Spring feeding
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Thread: Spring feeding

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Rowley, MA
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    288

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    Here in New England spring weather can be all over the place 50’s one day 20’s the next. In a local forum there is discussion on pollen feeding. My take is early pollen feeding can stimulate brood and if followed by a cold snap could result in a lost hive due to the bees refusing to leave the brood in order to cluster. Others state that bees will never have more brood than they can keep warm and that this is not an issue. These are all hobbyists so increasing early populations for pollination or honey crops don’t really come into play. Am I wrong in my thought process ?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    England, UK
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    1,442

    Default Re: Spring feeding

    My take on gambling with stimulative feeding in early Spring is not whether or not the bees will stay with the brood and perish, or save themselves at the expense of chilling their brood (which I actually don't know the answer to ...) but rather that it's a simple case of turning carbohydrate into heat (or not ...).

    I don't engage in this activity myself, as we have exactly the same see-sawing of temperatures in Spring that you describe, and I consider that gambling with this sort of weather is foolish - that is, unless your livelihood depends on an early honey crop coming (say) from OSR/Canola.

    The basic issue is one of internal hive temperature: during winter, the hive temperature should be low and feed uptake minimal. Come Spring, brooding-up commences and the internal hive temperature needs to be elevated in order to cater for that brood. Elevation of temperature is of course achieved at the expense of carbohydrate uptake. So - should the beekeeper anticipate good weather and gamble with artificially stimulating brood production - than he/she is then committed to that course of action, even if the weather should take a turn for the worse - that is, they MUST ensure that sufficient carbohydrate is available to maintain that higher brood temperature. Failure to do so will invariably result in colony death due to starvation.

    So - it's a gamble - and one that I personally am not prepared to take. But - for those who enjoy fairly predictable weather and have deep pockets in case the weather should close in, then I'm sure that the early stimulation of brood is a worthwhile tactic to employ.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Rowley, MA
    Posts
    288

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    Thank you, that is my thought process as well, since there is no desire to maximize honey or pollinate crops it doesn’t seem like the risk is worth it. What the local bee shop honor is saying is that it isn’t a risk at all and that is what I am questioning

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Suffolk Co, NY, USA
    Posts
    3,626

    Default Re: Spring feeding

    Recall last spring- a rare upside down spring event with many colonies short pollen to rear new spring bees after brooding during
    a very warm February and clustering tight during a cold March and April. Some colonies were found as dead outs in April with split clusters, on brood
    but out of reach of stores. Pollen was virtually non existent in the hives and brood rearing at a snails pace when it warmed back up for colonies that
    made it through that awful stretch.
    Needed to place nearly double the number of hives in apples and peaches to cover pollination- at little increase in income.

    Sometimes the bees benefit from pollen sub being offered.
    If the spring blooms get ahead of the bees those nectar and pollen sources are lost for the year.

    Is there risk, yes. But as last year showed nature can and does throw the same risk at the bees.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Rowley, MA
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    288

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    So we all become weather prognosticators and hope for the best 🙂

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Suffolk Co, NY, USA
    Posts
    3,626

    Default Re: Spring feeding

    Or react to the conditions as soon as what is going on dawns on us.
    End of February last spring in one of my yards, only had access (due to mud) to some yards, the others had to roll with what was thrown their way:

    Dry sub feeder:
    pollenfeederwith sub.jpg


    End of March last spring:
    DSCN0133.jpg

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