Help! I have three hives, all with very late starts to the season due to splits & requesting (won’t go into the lengthly details here). Last year, I overfed during dearths which in turn led to late summer swarms, and determined not to repeat that mistake, I avoided feeding my hives this year in an effort to just “let them be.” Well, now I have three hives, all with queens laying very well, lots of activity, bringing pollen in, but next to NO HONEY stores at all - like none! My one one had overwintered with a near full medium that I left on and that has recently been consumed during the latest dearth as well!
I, of course, know that there will be no harvest this year, but I was expecting that as I was focusing on building up hives and knowing that there was a lot of comb to draw out in the deeps going from one hive to three. Still, a few of the frames in the newer deeps on each hive aren’t even drawn all the way out. Each hive had a few queen cells that were empty, so I don’t know that they would feel pressured to swarm with so few resources and so much extra space for expansion. Still, I know I need to work on feeding but am scared to put the pressure on three nearly empty hives (empty of stores but FULL of bees!).
I’m in Ohio and while I’ve been seeing a lot of golden pollen coming in, there doesn’t seem to be a large amount of goldenrod popping up along the field edges here yet. Does anyone have any suggestions/precautions other than feeding? Each hive has two deeps with several full frames of brood (of varying ages) plus the one hive with the empty medium that I was going to let them winter with (although it has since been emptied). I I am using enclosed hive top feeders under an empty super (picture below). Should I just keep feeding what they’ll take? Back off and hope for some goldenrod nectar for a more natural food source? I do have fondant in the freezer, put aside knowing that I may need to add emergency feed for the winer of course.
Any suggestions, words of wisdom, or encouragement appreciated
(Will also add that recent mite counts below threshold, all queens have great laying patterns, no other big red flags other than booming brood but lack of stores.)