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Hello, We've got two new package hives started May 20th. They've been drinking a quart of 1:1 from nearly the start. They've been building up nicely, so we added our second boxes 20 days ago and think we now may add our honey supers. My question is, we weren't thinking of harvesting this first year, so does it matter if we stop feeding sugar when we place the honey super? It's mid-July, and there seems to be plenty of nectar and still some sources coming on line, but why are they still chowing down so much sugar? It makes me think they can still use it. Thanks much.
 

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This is a package hive started pretty late. If you are concerned about winter survival, you should keep feeding as long as they will take it. But if you are concerned, why would you put on a honey shallow super? You should not ever harvest honey made while feeding. Why not just add another deep?

If they are still drawing comb, then stick to 1:1. If they have stopped drawing comb, then use 2:1
 

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I agree with frameshift. Add a medium or a deep to the top if you intend to leave it there all winter. This will more than likely make for a whackin' strong hive come spring! I assume you have no intention of using a queen excluder, but since I shouldn't assume anything I will say be sure to not use an excluder.

Chris Harvey--Teakwood Organics

www.thewarrestore.com
 

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Oh man, Beez and Frameshift, you guys are too much. We start a new hobby, read the books, get ready for the common school direction which is honey supers after two deeps, and then you guys throw all that out the window! Alrightee, let's see.

I'm using medium supers, not shallow, on top of two deeps. I was going to add one at a time, with a queen excluder, and then if they filled the first one full, I was considering harvesting any honey in the second.

I'm totally open to your ideas and in no way am committed to a harvest. What's the fault in my plan? Wouldn't sugar/honey in the deeps and a full medium be enough for the winter? Why no queen excluder?

It kind of sounds like the thought is to put maybe two mediums on with no queen excluder, feed them sugar as much as they want and just ride into the winter. I admit, it was hard to think of going from a quart of syrup a day to nothing. They've got to be doing something with all that!

Thanks again.
 

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Look, I didn't say this in my first post, but you should stop feeding now. The bees are taking the syrup because the bees have gotten lazy....not because they need it. You cannot harvest anything that was produced while you were feeding, so stop feeding and then maybe you will be able to harvest one medium super (the top one) if the bees fill two. My only point about the excluder was that if you have no intention of harvesting the first super then why use an excluder? If you left the excluder on through the winter the queen would not be able to move with the cluster into the super during the winter and would likely end up dead, or the cluster wouldn't leave her and the whole colony might end up dead. You could use an excluder below the first super and then remove it before winter, but what would be the point of that? If you want to use an excluder, then use it under the second super that you put on (the one that you might harvest), although it is highly unlikely that your queen would go all the way up there to lay eggs anyway. I do think that you have the right idea to leave the first super on all winter, just to make sure the bees have enough stores. Come spring, if you find that they didn't need it, you can just leave them in two deeps next winter. Where I live, I never was able to winter a colony in two lang deeps without having to feed them fondant come March. Langs are just too big and half of the stores are passed up and left at the ends of the boxes when the cluster moves upward. The colony can starve with 30+ lbs. of stores in the hive.

Bottom line is....there is nectar, so stop feeding. They don't need it and it is not healthy for them anyway.

Chris Harvey--Teakwood Organics

www.thewarrestore.com
 

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They are saying not to feed with supers on. You need two deep hive bodies full to winter with. Once full there is no need to feed unless there is a dearth and they start using their stores before winter.

Only nectar will be capped and turned into honey. If you feed syrup with supers on and they cap them over, then they aren't honey but capped sugar syrup. Make since? Capped sugar syrup is ok but only if it is for the bees consumption and not for human consumption.

Good luck!:)

Later, John
 

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My hives have absolutely needed the sugar syrup all summer long. They are all brand new and when I haven't feed 1:1, the comb production stops completely.

I went out and checked the hives tonight and 3 of them had sucked the feeders completely dry.

I am now putting on 2:1 in an effort to help them even more. Some of these hives haven't built out the first medium yet.

I will stop feeding when the cotton begins blooming to see if the bees can get any nectar from the cotton. I have no idea if this specie of cotton produces nectar but I guess we'll find out.
 

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So I guess the best thing to do would be to contact other beeks in your area to find out if and when they feed. I've been worried about feeding to much. My two new hives have sucked down a 25# bag of sugar @ 1:1 every 5 days for the past month. When I stop feeding I notice they tear open capped frames and are eating out of them. I'll check with the locals to see what they are doing and to see if this is normal.

Later, John
 

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Good luck with your welfare bees. Thats what you are creating. Stop feeding and let them gather nector if they still remember how. If they are short on stores in Sept. then you need to feed again to build up for winter.
 

