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Mountain camp feeding dilemma!

4770 Views 13 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  sqkcrk
OK, I am in NY and it is 40 and sunny here today so I went out to try the mountain camp feeding method, and when I popped off the outer and inner covers the bees were all over the top of 3/4 of the frames, which I thought is good. The problem I had was I had no room to put the newspaper and sugar down without crushing the girls! which of course I didn't want to do. I did not have a smoker with me, and I didn't think it was a good idea to smoke them this time of year anyway. Here is what I did and I just wanted to see if everyone thinks this will work. I put the inner cover back on upside down, I then put the sugar all around the oblong hole in the top of the cover, then put an empty medium super and the outer cover. Do you think this will work? Will the girls be able to access the sugar? Any suggestions would be helpful. Thanks.
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I have some sugar on now. I just dumped it on the inner cover with a 2" shim.
That will work as long as it stays warm enough for the girls to move around inside the hive...MC's idea was to have it so the cluster could move up to the sugar and access it regardless of the temps, which is why it was placed on newspaper on top the the topbars...the girls will usually get out of the way when something is laid on top of them, so just laying down the newspaper and waiting a moment before adding the sugar would have been ok..:)
I would not do that!
Some time ago I tried this MC thing, when it first appeared on scene, but instead of putting sugar on the frames I tried it on the inner cover with an 1inch shim on top for added space. I did this only on two colonies and both died when cold weather set in again.
Bees have simply congregated on top of the inner cover and stayed there. Because of the cold they did not have time or inclination to return to the cluster and thus died on top.
Cluster, deprived of bees did not have sufficient numbers to generate enough heat to move after the food and they too died of starvation.

So, for those who go the dry sugar route - make sure that it is put on the frames - under the inner cover.
I'm doing the same (Inner cover) thing. Less than 10% losses so far. Last trip I mixed some pollen sub in the sugar. My winter covers are made of homasote AND HAVE A LARGER HOLE. oops. The last trip I put a sheet of newpaper over the hole, dampened it, and put sugar on top. Thanks Mountaincamp.

I just lay the paper on top of the bee and slowly pour the sugar on. They move quickly and to my knowledge I have not killed anyone.

I would not want to leave any seperation for the reason France states above.
I did the same as you. But I will agree it seems less than ideal. Every couple of days I push some more sugar over the hole in the inner so they don't have to go into the empty super on top. I guess I should probably put some clumped up sugar over the hole then fill it in so they can tunnel through the sugar. Ideally I should have prepped for this in the fall ... but I didn't think they would need the feed. I am not sure if they stove piped their way up there but they seem right in the middle of the inner cover. Good luck to you!
i use the mountain camp with newspaper on top of the frames with an empty super and the girls love it there doing great.
In one of my hives, the cluster seems to have worked its way up to the top, so I may give the Mountain camp a try for the first time-the post gave me some more insight on how to do it.

Question: How often do you usually have to feed them with this method once you start?

Keep in mind that the Mountaincamp Method of emergency feeding works two ways:

1) It provides emergency feed to the bees, no matter where they come up through the top super, no matter the temperature. Here in Michigan, it gets pretty cold and they stay in a cluster for much of the winter. Unless that cluster chimneys up through the EXACT center of the top super, the cluster will NEVER find their way up through the hole in the inner cover. And, subsequently, that hive will starve to death.

2) The Mountaincamp Method ABSORBS moisture from the hive, in addition to using that moisture to feed the dry sugar to the bees. Let me ask; How much moisture does YOUR inner cover let pass through??

Lay the paper down, wait a moment, then slowly pour sugar. They'll get out of the way. Doing it wrong and pouring sugar on the inner cover can be worse than not feeding at all, in my opinion.

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I will gladly sign my name under this post anytime... Well done! :thumbsup:

The method works in the south, but in the north, it can have the major disadvantage of giving far too much empty space above an already stressed cluster

(Your bees are close to starvation aren't they, or you should not be doing this. Feeding during winter in the north is bad for bees, but a little less bad than starving).

If the bees were down in the hive on good stores with pollen under and not yet up to the lid, and had space above them, that is very different from being close to starving at the top of empty combs with just empty space and a bit of paper and sugar above and a whole lot of draughty, empty space. Moreover, empty space is going to dissipate the warmth and moisture the already weakened bees will need to utilise the sugar.

Not having done this myself, I would suggest laying a sheet of plastic a little larger than the lid over the sugar and paper to limit the space above and conserve the heat and moisture. Yes, and definitely, no inner cover.

Others may have comments.
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FRANCE...I lost 5 hives this winter that way...with bees above on the candy board for feed and then not returning below to cluster. Last fall I knew they were lite on stores, so I made fondant for all 5 hives. We had no fall flow, and they were in trouble going into late fall. I have used the the sugar feeding on top of inner cover before, but that was not until early Spring. Quite diffrent than the leaving of fondant on all winter. Seems the girls continue to prove to me that which I do not know. I will be talking with others at club meeting and conference about this issue. One thought I do have concerning candy boards..I read where one can start small nails on the candy board "inside" then when the fondant is poured on to set the nails would hold the fondant in place. Then the fondant would be on the Bee side of board rather than the top. They would not have to leave the immediate area of the cluster. So sports fans, I will be starting all over again this spring, ....seems I have developed a trend...good luck to all..
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What makes you think that your bees need supplemental feed? have you determined whether they are all out of honey or not? Heft the hive and try to determine whether it is light or heavy or about right. They may not need feeding at this time.

I would recommend a wooden bound excluder, an empty deep super, and a couple of one gallon jars of sugar syrup. If they are already above the top bars and of good population, they aught to be able to take that syrup now and especially in a couple of weeks.

Otherwise, leave them alone until it is warm enuf so they are flying and not in tight cluster. Then move what frames of honey you can find closer to the cluster.

Have fun, but don't kill them. Some times we can do too much.
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