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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have decided to begin feeding a few of my weaker startup colonies to encourage comb construction. I have never fed before and I am concerned about robbing and the bees backfiling or somply storing the sugar water. What is the best manner in which to avoid robbing and sugar water storage but to encourage comb production.
 

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I don't think what you are asking for is possible; to give them food but only for comb building. It is generally thought that 1:1 syrup will trigger brood rearing (if pollen is available) and in addition giving syrup will also give them the additional pseudo-nectar that will give their wax glands a boost but if you don't want them to storing the syrup I don't think that is possible. If what you are trying to do is to keep the existing honey pure you could remove the honey frames, give them empty frames in their place and then feed; just a thought.
 

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First of all I never feed if there are honey supers present in the bee yard. Second, if there is a nectar dearth there will be some robbing if sugar syrup is feed. The amount of back-filing will depend on the amount and type of syrup feed. If you do a 1:1 sugar to water mix and only feed them a gal per week there will be less back-filing. If you feed the hive HFCS there will be more back-filing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I was hoping by limiting the amount of feed it could encourage drawing of comb but not storage, perhaps not. The removal of exisitng honey is a good idea.

Would a front hive feeder help discourage robbing? I won't do an open communal feeding in the bee yard.
 

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If they have empty comb present they'll back fill. They build new when they need storage. The bees will define the brood nest, but if you have a queen in there that's not strong or there's not a lot of young nurse bees or anything else that's slowing brood production, they will back fill.

Assuming you have good brood production you want to feed the weakest syrup they will take. 1:1 is traditional, but if you find they will take less strong syrup by all means feed it. The thinner the syrup the more room they will need to store and ripen it, the more comb they'll have to build. Thin syrup spoils fast in the heat though, so don't add more feed that they can take in 24-48 hours.

Personally, if it were me I would feed pollen substitute at the same time. They'll either need to store it or use it to make brood. Either way, you win.

We just started using these feeders: http://www.blueskybeesupply.com/ultimate-hive-feeder/

Great design gets you in and out of hives fast with minimal disturbance. Rest on the inner cover with a medium or deep box on top. If they're on natural nectar you may want to wait until the dearth to feed.
 

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Would a front hive feeder help discourage robbing?
It would do just the opposite.

If you do feed, keep the feeder completely inside the hive and reduce the entrances to give the hive a chance to defend against robbing. I use a pail feeder inverted above the hole in the inner cover.

Wayne
 

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I use the BeeMax hive-top feeders as they are easy to refill. I don't like to put much syrup in at one time as it will spoil in hot weather, so ease of filling is very important to me. The BeeMax feeders can be filled without opening the hive up or disturbing the bees. (You do have to take the top off, but the feeder itself separates you from the bees while doing this.)

And I never liquid feed in warm weather without an anti-robbing screen on. I do feed in the winter and early spring w/o a robbing screen (sugar blocks and pollen patties) but no one's going on robbing spree in those temps.

Enj.
 

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I'm going to feed the tiny swarm I picked up yesterday with a jelly jar over a hole in the inner cover directly over the cluster. I don't want any other bees getting to it, so no HBH or vinegar. I'm pretty sure they will take right to it.

For a weak hive, you want to feed a continuous but fairly small supply of 1:1 syrup and protein, since I'm sure what you really want is a stronger hive. Once you have decent bee numbers, you can then feed up to winter weight if you need to in the fall. This time of year they will store excess, so you need to stimulate them to make bees instead. They will make comb to do so.

I'm feeding my spring package about a quart a day of syrup, but can't always get out there every day with it, but last time I looked they had drawn the second medium I put on about half way to depth and were storing some honey. I want them to draw that out completely and fill it with nectar/syrup honey by fall, but if we get soybean nectar I don't want it full of syrup right now.

I don't think you will ever get bees to draw empty comb and put nothing in it -- they draw to use, and if they have no need for brood due to lack of resources, and no nectar to store, won't take syrup and won't draw anything. Over feed and they make "syrup honey", which is fine but not if you are trying to get real honey.

Feeders should always be completely inside the hive and sealed off from outside bees, as otherwise you will set of a robbing frenzy once the spring flow is over. No attractants or feeding "stimulants" either, the scent will draw foreign bees and again set off a robbing frenzy. Bad news, that -- lost a hive last year to robbers.

Peter
 

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I've been running the frame feeders with caps and ladders from Mann Lake this year and really like them.
Internal feeding, no robbing, no drowning.
I like them so much I just ordered two more for a double nuc I am building.
Been using the 1 gallon size for nucs and 2 gallon size for full strength hives.
Saves a lot of time for weekend beekeepers like me.
Fill once a week with1:1 syrup, instead of constantly fooling with jars.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
So is most everyone elses experience the same as Scorpionman, internal feeding is pretty safe from robbing? Do you have robber screens on Scorpionman?
 

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>I have never fed before and I am concerned about robbing

It is the leading cause of robbing and of ant problems.

> and the bees backfiling or somply storing the sugar water.

And swarming...

> What is the best manner in which to avoid robbing

Don't feed when there is a dearth.

>and sugar water storage

Don't feed when there is a flow.

> but to encourage comb production.

If you insist, then reduce the entrances to as small as possible (one 3/8" diameter hole in a screen reducer). I don't see any difference in the strength of syrup except that the 2:1 will keep much longer... they will store everything they can and draw comb when they run out of room...
 

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So is most everyone elses experience the same as Scorpionman, internal feeding is pretty safe from robbing? Do you have robber screens on Scorpionman?
No robber screens on.
All my hives (including nucs) have both a top and bottom entrances.
I do reduce the entrance size with duct tape or a scrap wood if the colony is just getting started & numbers are small.
 
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