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I tend to agree with valleyman. So what if they stop building comb? Bees don't have to make noticeable increases in comb every single week. Are you guys telling me that there is no decent source of nectar where you live? Even if there isn't, the bees have stores, right? I mean, it's not like winter starts next week. Feed in the fall, if you need to. You need to encourage your bees to do what bees do....forage! Something tells me that you guys who are feeding all of this syrup have had your bees swarm....possibly more than once...without your even knowing it. I haven't fed my 7 new hives more than 25# of sugar-TOTAL- all year!:eek:

Chris
 

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"Good luck with your welfare bees. Thats what you are creating. Stop feeding and let them gather nector if they still remember how. "

I don't know what its like where he's living, but here in North Virginia it was unseasonally dry for an entire month (we had ONE period of rainfall that lasted about 10 minutes) with 90+ weather every day. All the local vegetation that didn't have bark was brown or limp and drooping, and nothing was even thinking about flowers.

I kept my June nuc on feed (about a quart of 1:1 every day) and they drew out a full box of mediums and are now working on their 3rd box. Its worth it to me to keep feeding just to get the comb for next year, and to build the hive numbers for whatever goldenrod harvest we might get.
 

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Well, as you are learning, there is no shortage of opinions among beeks. :) No, I don't think bees will take sugar because they are lazy. You need to find out when your flows are on, but I would think that as long as they are taking sugar, they need it. If they are building comb, you are in good shape. If they have stopped, they probably will not start again this year, at least where I live. In that case, they need to be adding stores, and for that they can use 2:1.

If you think they have enough stores, then stop feeding and see if they make enough honey for you to harvest. In North Carolina, it is rare to be able to harvest honey from a package in the first year, unless you want to feed all winter. This is not recommended because honey is a much better food for the bees than sugar is. Just to be clear, the reason you don't feed and harvest at the same time is that you will be harvesting sugar syrup and not honey.

We don't ever use a queen excluder since the queen generally will not go further than she needs to. The excluder will slow down worker access to your honey super so it's just not worth it.

This advice is only for the first year from a package. You should not have to feed older hives so long as you don't overharvest.
 

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As I said good luck with your welfare bees!!
It only rained 3/10 of an inch from about June 10, to July 15. Average temp. above 90, high huimidity. Of my 4 new nucs 3 are working hard and bringing in stores. They are not building comb. So if you have anthing around with nector or pollen let your bees e bees. My 2 strong hives have quit filling supers for the last 3 weeks. If they eat up their stores before 9/15 in my area then I will feed heavily.
I don't think you are going to find too many experienced beeks that will disagree with me. But they are your bees and you sure can do as you wish.
But remember you can't or shouldn't eat sugar water.
 

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Right now is our major flow of star thistle nectar. The fields here are purple and humming unless it is dark or raining. We've had lots of rain and it has been hot and sunny often too, and if I handle thistle blossoms, my hands get sticky (I know, it's rough). My point is that if I were to slap feeders on my hives right now, some of those feeders would be emptied pretty quickly. If I had been feeding all year, it is highly likely that all of the bees would still be eating syrup rapidly, even though their whole world is bleeding nectar. The bees become accustomed to just going upstairs for an easy meal. I call that "lazyness". Bees will stop building comb in a dearth (if you're not feeding them) or anytime that they just plain have enough for their needs. They will build more when they need it and have the resources. "They won't build anymore this year"? Uh....why not?:scratch: It's only the middle of July! You think if you feed in the fall and they don't already have comb to store the syrup in that they won't take it? If so, your bees certainly behave differently than mine.

Listening to you folks would lead one to believe that it is impossible for a colony of bees to survive where you live without the aid of a beekeeper, which is absolute nonsense.:rolleyes:

Chris Harvey--Teakwood Organics

www.thewarrestore.com
 

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Chris,
Your bees will, as you said build comb when they have a flow or think they need to. they do what they want to not what we want them to. Remember the Queen is in charge, if she wants them to expand they will expand. If she is not laying well they will supersede her.
 

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Chris,
Your bees will, as you said build comb when they have a flow or think they need to. they do what they want to not what we want them to. Remember the Queen is in charge, if she wants them to expand they will expand. If she is not laying well they will supersede her.
Arrg. The queen is not "in charge". This is some remnant of 3rd Century Greek myth, except that they got the gender wrong. :no: The queen lays when she has room to lay. The hive decides when to fill the brood nest with honey and when to open it.... when to build new comb or stop.... when to swarm or not swarm. Decision making by the hive is one of the wonders of eusocial insects. Those decisions can be influenced by the beekeeper by doing things like feeding or adding frames to the brood nest.

Bees do what they need to do. They will pass by plentiful nectar or pollen to get a different kind of nectar or pollen much further away. They balance their nutritional needs in ways we don't understand. They are certainly not lazy. If you have a good flow, you don't have to feed, but they generally do not take it anyway. I have certainly seen bees stop feeding on their own. I believe that experience is almost universal.

And what I said was that if the bees have stopped building comb they will not start again, at least where I live. North Carolina has a weak Fall flow and generally bees here do not build comb after the summer. Feeding does not change that. Can't speak to other climates or flora.
 
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