should bees be fed during "summer dearth"?
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  1. #1
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    Question should bees be fed during "summer dearth"?

    I put honey supers on my 2 hives 3 weeks ago, and the bees have not worked them at all; I'm told locally (eastern NC) that we're now in the summer dearth, so I shouldn't expect the girls to do anything re: extra honey. Should I feed them some sugar water now? An Ag Extension agent suggested I not, since I "shouldn't spoil the bees". Any ideas/opinions on that? Thx much .....
    Mitch

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  3. #2
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    Mt holly, NC, USA
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    Default Re: should bees be fed during "summer dearth"?

    I'm in the southern peidmont of North Carolina. We have very simular floral sorces and yes, we are in a dearth. I harvest all the honey I can get ahold of in early June. I do feed all during the summer and fall to put on enough stores to last the winter. Each hive will take 80 to 100 pounds of sugar over that period of time.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: should bees be fed during "summer dearth"?

    Quote Originally Posted by mlanden View Post
    An Ag Extension agent suggested I not, since I "shouldn't spoil the bees". Any ideas/opinions on that?
    I like your extension agent. I have a "winter survival line" below which I don't harvest. That gives the bees enough honey to live on during our dearth from the end of our tallow flow until our fall flow. This gives the bees a summer brood break which, along with the winter brood break, has allowed me to not treat. Works for me and my mutts. I don't hear much about other people doing it in other areas.
    David Matlock

  5. #4
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    Default Re: should bees be fed during "summer dearth"?

    And what is that harvest line? Do you leave on a deep and two mediums or two deeps and a medium? What configuration do you have with this harvest line?

  6. #5
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    Default Re: should bees be fed during "summer dearth"?

    I asked this very same question n another thread and didn't get much. Thanks to those that gave me something to work with. My evaluation from an unjaded view, first hive, is it depends. Is your hive already strong enough, have enough comb and enough stores to get them thru the dearth and be able to capitalize on a fall flow to be ready for winter? If yes, don't feed let them roll. My hive is still smallish, started with a small swarm, so if I see comb building stalling and numbers not increasing I'm gonna feed enough to keep things happening. This year with this hive my peabrain says that's what I need to do. Meet me at the Holiday Inn Express in a year and we can discuss it further

  7. #6

    Default Re: should bees be fed during "summer dearth"?

    Quote Originally Posted by mlanden View Post
    An Ag Extension agent suggested I not, since I "shouldn't spoil the bees".
    That is ridiculous. If they have honey stored you might get away without feeding them. If they don't have honey stored...they'll starve. You can't spoil bees. They operate on instincts honed through eons of evolution. Feeding them for a couple of months will not override that instinct.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  8. #7
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    Default Re: should bees be fed during "summer dearth"?

    If bees need feeding and you have feed to feed them, then, yes, they aught to be fed during the dearth. But honey supers should not be on them.

    Your Ag Extension person doesn't feel the same way when it comes to cattle or hogs, do they?
    Mark Berninghausen

  9. #8
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    Default Re: should bees be fed during "summer dearth"?

    Quote Originally Posted by beemandan View Post
    That is ridiculous. If they have honey stored you might get away without feeding them. If they don't have honey stored...they'll starve. You can't spoil bees. They operate on instincts honed through eons of evolution. Feeding them for a couple of months will not override that instinct.
    Times two - this sums it up very well. Here sugar is a lot cheaper than bees.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: should bees be fed during "summer dearth"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Riverderwent View Post
    I like your extension agent. I have a "winter survival line" below which I don't harvest. That gives the bees enough honey to live on during our dearth from the end of our tallow flow until our fall flow. This gives the bees a summer brood break which, along with the winter brood break, has allowed me to not treat. Works for me and my mutts. I don't hear much about other people doing it in other areas.
    I have heard the same thing - that the summer dearth acts as a secondary brood break which helps mite control as they slow down on brood rearing.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: should bees be fed during "summer dearth"?

    Some queens will stop when there 8n a dearth some won't like a lot of Italian queens are just laying machines and won't stop

  12. #11
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    Default Re: should bees be fed during "summer dearth"?

