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I have been following a few recent threads on fall feeding of 2:1, but I feel as if there may be some conflicting suggestions so was hoping for some clarification.

One the hand, I read several posts which suggest feeding 2:1 (if needed to build up stores) for as long as the bees will take the syrup or the temps get too low. In other words, as long as they will take it keep pouring it on (not literally, of course!)

On the other hand, I read posts which encourage a bit of caution as you apparently can feed too much as they can backfill the broodnest with stored syrup so you risk impacting the queen's ability to lay resulting in a smaller population of winter bees.

If I interpret the posts correctly they seem to be contradictory or is this another case of ask ten beekeepers a question and you get eleven answers?

Adding an related question to the mix - what are the consequences of bees not capping all their stores? Excess moisture in the hive? Does this potential issue factor into the question of when to stop feeding syrup?

Kevin
 

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On the other hand, I read posts which encourage a bit of caution as you apparently can feed too much as they can backfill the broodnest with stored syrup so you risk impacting the queen's ability to lay resulting in a smaller population of winter bees.
In addition it is important to have empty cells going into cold weather. The cluster of bees will typically span several frames. Bees will enter empty cells at the center of that cluster and generate heat that carries across the comb’s midrib. This shared heat enables the separate clusters to act as a contiguous single cluster. This is especially important in cold winter climates. Two or three separate clusters are less likely to survive than a single large cluste.

If I interpret the posts correctly they seem to be contradictory or is this another case of ask ten beekeepers a question and you get eleven answers?
Yes.
 

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Adding an related question to the mix - what are the consequences of bees not capping all their stores? Excess moisture in the hive? Does this potential issue factor into the question of when to stop feeding syrup?

Kevin
I usually have some uncapped cells going into winter. In my area/climate I dont think it matters. If you have a few frames I would not worry about it. I stop feeding when I get up the the stores that I want (usually 2-3 mediums of stores) with some empty space in for the cluster.
 

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Local conditions will influence the calculations. Like, was it a double deep or a single deep brood. My feeling is single box is less flexible. Type of bee. Is an extended fall flow common or rare. Was the population relatively high or was it mediocre? Your insulation and moisture control efforts will have a bearing on whether or not a lot of uncapped sugar syrup will be a hazard.

I dont think a simple answer is possible especially if one does not have a crystal ball to predict the weather. Generally, I would say that leaving feeding to the last minute sadly reduces your options. Crisis management then.
 

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Since you're coastal, like me, it's important to get your stores in BEFORE the rains start. Humidity is my number one killer of hives and leaving uncapped syrup/nectar only adds to the problem. Once the rains start, things will start blooming again - you're not in a freezing climate so you don't need 2-3 supers full of nectar to get them through winter, especially when things start to really bloom after the winter solstice.

I like to leave my single deep hives at least one capped super. My double colonies should have capped honey on most of the outside frames, in the upper box. If you are noticing lots of nectar in the brood area, move it to the outside frames and stop feeding.

I also have shims for adding dry sugar to the top of the colony (mountain camp method). This has SAVED more colonies than I can count. When excess moisture builds up in the colony the sugar absorbs it and gets soft. The bees eat this softened sugar adding to their wet season food stores.

We also get really strong flows starting in January. As such, I start feeding pollen substitute in November to build up their numbers to take advantage of it. It's important to really know your climate. While others are putting their hives to sleep for the winter, I'm building mine up for the flow. Late summer is the worse time for bees here, there is currently zero nectar and zero pollen sources making things rather difficult.
 

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mtnmyke "Humidity is my number one killer of hives" Can you provide more information about your observations, hive construction and design when this event occurs? I am very curious as to how a condensation kills bees. I have not seen a condensation problem since I heavily insulated and properly sealed against wind driven rain. I am in a coastal area but I much colder, longer winters and no flow periods than you. ( Just got our first real rain in 3 months - feeding 2:1 like mad as winter is coming and no flow for 5 more months.)
 

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There's a pretty common beekeeping saying, "Cold won't will your bees, but moisture will". Condensation can build up in the hive and rain down on the cluster. I've also noticed large amounts of mold forming on the inside of the boxes and empty comb. I've never been to Rhode Island, but I've been to Portland. Like here, the weeks upon weeks of rain can really tear down a colony if not managed.

As such, I use the wintering inner covers from Mann Lake. I cut my own 1" insulation which sits inside with a slit for bees, or mostly moisture, to escape out of the center. I place dry sugar under the inner cover in a ring to keep that vent exposed. Once I went to this method, I haven't lost a single hive to moisture and the mold has entirely subsided.
 

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All beekeeping is local, but I have never seen a dead colony that I could attribute the cause of death to condensation.

Being a southern beekeeper I have no experience with colony insulation other than a piece of one inch foam board above the inner cover. Most beekeepers here don't even use that. I can attest to the fact that in this area of the country condensation never forms on the inner cover above the cluster of bees. Condensation only occurs on the corners of the inner cover next to the side of the hive, and on the wall of the hive. This is in colonies with no upper entrances and no upper ventilation. It doesn't matter if the colony is on solid or screened bottom boards.

