making winter bees into summer bees
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  1. #1
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    Question making winter bees into summer bees

    In another thread the comment was made
    "(Offer syrup in august to avoid making winter bees into summer bees)"
    I have not heard this phrase before, have I missed something?
    I feed light hives through the dearth, & in the fall as insurance for winter survival.
    The bees work the blooms till it gets too cold, or the blooms go away. So feeding inappropriatly messes up the bees?
    ( other than moisture in the hive, etc)
    Thanks ... ce
    Started summer of 2013, just another new guy, tinkering with bees.

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  3. #2

    Default Re: making winter bees into summer bees

    "(Offer syrup in august to avoid making winter bees into summer bees)"
    Means if you harvest in august, feed immediately so the last summer bees are worn out with storing and drying and not the new winter bees.
    Remember, the winter bees in some locations must live for months and start the new spring brood.

    In october the syrup will be capped. The nectar they forage for in fall here sometimes is open nectar through winter, if this is a high amount it surely can be a problem with moisture.
    But if the hives are already filled with syrup stores the bees are content and rest more.

    In my climate with long humid winters this is very important. Could be different in yours.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: making winter bees into summer bees

    Summer bees have to work harder to dry the moisture to make the honey.
    Winter bees just sit back to reap the rewards thanks to the hard working summer bees.
    So to make the winter bees not work harder like the summer bees do in drying the honey, make sure
    the work is already done (all honey cap.) Remember they can only cap the honey on a flow. That means the summer bees have to cap the honey not the winter bees. In my experience the winter bees will not cap the honey (no flow on) they just use them as a food source. I prefer some cap and uncap
    nectar for the bees to use. As beekeeper you can feed earlier if needed to or save the cap honey for winter bees use. For example,
    take out all open nectar frames and replaced them with all cap honey frames if available. This way both the winter or summer bees don't
    have to work as hard.
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  5. #4
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    Default Re: making winter bees into summer bees

    Thanks for the explanations. CE
    Started summer of 2013, just another new guy, tinkering with bees.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: making winter bees into summer bees

    Read earlier this year (on Bee-L) that late-season pollen supplementation can interfere with the shift over to winter bees, too. In a colony that is pollen-deficient late in the season it would be better to hold off and provide early supplemental pollen when brooding re-starts after mid-winter. Winter bee adults live quite well on just honey and syrup.

    Where the transition point is between earlier-season support of their nurse bees and harming the growth and development of the brood destined to become winter bees is something I haven't figured out. Luckily I usually have pretty good pollen in July and August, but if an unusual situation occurred I'd be tempted to supplement with both pollen and syrup. (Also some issues raised in the same discussion of the nutritional quality - or lack thereof - goldenrod pollen. But there are many species of goldenrod so I am not sure if my local ones are lacking.)

    I am faced with the issue of late-ish season pollen supplementation this year (despite decent natural flows and weather) because EFB has really hammered my hives' foraging populations. So as soon as I finish the OXYTET treatment I will be supplying them with both syrup and pollen in hopes they can catch up.

    Enj.

  7. #6

    Default Re: making winter bees into summer bees

    This year the pollen supplement started to be of high interest to me, thanks to Oldtimer, whose posts made me realize that I had neglected monitoring this.

    With splitting late and distributing food combs in late spring it´s not easy to provide the new colonies with enough pollen stores. So I avoid this. Sometimes, in my location and depending on weather conditions, this time of year the bees have stored the pollen they need throughout the whole year almost and then are robbed by splitting, just at a time they need them most to expand.

    So the time to split is very important in my management because I´m not feeding. It must be when the food situation is at it´s best, many foragers present, much pollen stored, swarm time.
    Something the bees teach us. Normally, if swarming is a sign of a healthy hive, they use just this state to multiply and in my opinion it´s the best to follow them instead of splitting too early or too late.

    This late splitting could mean they have no pollen stores left in late summer and if the fall foraging goes bad the winter bees have poor nutrition, if no substitute is fed.

