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Discussion Starter #1
[i'm asking this in the treatment-free section, because i'd prefer the don't-feed-any-more-than-necessary type of answers]
so back when i installed my new packages, i gave them a couple gallons of syrup. foraging was underway, so i haven't fed them since that first week. they're good with stores, brood, pollen, but the slowdown in comb building was noticeable when i took away their syrup (i'm foundationless).

i've been doing the math and i don't think they're going to make enough comb for 3-5 8-frame mediums before winter. dearth hits in july and sometimes august around here. i realize there's a lot of baseball left to play, but i'm wondering: better to feed now to draw more comb? or wait until beginning of september before i worry?
 

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I have top bar hives, so my set-up is a little different from yours. When I got them last June, someone told me to feed them until they'd built 20 bars. (This is maybe 3 to 3 1/2 lang boxes, I think.) However, I didn't. I figured they were bringing in nectar/pollen, so I stopped after a couple of weeks. About the middle to end of July, we had a dearth, and they 1) stopped building after about 12 bars and 2) used up all the nectar/capped honey they had put away. Starting in August, I realized what was happening, so I began feeding again, and I ended up having to feed heavily in the fall so they'd have enough stores.

This year, I have 2 new packages. I will feed them until they have 20 bars. Hopefully, by the time fall hits, I'll have huge colonies that can take advantage of the fall flow. Fingers crossed.
 

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Fruitveggirl just be careful you do not induce swarming. My experience with TBH's is that if they are fed heavily, but no other management, they will swarm before getting to 20 bars. The way around this is to spread the bars yourself, ie, keep moving empty bars to mid bee cluster so the bees are kept busy building new comb & filling gaps, in this way you can get to 20 bars without swarming. After that, stop feeding but monitor food stores to ensure they do not starve & feed a little if necessary, until they can start storing some honey for you.

MPGreer the bees draw comb if they feel able.

So, if there is no nectar coming in, they go into conservation mode and will not draw comb. If there is a light flow or feeding they will draw a little comb. If there is a heavy flow or feeding they will draw a lot of comb.

If you want a do not feed more than necessary type of answer, well, this is philosophical. If you want an answer that will get you the results you want, then that is the bees need carbohydrate to turn into wax. They also have to think they need comb for brood and storage. If either of those are missing they will not build a lot of comb. So if there is a heavy nectar flow, that will give them the fuel they need to make comb, plus a need for storage, so they will build comb. If there is not a heavy nectar flow you can achieve the same thing by feeding syrup.

If you feel for some reason you must restrict feeding, and there is no or small nectar flow, you will also restrict comb building. In the end it's a philosophical thing. You can restrict their food if for some reason you think that's a good thing, or you can give them what they need to do the job you want.
 

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bees draw more readily as temperature increases as long as there is flow. It can happen very quickly on a strong flow, overnight. They should draw out 3 boxes no problem by the end of the flow. Has locust, poplar or clover started in your parts?

I would not feed but thats just me, I would wait until fall flow to access, if necessary winter them as a smaller cluster.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Has locust, poplar or clover started in your parts?
i don't have a lot of clover around, and i feel like poplar and locust are almost done, but i could be wrong. dandelions are still blooming. i think they still have at least a month before dearth and then a smaller flow in the fall, asters and goldenrod.

oldtimer, you hit the nail on the head. instead of experience, i have a philosophy. but it's based on ideas about nutrition, letting the bees deal with seasonal changes in the natural food supply, brood breaks being good for mite control, etc. but i'll admit this is still second hand knowledge for me that i've gained from books and talking to other beekeepers. i also see that most colonies that consistently survive the winter around here are big. my limiting factor is currently drawn comb. so i'm trying to balance my goal of letting the bees get good forage for themselves, with my goal of having them get enough mass before october.

so fruitveggirl, how did it work out for you? with how many bars did you go into winter? and did they make it through okay?
 

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Good attitude MPGreer, in due course please update with your progress & how things went. :thumbsup:

Re nutrition, remember the bees get that from pollen. Sugar is merely fuel for them.
 
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