Mountain camp vs. honey - Page 2
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  1. #21
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    Default Re: Mountain camp vs. honey

    I have seen the bees flying the sugar out and dumping it in the spring. My usual shavings box top keeps the sugar quite dry if you do not dampen it to cake. I can see them moving syrup up from brood box frames into the honey supers but did not have the feeling they were wetting down the frame top sugar and taking it up. Not very scientific though

    In case of bees getting locked on brood and perishing rather than accessing honey beside the cluster, I wonder if sugar stored above might be the difference between life and death. Wondering is not very scientific though, is it?

    I commonly dont run close to the line on stores, but throwing about 4 lbs sugar up on the frame tops makes me feel good.
    Frank

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  3. #22
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    Default Re: Mountain camp vs. honey

    I think the sugar blocks serve as a "bridge" for those of us that get extended very cold stretches. If the bees run out of honey where they are at, ie get stranded on no food, the cluster can always be in contact with the sugar blocks. The sugar carbs tide them over until weather warms and cluster can move sideways or bees can leave the cluster to retrieve honey.

    I often have a few frames of honey left over in the spring after using sugar blocks over the winter. I do not have to feed syrup in the spring. The surplus honey frames are great for putting in NUCs.

    I haven't much visible problem with Nosema with sugar blocks on the hives. I can only recall one ten frame single that had a blow out and hive died.
    Zone 3b. If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

  4. #23
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    Default Re: Mountain camp vs. honey

    I've never heard of a commercial beekeeper feeding dry sugar over winter, and I take this to mean that it probably has no place in a really well-run apiary. Some of those guys are really sharp and experiment a lot to optimize their operation over the course of many decades.

    That being said, I did it my first winter, to correct for mistakes made in fall. The hives were underweight, and had been fed syrup too late for it to be properly ripened. All three colonies survived, but maybe they would have anyway.

    This winter, my second, the hives won't be needing it. (It's a lot easier when you have enough full strength colonies that you can move resources around as needed.)

    If I mess up again I won't hesitate to do it again, but I definitely wouldn't call it "Plan A".

  5. #24
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    Wakefield, Rhode Island, USA
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    Default Re: Mountain camp vs. honey

    rtaylor: "At this point everything I do is a learning experience." I suggest yo go to Micheal Palmer's YouTube post on Fall feeding to a weight using a weighting scale. You get to avoid a lot of work and so do the bees. Honey is inverted sucrose into fructose and glucose, each with a molecule of water attached (when they consume it they give off 3.5 gallons of water for each 40 lb. of honey consumed) . Bees use enzyme's to invert it, we mostly use heat and acid to invert it. Which do you think saves energy, stored honey or sucrose sugar on top? BTW, when I used sugar, Mountain Camp stye, it got so wet it was dripping down - sugar is hydroscopic - what a mess.

  6. #25
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    Default Re: Mountain camp vs. honey

    Quote Originally Posted by AHudd View Post
    https://getpocket.com/explore/item/w...=pocket-newtab

    Interesting article for those of us that wonder what bees think.

    Alex
    That is an interesting article, Alex. Thank you for sharing. Some interesting concepts to consider in there regarding whether bees have consciousness.

    Have a great day.

    Russ
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  7. #26
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    I find myself doubting the effectiveness of 4 or 5 lbs sugar for feeding bees. I think that is a few days worth of carbs in early brooding. 4 # sugar = 5 # honey. If they don't have enough food elswhere I think such a small amount of emergency feed only rarely would make the difference between live and dead bees come spring.
    If it makes the beekeeper feel better and is not really for the bees, it could be that a little goes a long way.

  8. #27
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    Default Re: Mountain camp vs. honey

    Nothing is uglier than a pile of twitching or barely moving bees that have eaten the last of their food, then the brood, then going/gone comatose. It is really ugly, expensive and I just don't care to see it again. It is indeed always the strongest hives building up and using stores at a prodigious rate. I am a bee keeper not a bee haver and will continue the practice. I am overjoyed that others do whatever they want with their colonies. I usually am able to sell them replacement bees.

