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Feeding Guidelines

2033 Views 8 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  RD35
We were convinced by our equipment supplier to use top feeders...the type that cover the entire hive body and require a super frame to close them up. So, since installation of our packages 20 days ago, these bees have consumed approx. 9 lbs of syrup per hive. We keep adding syrup as the feeder reaches "empty". So, is it possible to "over-feed" the hive? Does it cause problems when I accidently allow the feeder to run dry for a day or two? And, finally, how long should we continue to feed?
Thank you all in advance...the information is very helpful and very much appreciated!!!
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> So, is it possible to "over-feed" the hive?

Yes. A package will often swarm when they backfill the brood nest from constant feeding.

> Does it cause problems when I accidently allow the feeder to run dry for a day or two?

No. I would remove it completely.

>And, finally, how long should we continue to feed?

I would stop about a month ago...
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Do you stop feeding even though its new packages started the middle of April and just now starting on the second deep brood box?
The result of feeding a package constantly, in my experience, is that they backfill the brood nest and swarm before they are strong enough to do so. The result of not feeding them when there is nectar available is they are healthier and they gather nectar and they don't swarm.
What do you do when you notice a 1 month package is becoming honey bound (nectar in brood nest)? No queen cells, no drawn comb to add. Hive has very little brood, none that is uncapped.
This is exactly why I don't feed past the can they were shipped with. Too many things can and will go wrong feeding in excess. Feral bees rely on only themselves and do just fine.
As far as feeding goes, there is no need on a big flow like we are in right now. If the bees are busy, there is honey in the hive, and they are actively drawing comb, don't feed. I have fed for a month or so, because it's often rather cold here in April, this year in particular, but my package didn't show much interest in the syrup and were storing actual honey, so I quit a few weeks ago. Booming hive now, just put on another box six weeks after hiving them.

My brother put his on the stores from a dead-out, and they never got fed anything but the syrup in the can in the package. No need, they had a hive full of stores and made bees like crazy. The russian hive has almost a full super of honey to boot, along with two deeps of bees, comb and stores.

Keep an eye on them though -- if you have a summer dearth like we do, a new package can consume all it's stores raising brood, a bad habit often seen in southern raised queens for some reason. You will lose the hive in the winter if you don't feed it up to weight in the early fall, and may need to feed during August to keep the hive healthy. Lots cheaper to feed them up if necessary than replace them, to say nothing of the honey crop you should get from a strong hive in the spring.

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Michael Bush and Mr. Beeman
Thanks so much for your advice and discussion. We have been dumping in 1:1 sugar syrup in our two hives and it has been disappearing at a rate of about 1 quart per day. I believe we are in the nectar flow here as it is very warm with occassional rain and every flower I can imagine is blooming right now. We will cease the feeding until we get a dry spell. We are currently at 3 weeks since package installation and as of last Friday both hives had 7 frames of foundation under contruction with brood on 3 frames filled out pretty well and honey cells capped in the upper corners. I did notice that when we put syrup in the feeder, the entrance traffic seems very low. But, once the syrup runs dry, the reduced entrance is almost at traffic jam level of activity.
Thanks again!
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