Really need to feed during dearth?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Frederick, MD
    Posts
    64

    Default Really need to feed during dearth?

    I am in mid-MD with 20 colonies. Doubles and triples. 10-framers. About this time of year with the dearth setting in I read a lot about feeding during the dearth. I experimented a week ago and open fed 18 gallons (2 gallons at a time on straw) over a few day period which the bees gobbled up in no time. I never know which colonies are taking it and whether or not some colonies are going without. Doesn't seem very efficient. Maybe by black, plastic, double-trough top feeders would be better.

    I am treating with Apivar now and it is recommended to feed during treatment to increase traffic across the strips. So, dearth and Apivar are two reasons to feed, but is it really necessary? Going into all my colonies yesterday I find the top deep loaded with capped honey/nectar in several if not all frames in the top box. So, just because the dearth is on does not mean we need to start feeding 1:1, right? I put my top feeders on in case feed is needed in the near future (as well as to provide a space beneath to place 1/2 lb patty at a time.)

    Just trying to get a handle on the most efficient way to feed during the dearth if, indeed, feeding is needed at all. Can you help?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Red Bud, IL, USA
    Posts
    1,809

    Default Re: Really need to feed during dearth?

    Feeding is all about ensuring they have adequate stores, if they have adequate stores why would you feed? If there's a good reason why they don't have adequate stores, why wouldn't you feed?

    I personally find feeding a PIA, too much like work, but that also means I don't pull all their honey. I tend to leave an equivalent amount to the quantity I intend to overwinter. For me, it's a pay me now or pay later scenareo; did the "additional" honey pulled bring in enough cash to pay for the time, materials and equipment needed to feed? However, my location doesn't have a total dearth during summer, it's more of a hand to mouth existence and the small fall flow usually allows them to make up any deficit from the dearth.

    Not a fan of open feeding with its potential to bring representatives from any colony within two miles together. For those colonies needing a little TLC, I try to feed late in the day and an amount they can consume overnight. Any required heaving feeding always comes with a "why" is it needed, I do buy into reducing "dinks" and taking my losses in the fall; but if feeding is the decision, it's 2+ gal top feeders and maximizing robber protection.

    Obviously not the only approach but what works for me in my location.
    “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Derry, New Hampshire
    Posts
    2,295

    Default Re: Really need to feed during dearth?

    agree feeding sucks. hundreds of bucks in equipment and all the strange looks at the store. I recommend dieing your feed if you do so you don't harvest it for sale.
    You need to weigh your hives or at least lift the top boxes. Or inspect. If they have frames full of honey/nectar then no need at this point IF you have a fall flow. If no fall flow then yes you will need to feed to bulk up for winter. Last few years up here my summer flow has rolled right into goldenrod.
    Terrence

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Seattle WA
    Posts
    1,214

    Default Re: Really need to feed during dearth?

    I can see reasons to feed and not feed but if the hives are low on stores, you definitely want to feed. In my area, come the second week of July we are in a dearth every year that does not end until ivy comes on in September. The ivy is not so plentiful, that the hives will collect enough for winter without a lot of help. I start feeding as soon as the supers come off. To me, it saves a ton of work later. Some of the hives are still building comb and they need a consistent supply of food. Other hives are low in stores. Hives that currently have plenty of food will have none come September so I want them to maintain the stores they currently have. They don't get fed constantly but enough to keep them from eating through what they have. Feeding them a bit of 1:1 now is far better than trying to get them to store 2:1 later when it is getting too cold for them to take it. Our average night time temperature in September is about 45 degrees. By the time the sugar water heats up to a usable temperature, most of the day is gone. All my feeders are on top of the hive and outside of it. On top of that, making 2:1 is much more work than 1:1. Keep in mind that every area is different. What works for me here in Seattle may not work well for you in MD.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Wharton, Texas, USA
    Posts
    235

    Default

    Double and triples? As in brood chambers? Seems like a nightmare to manage. If your going into a dearth why would you want such large colonies. Seems like time to start consolidating but I’m sure there’s other thoughts on the subject.

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