good. IMO, When you see consumption waning about half as normal, it's time to cut the cord. I belive we are out of any mor cold snaps, and finally at the right time for our area's to explode.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: How long do new packages take syrup?

    Yes. It seems in the last 4 or 5 days the Crimson Clover, and many others I don't know what they are, have exploded.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: How long do new packages take syrup?

    Usually right up until they swarm with hardly any bees... sometimes they will stop when there is a good nectar flow, but usually not...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  10. #9
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    Default Re: How long do new packages take syrup?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    Usually right up until they swarm with hardly any bees... sometimes they will stop when there is a good nectar flow, but usually not...
    Ironic you should reply Michael. I just watched one of your lectures at Shenandoah Valley on YouTube today. I guess I should've worded my question better. Since I don't want them using syrup over available nectar, how long should I feed them? Or should I not be feeding them? Everyone has told me to feed new packages until they stop taking it. Well, if someone dropped a Ribeye and Baked Potato off at my front door everyday, why would I leave my house to get my own?

  11. #10
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    Default Re: How long do new packages take syrup?

    If you feed a 3 lb package ~2 quarts of syrup a week, they won't starve, but won't build up much either. Give them this "sustenance feeding" and let them work for the rest if there is a flow on. Adjust as needed for no flows, or mostly foundation. In most cases, a month of supplemental feed should be plenty enough to give them a good head start. They might do fine without any feeding if local flows can sustain them.
    After 40 years of beekeeping, I've come to realize that the bees can fix most of my mistakes.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: How long do new packages take syrup?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colobee View Post
    If you feed a 3 lb package ~2 quarts of syrup a week, they won't starve, but won't build up much either. Give them this "sustenance feeding" and let them work for the rest if there is a flow on. Adjust as needed for no flows, or mostly foundation. In most cases, a month of supplemental feed should be plenty enough to give them a good head start. They might do fine without any feeding if local flows can sustain them.
    I have been using Mann Lake's top feeders and just keeping them about a quarter full. I think they hold 4 gallons. The first couple days it seemed like they took a lot. The last 3 days seem like they've slowed down taking it. I really would like to get them off the syrup as soon as I can, but I want them to have what they need to be successful. I am pretty sure there is a decent flow on right now, with all the blooms I'm seeing. I guess I will let them have what's in there now and let it run low. Then just give a little less and see how they do. It's hard to know since I haven't done a full inspection yet, and won't for about a week.

    Also, I used ProHealth the second time I added to the feeders and I think I will stop using that. It didn't seem to make them take any more. And I'm not really sure it is as good for them as they make it out to be.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: How long do new packages take syrup?

    >Since I don't want them using syrup over available nectar, how long should I feed them?

    If there is nothing blooming you need to be feeding them, obviously. If it's cold (the syrup is not getting up to 50 F) you need to be warming the syrup. If it rains for a week I'd be out there in the rain feeding a package because they have no stores and a week of rainy weather can be a huge setback. But if there is nectar coming in and weather that lets them get it I probably wouldn't. You might want to feed until some stores are capped, but I would definitely stop after that unless there is some reason they can't get nectar.

    One of the biggest problems with constantly feeding a package is that the queen will have no where to lay and this can set a new colony back a lot. Of course if there is nothing for them to forage (either because of weather or lack of nectar flow) then not feeding them will cause them to starve. You need to monitor the situation and respond to it.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  14. #13
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    Default Re: How long do new packages take syrup?

    Ok. Thanks for the info. That is very helpful. I am starting to learn that in beekeeping, as with most things in life, if you follow a strict set of operating procedures, and neglect what your senses are telling you, you can do more harm than good.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: How long do new packages take syrup?

    The most important thing to remember about new packages is that they have no resources. And unless you are replacing a dead out, they likely have no comb. And this early in the year, people are getting packages installed in their apiary when there is very little actually blooming. You need to feed packages until they have drawn their comb, are storing food, and seem to have the numbers to sustain foraging for their food. And then you need to make sure there is food to forage before you quit feeding them. As far as when to stop, you don't want them filling all available space with sugar or the queen won't have room to lay.

    Clear as mud, huh? Check them often and pay attention to what is going on in the hive. That's the best indicator of when to feed and when to stop feeding.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: How long do new packages take syrup?

    Don't forget other factors. In my case I put two packages about 40 foot apart but one gets sun about 35-40 minutes earlier than the other. "Sunshine" gets her bees out earlier, takes more syrup and is growing faster overall. The second hive is fine enough, but a little behind the curve and slower to feed. This was just two hives, but I am replicating the same scenario with four more (two will get earlier sun than the others). Will see.

    One thing I don't do is put any syrup over the bees. Temp differentials cause the syrup to drip, and something tells me we don't want that in the hive. So I put the jars on some blocks of wood and offset them from the inner cover hole. Bees seem to like it all the same, and they will clean the drips from the plywood that would have gone into the hive.

    Just thoughts from a beginner.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: How long do new packages take syrup?

    Great! Thanks for the replies. I guess my main goal is to not have bees that are forever dependent on food right above their heads.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: How long do new packages take syrup?

    I've rarely fed packages or new queen splits for more than a few weeks, but have always installed or made them up just after the first spring flows start. I usually have a few frames of honey to start them on too.

    You can tell by the entrance activity if they are actively foraging - some with baskets of pollen, others coming in "heavy" with nectar - swollen abdomens & kind of "crash landing". Once that happens there is less concern of them starving. Feeding them 2-4 quarts a week, for 2-4 weeks will usually be enough to get them kick started, and enough to keep them alive and then some.

    As many have said - it depends on your local conditions & flows, and how you area actually making them up - foundation or drawn comb.

    Good luck!
    After 40 years of beekeeping, I've come to realize that the bees can fix most of my mistakes.

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