Foraging, but where is it going?
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  1. #1
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    May 2015
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    Default Foraging, but where is it going?

    Fall flow is on. The bees are working it all around. This is my first year weighing hives. I saw weights dropping 1-3 lb per week (no robbing). These hives are only about half the target weight. I decided to give them a gallon of 2:1 each, expecting to see the increase of about 10 lb give or take. During this week we also had rain that boosted the goldenrod bloom, so I expected to see even a bit more. Instead I saw an increase of only 2-3 lb. My guess is the population is eating faster than the foragers are replacing it. I'd guess this should mean the brood quantity will decrease, older bees will die off and the overall population will drop. I'd think this would also reduce forage input from less field force... It's a this situation typical? Normally I don't know weights so I can't compare to previous years. As pollination balances out should they catch back up out am I stuck feeding to weight?

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  3. #2
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    Jul 2012
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    Strafford County, NH
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    Default Re: Foraging, but where is it going?

    Hope someone answers you. One thought could be that as they evaporate the nectar, the water weight will disappear. Or they could be using a lot of it for their winter brood. Other than that, I've thought the same thing - there are bees all OVER the goldenrod, asters, etc. in my yard (and there's a good bit of it), so where is all that going? I haven't looked thru my production hives tho, only my nucs. The production hives are so busy I don't want to disturb them just yet, except to peek in under the lid and I see plenty of undrawn foundationless frames, which isn't a surprise, except that during fall flow like this prolific one, you'd think they'd be making an exception and building out everything. But the nucs I would think to be booming with everything that's growing around them, and they're just piddling. These nucs were started in late May and raised their own queens.

    Of course, if populations drop in the bigger hives, that's fewer mouths to feed thru the winter, as long as their clusters are big enough.

  4. #3
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    May 2016
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    Robeson County, North Carolina
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    Default Re: Foraging, but where is it going?

    Did they take the sugar syrup?

  5. #4
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    Jun 2015
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    Clarkfield, Minnesota
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    Default Re: Foraging, but where is it going?

    Following thread. Sorry, I have nothing to add. I weigh my hives and everyone is at wt (120-160 right now)- more than I thought or I would have pulled more honey than I did. Unless I wrote my numbers down wrong, I've had a few hives gain 20lb in a week on goldenrod - didnt' think that was possible. I did feed some smaller/younger underwt hives last fall and I remember it took WAY more feed to bring them up than I expected. I think they were using much of what I gave them not storing it. Ironically, my weakest hive last fall who I fed and fed and fed and they never seemed to gain, came out of spring this year as my biggest and strongest. I harvested 200+ lbs of honey off them last week and the still weigh 140lb and are boiling with bees.

  6. #5
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    Feb 2015
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    Rosebud Missouri
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    Default Re: Foraging, but where is it going?

    I don't know if his hive took the 2to1 but mine did. 3 hives and two of them only single mediums and light weight and one three mediums with two heavy boxes and the bottom one light. Two gallons in 4 days for each hive and one small hive made a start on drawing 3 frames of comb. The two single medium hives still did not feel that heavy. I added one more gallon and am done. The hives wouldn't have room for more with out comb anyway. The hives are very active. I am too new to know what to do or what is working or messing things up. I also will wait for comment and try to learn.
    Cheers
    gww

  7. #6
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    Apr 2016
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    Default Re: Foraging, but where is it going?

    Bees will - on the start of a honey flow - use everything they bring in and some stores to brood up fast. Then when the flow starts tapering off - this is when you will see the most weight gain - as they shut down on rearing new brood and go into storage mode. what you are seeing is this - don't freak out. They will start putting on weight very shortly.

    Going to give you a little story. One year I left on my whole honey crop. bees wintered with 2 deeps and 3 mediums and some more than that. Next spring when I needed to split - the queen was laying in anywhere from 3 to 5 boxes - right up the center frames. The bees turned all that honey into brood. after seeing this - I made whole box splits - and after checking about 50 hives while splitting - I found all boxes split to have at least 1-2 frames of eggs. After this I quit looking and just split. (I let my splits raise there own queens)

  8. #7
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    May 2015
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    Brown County, IN, USA
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    Default Re: Foraging, but where is it going?

    For those asking, they did take the 2:1, and all overnight. Even if they didn't, would still add to the total weight. I guess where I am lost... 10 lb in should raise weight 10 lb, whether it's stored as honey, fed to brood, etc. The only way I can see it 'disappearing' is if spent on forager flights, but then shouldn't they bring back more than they consume. Puzzles me. I plan to keep notes but otherwise manage them as I always would, no worries. I'm hoping to see weights climb soon. We usually get first frost about mid October, and goldenrod usually runs right up to then so they have some time yet. I'd love some 20 lb days, lol.

  9. #8
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    Dec 2011
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    Maple Ridge, BC, Canada
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    Default Re: Foraging, but where is it going?

    10 lbs of 2:1 will not add up to 10 lbs of honey. The amount of water in honey is lower than in 2:1. Therefore an amount of the weight is lost to evaporation, and in energy feeding the bees that are working hard to evaporate it. Remember that capped honey has a moisture content of less than 18%.

  10. #9
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    Jun 2013
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    Montgomery county, MD
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    Default Re: Foraging, but where is it going?

    I always figured (perhaps wrongly) that they should end up with the weight of the sugar in the 2:1, plus 20%, assuming it is all stored. So if you put 5 lb of sugar then they should end up with about 6 lb of stores from that. I havent tried to calculate it from 2:1 volume.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Foraging, but where is it going?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan McEachern View Post
    10 lbs of 2:1 will not add up to 10 lbs of honey. The amount of water in honey is lower than in 2:1. Therefore an amount of the weight is lost to evaporation, and in energy feeding the bees that are working hard to evaporate it. Remember that capped honey has a moisture content of less than 18%.
    Well...