  9. #28
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    I agree Vance. Point is that it only rarely comes down to 5# honey. Esp when it is in a form they sometimes drag outside and drop by the front door. I think of they are light they will need more than a few # sugar. And being a hobbyist myself, I do use MC in late winter and early spring. It makes me able to "sleep better at night." But when I try to be rational about such meager rations I tend to think it's not making a key difference for the bees.

  10. #29
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    Default Re: Mountain camp vs. honey

    Quote Originally Posted by Amibusiness View Post
    I agree Vance. Point is that it only rarely comes down to 5# honey. Esp when it is in a form they sometimes drag outside and drop by the front door. I think of they are light they will need more than a few # sugar. And being a hobbyist myself, I do use MC in late winter and early spring. It makes me able to "sleep better at night." But when I try to be rational about such meager rations I tend to think it's not making a key difference for the bees.
    In cold, wet March it totally may come down to the #4 of sugar - make or break.
    Especially if you winter nucs on 4-5 frames with their small needs and yet limited workforce.
    I don't see what is even an argument there.
    Just set it and forget it - it costs you trivial $1-2.
    There is not much to drag out either - the sugar turns a solid clump (or you make it a solid clump).

    MC was the biggest by far technique that made difference for me.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  11. #30
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    If I've loaded them up right in the fall I don't have any with that little honey come spring. I.e. the few # sugar make no difference. Some years I don't get to checking all colonies in the fall and some are very light coming out of winter. Anyone know how many # of honey is used per day by a spring colony expanding from 3 frames of brood? I think 5# is not gonna last long and if that's what regularly makes or breaks your winter survival you are playing closer to the line than I'm comfortable with!

  12. #31
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    Default Re: Mountain camp vs. honey

    Quote Originally Posted by Amibusiness View Post
    I agree Vance. Point is that it only rarely comes down to 5# honey. Esp when it is in a form they sometimes drag outside and drop by the front door. I think of they are light they will need more than a few # sugar. And being a hobbyist myself, I do use MC in late winter and early spring. It makes me able to "sleep better at night." But when I try to be rational about such meager rations I tend to think it's not making a key difference for the bees.
    What is this 5 pounds? I dump on a ten pound bag when I wrap end of October and in January I replaced what had been used with sugar bricks. Half or better haven't touched the MC. The major good I do is save the hogs who will chew thru their stores and all the sugar I can pile on. They usually yield bees and brood for at least three nucs with purchased queens. That is good return for $12 worth of sugar. If you don't like it and only want tough bees who can live on lid dust, just don't do it. The hungry hive queens are always culled.

  13. #32
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    Pardon me. I was responding to a post above refering to 4#. If you are packing in loads of sugar Then obviously that can make more of a difference. Fwiw our bees usually go through less than a frame of honey when broodless between end of October - end of January. Any sugar added then remains untouched. When they start brooding, especially for the month before dandelions, it's another story. Since that is the time most likely for them to starve that is where emergency feed should be directed. The bigger hives must be going through more than 5# of honey / week at that point but I have never really checked.

  14. #33
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    Default Re: Mountain camp vs. honey

    Quote Originally Posted by Amibusiness View Post
    If I've loaded them up right in the fall I don't have any with that little honey come spring. I.e. the few # sugar make no difference. Some years I don't get to checking all colonies in the fall and some are very light coming out of winter. Anyone know how many # of honey is used per day by a spring colony expanding from 3 frames of brood? I think 5# is not gonna last long and if that's what regularly makes or breaks your winter survival you are playing closer to the line than I'm comfortable with!
    In my configurations (see Warre to compare) wintering is cheap in terms of honey.

    If they don't use up #4 of dry sugar on the top (placed around the XMass time) - I simple save the sugar for next year.
    If they start eating the dry sugar - then (ONLY then) I will evaluate the case and add more as needed.
    Very easy to check if they need the dry sugar or not, and then do what needs to be done.
    This year I re-deployed about 10-20# of left-over sugar from last year (was unused then).

