Bees low on honey, going into winter
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    South Australia
    Posts
    18

    Default Bees low on honey, going into winter

    I checked up on one of my apiaries in December last year. The hives mostly have four supers on them, all 10 frames, all deeps except the top super which is a manley sized. They were completely full of honey. I wanted to do a honey extraction to clear up some space, but I couldn't get my spinning extractor to work, so I ended up only taking out a few good frames of honey in each hive, to clear up some space.

    I then checked up on them recently, expecting to do a honey extraction as the bees usually store a good amount of honey during this time of the year. To my utter shock, the bees are incredibly low on honey. They only have a few frames of honey throughout the whole hive, except for one that didn't even have a single good frame of honey! I went to the hive that had the most amount of honey and took out a few honey frames, to give to the hive that was struggling the most. The bees were noticeably lower on population than what is usual, particularly the one that had little honey. It was pretty noticeable when opening the hive and seeing hardly any bees up top on the mat.

    Winter will be here in six weeks time. I suspect the nectar flow mostly stops around this time of the year. I'm really concerned for them and not sure what to do.

    Is it odd at all that the bees could go from having such a huge stock pile of honey, to be on the verge of starving in just four months? My other bees which are an hour away, are also doing terribly and didn't seem to bring in any honey either, but that's less of a surprise because they've never seemed to do well at that site.

    I figure I'll have to check up on them in the Winter, and take lots of food to give them. What should I feed them? Just straight white sugar, or might it be best to make some sort of pollen patty? Should I make some sort of feeding device, I can I just put a lot of white sugar on their hive mat, with some water sprinkled in it so they know it's food? If so, how much sugar should I give each hive?

    Would it be best to reduce the supers? The one that's doing the worst is four supers deep and it seems mostly empty. I'm concerned that if I remove supers, then wax moth will get in there over the winter and eat and ruin the comb, but maybe that isn't that big of a problem? Is there much of a benefit to reducing their supers when they don't need the extra space? It doesn't get too cold up there so not sure.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Crystal Water, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    1,224

    Default Re: Bees low on honey, going into winter

    Sounds like you maybe located in Australia?
    For anyone to be able to give any sort of advice you need to give us a clue were you are located .
    from the Bee House -http://ecologicalsolutions.com.au/bees/?page_id=8
    40 years - +/- 20 H - TF - Subtropical

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    South Australia
    Posts
    18

    Default

    Yes I live in South Australian bees are near riverland. I'll have to add my location to my profile.

  5. #4

    Default Re: Bees low on honey, going into winter

    If they will not take surup because of temperature. You can all as make a candy board to put on top. A qt of water or apple cider vinegar to 25 lb of sugar mix together put on shim with a queen excluder a. Sheet of newspaper to hold the sugar back. Let air dry. Then put on the hive. Do a search on candy boards.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Grand Rapids MI USA
    Posts
    1,554

    Default Re: Bees low on honey, going into winter

    Probably the reason you went so light, so quick was you went into a dearth and the bees kept raising brood for the winter. I agree about putting sugar on the top, itíll keep em from starving.
    Rod

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Kamloops, BC, Canada
    Posts
    1,407

    Default Re: Bees low on honey, going into winter

    I had good success using fondant on nucs without much honey going into winter. Bag placed directly on cluster with feeding rim. No robbing associated with sugar syrup. Worked well.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    South Australia
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Bees low on honey, going into winter

    Can't really make a candy board as I have a mat instead of a board up top. Australians seem to use mats for whatever reason.

    I found some recipes for fondant, I'll try that thank you.

    Is it common for bees to go into dearths and not lower bee population numbers? First time I've seen something like this.

    Could it be good to spray the comb with BT that I store away?

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Kamloops, BC, Canada
    Posts
    1,407

    Default Re: Bees low on honey, going into winter

    I was surprised how well it worked. I wasn't expecting much from those small late nucs that didn't get a much honey on them. But I had 6 of 7 of that group make it through and are producing brood now. I have always had a problems with those smaller late nucs that needed food, but I would set off robbing when I fed. Its also fast which offsets the cost. Each got 1.5 bags and 3.75 kg of fondant that lasted the winter. Your conditions are perhaps more forgiving than mine.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Seattle WA
    Posts
    1,202

    Default Re: Bees low on honey, going into winter

    One of my top bar hives refused to take any sugar water all summer and fall last year and went into winter with only 2 bars of honey. The hive was struggling all summer and I re-queened it in late August. I gave it sugar blocks on both sides of the brood nest. It came through the winter just fine and is currently building up very fast. When I use solid feed on a Langstroth hive, I prefer sugar block because they are easier to make, are hard and will not flow between the frames. With the mat you are using, a sugar block will happily sit below it and not cause any problems.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    South Australia
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Bees low on honey, going into winter

    Can you elaborate on what a sugar block is?

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Seattle WA
    Posts
    1,202

    Default Re: Bees low on honey, going into winter

    You will find the answer here along with pictures on how to make them:
    https://www.beesource.com/forums/sho...r-sugar-blocks

    I just use sugar and water or sugar and vinegar.

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