    We had such a great flow this year the brood nests of some were almost entirely filled with honey and some combs had 2/3 pollen stored.
    I pulled some combs to give more space to lay for the queen and will give them back in late summer in case of an emergency but was very careful not to store some pollen combs. Next month pre winter bee breeding starts.
    This generation must be strong and healthy to nurse the real long-lived winter bees.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: making winter bees into summer bees

    Quote Originally Posted by beepro View Post
    Summer bees have to work harder to dry the moisture to make the honey.
    Winter bees just sit back to reap the rewards thanks to the hard working summer bees.
    So to make the winter bees not work harder like the summer bees do in drying the honey, make sure
    the work is already done (all honey cap.) Remember they can only cap the honey on a flow. That means the summer bees have to cap the honey not the winter bees. In my experience the winter bees will not cap the honey (no flow on) they just use them as a food source. I prefer some cap and uncap
    nectar for the bees to use. As beekeeper you can feed earlier if needed to or save the cap honey for winter bees use. For example,
    take out all open nectar frames and replaced them with all cap honey frames if available. This way both the winter or summer bees don't
    have to work as hard.
    Perhaps those Cali bees do just sit back and 'reap the rewards thanks to hard working summer bees' ....but the reality for us folks that experience real Winter tells us that our Winter bees, while they may not be out looking for nectar/pollen that won't be available for 6-7 months...they are in fact working pretty hard, holding on to their excrement for the next sunny day above freezing, keeping each other, the queen and some patches of brood warm despite temps of 20 or 30 degrees (F) below zero.....and if they survive, they will be providing a nice home for the soon to arrive Summer bees.

    Local bees rule... and all beekeeping is local, right?

    That all said, up here we tend to begin feeding syrup once the goldenrod is peeking, only to those colonies deemed too light to survive (under 150 lbs) depending on the colony size and the number boxes used to overwinter.

  9. #8

    Default Re: making winter bees into summer bees

    Quote Originally Posted by tech.35058 View Post
    I feed light hives through the dearth, & in the fall as insurance for winter survival.
    So feeding inappropriatly messes up the bees?
    Randy Oliver says:
    Traditionally, beekeepers “fed” bees light sugar syrup in the spring to stimulate the queens to lay, and heavy sugar syrup in the fall for winter stores. This is low tech, no-brainer “feeding”—I put the word in quotes because feeding sugar syrup to bees is like saying that you’re “feeding” your growing child by giving him a Coke. Sugar syrup can be an important tool in bee management, but don’t expect it to do more than it can. That said, sugar syrup can give a lot of bang for the buck. It’s cheaper than honey, and stimulative feeding of light syrup not only changes their behavior, but can save the bees an incredible amount of effort in foraging for nectar, thus allowing them to focus their energies on other tasks—such as comb building, pollen foraging, or keeping the cluster warm. However, feeding syrup to a colony without a pollen flow may be counterproductive—if the bees are forced to dig into their vitellogenin reserves, you may actually increase colony protein stress.
    So feed the right time when a pollen flow is on and you have enough protein stored in the bees bodies for overwintering.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: making winter bees into summer bees

    Quote Originally Posted by tech.35058 View Post
    So feeding inappropriatly messes up the bees?
    it could possibly 'confuse' the colony into thinking there is a strong flow.

    the downside around these parts is the summer dearth is when most colonies will throttle back on brooding, and therefore mite reproduction is also decreased, which results in a lower mite load during the fall brooding of overwintering bees.

    nonstop feeding could also throw the colony into swarm mode at an inappropriate time.

    jmho, but i think the bees may be healthier overall if allowed to diet on honey vs. stored syrup. when they are not brooding the daily caloric requirement is relatively low and very few stores are consumed.

    to get all colonies up to wintering weight i'll transfer frames of honey from the have's to the have not's if necessary.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: making winter bees into summer bees

    Feed in August here and It'd start a honeybee war. (maybe)
    I'm not putting on syrup until after the fall flow if and when it happens.
    Treat around the end of September then feed up to weight by November first, take off, and go chase ducks.
    This year I will not feed but will put a full honey super on any light hive.