    Really, this is not that complicated to make lots of fuss about MC as if something terrible, irresponsible, or expensive.
    Obviously - your operations scale is a consideration - goes without saying.

    Heck, people even feed dry sugar in warm season in emergency, if needs be.

    Says Dr. Wyatt A. Mangum:
    If I pick up hives and they are too light, that means starvation could be near. Away at an out-apiary, I am too far from the house to return and waste time with sugar syrup. Rather, I hunt down the nearest grocery store, even a little country one, and in dire times buy all their sugar. A credit card “Nectar Flow.” I feed the sugar dry as shown below. On several occasions I have saved entire apiaries, some 50 hives at a time, from starvation, until spring foraging picked up or I could return with more feed.
    Source (scroll all way down):
    https://www.tbhsbywam.com/eight-ton-of-tbhs/
    Last edited by GregV; 01-17-2020 at 09:28 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  15. #34
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    Greg, so you use it as a window to have a better gauge of what's going on below. Fine. And yes, I use MC when I need to (not my ideal but a fine tool when needed). I think it's worthwhile for beginners to be notified that 4# requires follow up. Vance says he starts with 10 # and adds bricks as needed. That sounds like it will make a difference. If the small mound of sugar is for the beekeeper to be able to monitor the bees, then as I said above it's for the beekeeper not the bees. Regarding this window: I have had colonies with too little honey not touch the mc. I was confused so I dug down. Turns out they were queenless. Now I know to check: just because they have mc overhead in spring does not mean all is honky dory. 🙂

  16. #35
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    Default Re: Mountain camp vs. honey

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Source (scroll all way down):
    https://www.tbhsbywam.com/eight-ton-of-tbhs/
    Neat find, GregV. I had never even considered getting a funnel and dumping sugar into the bottom of the hive in a pinch...
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  17. #36
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    Wakefield, Rhode Island, USA
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    Default Re: Mountain camp vs. honey

    JWPalmer ( long but helps me collect my thoughts): It has been a warm winter and a cold spell has arrived today. I weighed my hives, one side at a time, summed and corrected for built-in weighting errors on Jan 15, 20220. This is my "first-time" taking winter measurement with a good "fish scale" device. Since Nov. 5th my hives, on average, have gone through about 50% of their stores. Following M. Palmer's lead, I do not put on any MC or emergency stores, simply feed with 2:1 to weight in the Fall. I may add some 2:1 to a hive in the Spring/April 1st.

    Some feeding details: My standard winter dry hive components weight a total of 74 lb. with 20,000 bees. My desired winter stowed honey & pollen weight for Nov.1 is 80 lb. for a total hive weight of 154lb. I cannot discriminate pollen weight alone. My first sign of pollen in 2019 was March 19th. I define my winters from Nov. 1 to April 1 or 5 months long for coastal southern New England. All hives were fed above the goal weight due to cheap luggage scale issues ( except one). Using a RubberMaid bottom scale on Nov. 2, 2019 I measured a low of 151lb. to a high of 202lb.

    Observations: Averaging 8 hives I have a mid-winter average weight of 130 lb. for 8 hives with a low of 115 lb., a high of 150 lb.. My observations imply big hives eat a lot and generate more heat (crude temperature measurements also), big, predicted to die hive due to high Varroa Counts ate the least amount, 27 lb. and was the lowest total weight on Nov. 2, 2019 at 151 lb. This observation versus a large wintering nuc which ate 35 lb. Biggest eater was 70 lb, stowed 120 lb of honey(?), a big solid hive but a questionable weighting error too. Average for all 8 hives was 44 lb. for 11.5 weeks of winter or a week to week average of 3.83 lb. per week per hive.

