I purchased two hives this year, one to replace my old bees and the other because after failing my natural instinct is to double down on my failure. I have two Warre hives made by a local guy and two packages of Russian/Carnolian bees. The first package arrived three weeks ago and the weather was dreadful even by Oregon standards, it was raining12-14 hours a day and almost all the daylight hours so feeding that group seemed like common sense since they cou!e hardly get out to forage.
The second group I am not so sure on. They have had about ten days of feeding and now it's warmish and the rain has stopped, and there certainly are flowers about, the fruit trees are I bloom and the dandelions and clover are heavy on the pasture. I also noticed this group seems more, lethargic. When I feed them than the other hive. I was giving both hives a pint a day of 1:1 syrup, and while my first hive would eat less on nicer days and forage, the second hive would eat the pint and only start heading g out after it had eaten the syrup.
So my question is With a new package now long shoulde I feed them? I think some supplementing is in order because the bees arrived when it was still cold and set with no supplies, but when to quit? I stopped Saturday and have been second guessing myself ever since.
Continue feeding as long as they have comb to build. You are probably not going to take anything from them this year. Check for eggs, larvae and good brood pattern. Adjust, checkerboard or shift, to keep them building a larger brood chamber.
I would stop feeding them if you have nectar available/coming in particularly if you installed the package on drawn comb. They will fill everything up with nectar and the queen will have no place to lay. If you've installed on foundation, you're can be more aggressive with feeding but pay close attention to what's coming in and what the bees are doing with it. Let the bees do what they are meant to do.
While bees are natural-born hoarders and will continue to store that which give them, they will prefer foraging over feed during a good nectar flow which is one way you can tell a flow is on.
Having someone local to you to run things by can be very helpful but I am not a big fan of aggressively feeding.
Last year I followed that philosophy and gave the bees a few days of feeding and let them go. Their numbers declined through the spring and they didn't really have the level of activity one would expect until July.
Thinking about things this winter, I started thinking that as I am taking a bunch of bees from California (where pretty much all the packages here come from) and dumping them in essentially an empty box as I don't have comb before the flowers are really going, I kinda owe them a few lunches.
You're talking packages, right? The population in the hive is going to drop for at least 3-4 weeks until brood starts coming in; you have to feed at least this long if not longer as there will not be enough workers/foragers to bring in enough pollen or nectar to support an expansion of the population. It also takes an awful lot of honey or syrup to draw out wax. This means you should not only feed syrup but also have a pollen patty for them as well, even though they may not necessarily use it. I would feed at least for 4-6 weeks using a feeder that puts as much feed into them as they can take, and then take a look and see if they are still drawing comb and then go to a feeder where you can slow down the amount of syrup that they can take (a jar or maybe a bucket feeder with only a few holes). If they start backfilling and crowding out the queen even a new package will swarm; my first year I had packages swarm as many as three times. They will stop drawing comb (if you're nadiring) and the queen will run out of space if you feed too heavily, but you have to give them feed until the population really takes off.
I learned the hard way. Swarms in September, believe it or not. Feed heavy at first and then slow it down.
So to update now July 1st: I fed both hives until the nectar flow was good. I could tell because the feeding went from every day a pint to everyother day all on their own. About the 1st of May. By June 15th both hives needed a third box cause they were plumb full of comb and the bees were hanging out on the door 24/7. They are both much more vigorous than last years hive that died out, but also this has been a better year for bee with much more flowers and enough rain to keep the flow going.