    Quote Originally Posted by DrJeseuss View Post
    I decided to give them a gallon of 2:1 each, expecting to see the increase of about 10 lb give or take.
    A gallon (roughly) is made with 4 lb water to 8 lb sugar. By the math, sugar to water ratio becomes irrelevant as the bees cap at about 18%. 1:1 just means more water to evaporate, 2:1 less water. In any case, a fair estimate of yield is sugar weight times 1.25 (this is a bit heavy as it calculates 20%, but is fine for estimation). At 8 lb sugar this should yield 10 lb of capped stores. In my experiences of an increase around 2-3 lb, this leaves a loss of around 7-8 lb. I suppose it could be from fanning and brood rearing, it just seems like a high number. With results like this it almost seems the bees barely break even, which of course is not true overall. Having weight is new to me so I'll see what time will tell.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Foraging, but where is it going?

    You will have losses from summer foragers dieing off, moisture loss from the syrup, sugar converted to energy to evaporate the pounds of water. It takes a lot of Btu to evaporate a pound of water and for certain bees are not 100% energy efficient. Energy is also used to create wax and feed brood.
    Frank

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Foraging, but where is it going?

    My physics is rusty and imperfect, but could it be that the bees are storing the syrup asymmetrically (assuming you are measuring from one end only) and so you are not seeing the exact total weight gain but only an estimate of the total weight based on weighing one side?

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Foraging, but where is it going?

    Quote Originally Posted by DrJeseuss View Post
    Well...



    A gallon (roughly) is made with 4 lb water to 8 lb sugar. By the math, sugar to water ratio becomes irrelevant as the bees cap at about 18%. 1:1 just means more water to evaporate, 2:1 less water. In any case, a fair estimate of yield is sugar weight times 1.25 (this is a bit heavy as it calculates 20%, but is fine for estimation). At 8 lb sugar this should yield 10 lb of capped stores. In my experiences of an increase around 2-3 lb, this leaves a loss of around 7-8 lb. I suppose it could be from fanning and brood rearing, it just seems like a high number. With results like this it almost seems the bees barely break even, which of course is not true overall. Having weight is new to me so I'll see what time will tell.
    here is and experiment for you, weigh yourself, and then weigh yourself holding a 1lb bag of candy. Your total weight increased by 1 lb correct? now eat that bag of candy and step back on the scale and you will find you are back to your original weight. I told you that to tell you this, I can't explain why in either scenario, but it sort of works the same, what you put on the hive in syrup never comes out to what you think it should once it's converted to stores.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Foraging, but where is it going?

    Quote Originally Posted by Harley Craig View Post
    here is and experiment for you, weigh yourself, and then weigh yourself holding a 1lb bag of candy. Your total weight increased by 1 lb correct? now eat that bag of candy and step back on the scale and you will find you are back to your original weight. I told you that to tell you this, I can't explain why in either scenario, but it sort of works the same, what you put on the hive in syrup never comes out to what you think it should once it's converted to stores.
    Repeat this process until you collapse, then have them weigh you at the hospital for best results.

    OP, how are you weighing your hive? And how long between placement and weighing? A day? Two days?

    I haven't really seen any nectar yet here, unless it started recently. The only nectar noted was that some of my nucs in one yard near a decent patch of knotweed had some reddish honey put up.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Foraging, but where is it going?

    I hadn't considered the drop being from forager die off. I have seen sharp decline in population lately.

    I weigh my hives front and rear, combine and divide so it should be roughly accurate. On that note, most of my hives store mostly in front, giving an average variance front to rear of about 4-6lb. I weigh every Sunday. I placed the gallon bags Friday late afternoon. With this in mind, they could have been -8 by Friday, then I added 10 giving an apparent +2. I somewhat doubt its so drastic though as the previous several weeks have only been -2 or so over 7 days.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Foraging, but where is it going?

    Quote Originally Posted by DrJeseuss View Post
    I hadn't considered the drop being from forager die off. I have seen sharp decline in population lately.

    I weigh my hives front and rear, combine and divide so it should be roughly accurate. On that note, most of my hives store mostly in front, giving an average variance front to rear of about 4-6lb. I weigh every Sunday. I placed the gallon bags Friday late afternoon. With this in mind, they could have been -8 by Friday, then I added 10 giving an apparent +2. I somewhat doubt its so drastic though as the previous several weeks have only been -2 or so over 7 days.
    set up a hive with a proper scale so all you have to do is look at it, On a strong flow, Take a reading at dark when all bees are home and another just before daylight when all bees are still home and see just how much it drops from evaporation, it might surprise you

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Foraging, but where is it going?

    Bees weigh something and as the dwindke in numbers, the hive will show that. Water is evsped from honey, so if you caught them with watery nectar, the weight will later decrease.

    Visualky inspecting lets you see what they actualky fo or dont have.

  19. #18
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    May 2015
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    Brown County, IN, USA
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    Default Re: Foraging, but where is it going?

    I did a mid week weigh in yesterday and found all hives between 0 to +2 lb. They all stank of dirty socks, my favorite. without pulling frames, a peek from the top shows more capped than a few days ago, and I haven't fed since. I'm leaning towards forager death induced weight loss. I hope to get a logging scale on a hive next spring. Then I would be able to compare day and night weights to estimate foragers as well as see the moisture leaving over night. For now, the weights are still largely arbitrary compared to eye witness. One step at a time.

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