It is my opinion that dead colonies that are attributed to "condensation raining down on the cluster" have died due to dwindling of the adult bee population caused by going into winter with insufficient winter bees. After the colony dies, then moisture forms on the dead cluster. This causes the beekeeper to mistake the cause of death.

Back to the feeding for winter, I belong to the "feeding until they are full" camp. Naturally, care must be taken in August/September in this area to leave space in the brood nest for the queen to lay enough brood for making the "winter bees." It is in October that I do the "topping off" of the winter feed. Depending on the colony, I feed so that by the end of the month they have everything filled except any brood cells that have not emerged. I like to have this done by the middle of the month, but I usually run late. Our killing frost is usually the last week of October and after that the weather is so cool the bees slow down their taking of the syrup.
 

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I disagree, greatly. Assuming beekeepers, as a general stereotype, are unable to determine a cause of death isn't exactly building a community or discussion. I've seen first hand very large droplets on my inner covers, dripping down onto frames where the cluster is, leaving streaks down the comb - on a hive that's still alive. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see what's happening, especially while it's happening. This is exactly why I do my insulation and top entrance as I do, as it's solved a problem. I'm not exactly the type to solve a problem that doesn't exist - especially considering the cost of doing so. The proof is also obvious as I went from moldy wet hives, to entirely dry hives that not only survive winter, but produce large honey crops...and did I mention I have 38 hives? That's not exactly a 1 or 2 hive sample size.

As you said. Beekeeping is local, please don't assume to know our climate when most people in your area don't even use insulation. What works for you may not work in another climate, that's why it's important to know and discuss. Since the OP is in Portland I felt it necessary to bring up, for as much rain as Santa Cruz gets, Portland surely gets more.
 

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AR Beekeeper "After the colony dies, then moisture forms on the dead cluster. This causes the beekeeper to mistake the cause of death." First time I have heard form someone who has the same opinion. Our first killing frost is the same around Halloween. The extreme drought conditions here has affected my feeding schedule which is typically similar to yours.

Cold kills and I have test report that shows this effect. Clustering is a response to prevent the cold from killing bees. 50F will kill a single bee given enough time at that temperature.

Insulating your top dropped the dew point in that area, sides typically have low R values and drop below the dew point often. I heavily insulate and the yearly cycle and bee behavior changes - for the better. I have not drowned a single bee and colonies are the best condition U have seen. It just gets better annually as I improve the hive's enclosure design.

BTW, if you need to feed into cold weather, put a top feeder on and insulate it - monitor with a dial or digital thermometer, 55F and up they take syrup.
 

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MtnMike, I must have stepped on a sore toe, I had no intention of criticizing your beekeeping ability, I just made observations that I see in my bees in my area.

I know what your climate is like in winter, I did some time at Ft. Ord in the 50s, and as for colony numbers, back in my younger days I managed triple your numbers, so it's not like I have only looked at 1 or 2 colonies.

R. Holcombe; I have been called a heretic many times because of my opinions on ventilation and upper entrances, but with an average overwintering death rate of 8% I can't complain. My thoughts on feeding is get the work done properly in October and there will be no need for emergency feeding when it is below 55 degrees. I learned that lesson my first winter with bees when I almost killed my colony feeding in December with a snow on the ground.
 

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Well, we can agree on the importance of upper entrances. And I can definitely see how it's easy to mistake a dead out by another cause, blamed as moisture. No bitterness intended. This is simply something we deal with locally as common knowledge, only to have it questioned seemed strange.

And again, agreed, feed hard in October so you don't have to worry about feeding again when things get wet. If you're noticing excess moisture in the hive, make sure you have that upper entrance and can always put dry sugar on top of the bars, with paper underneath, to soak it up and provide emergency food.
 

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If you want to talk about wet weather, you should come to Seattle in the winter. Early in my beekeeping years I had seen dead hives that I was positive were killed by moisture. The hives were wet and moldy and the moisture was obvious. But I was dead wrong! What was not obvious was that the hives were killed by mites, not moisture and the moisture was caused by the decomposing dead bees all over the bottom of the hive. I cannot say for sure that moisture will or will not kill a hive but I have not seen it. In my opinion, a hive with enough ventilation, tilted forward to let any water buildup escape and healthy bees will not have moisture problems in my area.
 

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I have been thinking, and I have always overwintered with a hive configuration of 2 deeps or less. Perhaps with the distance equal to a deep and a medium above the bottom deep there would be enough space/time for the air to cool before it reached the top of the hive. This could cause moisture to form on the upper comb and hive inner cover.

It would be easy for anyone using that hive configuration to check. Cut a piece of clear 4 or 6 mil plastic sheeting 18 x 22 inches and place it over the top of the upper box. Put the sheet of foam insulation on, then wooden inner cover with the center slot and upper entrance closed so that there is no upper ventilation, then the telescoping cover. On a cold morning gently remove everything down to the clear plastic sheeting and look for signs of condensation on the plastic sheeting. If there is condensation above the cluster it should be visible.

