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Hello, I am new to the forum and hope to get some help to my questions regarding winter feeding, to which I am new as well...

In both of my hives today the clusters were in the top super with now empty frames, so I fed them each a zip lock bag with honey and slits cut to give access to the liquefied warm honey. I placed a two-inch rim around for extra space, and replaced inner cover etc. on top.
I remembered I had some MegaBee Patties, so gave each one of those as well; honey baggies and patties straight on top of each cluster.
Each bag contained about a pint of (their own) honey.
This coming week we will have freezing temperatures again here in NY state, and I hope it will be enough.

How long will the honey and patty get them through?
I am concerned about opening the hive to check and feed more in below freezing temperatures, but even more concerned about these two beautiful colonies starving.
Should I check in a few days, even though it will be very cold? Or will they be ok till a next warm day (not sure yet when; not in the ten-day forecast...)

Do I keep giving honey to them, or should I make fondant? (not made it before; any good recipes??)

Good advice or tips are much appreciated.
Thanks!
 

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Welcome to Beesource!

Standard Megabee patties are a pollen substitute. But what bees primarily need to survive the cold is carbohydrates - meaning honey/nectar/sugar. Pollen is primarily used for raising brood. An excellent reference on bee nutrition:
http://www.beeccdcap.uga.edu/documents/CAPArticle10.html

If your bees are short of carbohydrates, I would use granulated sugar to provide that. Add a sheet of newspaper directly onto the top bars. The bees should move out from under the paper, then pour granulated sugar onto the paper. Put in enough sugar to fill close to the rim of the spacer. Spray the sugar slightly with water to get it to clump.

After it warms up, if there is leftover sugar you can recycle it into sugar syrup. (On Beesource, this dry sugar technique is often called "Mountain Camp" feeding.)
 

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The bees cluster helps keep the feed in the baggie usable, but it all depends on how much wind gets in to cool things off and how cold it gets. When the honey/feed temperature gets below 45F it is no longer usable feed. Even with the baggie the bees need to leave the cluster to access it and if in doing that their body temp falls below 45, they are in trouble. Sugar bricks or dry sugar on a damp newspaper are just way more accessible feed in weather below mid forties.
 

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Oh about 10 years ago when I had my web site going I showed how to do the envelope method of feeding honey to wintering bees. Basicall you get a file folder (cheap ones) tape up the sides so u make an envelope so to speak you scoop in granulated honey. Fold the top over and tape it. Now you have a big packet of honey simular in shape to a honey comb. Make several slashes with your hive tool in packet to expose honey. Pull empty comb out of hive to be feed and butt the packet right up to cluster of bees. Can put one on each side of cluster if very low on stores. Or you could place on top bars and place right up to cluster. Prolly need an empty box or some type of shim for the later method.

Clay
 

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I am north of you in the Capital District so I and my bees have been through the same winter yours have.

I have been feeding (home-made) sugar blocks which are easy to pop in (less fuss and much-less hive-open time to install) than a Mountain Camp feeder. I feel OK opening the hive briefly to add more blocks as long as the temp is in the 30s as it only takes a minute to check and add the blocks.

I used the recipe posted earlier in the winter by Laurie. Her batches are much bigger than mine and if you read down in her long thread, you'll find my scaled-down version of her recipe. I have to tell you that my bees are insane for those blocks! And they were easy to make and use. I know it boggles the mind to feed bees sugar when you have their own honey available, but needs must in this awful winter of miserable cold.

If you do a search for Laurie's post on her recipe, I'm sure you'll find it. You could make some up over the next week and when you have a 30F + day check and add some as extra insurance. It can take a few days to get them dry enough, so don't wait until the last minute.

Enj.
 

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we get cold winters here as well. the best overwintering technique we have found which will make sure they have plenty of feed through the winter is:
3" ventilated box (a box with 3 holes on each side with #8 screen over them)
newspaper and a 5 lb bag of DRY sugar on it.
being a newer beekeeper one of the things that is very important to learn which most of us im sure cant stress enough is it is not soo much the low temps that kill bees. it is the moisture. we run screen bottom boards all year long. the dry sugar is multipurpose in overwintering. as the hot air rises normally it becomes condensation on the inside of the lid and drips on the cluster killing them. the dry sugar absorbs the moisture and the moisture helps them to digest the sugar easier. the leftover sugar is good for early spring 1:1 feeding.

i know its stressful and you want to get that honey in the hive for them but any liquid just becomes a block of ice during cold overnights and becomes moisture during late winter warmer daytimes. i wouldnt recommend it.

get dry sugar on them. just dont open the hive for any longer than u need to. all that warm air they heavily vibrated to generate will escape quickly. get ur newspaper laid out. open the lid ,lay it down and pour on the sugar. dont worry if some of it falls down in the hive.poke a few holes in the newspaper for them to gain access and close it up.

im loving claytons envelope idea though. that would be an awesome way to get a good amount of their own honey back to them just before winter sets in. gonna try that next year for sure.
 

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>In both of my hives today the clusters were in the top super with now empty frames

How heavy are they? It doesn't matter where they are. Pollen or pollen substitute will NOT keep them from starving. It may incite them to raise brood which, if they are actually low on stores, may CAUSE them to starve...
 

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Thank you for your advice. I realized that the megabee patty was not really what they need, which is why I gave them their own honey. Today I was able to get some home-made fondant on the frames. In one of the hives this meant right above the cluster, which was partically on the honey bag.
In the other hive an extension of the cluster (like a thick chord) had formed over and on top of the honey bag (surrounded by a 3" spacer), through the hole in the inner cover, and onto the bottom of the insulation layer... I thought this was rather interesting to see, and just placed some pieces of fondant around that cable, next to the honey bag.
Hope they will both have enough for the cold week to come...
 

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Do you or anyone you know have a 'recipe' for homemade pollen patties using local honey? Appreciate your response, thanks.
 

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What mattters is "how heavy are they?" "Just in case" provisions often contribute to their demise. If they have weight their best chance for winter survival is if you leave them alone.

>Do you or anyone you know have a 'recipe' for homemade pollen patties using local honey?

I don't have much use for them. But I have made them in past a few times. Take real pollen. Mix in enough honey to make a stiff dough. Roll out between to sheets of waxed paper. Put on the top bars. Watch the small hive beetles thrive...
 
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