Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner
1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
Registered
6a 4th yr 9 colonies inc. 2 resource hives
Joined
·
751 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The most enthusiastic waggle dance Tom Seeley had ever seen was for water in winter. Last year I fed water drops on the landing board and later inserted a sponge on the landing board and had 100% survival. They went ape for water as Tom suggested. I have never seen bees pounce on anything like I did water in mid December. A few minutes later I would swear to you I smelled honey.

This year I inserted a regular kitchen sponge in my vivaldi board setup and I like it better. It's still not perfect but it's an easier way for me to deliver water. In my anecdotal opinion we believe it's starvation instead of dehydration. I'm wondering if the lack of water keeps them from processing their stored honey properly.

We just had wind storms the last few days and no flying. Just opened them up again today at 35 degrees to refresh their sugar slurry (regular sugar wetted with water) and wetted their sponges again. It's super dry here from the wind and they are going for the water again. All 7 alive and eating. That's not to say I won't lose one for other reasons than starvation and mites. But I figure if I can control the few things I'm in charge of I'm happy to keep up my end of the bargain.
 

·
Registered
4ish langstrom hives
Joined
·
1,581 Posts
I have a 5 gallon bucket with a aquarium heater (set to 75-80) that I have left out for the last 2 winters. I see bees collecting water at it almost any time it is warm enough to fly. I have this bucket wrapped in insulation (to reduce energy consumption), and I have to fill it about once a week (add 2" of water, mostly evaporation). I put this heated bucket out to keep the bees out of a neighbors hot tub.

One year (3ish years ago) I left a frame feeder filled with water in one of my hives all winter after seeing some stuff about the bees needing winter water. I think I added some water to it once during the winter, but as far as I could tell the bees were not taking any water from that frame feeder, and all it did was grow mold over the winter. Since the water didn't seem to readily evaporate I am assuming that inside the hive was higher humidity all winter.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
376 Posts
The most enthusiastic waggle dance Tom Seeley had ever seen was for water in winter. Last year I fed water drops on the landing board and later inserted a sponge on the landing board and had 100% survival. They went ape for water as Tom suggested. I have never seen bees pounce on anything like I did water in mid December. A few minutes later I would swear to you I smelled honey.

This year I inserted a regular kitchen sponge in my vivaldi board setup and I like it better. It's still not perfect but it's an easier way for me to deliver water. In my anecdotal opinion we believe it's starvation instead of dehydration. I'm wondering if the lack of water keeps them from processing their stored honey properly.

We just had wind storms the last few days and no flying. Just opened them up again today at 35 degrees to refresh their sugar slurry (regular sugar wetted with water) and wetted their sponges again. It's super dry here from the wind and they are going for the water again. All 7 alive and eating. That's not to say I won't lose one for other reasons than starvation and mites. But I figure if I can control the few things I'm in charge of I'm happy to keep up my end of the bargain.
Wow. Very interesting stuff.

Would you have to do this every day? Or how often to wet the landing boards, etc. It seems like the next step would be to try to figure out how often to do this?

Its pretty interesting to find something out there that might help with survival. Thanks for posting this.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
376 Posts
I have a 5 gallon bucket with a aquarium heater (set to 75-80) that I have left out for the last 2 winters. I see bees collecting water at it almost any time it is warm enough to fly. I have this bucket wrapped in insulation (to reduce energy consumption), and I have to fill it about once a week (add 2" of water, mostly evaporation). I put this heated bucket out to keep the bees out of a neighbors hot tub.

One year (3ish years ago) I left a frame feeder filled with water in one of my hives all winter after seeing some stuff about the bees needing winter water. I think I added some water to it once during the winter, but as far as I could tell the bees were not taking any water from that frame feeder, and all it did was grow mold over the winter. Since the water didn't seem to readily evaporate I am assuming that inside the hive was higher humidity all winter.
Any idea on the ideal distance from hives for the heated water setup? I wouldn't ask this for seasons other than winter...but since they might not be able to fly as long in winter, that leaves me unsure...
 

·
Registered
6a 4th yr 9 colonies inc. 2 resource hives
Joined
·
751 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Wow. Very interesting stuff.

Would you have to do this every day? Or how often to wet the landing boards, etc. It seems like the next step would be to try to figure out how often to do this?

Its pretty interesting to find something out there that might help with survival. Thanks for posting this.
We can do better than 40% losses for backyard beekeepers. A LOT better. I would like to see some kind of winter routine more widely adopted. I only open the top of the stack twice a week for a minute. If this keeps them from starving I’m more than happy to do it.
 

·
Registered
4ish langstrom hives
Joined
·
1,581 Posts
Any idea on the ideal distance from hives for the heated water setup? I wouldn't ask this for seasons other than winter...but since they might not be able to fly as long in winter, that leaves me unsure...
I don't know the ideal distance, but the heated bucket is next to my pond, and both are about 50 ft from my hives. Some days I also see some bees getting water from the pond, but the heated water is more popular when it is colder out. I think my pond is about 50f right now, and all I try to do during the winter is keep the pond warm enough so it does ice over.
 

·
Registered
4ish langstrom hives
Joined
·
1,581 Posts
@elmer_fud

What do you put in the bucket so that the bees do not drown?
I have some chunks of scrap wood (1x2, plywood chunks) floating in the bucket. Some bees drown, but not many compared to the number that seem to be collecting water. I seem to loose more in the pond during the winter, but I suspect it is the bees get to cold from the cold water and cant take off again. I have fake water lillies floating in the pond.
 

·
Registered
6a 4th yr 9 colonies inc. 2 resource hives
Joined
·
751 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I have some chunks of scrap wood (1x2, plywood chunks) floating in the bucket. Some bees drown, but not many compared to the number that seem to be collecting water. I seem to loose more in the pond during the winter, but I suspect it is the bees get to cold from the cold water and cant take off again. I have fake water lillies floating in the pond.
I agree that cold water can be a problem because of the body temps bees need to be active. Soon I'll lay out sponges on a plate near the hives and keep those wet. We are getting a big snowstorm Thursday through the weekend. I'll go into the stacks tomorrow and be sure the dry pollen, the sugar slurry and the sponges are wetted beforehand.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
376 Posts
I have a 5 gallon bucket with a aquarium heater (set to 75-80) that I have left out for the last 2 winters. I see bees collecting water at it almost any time it is warm enough to fly. I have this bucket wrapped in insulation (to reduce energy consumption), and I have to fill it about once a week (add 2" of water, mostly evaporation). I put this heated bucket out to keep the bees out of a neighbors hot tub.

One year (3ish years ago) I left a frame feeder filled with water in one of my hives all winter after seeing some stuff about the bees needing winter water. I think I added some water to it once during the winter, but as far as I could tell the bees were not taking any water from that frame feeder, and all it did was grow mold over the winter. Since the water didn't seem to readily evaporate I am assuming that inside the hive was higher humidity all winter.
Do you think people need the heated water out everyday, for Winter (only asking about winter)? Or only a few times a week?

Thank you.
 

·
Registered
4ish langstrom hives
Joined
·
1,581 Posts
Do you think people need the heated water out everyday, for Winter (only asking about winter)? Or only a few times a week?

Thank you.
The bees only go out to collect water when it is warm enough to fly (>45 to 50F). I suspect if the water was only available part time when the bees are looking for it, they will find another source (my neighbors hot tub)

I leave it out all the time because I don't want to deal with the hassle of bringing it in/out based on the weather, and the heater will not survive freezing. I am using a glass tube aquarium heater. I am adding a few quarts a week to keep the bucket filled, mostly due to evaporation.
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Top