healty hives that refuse to store food
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  1. #1
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    Default healty hives that refuse to store food

    Every year I have a couple of hives that just refuse to store enough food for winter. They are good sized hives with no apparent disease or mite issues. They have an endless supply of feed on the hive at the moment but only take enough to keep them going and are storing nothing. Half the frames in some boxes are totally empty. In my area, the cold weather in October, especially in the mornings, means they will take in very little so you have to be done feeding by the end of September. In the past, I have busted my hump to keep them alive in winter with sugar blocks but I am wondering what everyone else does. I have not had a hive starve over the winter in years because of the sugar blocks. Do you see the same thing in your hives?

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  3. #2

    Default Re: healty hives that refuse to store food

    Just a thought.

    I suspect that the foragers would be taking the syrup. So perhaps while you have a lot of bees in the hive, you don't have a lot of foragers.

    The reason you might not have foragers could be a disease which is affecting your foragers. Wild speculation is Nosema.

    Before you get too carried away with that, remember that this is just the speculations of a novice.

    I did have this problem once a few years ago, but lost my colonies to dysentery that winter.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: healty hives that refuse to store food

    Quote Originally Posted by dudelt View Post
    Every year I have a couple of hives that just refuse to store enough food for winter. They are good sized hives with no apparent disease or mite issues. They have an endless supply of feed on the hive at the moment but only take enough to keep them going and are storing nothing. Half the frames in some boxes are totally empty. In my area, the cold weather in October, especially in the mornings, means they will take in very little so you have to be done feeding by the end of September. In the past, I have busted my hump to keep them alive in winter with sugar blocks but I am wondering what everyone else does. I have not had a hive starve over the winter in years because of the sugar blocks. Do you see the same thing in your hives?
    Are you sure they are not getting robbed? I have tried to feed small hives using top feeders. Robber bees just go in the front door and take the syrup. No fighting to speak of.
    Zone 7a - 1650ft

  5. #4
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    Butler Co, Missouri, USA
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    Default Re: healty hives that refuse to store food

    Had a hive like that a few years ago. The queen just wouldn't stop laying. The more I fed, the more brood was in the hive...in October. When popping the top you could feel the heat coming from the brood nest. They starved out about December.
    Hindsight is 20/10, not 20/20...
    After the fact, I always know what didn't work.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: healty hives that refuse to store food

    Quote Originally Posted by Spur9 View Post
    Are you sure they are not getting robbed? I have tried to feed small hives using top feeders. Robber bees just go in the front door and take the syrup. No fighting to speak of.
    Definitely not getting robbed and not small colonies. One of the hives is the only "Italian" queen I have and she is still laying up a storm as if there was 5,000 acres of goldenrod surrounding the hive.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: healty hives that refuse to store food

    Terminate these bees as unfit (while trying to squeeze something useful of them).
    What is one good reason to keep them?
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: healty hives that refuse to store food

    Bees with heavy mite infestation will sometimes ignore feed.

    But more likely there is something wrong with the way you are feeding them, could you post a pic of the hive and the feeder?
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  9. #8
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    Default Re: healty hives that refuse to store food

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    Bees with heavy mite infestation will sometimes ignore feed.

    But more likely there is something wrong with the way you are feeding them, could you post a pic of the hive and the feeder?
    It is not that they refuse to eat.
    They do not store much.
    Instead, they eat it ALL and convert into the growth, no matter what the season is and not matter if they can afford it.
    I got a case of similar puppies.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: healty hives that refuse to store food

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Instead, they eat it ALL and convert into the growth, no matter what the season is and not matter if they can afford it.
    You are probably not going to be able to do anything to change this, sounds like genetics. A package producer in the the south would love to have one of those queens but they don't work out so well in the northern states where we need colonies to slow down brooding in the fall and prepare for winter.

    I've had a few like this too. Because they were such good honey producers in the summer months I kept them alive over the winters with sugar blocks. You need to make a choice to either work with them or replace the queens with NWC or something more frugal in the fall/winter months. If they are not good honey producers then queen replacement would be in order.
    To everything there is a season....

  11. #10
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    Default Re: healty hives that refuse to store food

    Quote Originally Posted by dudelt View Post
    They have an endless supply of feed on the hive at the moment but only take enough to keep them going and are storing nothing.
    [...]
    In the past, I have busted my hump to keep them alive in winter with sugar blocks
    So this is established behaviour then, rather than just a temporary aberration this year ?