    About pollen: My hives tend to have the bottom deep packed with all different colors of pollen by October. Purple, orange, red, blue, etc. Kind of neat.
    Thank God for all the flower growers in this city.
    Internet credibility is an oxymoron

  12. #11

    Default Re: making winter bees into summer bees

    tech is in Alabama

    In my climate the bees are not able to dry syrup in late fall so we have to feed early. It´s not a question of temperature but of humidity. Robbers are robbing because they starve after being harvested in august and not all beekeepers realize the situation of having to feed immediately after harvesting.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: making winter bees into summer bees

    <<<<<<<<<<<<<<jmho, but i think the bees may be healthier overall if allowed to diet on honey vs. stored syrup. when they are not brooding the daily caloric requirement is relatively low and very few stores are consumed.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>..

    Peg:

    Tech is referring to a thread by a first year beekeep in north Alabama who bought his first nuc on June 24, the traditional last day of the main honey flow. This nuc will never reach winter weight without help. He had no other colonies. I agree that feeding honey is always best but this keep had no other choice.

    I spoke to John Menyerd who stated the winter bees arrive in late Sept and October for central and north Al.

    This is a Brother Adam observation as cited by FP if my fragile memory serves me. The idea is to feed early or to put off MOST feeding til February.

    6 weeks til the cool off begins.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: making winter bees into summer bees

    yes, a nuc or swarm began late in the season is the exception and when providing some syrup is a good idea. i took tech's question to be more in general and my answer was meant that way.

    with last year's drought most of my colonies skipped the typical fall brood up, so most of my long lived (diutinus) wintering bees were reared in july.

    the wintering bees are the last rounds of brood reared that don't have to perform nursing duties until the first rounds of brood are produced coming out of winter, regardless of when those last rounds of brood were reared.

    (thanks for that one juhani)

  15. #14
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    Default Re: making winter bees into summer bees

    a good explanation of that here:

    http://scientificbeekeeping.com/unde...cline-part-9a/

    from which this is taken:

    "Of interest is that the nurse-to mid-age-to forager transition is reversible if necessary (to a lesser degree once the transformation to forager is complete). But it appears (though not yet fully tested) that the transition to nursing is irreversible–once a nurse, a worker can no longer revert to being a long-lived diutinus bee. I doubt that this is due to chance.

    If you take a look at Lloyd Harris’s data in Fig. 1 above, you can easily see (to the right) that diutinus bees (blue and violet shades) do not appear until broodrearing (dashed curve) ceases. And then they survive with little mortality until they initiate substantial broodrearing (to the left), at which point they immediately revert back to the “summer bee” bee survivorship curve (as though they had not already lived over a hundred days)."

    italics and bold mine

  16. #15
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    Default Re: making winter bees into summer bees

    in contrast to last year's drought we have had regular rains so far this summer which have extended the flow well past normal. just today i harvested a super that was put on empty on june 20th, so it could be that the nuc would have gotten by alright with minimal if any feeding.

    i would have had no problem providing syrup to the nuc if inspections indicated in was necessary. the stark contrast between last year and this year illustrates how making management decisions arbitrarily based on calandar dates can be risky.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: making winter bees into summer bees

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    in contrast to last year's drought we have had regular rains so far this summer which have extended the flow well past normal. just today i harvested a super that was put on empty on june 20th, so it could be that the nuc would have gotten by alright with minimal if any feeding.

    i would have had no problem providing syrup to the nuc if inspections indicated in was necessary. the stark contrast between last year and this year illustrates how making management decisions arbitrarily based on calandar dates can be risky.
    Right on IMHO!

    "treatment free, foundationless, all mediums since 2007" ..that when we became beekeepers and stopped being bee havers/killers

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