    Summation: Warm weather plus I have running insulation design test which likely distorts the averages. But insuring bees store 80lb. of honey / sugar syrup or better in the Fall with bees consuming 44lb. average in 2.5 months of winter with 2.5 months to go is a pretty good plan. Learning to weigh in the winter takes a bit of a learning curve. I will be checking weights every two weeks now on fully insulated hives (only top insulated earlier). Today it is sunny, 22F @ 32% RH - a good hive drying day via the bottom board/ entrance if needed.

  18. #37
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    Nice data. I would expect a colony to go through more carbs in Feb and March than in Nov and Dec. I am also concerned that colonies up high now may have passed their stores. So hive may be heavy but they can't reach it. Not sure if this really plays out that way, esp with full insulation, though.

  19. #38
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    Default Re: Mountain camp vs. honey

    Today is January 16th - pretty-much mid-winter over here. During some winters it can be colder than Moscow at around this time - a few years back my pipes froze and the ceilings fell in when they thawed - but this winter has been the warmest I can remember. Today I haven't even switched the heating on.

    Of course this means that the bees have never really settled - they've chomped their way through their usual amount of stores, and have started on the emergency rations already.

    I say 'emergency rations' but they were never really intended to be that: one year I lost a colony to starvation - I don't 'do' guilt (never have) - but I felt pretty bloody wretched, knowing full well that I could have avoided that scenario had I been more 'on the ball'. Like Vance says, it's an ugly sight, and I swore back then that I'd never let it happen again - so I cobbled together a system which provides me with the equivalent of a hive fuel-gauge. It consists of placing small jars of fondant over holes in the top of Crown Boards (inner covers), and inspecting them on a weekly basis. When they show signs of being used, I then inspect them twice-weekly.

    Normally I place the jars of fondant on the hives towards the end of February. In recent years I've advanced this to mid-January. This year I judged it was probably necessary in mid-Decemeber - and quite rightly so it would appear.

    Two hives have already devoured their fondant - which I would stress is only placed on the hives as an indicator of the probable level of stores, and is not intended to supply emergency rations - although it does provide a few days grace within which I can then take more substantial remedial action.

    Here's a shot of what I found a week ago:



    As that fondant was half-consumed I put another jar on.



    The other colony had polished off their jar of fondant completely, so I've put two jars on their hive for now - but it looks as if I'll need to be placing seriously large lumps of fondant on some of these hives if conditions continue as they are. What I'm dreading - and it has happened before - is that they'll start brooding-up, only for some Artic weather to arrive which will really make things difficult, survival-wise.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  20. #39
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    Default Re: Mountain camp vs. honey

    Quote Originally Posted by Amibusiness View Post
    Greg, so you use it as a window to have a better gauge of what's going on below. Fine. And yes, I use MC when I need to (not my ideal but a fine tool when needed). I think it's worthwhile for beginners to be notified that 4# requires follow up. Vance says he starts with 10 # and adds bricks as needed. That sounds like it will make a difference. If the small mound of sugar is for the beekeeper to be able to monitor the bees, then as I said above it's for the beekeeper not the bees. Regarding this window: I have had colonies with too little honey not touch the mc. I was confused so I dug down. Turns out they were queenless. Now I know to check: just because they have mc overhead in spring does not mean all is honky dory. ��
    Not only.
    Remember how in March and April (for my area) the colony is in its most critical and weakest point in season - the lowest number of workers left AND they are trying to brood.
    Like I said - we have a terrible spring (cold and wet) and just enough easily accessible food is often the most critical part to make to the dandelions.
    Sugar above is perfect; cold honey on the side frames - the top is eaten away - the hive bottom is too cold.
    Even syrup is often too cold.
    And they must have the carbs - here and now.
    I took these pics one day to document how they would ignore cold syrup and feed at the dry sugar clumps - my first bees after making the winter.
    This is how I know to just keep the dry sugar into May - we get snowed in May, never know.
    20170416_125514_Small.jpg
    20170416_125430_Small.jpg
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  21. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post
    ...so I cobbled together a system which provides me with the equivalent of a hive fuel-gauge.
    Good idea, LJ. I appreciate your post and the explanation of how you are employing the technique to gauge their stories situation.
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

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