    I think Greg's solution to "Terminate these bees as unfit ..." is extreme but appropriate. However, I'd be inclined to keep those colonies alive with sugar bricks as in previous years, and re-queen them as early as possible in the Spring. If this behaviour should keep re-appearing, then I'd suggest bringing in some fresh genetics from outside your apiary.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  12. #11
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    Default Re: healty hives that refuse to store food

    Yup, I concur. Time to end that linage, my mentor always told me “don’t let the bees tell you what to do, you tell them”.
    Rod

  13. #12
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    Default Re: healty hives that refuse to store food

    It is good to know that I am not the only one to see this happening. I do get rid of these in the spring. Since I started queen rearing a couple of years ago, these, along with any dinks, are the hives that get broken up into mating nucs. My belief is that if they won't store food for winter, they may not when the flow comes either. I tag them and when the weather gets cold enough, I move them to a separate area in the yard to keep track of them. I am hesitant to destroy any resources that might be put to good use later and they are great for using in the mating nucs. This year, I think I will make bigger sugar blocks and check them less often. At the moment, I have way more hives than I really want.

    LJ, The "Italian" hive is genetics from outside of my apiary. I had an order for a nuc that specifically wanted an Italian queen. I had one delivered just for the sale. The buyer backed out at the last minute so I decided to keep the queen. Her offspring are the most beautiful golden color and I have enjoyed seeing them all year. Unfortunately, I don't find that these brightly colored bees last very long in my area.

  14. #13
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    Mtn. View, Arkansas, USA
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    Default Re: healty hives that refuse to store food

    You never did tell us what type of feeder you are using and how much syrup you are putting on the colony per day/week.
    42 + years - 24 colonies - IPM disciple - Naturally Skeptic

  15. #14
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    Default Re: healty hives that refuse to store food

    Quote Originally Posted by AR Beekeeper View Post
    You never did tell us what type of feeder you are using and how much syrup you are putting on the colony per day/week.
    I use quart mason jars over the hole in the inner cover on all hives. The feeder can hold up to 4 quarts at a time. Since they are not taking a lot at any given time, I am only using 1 bottle. When 1 gets low, I add another and remove the empty ones only when they really are finished. The hives are all on the property at home so I can easily visit them daily.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: healty hives that refuse to store food

    Quote Originally Posted by dudelt View Post
    Since they are not taking a lot at any given time, I am only using 1 bottle. When 1 gets low, I add another and remove the empty ones only when they really are finished.
    I don't haver a lot of faith in what I'm about to suggest, and it shouldn't really be necessary ... but ... I'm wondering what would happen if you removed the feeders on the problem hives, for (say) 24 hrs. Such a short break isn't going to kill them, and it might just send them the message that "feed isn't always available - so stockpile it while you can."
    If they should respond favourably, then repeat this a few times, until they fully get the picture. If it makes zero difference, then at least you'll have tried something new.
    'best
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  17. #16
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    Default Re: healty hives that refuse to store food

    I had a hive that did that last fall. They were low on stores but refused to take syrup. They looked okay otherwise but I knew something was wrong with them. They starved out in early December. Not sure what the problem was but I suspected it was possible mite issues.
    Beekeeping 6 Years - 12 production hives and about 12 nucs - Treatment OAV Only

  18. #17
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    Default Re: healty hives that refuse to store food

    Try switching the mason jar from a hive that is taking it quickly, plus ensure the bees have good access to the holes. And also see what happens to the hive that gets the slow jar.

    In my view, no such thing as a hive that is healthy, in a dearth, has room, nothing wrong with the feeder, placement, and technique, but won't take and store feed.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  19. #18
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    Default Re: healty hives that refuse to store food

    I put 2:1 syrup to several colonies that I thought were overdoing it with brood production while light on stores. Two division board feeders in each hive in an empty deep. They took a couple of gallons each down in 3 days. I think it is late enough not to induce swarming since we were close to frost about a week ago. In any case the queens will have to look for places to lay now. It will take a few days to consolidate the syrup and free up some space.

    I think Oldtimer is on the mark in regard to feeding rate. I think M. Palmer puts on 4 gallons at once when he thinks its time.
    Frank

  20. #19
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    Default Re: healty hives that refuse to store food

    I have a couple of in hive Pro Feeders and think I will give them a try. My usual thoughts when there is an issue is that it is mites. I will also place a few Apivar strips in and see what happens.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: healty hives that refuse to store food

    Quote Originally Posted by A Novice View Post
    Just a thought.

    I suspect that the foragers would be taking the syrup. So perhaps while you have a lot of bees in the hive, you don't have a lot of foragers.

    The reason you might not have foragers could be a disease which is affecting your foragers. Wild speculation is Nosema.

    Before you get too carried away with that, remember that this is just the speculations of a novice.

    I did have this problem once a few years ago, but lost my colonies to dysentery that winter.
    I agree with nosema, but n. cerana.
    Proverbs 16:24

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