Dudelt; I was at Ft. Lewis for 2 weeks during which I saw clear sky and sunshine for 30 minutes, the rest of the time, day or night, it was raining or snowing. A member of my platoon was from Seattle and he said that the weather was unusual. I never did understand if he was talking about the rain/snow, or the 30 minutes of sunshine.
 

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I took the weight/hive from Michael Palmer's video (160 lbs for 2 deeps a medium, and bottom + top), subtracted 10 lbs (bottom + top) and divided to get the per medium target weight (3 med. = 2 deeps). I calculated the 5 hives needed 174.4 lbs sugar. I open fed on 9/23. 3 days after they finished, I opened bottom screen vents 4-6 cm. Each hive is 2-3 mediums. I will equalize and close vents soon. Hives will get 10 lbs sugar bricks (mostly in January or Feb.). Total = 45 lbs sugar/hive
 

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6a High Desert- I'm over the mountains from you in Sisters. I'm intentionally backfilling the broodnest this time of year (opposite of spring). Odds of swarming are close to zero. Bees used the first feed to rear winter bees. Started with 2 5 gallon pails of ProSweet from MannLake then topped with sugar syrup. Wrapped up feeding last week. My well water is pure but crystalizes easier so my mix is closer to 1:5 - 1. My winters are also very dry so a little more hydration isn't a bad thing. You are in a wet climate so a higher concentrate may be better. Your winters are also more mild. I would research quilt boxes and put one on. That will mitigate a lot of the moisture issues you're concerned about. (I use Vivaldi Boards and love them)
 

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Dudelt; I was at Ft. Lewis for 2 weeks during which I saw clear sky and sunshine for 30 minutes, the rest of the time, day or night, it was raining or snowing. A member of my platoon was from Seattle and he said that the weather was unusual. I never did understand if he was talking about the rain/snow, or the 30 minutes of sunshine.
Snow is unusual, the rain and the overcast skies are not. This past January was a fairly rainy month. It rained every day except for new years day according to the national weather service. I am fortunate, that is the kind of weather I prefer. In my opinion, there is nothing better than walking in the mountains on a rainy day when nobody else will consider going out there. There is a joke around here that every year the police get hundreds of calls in the spring about UFO's but they are mistaken. It is just the sun coming out for the first time in several months.

In spite of that, this is a great place to have bees. I get a good maple harvest most years and the blackberry honey is the best anywhere. Others a few miles away from me get great fireweed and knotweed harvests too.
 

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Just to toss another "observation" on the heap.

One time with a 3 deep, I needed to open it in late winter. At this time I was not insulating, and we did not have mites.
I think a tree fell and the hive was tipping a bit , the details around what I saw are etched in my mind.
there was 1.5 inches of Ice all around the inside of the box, bees in the center seemed happily getting by.
The ice had consumed the first frame on each side frame 1 and 10 were completely encased in ice.

In spring at Dandelion bloom this was a 30 frame booming hive and we did a 3 way 10 frame split.
I did have a 2 inch foam on the top, but nothing else.

So there can be a lot of moisture inside the hive in winter, Where it goes and how it escapes is in the design of the hive.
This was a standard 10 frame Lang.

3 years ago I also saw the bottom completely blocked with ice at one of my Apiaries, I heated a hive tool with a torch and melted it out to allow air in and bees out if it warmed.

Depending on the place, one needs to figure in some moisture plans.

GG
 

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I’m in portland where it rains a lot. I usually insulate the top of the hives and that’s improved winter survival and build up. But out of my 15-20 hives there’s always one or two that get swamped by water. It’s way more than condensation, it has to be rain getting in somehow, it’s not obvious to me why.

My hives are on a hill and rodents and subsidence change the levels all winter long so I have to keep checking that they tilt forward for the water to run out. When I find a swampy one, I tape up the seams with masking tape and put a board or piece of acrylic or something on top to try to block some of the rain. The rain comes from the south and beats in on the front of the hives. I think this helps, but I’m not convinced enough to just do it wholesale ahead of time. Maybe I should, but it’s a pain.

I think some hives are better propolized than others and are more waterproof.
Megan
 

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mtnmyke "Well, we can agree on the importance of upper entrances." It would be interesting to measure the temperature and relative humidity at the top of your hives plus the corresponding values outside the hive. You will not get condensation if your internal temperature is above the dew point.

Nor'Easter story: While conducting a crude experiment in insualtion and no top vent I noticed the top of the hive's temperature dropped below the dew point. Oh NO! I went out in the storm to see exaclty what was up. Upon liftin off the insulation, which had a rubber gasket I saw a line of bees on two sides taking water as it was driven in by the wind pressure and ran down the interior sides of the hive. I smiled and closed up - another problem to solve.

I am about 3 miles from the North Atlantic coast to the SE and have a big bay to East and a big swamp to my West. Fog, high humidity and rain are no strangers here. I now run with a sealed , 2-inch insulated foam sleeve, and glued on top (no leaks), no top vent and haven not seen a temperature below the dew point. It seems the bees toy with me by keeping the temperature, in extreme weather just above the dew point by a few degrees. I am improving the system again this year with full hive insulation all year and a few more sensors to get a better "picture".
 
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