Taking a Peek - Winter Feeding
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2018
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    Hillsborough, Central NJ
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    112

    Default Taking a Peek - Winter Feeding

    I am concerned my colony may not have enough stores to make it thru to Spring. Is it wrong to take a peek and add some fondant or sugar this time of year?

    They had pretty much a full deep of syrup and some honey stores plus some of a second deep, but I wrapped my hive last week, and when I slid it over just a few inches on the frame it sits on it seemed lighter that it should be.

    Maybe I'm just a panicky newbee?

    I viewed lots of cleansing flights on Saturday, so things seem good......for now.

    Alan

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Lumpkin County, GA
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    784

    Default Re: Taking a Peek - Winter Feeding

    As long as it is a quick look, it should be fine. A better test is to lift the rear of the hive to test how heavy it is. If it is light, add some sugar. I like using sugar bricks. With them, you can be in and out in 15 seconds.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2018
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    Hillsborough, Central NJ
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    112

    Default Re: Taking a Peek - Winter Feeding

    Thank you! Will do on the next warmish day.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    7,777

    Default Re: Taking a Peek - Winter Feeding

    Adding sugar bricks can be done ANY DAY when the bees are short of feed! A brief opening does not harm them. My wraps and top insulation are designed so it is easy to take a peek and add bricks if needed and pollen patties when I want to get the spring build up started.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    May 2018
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    Hillsborough, Central NJ
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    112

    Default Re: Taking a Peek - Winter Feeding


  7. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pepperell, MA.
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    6,063

    Default Re: Taking a Peek - Winter Feeding

    I sometimes take a quick look in the cold weather. I try for a sunny day with little to no wind and I'm out of there quick!
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
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    5,515

    Default Re: Taking a Peek - Winter Feeding

    I want to point something out for new beekeepers.

    When we say we take a look in cold weather, we are talking about exposing the top of the frames in the uppermost box to see what can be seen there. We are NOT talking about doing inspections of frames or breaking apart a stack.

    A quick peek on a calm, and moderate day say in the low 40s at a minimum, is not a problem as the cluster stays intact and the hive can rewarm itself pretty quickly. I do those whenever needed, especially for adding winter chow or checking it.

    I will also pull the entrance reducer and sweep out dead bees even in much lower temps.

    We know what we mean, but new beekeepers could easily misinterpret what we've written.

    Nancy

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Stockholm, NJ, USA
    Posts
    310

    Default Re: Taking a Peek - Winter Feeding

    Today, I was putting on the cozy wraps on and I noticed a freshly smell of bee pheromone from the inner cover opening. The smell was similar to the one they give off during an attack. So, I am guessing, If it smell like a banana peel when you sniff the opening, your bees are alive.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Hillsborough, Central NJ
    Posts
    112

    Default Re: Taking a Peek - Winter Feeding

    Thanks Nancy. As a new beekeeper I always appreciate your comments....however basic they may seem to you, they are not lost on me!

    I have a mouse guard on my lower entrance that is reduced. There do seem to be a lot of dead bees just inside the reducer that the bees can't seem to get out. I am wondering if I should try to remove the mouse guard and clean up a bit, or just let them be bees and figure it out.

    Alan

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,515

    Default Re: Taking a Peek - Winter Feeding

    Thank you Alan!

    Of course pull the mouse guard off from time to time, yank out the reducer and use a long, thin, flat stick to gently remove the accumulated dead bees. (A wooden yard stick is ideal, though lately I have been using the extra large paint stirring sticks sold at Home Depot in packs of 3 for 99 cents.)

    The reason for gentleness is that inevitably some bees come down to see what's going on and you don't want to kill them by sweeping the stick around to aggressively.

    Take a flashlight out and peer in the slot to see how things are going.

    Return the entrance reduce, notch facing upwards to help keep the opening, open. Replace the mouse guard. This is why I use push pins to hold the mouse guard on, so that I can easily remove it. Stapling it down is too hard for casual removals. I clean out the floor about once every three or four weeks.

    Sometimes there is a shocking amount of dead bees on the floor. Most times that's no reason to worry, but still......

    The bees will eventually get around to tidying up, but I think it's not very pleasant to live above a lot of corpses. And I have Gore-Tex and Carhardtt and wooly hats and pac boots, so I can play outside in cold weather when they can't.

    I like to listen the hives when I'm all done. It always seems to me that the internal mumbo-jumbo is more contented when I've done their chores for them and let some fresh clean air in.

    I scatter the dead bees a bit away from the hives and let the chickadees scavenge them.

    You'll probably have to use a hook tool to pull the reducer out because they will have stuck it down with propolis. Pro tip: put your shoulder or free hand against the hive, before you give the hook tool a sharp yank outward, you do not want to pull the hive over. Just sayin'

    Nancy

  12. #11
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Hillsborough, Central NJ
    Posts
    112

    Default Re: Taking a Peek - Winter Feeding

    Sounds good Nancy. The newbee that I am, I used nails to affix my mouse guard. It's one of the galvanized metal style guards with a bunch of holes just big enough for the bees to pass thru. I will gently pry it off this weekend, do a clean out, and replace it with pins.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Vauxhall, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    276

    Default Re: Taking a Peek - Winter Feeding

    Am I nuts?

    I did this a few days ago:
    IMG_6654.jpg

    IMG_6653.jpg

    Thus are quart jars with plastic lids and three small holes.

    This hive takes 2:1 again pretty good, the temp. inside the hive is 28, 82F, lots of humming. Outside is pretty nice for right now, considering, 9C, 48F.

    All hives have 2" Polystyrene all five sides and 6" underneath and a double layer of insulation tarp.

    The PS jar cover should insulated relatively good and I am tempting to just leave this all on and just check occasionally if any is taken.

    How wrong is this all?

    Please don't shoot.

    Joerg
    Summ Summ Bienchen summ herum

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    1,422

    Default Re: Taking a Peek - Winter Feeding

    The concern is the moisture being added to the hive interior. It may result in mold issues. Consensus is to feed early in fall so bees have time to dry down the sugar syrup.

    Sugar blocks aid in reducing moisture rather than contributing to interior humidity.

    A hive interior too moist also contributes to Nosema problems.

    Quilt boxes result in a dry interior, so I'd recommend using them if one is feeding syrup over the winter.
    Zone 3b. If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

  15. #14
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Vauxhall, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    276

    Default Re: Taking a Peek - Winter Feeding

    Thanks MG, the broodminders give me a humidity readout and I will monitor it.

    Joerg
    Summ Summ Bienchen summ herum

  16. #15
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Hillsborough, Central NJ
    Posts
    112

    Default Re: Taking a Peek - Winter Feeding

    I went into my hive over the weekend and added feed. The bees seemed happy, lots of life. I'm optimistic! I'll check them again on a warm day in January. I do think they have gone thru most of the syrup they had stored. I didn't pull frames, but I lifted the back of the hive, and it's definitely light, so I feel good I made the right choice to feed them.

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