    Quote Originally Posted by dtrooster View Post
    I asked this very same question n another thread and didn't get much. Thanks to those that gave me something to work with. My evaluation from an unjaded view, first hive, is it depends. Is your hive already strong enough, have enough comb and enough stores to get them thru the dearth and be able to capitalize on a fall flow to be ready for winter? If yes, don't feed let them roll. My hive is still smallish, started with a small swarm, so if I see comb building stalling and numbers not increasing I'm gonna feed enough to keep things happening. This year with this hive my peabrain says that's what I need to do. Meet me at the Holiday Inn Express in a year and we can discuss it further
    For what it is worth- 4x4x4 medium frame nucs made in early May- top super all honey. Second partial brood honey went through last summer till mid October before winter feed was given. Cedar Grove, NC.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: should bees be fed during "summer dearth"?

    I've got an 8 frame medium, probably 1 1/2 frames of honey/nectar with 3 1/2 frames of brood in various stages, Relevance to my situation? I started with no drawn comb and maybe one full frame worth of bees. Over my head I guess, explain how this is apples to apples. Not to be obnoxious but you gotta give more than that

  14. #13
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    Default Re: should bees be fed during "summer dearth"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlestonbee View Post
    And what is that harvest line? Do you leave on a deep and two mediums or two deeps and a medium? What configuration do you have with this harvest line?
    I use 8 frame mediums. The configuration varies some depending on the size of the hive and whether the yard is suburban or rural. I generally put the queen excluder over the third box, but occasionally the fourth, and I don't harvest below that point. Uncapped nectar above that point is also left on the hives. That sustains the bees through our slow, late summer.

    In the fall, I harvest above the third box and remove the excluder when I harvest. Again any uncapped nectar above that point is obviously also left on. Within a day or two, I add back boxes of empty drawn comb and the bees continue to add some stores during our late fall and early winter. I lift hives at critical times depending on weather and flows, to check weights. Some of my mutts burn through stores like Italian bees, and some are frugal. Our riskiest time is late winter when the weather is warm enough for the bees to fly and burn calories, but too early for nectar.
    David Matlock

  15. #14
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    Default Re: should bees be fed during "summer dearth"?

    I "feed" by planting nectar producing plants, and also with a bucket of syrup, if the hives are light. I think I can keep Buckwheat blooming until Halloween , if I work at it.
    but the bottom line, is the bees have to make it through the winter. I also occaisionally make splits about now, so I can worry about whether it was the right thing to do, or not. ( they get in hive feeders) Roll the dice & take your chances. or try it both ways. Good Luck with your bees. CE
    Started summer of 2013, just another new guy, tinkering with bees.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: should bees be fed during "summer dearth"?

    Morning -- I'm new to beek. and so I'm not familiar with the phrase "harvest line" -- ?? I just got my 2 hives at the end of April this year. Each hive now consists of 2 deeps and a (honey super) medium. Both deeps were nearly full of brood/honey/pollen 3 weeks ago, so although we're in a dearth period, I sorta hoped the girls would've done at least a little something in the honey supers ......

  17. #16
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    Default Re: should bees be fed during "summer dearth"?

    Thx much -- each of my 2 hives consists of 2 deeps and a (honey super) medium. As of a month ago, each of the 4 deeps was nearly packed with brood, honey and pollen. That's why I figured the bees would be happy to move up into the honey supers. Apparently not ....

  18. #17
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    Default Re: should bees be fed during "summer dearth"?

    Is your hive already strong enough, have enough comb and enough stores to get them thru the dearth and be able to capitalize on a fall flow to be ready for winter? If yes, don't feed let them roll.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: should bees be fed during "summer dearth"?

    If they are low on stores, you may need to feed. If they are not low on stores, I would not. A dearth is one of the worst times to feed but also a time you may need to. If you have to feed in a dearth take precautions against robbing.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  20. #19
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    Default Re: should bees be fed during "summer dearth"?

    [QUOTE=Michael Bush;1439407]If they are low on stores, you may need to feed. If they are not low on stores, I would not. A dearth is one of the worst times to feed but also a time you may need to. If you have to feed in a dearth take precautions against robbing.

    OK -- re: precautions, would I need to do anything special? I'm using a 1.5 gal capacity frame feeder in the upper deep, so .... that shouldn't be accessible to robbers, should it?

  21. #20
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    Default Re: should bees be fed during "summer dearth"?

    If there is a door it's accessible to robbers... reducing the entrance will help. Robber screens will help. I don't like a top feeder for feeding at times other than the fall. In the fall if they are light you are trying to get a lot of stores on quickly. Any other time when they should be rearing some brood, it clogs the brood nest to feed a lot quickly and sets the colony back when the queen can't lay. Of course a dearth sometimes sets them back as well if the queen shuts down. A slower method of feeding is better during a dearth in my opinion.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesrobbing.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

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